Well family and friends,
This week has been another really hard week but really fun as well. We have been working extra hard getting two couples married. One couple will be married this Thursday, which happens to be my companion’s birthday as well.
We are working with a family that lives 2 hours away, as well as the parents of Evelyn. The parents of Evelyn are going to get married this Thursday and it will be such an amazing blessing to their family, I know it. They then have plans of being baptized this Saturday. The other family had plans of being married this Thursday as well, however when they went to take out the appropriate forms a few things were wrong setting their date back. They will not be baptized this Saturday but have the desire to do so, so they will be baptized after they get married this upcoming week.
All of our investigators are coming along amazingly. They are growing in testimony in terms of Jesus Christ and the power of the atonement in their lives. We are visiting with so many people it's incredible. What I consider amazing here in Popayan is that we really have been told “no”, no more than a few times. Everyone here wants to listen to what we have to say, doors are wide open, however how these people progress is the difficult part.
This week we worked with some of our investigators that still feel like they are lacking in terms of a strong testimony or knowledge of the gospel. One such investigator is called Jonathan. He is 13 years old and is the son of an incredible investigator named Sandra. She is a miracle really; my companion and I call her the miracle investigator because we started talking to her in the hardest week of our mission here.
Jonathan is not quite sure of what he wants out of the church, he doesn’t have many friends and has been abused quite a bit in the schools here. However there is a bright side, he loves the Boy Scout program. For those of you who do not know, the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) and the LDS church are tightly connected. Almost all young boys in the church go through the BSA program learning skills critical to being an independent respectful person. So we contacted the church Friday night and asked them when there would be a BSA outing or meeting, and they told us: "Well, Tomorrow!" So when we woke up we went directly to the church with Jonathan. That’s when we found out that we would be hiking, ha-ha. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and my companion a jersey and sweatpants. Both of us wearing shoes very inappropriate for hiking (for those of you concerned, YES, I was wearing my chucks)
We went way far in a bus, it’s blazing hot, I don’t have sunscreen, and we are out of civilization. Personally I was incredibly excited cause I love to hike, so much. My companion on the other hand isn’t exactly the hiking type. He’s from the beaches of the Dominican Republic he doesn’t do excessively hot or cold and doesn’t go hiking.
We all started hiking and what initially was supposed to be a small hike that should be finished at 12:30 turned into like a 8k loop up and over a huge mountain. It was awesome! Practically no trail, my legs are absolutely trashed with all the cuts and bites I received, but so incredibly worth it. We were with a heftier kid the entire time named Alejandro that well… struggled. We had to pull/push/carry him up the side of this mountain. That is when I realized something.
Leaders do not guide from the front of the pack, if you think they do, you have the wrong idea of a leader. The true leaders that show respect are those behind the group. Pushing and encouraging. That is what makes a leader.
When we finally reached the top my companion was thoroughly finished with his whining, ha-ha, when of course, welcome to Popayan folks, it DUMPED. I’m talking torrential downpour the Heavens opened up. Lighting and thunder with crazy wind. I was whooping and hollering like non other. I love thunder and lighting really, it makes me so happy. We are at this point 3 hours up the side of a mountain. Drenched through and through, and we are now frozen. The scouts and I were having the times of our lives, laughing, running, pushing each other, however my poor companion was having a harder time of the situation. We all found shelter in a little outhouse about half way down
and waited for about 20 minutes for the worst part to pass, trees were falling down, the wind was howling, lighting, thunder and torrential rain pouring down. So flippin’ awesome. We finally reached the bottom at about 3:00, 3 hours late, and couldn’t find transportation back to the city. None of the taxis would take us. We finally all split up and got on the public busses that would take us to the house.
We had to hurry because we had baptisms. When we finally got back to the house the house was trashed this tremendous storm had blew open all the windows, because our windows don’t close. It blew the rain through the entire house. Everything is soaked, oh my gosh. There were flood warnings all through Popayan.
We quickly put our suits on and headed off to the baptisms. Problem is, no electricity. So we solved that problem by performing the baptisms by candlelight. Ha-ha, that didn’t fly for too long before someone came flying into the chapel telling us that we couldn’t use candles because someone could get the wrong idea about the church and think we are a cult, ha-ha so, yeah.
And that was my incredible week. Hectic. Always something to do and always a thousand and one things learned.
That brings me to the more spiritual side of things.
Really the most important lesson I learned this week is:
Ha-ha-ha, how are you supposed to enjoy life when you can’t make the effort to be happy.
I have a scripture that I would like to share with you all from the book of Mosiah:
25: Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.
We are that we might have joy. TO HAVE JOY. This life is filled with trails don’t get me wrong. But be happy folks. This is our time, seize this day, today is it. That is the attitude to have. Something that I personally need to work on here in Popayan.
There is a saying in the LDS Church; To be Mormon is to be Happy. The reality of it is, this statement is so true. Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but as a whole I would like to say we are always so happy. Why? Because we have been given so much, in all aspects of our lives. Have joy in what you have in your lives we have been given much. Thank the Lord in all seasons, in the dark cold days of winter and in the carefree warm days of summer.
That is the simple trick people.
That is what makes a difference.
It’s what I learned coming down the mountain in the cold, pouring rain, that it would only be fun if I did it with a smile and laughed my way down. My companion of the other hand said it was one of the worst experiences he has had here in Popayan, ha-ha…
It’s all about the attitude.
This weekend, plan something fun with your family and some friends. Do something fun outdoors, enjoy what we have been given here in this life. The majority of you are starting to see the colors of autumn, go for a hike, plan something adventurous with your family and just have fun and…
I love you all so much and think about you all more than you could know.
In the name of Jesus Christ
Elder Rawly Lyle