Finally I had an interesting week! We preached the gospel a lot but there's some interesting stuff that happened too. I'll start with the good and finish with the depressing. We did a “service activity” that was presenting universal values to schools. I had to talk for 10 minutes on health without talking about the church or God or Christ or anything religious. The first school we went to had a group of about 70 kids between 15 and 17. there were no teachers to help us because they were in a meeting or something and so we had to sit them all down and they were all super rowdy during the presentation so it wasn't very good. A bunch got up and left during. And it was way more stressful because the mission president and his wife chose to watch our group of four out of the twelve groups. But he helped us out a lot so it was cool. The second school had about 100 10-12 year olds (mostly girls) and they were all super engaged it went really well at that school. When I said I was from the United States they all gasped, and afterward I gave about 15 autographs. I think they thought I was Justin Bieber or something. Ok, now time for the bad news. On monday we had everything planned for Lizeht and Rubeiro's baptism. From our activity we had raised the money to get their papers sent (we pulled some strings so we could get them mailed) and all they had to do was pay the money for the papers, set up a marriage date, and pay for the marriage. Four months of working my hardest every day had finally paid off. We were going to have a baptism before I left. Then they decided to spend the money that we earned for their marriage (and baptism) on other things. They didn't have any money left over to buy ingredients to make hamburgers for the ward, and they cancelled on everyone who had committed to help them (we planned two hamburger activities). So now they have no money to pay for the marriage. One of the things Rubiero used the money for was to look for a job which he found. So now the only chance is that maybe in the future they can save up the money. We can't ask for the help of the missionaries or members again because they already had it and misused it. My hopes were super high for them, but now i'm not even sure if Rubeiro wants to get baptized. We had a lesson at their neighbors house yesterday and he walked by without stopping or saying a word, and he looked pretty mad. Lizeht still wants to get baptized. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I was pretty discouraged from all of that. Alson, tons of our lessons fell through and we spent almost all of our time walking from house to house. Sunday something happened that changed my attitude. We went to visit Viky and we read a passage in the Book of Mormon. I could see how much her faith and love of God had grown and her desire to serve him. After the lesson, it came up in conversation that I'm probably leaving Giron next week. She got sad then after a little bit said “well you'll have to come back in December to baptize me.” I decided that even though I haven't baptized anyone yet, i've changed at least one life. And that's a pretty big deal. It's not very often that you get to change someone's life. And to say “change a life” is an understatement, because the happiness that comes from living the gospel is eternal. And even if all of our other investigators reject us tomorrow, it'll be okay because i'm confident that Viky will stay strong.
“Dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God, and that his arm be revealed”
I'm enthusiastic about the work again, and working hard. I might not have had the best numbers here in Giron but I know the Lord is pleased. I know I was meant to serve here, and ti'm going to miss a lot of these people. It's been my home for the last four months and i've changed a lot in my time here. I hope my next area is cool. If I don't write next week, don't worry. Chances are I'll be traveling and won't get to write. But if I don't write for the next two weeks, that means I probably got dengue fever. I get like 6 mosquito bites every day. So stay tuned. For real though, I'm really blessed because I haven't even gotten a little sick. Well, I'll talk to you all on Nov 10th when I have a new area and comp and house and stuff.
Love Elder Downing
PS I ate cow stomach and intestine soup