Hola familia y amigos!
This week we made headway in the branch. Remember I said that we were lacklusterly received when we first arrived here…but that’s changing. We’ve gotten to know the members here, have spent time with them, my companion the Branch President has been having good interviews with them, giving out callings, we are delegating, allowing them to be their own agents to do good, putting the branch in their hands, and having activities. All of this has been giving a new hope and energy to the branch…they are smiling more, more open in conversation and ideas, more coming to the activities, more participation during church meetings and classes. A lot of GOOD flippin stuff basically for the branch in Feliciano! We are seeing that the people have ideas and energy and want to put it to use! And that they love the church. Our poor reception was due to rough experiences and happenings in the past that have knocked them off course a little bit (some mistakes by others, some misunderstandings, some natural life heartaches). But we are helping them find their foundation on Christ and Christ only! (Helaman 5:12) so that the winds of the adversary don’t knock them down again but only makes them stronger! and stronger together! So we have high hopes for the growth and general welfare of the people and the branch here. Good stuff eh!?
Photos below are of some members (notice our humble meetinghouse), some asados, and of course photos of THE SHIRE!
There is this one family that were basically the pioneer members of the ward. Their name is Kavafian…it’s armenian. They are the backbone of the branch. All the children are adults now and have some small families of their own. The head of the family and the one that brought them all to the church and made them strong in the was the father. He passed away a year ago and it was a very rough hit for the family. Now the mom is the head of the family. They are a confident family, strong in familial ties, blunt, sturdy, to-the-point, are well-off because they work for it, AND have very strong and deep testimonies of the church! Because they are the backbone of the branch…much of the bad experiences in the past have been directed to them, but they continued going to church because of their testimonies but basically shut off much communication with the other members because of how much they have been attacked, and also some mistreatment of the past missionaries towards them. But now, due to what I believe is our help, Elder Lopez and I have been showing to all the members equal love and willingness to work with each one of them, and to put the branch in their hands. And now they have been responding back positively! Like I noted earlier, much more hope, energy, and love is entering the walls of the little house chapel here and in the hearts of the members! Onward and upward!!!
Funny story: At the end of an activity when we are hanging out, eating and chatting, one investigator of ours yells out, “Okay, I’m leaving!!!!! And I want to say that if I don’t get baptized by the 20th of November…I WON’T be baptized!!! Okay…see you all later!” Everybody was like, “whhhhhatttt???” Background on this woman…she has been taught by the missionaries for ages…she’s 60 something, quite a funny character; stubborn, and because she is, doesn’t understand basic doctrine. She’s had about 4 baptismal dates in the past but they have all fallen through for some reason. We have been teaching her here and there, but she’s a stubborn one. She said…”I’ll be baptized, BUT I ‘ll only come to church sometimes because there is always something to do Sundays!” “Well that’s what you think huh” we thought among ourselves. Well now she has put her own baptismal date…but we are not inclined to do it because she hasn’t put forth any works. She’ll always be around and once she puts forth works we will be happy to baptize her then.
This morning we witnessed something LOCO. Elder Lopez and I headed to a member’s house to witness the slaughtering and skinning of one of his lambs. He’s going big as it is his birthday today. Later today, we will go back to eat it asado style! It’s not the tastiest meat there is, and he doesn’t prepare it with tons of spices, but it’s an experience. I’ve already eaten heart and kidney. And boy was it an experience to watch upclose and personal how meat is REALLY prepared from the beginning. I’m not going to include the pictures in this email but I’ll make one for my family. Let me know if you want to see pics.
The slaughtering and skinning happens much different then I thought! It was…if it’s weird to say…pretty spiritual! Our friend, captures the lamb with his lazo, ties one leg to a rope, and hoists it up. The lamb makes a couple “baaaaas” but is really calm. Our friend grabs one of his big knifes, situates the neck, and swiftly and accuaretly slices the throat…the lamb doesn’t make a sound nor moves! Only twitches because of natural nerves. The blood drains into a bucket and the lamb quickly and peacefully dies. WoW! we thought. Just like that!? And then he begins to skin it and it’s a completely clean process! I was expecting blood to fly everywhere! But there was none. Our friend quietly removes the skin, humbly and respectfully it seemed. He then opens the stomach. It was amazing to see EVERYTHING. He takes the insides out and we see the lamb completely skinned. He takes off the head…I take off a foot (my souvenir!) and then takes the lamb inside. WOW.
Spiritual point of view…CHRIST is the LAMB of God. He was perfect, innocent, white, and when taken to the slaughter…was as peaceful as a “may morning.” He did not fight but allowed the will of the Father to be done. Read Doctrine and Covenants 135:4 for what Joseph Smith said right before his death.
Don’t let Christ’s sacrifice be for nothing! It was done so that if we had faith in His name and repented, we could be saved from spiritual death! I thank God for giving His Son for us.
Hey! Love you all! Onward and Upward.
Elder Orme IV