Hey Gaughan fam!
It's been it's been a good two weeks! Sorry I didn't get this sent out last week. We're using library computers and the time limit ended before I did. Our area is definitely improving though! For the last two weeks we have had double the number of people we've been working with in church than we've had in the last 3 months! Elder Ballstaedt is a very driven missionary and is always looking for ways we can improve our teaching, planning, and how to help the branch and those we're visiting more. The most exciting thing that we saw this week was that a man the missionaries have been visiting for quite some time, Rene, finally came to church. For the last 11 months he has been reading the Book of Mormon (which he recently finished and started again from the beginning), listening to the missionaries, and making the changes in his life necessary to be baptized. The only thing that prevented him from taking that step was the fact that he worked on Sundays, and couldn't come to church, which finally changed! He's now preparing to be baptized on the 20th of July. Never in my mission have I seen someone so patient and dedicated to following the Lord in spite of his obstacles.
Our new Mission President is great! I was really surprised by the way he started everything in our first meeting with him. Rather than talking about baptismal numbers, goals, teaching tactics, key indicadors, or anything else, he bore testimony of the Savior, and taught us out of John 15 and other scriptures about the importance of depending on Christ, becoming unified, and loving and serving one another. He taught about what it means to minister to others and what the most important responsibilties of a leader are.
I was studying one morning about a week and a half ago, and I realized that I could improve a lot in depending on the Spirit to know where to go, what to do, and what to say. Time is one of the most precious things you have as a missionary, and when you have plans to visit someone and they don't answer the phone, or you're trying to decide where to knock doors, the only recouse you have is the guidance of the Spirit.
With that in mind, I began to pray to know where to go whenever our plans fell through and at the beginning and end of the day, and I was amazed by what happened. For the next two or three days, we kept finding ourselves exactly where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. I have never experienced anything like it. Peoples names would come to mind, and we would stop by just when they had some down time or got back home. We taught more lessons and used our time more effectively, and I enjoyed each day more knowing the Spirit was leading us.
We also learned the importance of really getting to know people as we begin to share the gospel with them. There's a man we starting teaching about 2 weeks ago that lives with some friends. He seemed to have a good testimony of the existence of God, so we didn't spend as much time on that concept and moved on to other things. All of a sudden we got a text from him last Sunday saying that if God existed, He never would have separated this man from his family, and told us not to visit him anymore. We had no clue about his situation or the resultant pain and doubt he was experiencing. We never asked. As the hymn says, "In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can't see," and as disciples and representatives of the Savior, the experience taught me that we need to love people enough to get to know them, and help them with the real problems they face.
Thank you for all of your prayers, emails, and letters! I love you!