Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spreading the Word

It's been a full week of events and new ideas here in Cliza, and it's making my companion and I super excited for the weeks to come!  Things are progressing here greatly!
Here a bit of a cool story:  Wednesday night of this week, at about 9 oclock, we went to go visit one more person before we turned in for the night.  About a block before we got to the investigators house, we saw smoke coming from a different house, but just assumed it was from an oven, since there was only a tiny bit. So we kept walking, and knocked the door of the investigator... as he answered the door, we turned back, and there was a cloud of smoke so big nothing was visible! The house was burning down!  We rushed over to the house, asking the number for Bomberos, or the fire department..  Cliza is so small, there is no fire department. So everyone ran down a few blocks to a small river with buckets to put it out, us included.  What makes it worse is the house also has a furniture store in it. So everything was flammable, sofas, beds, closets, chairs, all made of wood and cotton.  The fire suprisingly got put out relatively quickly and nobody was hurt from it.
The family I told you about last week, Family Vasquez, lost their Dad last night.  All our efforts are going towards them now.  All of the kids are under 18, and there are 4 of them.  We are working hard with the ward, and have scheduled for the ward members to bring them food every night of the week.  They also owe the hospital a large payment for the hospital stay, but we are still working on a solution for that.  Evelin, who is 16, told us last night the only reason she is at peace is because of prayer.  Also telling us she never prayed before we started teaching her.  They are all being comforted, by the ward and the Lord, although this is probably the hardest time of their lives.
Last week in a conference, President Dyer told us we should always invite our investigators to kneel and pray with us.  To the point of even saying it would be a sin not to pray on your knees with them.  I initially took this as some strong counsil, but decided to put it into practice.  Ivan, who is one of our investigators with a baptismal date for 2 weeks in the future, lacks the permission from his mom, who is very catholic.  We also visit her, and teach her too.  After asking permission for his baptism, and inviting her to baptism too, we ended with a prayer, and asked them to kneel with us.  That alone brought the spirit so strongly! I know his mom felt it also, and she said she would talk with Ivan before giving the permission.  We are still waiting for the word though.

I'm starting up an English class again here, and because of the people I know, it's going to be big.  We have an open shop right on the square to teach, thanks to our pensionista, and I recently met someone who works for the television in my little Pueblo, Cliza. He said if we make a commercial, we can play it for one month for 20 bolivianos. So we might be making a commercial for it and everything!  This could be big for the church. I know not everyone will get baptized, but everyone will know about the church. I'm really excited for it all.

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

Investigators, Blessings, and Baptisms!

My area is still tough, but things are progressing amazingly. We now have a gigantic pool of investigators, and we have figured out that confedence in us is the key to having success in Cliza!  A few of my investigators have some pretty tough stories, but we are helping them in every way we can.

There is a family that we are in need of a lot of help. Their dad is in a coma and is in the hospital, and they are struggling without him. They have 5 kids, and we are teaching them all.  The mother is always in the hospital to stay with their dad.  Without a father at home, they have very little money, and no head of the house to look to.  Also, the medical costs have exceeded over 90,000 BS and they are unable to pay for it.  The dad can't leave the hospital until the pay the cost, so they are in a very tough situation. All of the children are girls, except for one. His name is Fabian, and he is 16.  Recently we have found out that he has been involved in gang activity for the past few years, but wants to change, telling us we are this.  After explaining to importance of families, and the role of a father, he has come to realize that he has to play that role now since his father is sick.  We have gotten together with the ward, and they are coordinating to be able to bring food to their house for them.  They will do this each day of the week for them, and our help.  After teaching the children, 3 of them have baptismal dates and attend regularly.  The only issue will be permission. Their parents are very catholic and closed minded when talking to them.  They are, however, very greatful for the ways that we are helping them.

This week we have gained much confedence of one of our investigators, Nilda. Before, she would not open up to us, so we did not know how to help her. Finally, she has come to trust us enough to tell us her problem. She has a type of skin cancer, but does not know how to tell her family. She is waiting to find out if it is dangerous or not before she tells her family. Now that we know this about her, she trust in us a lot, and tells us any updates. We taught her the plan of salvation after that, and explained how God has a plan for each of us. Because of her, we have realized that trust is one of the most important things to have with investigators.

The sister of this investigator with cancer is named Ely.  She is probably the best investigator I have probably ever had, for one main reason.  She is born and raised in Cliza, and literally knows everyone.  We are great friends now, and she loves hearing our lessons.  Through her, we get at least 3 or 4 references every single day.  All we have to do is accompany her to the store, and on the way we run into her friend, take out an appointment. Then we get to the store, and she introduces us to the store worker.  Everyone she knows, she introduces us too.  She has some doubts about the gospel, but when it comes to references, we couldn't have anyone better than Ely.

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cliza, Punata, Cochabamba, Bolivia: Challenging Area, but Not Impossible

Well, blame the zone leaders for not being able to write a family letter last week. They cut our time short if we arrive to the internet cafe as a zone, as they did last week. So I wasn't able to write many people last week. I'll make sure to catch you all up on what happened the past 2 weeks here though.

First of all, my area may be the toughest area in the entire mission.  Cliza is a tiny pueblo in the middle of nowhere. The closest other pueblo is called Punata, which is where the branch meets.  It is about 20 minutes in a trufi from Cliza, and is a bit expensive to get there. Many people are humble here, and want to listen to our message.  They will listen, and read what we give them, and even pray to know its true.  The only major problem is attending church for them. One, it is expensive to travel to Punata, there and back. Two, there is The Feria.  This is a gigantic market that they only have on Sundays.  Nearly every person who lives in Cliza is a vendor of some sort.  Since the Feria is only on Sundays here, that means either sell what they have, or have their family starve.  For many people attending church is almost not even an option for them. And if they can't attend church, they can't progress or get baptized. For this, there as been one baptism in 5 years in my area, which was actually only a few months ago by my companion.  Since there have been no baptisms here, that means there are no members either to help us, or even less active members to go visit.  For a time, the area was closed because of having no success, but now it is back, and we are now here, and ready to build up the church here!

Now there are many things that could discourage any missionary about this area, and it does to some. There are elders who pray they never come here.  But for my companion and I, it's just a challenge we have accepted, and are doing great here! We have many people who are progressing now.  Sunday mornings are always a fiasco, but if we put all out efforts in, we can usually convince 2 or 3 to come, at least for an hour to church. But that allows them to progress, and it is really helping them.

Here in Bolivia, and much of South America, Halloween is very sacred.  It's not a time to put on masks and ask for candy at the doors of neighbors.  It's a time to remember those who have passed, and hold ceremonies for them.  In Bolivia, they call this holiday "Todos Santos" or All Saints, and its never held on the 31st of October.  They believe the modern tradictions of Halloween have ruined the day, so they celebrate either 2 days before ( my birthday haha) or 2 days after.  We helped the only recent convert in Cliza, Edwin, and his family make special types of bread to sell for the holiday too. Once I have a camera cable, I will send the pictures of them!
So that's what my new area is like, and I am enjoying every day here! I'd love to hear from everyoe personally, when you all get a chance!

Elder Potts III
Bolivia Cochabamba Mission