Well, we’re missionaries, but it is a pretty interesting comparison. A Missionary’s strength flows from the Spirit, which is a remarkable comparison. Just like Luke Skywalker, who has to learn to control the Force, we as missionaries have to learn to listen to the Spirit and to draw what we teach from that power. If we don’t, the message of the Gospel will never reach the heart of the person, as it is promised in 2 Nephi 33. I have really learned to rely on that power in our lessons and as we teach our investigators because they are God’s children, and He knows them better than I ever will.
Speaking of that, yesterday I had a very sad and tiring experience. My body felt literally drained after the lesson that we taught. A young man named K had been listening to us for a couple of weeks with his friend S. They are both non-members and S is actually progressing sufficiently and will probably get baptized in the coming weeks. His friend, however, is an atheist or agnostic young man that only listens to us to test us. He told his friends (our ward missionaries that we’ve been working a ton with the past months) that the only reason he was listening to us was to see if we actually know what we’re talking about and if we can answer the questions that he has for us. He asked us a super-loaded question the last time we visited him. “Why does God like to see His children suffer if He is such a loving Heavenly Father? Just look at Sodom and Gomorrah! He let Little Children suffer!” First and foremost that question is the dumbest question that I had heard from an investigator in a long time. He hadn’t even bothered to read the story and study it out. That time, we didn’t bother answering the question, but did yesterday. We read the story together and showed him that there weren’t even ten righteous people in the city much less little children. Then we talked about the justice of God and that when there is a law given, there must be a punishment. He got that, but still pushed us.
Then I decided to talk to him about first, a desire to believe; second, believing; third, faith; and fourth, hope. We read part of Elder Holland’s I Believe talk. After explaining that cycle, I asked him if he really desired to believe, and he just fired a question back at us: “What if these beliefs don’t happen?” I asked him which was better out of these two circumstances: “Don’t believe in God and think that things just end when we die and that our life really had no purpose” or “believe in God and have the hope that things will be better, that all will work out, and that we will one day become perfect beings.” That shut him up. Then I asked him again if he had a desire to believe and he said “no.” Just a straight up “no.” I couldn’t take it anymore — I asked him if he didn’t want the hope of seeing loved ones after death, if he didn’t want the hope of helping others have the same hope, and plenty of other things. Then my companion just laid it on him, “Do you not want to LIVE?” That shut him down. However, he then started asking questions about the history of the Church like: “When was the Mormon Church established?” (I gave him the answer of 6 April 1830) and “Aren’t the majority of North Americans Mormons?” and that question led to “Tell me the truth, wasn’t the Church established by the US Government to try to bring the world together and take away our rights in other countries?” That was the last straw. We left and aren’t going back to teach him again. I felt pretty bad for him at the end of the lesson because he didn’t even want to listen to our message or know what it was like. He just wanted to try and destroy my personal testimony.
Other than that, it has been a pretty great week. Yesterday we had a country-wide stake conference headed up by Elder Scott and Elder Bednar with someone from the general Seventy and the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society. I didn’t know that Elder Scott could speak Spanish so well! He talked about the divine nature of women and how they should be treated, a good message for South America. Elder Bednar talked about the principles of true repentance. After the other speakers had all spoken in Spanish, Elder Bednar had this smile on his face and just blew out his whole talk in English with a Spanish translator. It was actually super funny. The Relief Society counselor talked about loving the children that stray from the straight and narrow. The Seventy talked about Peru’s history in the Church. It was pretty great and was very well done.
I’ve attached a ton of pictures of what I keep in my Book of Mormon case that I carry around with me everywhere. It is a rule in the mission to always have a Book of Mormon in our hands, and at the beginning of the mission they gave us a nice cover for it to keep the book protected. It also comes with a ton of space to put other stuff in. So, here’s the massive amount of pictures and stuff that I have in my hand all the time.
Also, I’d like to thank genetics for giving me dad’s gag reflex. There’s this old lady that sits around the main street that we walk on making and selling FRIED PORK in (what I think is) 10-YEAR-OLD OIL. It smells SO bad and makes me want to throw up every single time I walk past. We’ve tried avoiding her, but she’s only there at night and some of the side roads are too dark for us to trust. So, every night I get a face full of the nastiest smell ever.
Other than that, life has been an adventure this past while. I’ve felt homesick plenty of times the past 14 months, I’ve had hard days, and there have been some pretty sad moments. I know that there must be an opposition in all things, but it really sucks some times. Today, though, I’m doing great, and I love the work. Every day is an adventure with all sorts of ups and downs, and I really hope to see things like that.
Well, I’m off to have an adventure!
With many llamas,
Elder Van Komen