Hola a todos mis queridos!!!
I love you all and am so grateful to be alive and serving the Lord right now. This week has been different than any other that I have experienced on my mission and, possibly, my life. As most of you have heard, they has been a catactrophic earthquake that has mainly hit three regions (states) of Chile and has been felt and many other parts. The earthquake destroyed an entire section of Chile and has left too many people without anything and dead family members. Thanks to God, none of the missionaries have been hurt or affected physically by the earthquake. We ended up not being able to work for all of Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. We sat in the house just studying the whole time. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we went out into the sector with our normal street clothes on and our scriptures to do some service where it was needed. Luckily, our area is pretty firm and they weren't really anybody who had ruins to clean up or repairs to make. We checked up on a majority of the members and important investigators in our sector and no one was a affected deeply. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all normal proselyting days, where it was pretty difficult to work but we were able to teach a lot. The aftershocks in the beginning of the week were pretty significant and we have easily felt more than 20 in the whole week. They have ranged from a decent rumble to a little shake, but nothing to really worry about.
Last night, we spoke with a less active member, Luis, who had just got home from a 12-hour drive from Concepción that should have been 6 hours. He was there visiting his parents and helping out others that had lost everything. He said that everyone is just out in the streets all the time and that everything is in shambles. One comforting site to see, he said, down there was that pretty much all of the other buildings were destroyed except for ALL of the LDS churches. They are all still standing. He said it was a significant testimony-building experience...but then I asked him, "And so when are we going to take advantage of these church buildings that are standing to offer us the most abundant blessings on this earth?" Luis remained silent for a second and then said, "You're right Elder. We have to take advantage now." The restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth to bless us and prepare us for the comeing of our Savior. Are we taking the fullest advantage of what our Heavenly Father has freely offered us or are we going along without a second thought.
I cannot tell you how much pain I feel for the children of our Heavely Father that are suffering so much in the south. I understand that God is in control and that we must go through these learning experiences to progress in this life, but that doesn't take away from the sorrow that comes with the circumstances. I earnestly hope you are all praying for these people and donating something to help their well-being because they are children of our Heavenly Father just like you. Your brothers and sisters.
We met with President Resek on Thursday with another zone where he told us that it is now our responsability to be the hope and the comfort that these people can turn to for an answer to what has happened. We are permitted to ask people if they would like a blessing of comfort or a prayer in their house to help them feel the spirit and love of God. I have noticed in the past days of work that the hearts of those that we encounter have softened. It is a sign that "except the Lord doth chasten his people with many afflictions, yea, except he doth visit them with death and with terror, and with famine and with all manner of pestilence, they will not remember him." (Helaman 12:3) In some circumstances, the Lord does this for the good of His children. He does it to give them a better opportunity to search and find them. In Jeremiah 29:12-14, it says, "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
"And I will be found of you, saith the Lord:..."
I love that scripture because those that search for Christ will find Him.
The family of Claudio and Ynez with their daughters, Sasha and Rosangela, didn't come to church yesterday because Ynez had a bad stomach ache and they woke up late. We yelled for them at the door to bring them to church but no one came. Sasha, the 9 year-old, told us during the week that she wants to be baptized as soon as possible. It was amazing to hear from her. She reads and prays the most out of the family and understands everything. We should be having the baptism of her, Rosangela, and Ynez on March 21st. Pray for them and also that Claudio may be baptized on March 28th. This family is so amazing and I hope they can remain firm in the Gospel after they enter into it.
Felipe, a 15 year-old we've been working with for some time, came to church with us yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. He told us that he prayed one night during the week to know if the Book of Mormon was true. While he was telling us this experience, there were a ton of distractions going on in the room at the same time. Someone walked in and was saying hi to everyone and their two cats were meowing for no reason. All of this didn't matter because I was trying to focus on what he was saying in the midst of everything. He said he didn't get an answer at first, and so he went to bed. And then, in the middle of the night,, he woke up to a loud bang in the living room. He left his bed to look out his bedroom door and saw and small white light that came and went quickly. When he got back into bed, he felt a calmness come over his body like never before. In that moment, he knew it was an answer from God that everything was true and he wasn't going to deny it. That, my friends, is what we call an "ATOMIC MOMENT." In the midst of all the distractions, we were able to catch the most important part of the environment that was happening in that moment. I felt the Holy Ghost very strong and it was a great experience for his mom and grandma to hear as well whom were there. He should be baptized on March 21st as well. We are struggling to find new people but I know there is someone out there waiting for us to visit them. Thank you for your support and we'll be talking next week. I would love to hear from some of you through letters!...Rebekah...hint...hint. Remeber, missionaries love hand-written letters!
Con todo mi amor y oración,
Elder Josh Boaz