[email dated 9.13.14]
There were changes this week and we got a huge group of newbies (16). We picked them up in a giant bus that only exists here in the jungle. [wish we had a picture of the bus!] We took them to the mission home and ate lunch with them. They were a really happy group and didn’t seem as scared as the last one. It might have had to do with the fact that there were so many of them. Elder Belnap (my 6'9" MTC companion) just so happens to be training the smallest Peuvian I think I have ever seen.....haha that just seemed too good to be real but it was funny [I really wish there was a picture of that! But, here’s one of Elder Belnap in the MTC with Tyler, who is 6’ and generally looks like a giant himself next to Peruvians].
Also, Elder Lee, the missionary that I got to train back in November/December is now training one of the newcomers, Elder Portocarrero. So, I have a Peruvian "grandson"! He obviously isn’t actually related to me, but it's still cool to see that the missionary that I trained is now training another one. The meeting with the new missionaries takes a lot longer when there are so many of them, it was basically an all day thing.
After the newbies got in, we had a few trainings right away here in Iquitos where I talked this time about the Book of Mormon. In the past, the missionaries had been really focused on "teaching well" in the way that everyone should gain a lot of knowledge about the doctrine and the details within the lessons. Well, I've never been a huge fan of that way and neither is President and he has really wanted us to be able to apply a principle taught be Elder Bednar to seek learning by faith and to be able to help others to be able to learn by faith focusing more on commitments and really teaching more simply. It really is a much better and also easier way to teach. As an application, I talked about the Book of Mormon and the way to use it to help people to learn by faith that the church was restored through Joseph Smith. It's one of my favorite trainings that I’ve done, actually. This week, we're going to be out in Pucallpa for almost the whole week to be there and visit with the missionaries and see how all is out there and give the same trainings.
Here is a quote from the Elder Bednar talk referenced by Tyler, which is really good and can be found in its entirety HERE:
Nephi teaches us, “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth [the message] unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). Please notice how the power of the Spirit carries the message unto but not necessarily into the heart. A teacher can explain, demonstrate, persuade, and testify, and do so with great spiritual power and effectiveness. Ultimately, however, the content of a message and the witness of the Holy Ghost penetrate into the heart only if a receiver allows them to enter. Learning by faith opens the pathway into the heart.
In this mission, the assistants were basically always here in the offices doing things--little projects, and hardly ever getting out into the field. When they did get out into the field, they would just go to their area and work with what they could with the time that they had. However, we have encouraged the President to add a secretary and to allow the secretaries to get out and work too. This allows us to do what we were always supposed to be doing-- go out and work in the field with other missionaries. This whole week, we weren’t ever in the offices, except for a few hours for some things that we had to do, and the rest of the time we were picking up the newbies, in trainings or going to work with other missionaries to help them out. It is so much more fun and fulfilling to get to go out and work and to actually help other missionaries and their investigators. This also means that we have extended our trips to serve the missionaries in far away areas, so we won’t be in our own area very much. I’m just happy that we'll actually get to do something outside and be able to really help them with real things and not just try to do it all from here in the offices.
I hope that you all have a great week!! Talk to you next Saturday!! (maybe I'll have more pictures next time)...
P.S. According to what I know, I should be arriving home on the 2nd of December in the afternoon/night, more or less. I actually should have flight plans in a short amount of time. Nothing 100% yet but that's what I can tell you at this point.