Friday, February 20, 2015

When all of his family walked into church yesterday, it was really a beautiful moment.

February 16, 2015

Dear family,

This week was a bit different. Our zone leaders are all about trying new things, hence not talking to people in the street and only working through members. This week, we tried something completely different. Like the complete opposite of just working through the members. Each day of the week the entire zone (14 missionaries) worked together in one other areas for about 4 hours. We rotated through all the areas, doing a different area each day. The idea was to get a lot of references. Talk to everyone, even knock on doors. I've actually never knocked on doors my entire mission untill now. It was a little different. But we got a lot of references. Each day we got an average of a little over 100 references. Which is a lot of references. But we'll see what happens. I'd almost prefer to get just a few really good references from members than get a ton of references from tracting. But we'll see what happens.

In other news, the hymn books you sent me arrived! And the little New Testament! The hymn books are really nice. And the litte New Testament - beyond words. It's so much lighter and smaller than carying around the entire bible. Thank you so much for sending those.

One of the goals I've set is the read all the standard works in Spanish outloud while on the mission. So far I've read the Book of Mormon, Doctrince and conenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and a litte over half of the New Testament. Reading in Spanish really has helped me improve my Spanish. I normally don't do my reading during our study time. Just while on the bus. Here in Nueva Concepcion we take the bus a lot. For everything we do within la Nueva, we just walk. But for district meetings, zone conferences and stuff like that we have to take a 2 hour bus ride to Chalate. So we do end up getting lots of bus time.

We're still planning on having the baptism of R and M this Saturday. We're really excited for them, and really happy for President M. When all of his family walked into church yesterday, it was really a beautiful moment. It was so good to see all of them there together. I'll try to send pictures of them next week.

I love you all! Everything will work out in the end! ¡Yo lo sé!

Elder Hilton

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A "snapshot" of one of our days

February 9, 2015

Dear family,

This week I figured that it's a good time to tell you about some of our investigators. I mentioned earlier that we are teaching the family of our branch presidente, his dad and his sister. Their names are R and M. R is 87 years old. He is a very good man. Very humble and very willing to keep the commandments of God. When we told him it was a commandment not to drink coffee, he was just like, "Ok then. If it is a commandment, then we're not going to drink it anymore." And he hasn't drank it since. Right now their baptism is scheduled for the 21 of February. When we ask R how he feels about his upcoming baptism, he says, "I'm really excited. I'm finally in the waiting room. I'm just counting down the days now." M is really good too. She said that the first time she went to church that it was so beautiful that she didn't want to leave. For both of them, the example of President M has been crucial. Rene says that he remembers how his son was when he was young and that now, he's a completely different man. He saw that change the gospel made in the life of his son and he wants that change for himself and all of his family. We're really excited for them.

This week our branch had its first real branch council. We've been getting a lot of training from the area and from President L and it was the best branch council I've been in. We ended with a paper full of plans - members who needed help, what needed to be done to help them, who was going to do it, and when they would do it. This branch really is starting to move forward.

A while ago I to take a "snapshot" of one of our days, so I wrote down everything we did that day and when we did it.

Sunday, 26 January 2015

5:00 get up, get ready
6:00 personal study
7:00 companionship study
8:00 Pass by for investigators to bring them to church
9:00 church. I give a talk, teach Gospel Principles, and Elder Giles teaches Priesthood
12:00 Help President M with tithing and other branch stuff
1:00 Lunch
2:00 Language study
3:00 Video conference with President Lopez (working on the missionary papers of a youth in the branch)
5:00 Proselyting. We teach one lesson to an investigator, some appointments fall, we teach a lesson to a less active member, and then one more lesson to an investigator.
9:00 planning
10:30 bed

That's a fairly typical Sunday for us. Sunday is usually our most busy day. But it's a good day.

Well, I love you all! Thanks for everything you guys do and for you good examples.

Elder Hilton

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"I don't ever want to leave."

February 2, 2015

Dear family,

We were very busy this week. But it was a good week. We're seeing lots of good changes happen in the branch. We're really trying to work more with the members. Before, our main source of investigators was talking with people in the streets. Every now and then we would get a reference from member, but that was kind of rare. But almost all the baptisms that we're having are from the members. So this week we've been trying something different. Basically, we're no longer talking to people in the street. And we're visting the members like carzy. I realized that I really didn't really know how to work with the members. Before, we would visit the members every now and then, encouraging them to read the scriptures and stuff like that, and if we remebered we would ask for references at the end of the visit. But, for obvious reasons, we don't get many references that way.

So I was watching the District videos the other day. There was a video about working with the members. In the video, the mssionaries find out that the member was talking to one of her friends and gave her a copy of The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I realized that the first thing that I would have done in that situation would have been ask for the name and the address of that person. But that's not what the missionaries did. They invited the member to talk to their friend agin and invite her to come over for lunch and talk with the missionaries. They even did a practice. It was great! It was succesful! I imagine that those missionaries got a super prepared new investigator that week. But I feel like if they had just asked for the reference right away it would not have been succesful. So this week we've been trying to help the members to take an active role in missionary work.

We gave one young man who's prearing for his mission Preach My Gospel and a specific study assignment and are planning to work with him a lot more. We challenged one hermana to invite her brother and 2 nephews to church. 

And in the brach, we have an activity every week that's call "La noche de hermanamiento" or followshiping night. It's a simple activity, consisting of a short message and a treat. Normally between five and fifteen people show up. But this week 28 people came. We sometimes have less people in sacrament meeting. We taught the message. We talked about missionary work. First, we asked them to think of the blessings they've received from the Gospel. Then we asked them to think of people who they want to have the same blessings. Then, we gave everyone a note card and asked them to write the name of at least one person that they thought of. We told them that we would give them a little time to think. People started writing right away! We gave them about five minutes to write and they just about filled their cards. Then we brainstormed and thought of many ways they could share the gospel with them, things like pray for them, invite them to church, offer service, invite them to family home evening, etc. Then we asked them to turn over the cards and write a plan of what they would do to share the gospel with the people they had written down. It was a great activity. We wrote down the names of everyone who came, and we will be following up. 

Then yesterday, we served our branch president. We spent about 3 hours in the church office organizing books and cleaning it up. We're also teaching his Dad, Mom, and sister. All 3 of them have accepted baptism dates and are coming to church. Member missionary work is so much better!

Apart from working with the members, we're spending a surprisingly large amount of time with church leaders. On Wednesday, we had our first branch presidency meeting. President L, one of the mission president's counselors, skyped in. It lasted about 3 hours. 

A lot of really good changes and being made in this branch. I don't ever want to leave. I want to see it grow. 

Then Thursday, the regional seminary and institute director called us. He was coming here to train our newly called institute teacher. He asked us to be present while he trained her because it wouldn't have been appropriate for him to be completely alone with her for a long period of time. So this week we received institute teacher training. That was a bit random and unexpected, but it was really cool, and I learned a lot.

It sounds like you guys had a busy week too. I am very much interested in where you guys will move. For what it's worth, Germany woùld be pretty cool. Sarah, I hope your knee gets better soon. 

Mom asked how G is doing. We actually haven't seen him since the time he came to church. It turns out he actually lives in San Salvador and was just here for the weekend visiting family.

Well, I love you guys!

Elder Hilton

Sunday, February 1, 2015

"Missionary work with members is so much more effective."

January 26, 2015

Dear family,

Well, first off, I didn't have changes. And neither did Elder G. So we'll have at least another six weeks together. And we're excited. It's going to be good.

In other news, we finished listening to all the talks you sent me for my birthday! Thanks for sending me those. We really enjoyed listening to them.

More about M. He's so eager to share the gospel, he just doesn't really know how. He's apparently going to other churches so that he can befriend them, "soften their hearts," and invite them to church. I'm not entirely sure if that's ok, but he's trying so hard. We're trying to work with him more so that he has a more positive outlet for his desire to share the gospel. His desire to share the gospel is soooo strong. He reminds me of Alma. He really has had an Alma-like experience. M describes himself as being a great sinner before. He said that he felt really burdened down. Now, he describes the joy that he has, joy he never knew before. And now he is truly doing everything he can to share the gospel. I know that if I wasn't a full time missionary, I would not be doing all that he's doing. I think of the quote from Preach My Gospel that says something like, "As your own understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase." (I still haven't gotten around to learning that in English). But anyways, he's a really good example of that principle. By the way, M's real name is M. The first time we talked to him, we were having trouble hearing is name so he just told us M, and that name kind of stuck.

We're starting to work more with the members. Right now we're teaching the father and the sister of President M. Both of them have accepted baptismal dates and have come to church two times now. 

Missionary work with members is so much more effective. Right now we mainly just find new investigators by talking to people in the street. But almost all of the baptisms result from references from members. So the mission is going to try something different, starting in our zone. Starting this week, we're not allowed to talk to people in the street, unless we're really prompted by the spirit to do so. We will just be working through the members. It's going to be different. I'm not really sure how we'll do it. We have very few members that live close. But, we're going to do it. And it's going to be good.

Well, I love you all!

Elder Hilton