(written July 26)
These last two weeks have been pretty busy for Elder Quadros and I. We've been traveling around the mission with President and Sister Goates as President does personal interviews with all of the missionaries. We go along to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible and we take advantage of the opportunity by go on exchanges with the zone leaders. It's been very tiring but, as always, very rewarding as there are always many spiritual experiences on exchanges.
I've had the opportunity these last two weeks to visit two of my old areas (Tupungato y Villa Mercedes) and do exchanges there. At one point Elder Quadros and I were walking the dusty streets of Tupungato together and it felt like we had never left since we had been companions there one year ago. It brought back a lot of memories and we had a good time telling President and Sister Goates some of the funny stories of stuff that happened to us since we have lots of time to talk as we travel.
Included in visiting the old areas is the opportunity to show the missionaries that are currently there old investigators that might have been lost in transaction. It's a double-whammy because you get to help the elders find more people to teach and you get to see those people again. We had many wonderful experiences doing that.
Also, the exchanges bring about the opportunity to visit converts or people who the missionaries are still teaching and encourage them to keep on going. A lot of times that really helps the investigators and converts because missionaries from before are able to mention spiritually uplifting experiences that remind them of what they felt and why they made the decisions that they made.
I want to share one experience that I had in particular and it doesn't have to do with either of those topics just mentioned. Yesterday morning as we were in Villa Mercedes I went out to one last appointment with Elder Reynolds (one of the current zone leaders there) before heading back to Mendoza. The lesson was with a man that suffers from epilepsy and is burdened by his illness. He laments that it may prohibit him from being able to find a wife, have a family, to be able to work again, etc. I had never met the man before but as Elder Reynolds was explaining the situation I could feel some of this man's heavy burden come over me. I'm sure it wasn't anything like what he feels but it was enough for me to develop compassion for him and want to help him and I'm sure that Elder Reynolds could feel it too.
Elder Reynolds mentioned that they had never really focused on the Atonement and when he said that we knew that that is what we had to talk about. I opened up to Alma 7 and read verses 11-12 that talk about the Atonement and how it isn't just to overcome sin but it is to overcome all things. We decided to share those scriptures with him and to help him understand that the weight of this sickness that he has can be lifted as he puts his faith in Christ. That Christ suffered all things so that He could feel what we feel - and Him, being perfect and having a perfect knowledge of all things, knows perfectly how to help us.
"...and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities." - Alma 7: 12.
I had never met the man before so I didn't know how the lesson had gone in comparison to lessons before but I could tell that he felt something special and was more ready to make some changes in his life. Elder Reynolds mentioned afterwards that he had never seen the man that excited in a lesson and so desirous to progress.
It was one of the most spiritually uplifting experiences I had on the exchanges we did because I felt like a true representative of Christ. Feeling the burdens of others as Christ felt the burdens of all. I know that our heaviest burdens can only be lifted by putting the Atonement of Christ into our lives. That means putting our faith and Him and showing that faith by action.
I love you all and am praying for those of you back home.
Here are pictures from a hike called Cerro Arco that we did last P-day.