(written Oct 25th)
Well, I can officially announce it now; we have known about it for a few months but until it was confirmed we weren't able to say anything or announce it. Elder Christofferson will be coming to our mission on the 8th of next month! He will actually be coming for a leadership meeting but will take advantage of being here to have a few other meetings including one with all of the missionaries in the mission! I am very excited and I paid extra special attention to his conference talk this month because of it :) If you don't remember, he is the one that opened his talk with the statement "Muy buenos días!"
This week has been an especially good week. The next two weeks will be a very different story but this week we had very few duties to take care of in the offices so we were able to work for several hours each day.
On Thursday we were able to visit a new member who was baptized about a year ago when I was in the area before. He has been a heavy smoker for his whole life. He is about 40 years old and has been smoking since he was 8! He said he stopped for about a year when he was 12 years old but other than that he has been smoking heavily. He was baptized after finding strength in reading the scriptures, going to church, and praying to get away from his addiction. He went for a month without smoking before being baptized and then continued strong for about 4 months after his baptism. He then moved to Buenos Aires for a job opportunity. He attended church there every now and then and even went on visits with the missionaries but without his family support and stress from his job not being what he thought it'd be he fell out of his newly formed habits of scripture study, church attendance, and prayer, and returned to his old addiction of the cigarette.
I found out this week that he had returned from Buenos Aires so I made sure I could see him as soon as possible. I was nervous that he would tried to avoid us or be confrontational as many are when they fall back into there habits. He received us kindly into his home and told us all that had happened to him within the last year. He admitted to returning to his addiction but asked for our help so that he could quit again.
I told him that when he asked for help from us that the first thing that came to my mind wasn't an intricate plan or an expensive treatment... it was the basic gospel principles of scripture study, church attendance, and prayer that fortify ones ability to avoid sin and be righteous. He recognized that he had lost power to avoid the temptation because he had broken those good habits. He even told us about how he loved the scriptures and how when he reads them he has no desire to smoke. In the month before he was baptized he had already read the Book of Mormon once through and after his baptism he read it two times before moving to Buenos Aires. He committed to begin reading again and to stop smoking.
Yesterday we went to his house to do service for him. We moved a big pile of sand to the back of his house where he will be mixing it to make concrete for a new kitchen floor. While we were helping him he told us how he had begun to read again and was already on page 40 of the Book of Mormon. He said that his cigarette intake was already at half of what is was and that he will be off of them completely in a few days.
I wanted to share this today to remind everyone of the importance of those three basic principles of growth and strength. Daily scripture study, weekly church attendance, and constant prayer are principles that give us the strength to avoid the temptations that loom around every corner of life's daily tasks. In the story that I shared it is easy to see the impact that those principles played in his life and his ability to avoid sin. Our stories may not be as clear but anyone can see the difference it has if they reflect on the times in their lives where they have been diligent in doing those things and times when they have not. I know these habits have greatly affected my life and have brought me to not only better avoid sin but to love righteousness.
I hope every is doing well and happy. I am happy, a little tired, but looking forward to the next couple weeks of busyness and upliftment with Elder Christofferson.
Here are a few pictures from Elder Garcia's birthday. We decided to surprise him by singing him happy birthday and trying to bring a little bit of Mexico to him (mustaches). We had a good time and he even joined in on the fun by putting one on himself!