Monday, September 23, 2013

Week of Sep 23

This week has been one of the fastest weeks of my mission so far. We had exchanges which means we switch companions for bit. That made the week go even faster. I only remember about an hour of that 24, it was nuts. This week some really cool things did happen though. I will share one with you specifically.
We received a number of people to contact via references and previous street contacts who all lived in the same area. Three houses, belonging to Carla, Blanca and Sonia. We had already tried all their houses before with no answer, but we decided to try again. When we went to try again it was just me and a young man, Carlos. He is the one preparing for a mission in Brazil. None of the three were there but at the last home of Blanca someone was home (not her). His name was Walter, we talked to him at the door and he told us to come in and have a little discussion. We ended up having one of the most powerful conversations and lessons that I have ever had. And certainly the most impacting Carlos has participated in. Walter was highly educated in Salvador but only in Spanish and he hardly speaks English. He is intelligent and well studied in the Bible. As we started he said that he had heard lots of things that he wasn't sure about the Mormons but still wanted to hear what we had to say. He truly does want to learn of Christ from any source he can. We were able to solve a few issues: we don't worship Joseph Smith, no we aren't crazy, we pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ, the house of Israel was the Jews, etc. All of which was fantastic. The truly miraculous part was something that I have never truly felt or recognized before.
Near the end of the "teaching" part of the lesson, we told him there was one more thing that proved the reality of all we had discussed and taught. We pulled out the Book of Mormon, and his eyes were immediately affixed to it. We explained it as another testament of our savior Jesus Christ and that it contains his teachings and his words, through prophets, and his coming to the Americas. I asked him to read the first four verses so he could make the connection between the Book of Mormon and Jerusalem. He took the book and with a special reverence began reading. A feeling in the room started inconspicuously building at first. It felt almost like a specific ray gun in Halo that you hardly notice is over heating but then you truly realize how powerful it is. As he read, it built and built. He was so engrossed in the testimony of Nephi and what he was feeling that he couldn't even turn the page to finish the fourth verse. The feeling then left in the silence quicker than it had occurred. He then said, "este es los otros" this is the others. He began talking of the other people, the other Children of God that Jesus had mentioned. We talked about the other sheep that were not of this fold. He said that he wanted to read it, before we had even asked him. He said he would read as much as he can before we come back. I jokingly said "voy a regresar entonces" I will return then, it was said in jest, but he understood why we were there and what he needed to do to understand this "Nuevo camino" new path.
It was only because of our persistence, our preparation and the spirit through the grace of God that we were able to have this experience. I am especially grateful for this experience for many reasons, many of which you all already know. Continue in your efforts for your answers, for your witnesses, continue in your faith and God will provide what you need to have to continue.
I love you all and hope you are doing well, we are running out of time like always, have a wonderful week and share this with whoever you like.
-Elder Bigelow

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week of Sep 16

This week has been another fast one. Things have just been going so fast recently, I hardly remember anything unless it is monumental. So it is a good thing I have been writing in my journal and am keeping all my letters. Dad, how much of your mission do you remember? Was most of it a blur? I don't remember too many stories from your mission, do you just not remember many like I feel like I won't one day?  There are a few things that I do remember this week though that have been rather large. We went the the Nationals game to represent the church at the kick off of the service thingy which was great and a ton of fun. I always love going into DC, especially on the metro. We had a zone conference that lasted 8 hours-ish, but it was great because President Riggs taught a lot of it and he is pretty stellar. Both Mom's, my and probably your prayers came through. I so deeply respect and love my leader, which makes it 10000000000 times easier to want to obey rules and do the things he asks. I don't know what would have happened otherwise, I guess Ill just be grateful for what I have. We talked all about prayer and it was great, because I really really like prayers and it is one of the very most basic points of the gospel that really resonates with me.
Have you seen the new Mormon message series entilted Daily Bread? You should if you haven't and do some cool family home evening on it and make everyone be there. It talks about the necessity of daily communion with God in the same way we need daily food and water as sustinence or we cannot survive. Through dwelling in the presence of God we can provide the sustinece our spirit needs to not only survive but to flourish. We need to elevate ourselves to a higher plane of spiritual sensitivity and strength. When we pray daily, really conversing and sharing with God while letting him respond, we can elevate ourselves. When we thoroughly read and study the scriptures in a new way applying them to our busy lives we can elevate ourselves. When we simply love one another and show that God loves them through our own actions we can elevate ourselves. We must continue progressing spiritualy. If we are not climbing upward towards God we are falling down the other way. I have seen this in particular with one Man in particular. His lack of daily interaction with God with real intnent is holding him back. He is sooo soo soooooo close to baptism. His wife was recently baptized and he has even told us that he knows that everything is true. He just does not have a strong enough personal feeling to make a promise with God, which is fair enough, but we and he knows exactly how he can get that feeling. He just won't do it. This saturday we had one of the most spiritually intense lessons I have ever had on my mission. We showed all the right scriptures with powerful testimony with so much love and happiness directed by 4 missionaries (the sisters are teaching the family with us). After all this from us and his wife, he would not pray. We invited and invited but he wouldn't come down to his knees to pray with us. I tried grabbing is hand to pull him down to pray with us and then we waited and asked for literally 45 minutes on our knees. Forty minutes of that waiting in silent prayer pleading with Heavenly Father to give this man whatever he needed to begin praying. It is so frustrating; I think this is what is holding him back, because he can't truly obtain that conviction to commit if he doesn't act first, it is just not how God works. Obviously this isn't your trouble but I would challenge you and the family to do better in your prayers. Find ways to change them and  truly make them in the name of Christ, using His words and His desires for your surroundings. I know when we make an effort to change ourselves and transform our desires, God will make it possible. 
I love you all so much. Keep doing what I know you do.
Elder Bigelow

Week of Sep 9

This week we have been doing really well. I have started to learn how to really do missionary work, I think, for myself. It is much much different taking the lead and being in charge of our daily doings. I am happy and I am working hard. This week I will be at the Washington Nationals game on Friday night, with the whole mission! If you can catch a glimpse of the game you might see a sea of white shirts and ties, who knows you might even see me!

Somebody told me that I have been on my mission for quite a bit, I counted and it is almost 5 months, that is crazy! Almost a quarter, I hardly remember half of it. Time really does fly, whether you are having fun or not.
 I am doing great; still land learning a lot about myself this week. Love you lots and talk to you soon!
Elder Bigelow

Friday, September 6, 2013

This week has been another kicker, Lots of things have been happening. Mercedes got baptized (pictures next week) which has been basically the work of my whole mission so far. It was so amazing and so gratifying to see her finally take that step, now it is on to the rest of her family who are so close to it as well. They will be such an amazing family together in the gospel when that finally happens. 

This week someone told me I have been out on my mission for a little while now. At first I didn't believe them but then I counted and I almost have 5 months gone from home. That is pretty close to 1 quarter of my mission! I can't believe how fast it has gone already and how much I have left.

Elder Facer and I are really getting into a groove now. These next three months will also fly by and hopefully much success. I think we are doing everything right, or at least trying our best to.

My spanish is coming along, but of course much much more to go to be anywhere near fluent. I am excited to see how we do together this Christmas. I know study is key for me right now, I learn a lot just from talking but I need the backbone of solid gramatical correctness to keep me speaking well.(even though I dislike it thoroughly).

As always it seems I don't have near as much time as I would like to email people, this week we went to the Temple and shopping at sams club so it cut down our time we have to email. I will try to make it happen next week, if nothing else, expect pictures next week.

Te amo mucho, quidense mucho
Nosvemos pronto

Elder Jonny Bigelow