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Elder Ritter 1/16/2023

Hola a todos!

This week was pretty wild, filled with crazy miracles, and some pretty sad letdowns, but through it all, Jaén is progressing strongly and we are working hard!

We helped with two moves this week. Well, one I'd call a move and the other was more of a piso cleaning. The first one was helping a new family move into the ward from a small pueblo outside of church building Jaén. They were a fun little family, and they had a young teenaged son that got along right away with all the young men in our ward. On Sunday, the parents came up to us and shook our hands, thanking us for the help with the move and how happy they were to be there. It was really great to see their smiles. The second "move" was helping our bishop clean out a piso and getting it ready for cleaning people. What they don't tell you about doing a move here is that sometimes, stuff is on the 7th floor of an apartment building and you have to try and fit all of it into a tiny elevator to take it down. It gets quite frustrating sometimes and it's SO slow. But we worked hard and we got pizza, so we were stoked.

We had exchanges this Tuesday with our ZLs which was super fun, since they're some crazy, funny guys. I got paired with Elder Gangier and we went to go teach a lesson with the lady that we set a date for last week. We taught two lessons in one, and she was TOTALLY into it. In the beginning she was kind of just sitting back and not really paying too much attention but by the time we started talking about Joseph Smith, she was sitting straight upright and listening intently. We both knew the Spirit was speaking to her. We left in high spirits, I showed Elder Gangier the cathedral, since it was close by, talked to some folks about the church there, and went to our last appointment. We had a quick Noche de Hogar with the Ramírez family and that closed out our night. It was a great experience, and Elder Gangier taught me a lot. 

The next day we had a zone conference in Granada, which was so fun, and even more fun now that I can finally understand what President is saying! We talked about the importance of our goals, how we were going to accomplish those goals, and how to use the wards to help us. We sang together, had lunch, and everybody went their separate ways, except for us. We stayed in Granada to attend their ward activity night, which was really fun and we got to play some spikeball, which I hadn't played in forever. I also learned Elder Leausa is really good at trash talking. He'd get me riled up any day playing any game.

Some sad news, unfortunately. The lady we put on date is leaving town for SIX WEEKS, and so we won't be able to teach her everything in time. We had to postpone her date to March, which was a total heartbreaker. We're going to teach her right up until she leaves, but I don't think I'm going to be able to see her baptism.

BUT some good news, we're teaching a new guy named Kevin and he is totally golden. He's a young guy from Honduras who loves to skateboard and can speak English pretty well. He reached out to us through an ad of the church and asked to meet with us. His wife is an inactive member, but she wants to return to activity and had told him a lot about the church and her experience. He recently had a son, which was kind of a wake up call for him. He wanted to raise him in a good environment with good values, and he thinks our church was it. He's been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy, he came to church this Sunday and loved it, and we've been having lessons with them about every other day! We are very excited for him and we think that he is going to be the next baptism here. We also had a night where we made baleadas, which is a classic Honduras street food. They're kind of like tacos, which with thicker tortillas, beans, eggs, avocados, and cream cheese. They were SO good, and they gave us the recipe so you best believe I'm going to try and make some.

AAAAAND we had another lesson about baptism with the Corman family this week too! The family that ghosted us for a while! They invited us back, we sang, played music, laughed, and talked about baptism, and the importance of having authority. What was crazy was that we didn't even bring baptism up, it was the dad! We ended up having a really productive visit, and we totally got through to the son and the dad. We're still working on the mom though, since she's already been baptized 2 times in 2 different churches. She told us she doesn't want to feel like she's "mocking God," which, to be fair, is a pretty valid concern. I wouldn't want to mock Him either. But in any case, there's progress, and I think they are going to come through eventually. MILAGROSSSSSS

Not really any kinda funny stories for you guys, but I did want to share a really interesting and special experience that I had this week. Elder Coello and I were doing our weekly planning, when all of the sudden I started to feel super discouraged and bored with our planning. It felt so pointless to me, and I was wondering why we were spending so much time doing something that we weren't going to use. (That's silly we use weekly planning all the time!) Those negative thoughts about the planning started leading me down paths of negative thought about our people that we are teaching. 

I became frustrated with them, that they were never responding to our messages, that they were always busy with work and with stuff that they were doing. I was thinking, "I don't care what they have going on in their life. They should listen to us and our message! What we have is infinitely more important" I voiced my concerns to Elder Coello and he came back with a simple sentence: "you don't know what these people are going through." He explained that people here have to work hard for what they have, sometimes 2 or 3 jobs. They are just trying to take care of themselves and their family, and we need to be patient. 

With that in mind, I felt ashamed for what I had said. But another part of me bristled. I still wanted to be angry, still wanted to be frustrated with these people. And now I was becoming angry at my companion. But as I was stewing, amd coming up with more rationale to be angry, a clear thought came to me: 

"Pray for forgiveness." 

That other part of me came back: "What?? For forgiveness? For what? For being frustrated that people didn't have time to hear what I wanted to say?" 

And again the feeling came and so I started to pray. Almost IMMEDIATELY my heart was softened. I felt those feelings of anger melt away. I truly felt sorry for how childishly I was acting. I was humbled. I felt love for these random people I have never met. I talked about it more with my companion, and apoligized for being so nearsighted about the situation. I thanked him for his words, and we carried on with our day much happier than before.

Now there's a lot that I can pull out of this one small experience, but the one I want to focus on is listening to the impressions that come to your head. I know those first thoughts came the adversary, trying to drive a wedge between me, my companion, and the missionary work. I know that that was the Holy Ghost telling me to humble myself and have charity for these people. 

I've been trying to focus more on listening to the thoughts in my head, listening for the still small voice of the Spirit. And I want all of you to try and do the same. You may wonder, what does the Spirit sound like? It sounds like that part of you that wants to buy lunch for a homeless person, that wants to help someone with their groceries, that wants to call an old friend that you haven't talked to in 5 years. And it's especially that part of you that tells you to repent and to forgive. 

If you're wondering if that nagging thought in the back of your head is the Spirit, remember this: 

"And whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of [Christ]; for good cometh of none save it be of [Christ]..." 

Ether 4:12

Try to listen to those random thoughts. If they convince you to do some good in the world, it is undoubtedly the Spirit. So act on it, even if it's something as small as smiling at somebody on the street. Blessings come to those who listen to the Spirit.

¡Cristo vive! ¡El Libro de Mormón es verdadero!

¡Os amo!

Élder Ritter


Super weird art installation that we found just walking around, Bienvenida Bella, munching on a guitarra, baleadas (I ate seven jiji), fresh churros in the morning, an awesome little market next to our piso that sells fresh fruit and veggies, view from the piso we were helping clean (it was high up), Elder Coello at the optometrist with some dope glasses

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