My second transfer in Los Alcarrizos has come and gone. Another 6 weeks of training Elder Forsyth and searching for new investigators. The new year has begun rather slow, but I guess this was never meant to be quick work.
A few months ago Elder Forsyth and I had multiple baptisms who have thankfully remained active in the church up until now. As a missionary, the most painful experience is to watch one of your investigators, converts, and friends join the fold and then slowly slink back into the world. We have been blessed to watch ours stay active at least for the time that we have been here. Argentina Dia, despite her age has managed to attend church when she can and has become even stronger of a member than she was when she was baptized. Santo is also doing well along with the two young boys we baptized who are still attending and Juan Luis is now passing the sacrament every Sunday.
We've spent the last 6 weeks essentially looking for more people to teach. Pretty typical missionary stuff. References were slim (surprise) so we resorted to hard contacting. To mix things up a bit, when we go door to door, Elder Forsyth and I introduce ourselves, introduce the church, and then we offer to do the dishes for them. Usually all we get is a laugh, but it's enough to get us into the door. This method has actually won us a fair amount of success. At the end of these last six weeks and having contacted over 800 people, we are now teaching four strong families. We have also happened upon ten less actives, including two families. I'd say that's a good start.
Among the investigators we have recently begun teaching is a woman named Jasmine. We contacted her one day in he street (yes, we offered to do her dishes) and the next day we visited her in the evening. She lives directly next to a Jehova's Witness church which also means her street is relatively biased, religiously. I was half assuming we were walking into a bible bash situation. We sat down with her and began the lesson as the church behind us roared with church-goers belting out indiscernible worship songs accompanied to blaring instruments. We hadn't even begun teaching when she told us she had a question for us. She explained to us that she used to be a member of another church and that only a year ago her husband had passed away abruptly leaving her alone with two young daughters. She was very distressed and went to her pastor for comfort concerning the afterlife. Her pastor explained to her that she would see her husband again but that they would never be a family again. Since then she has not attended church and has worked to care for her daughters alone. Through the blacked-out night and over the deafening noise, she solemnly asked us if she could be with her husband again after death. We, of course, had an answer. 2 weeks later, Jasmine is progressing well and is currently praying about the Book of Mormon.
A little before the beginning of this transfer while searching for a reference in a maze of huts and unmapped dirt roads, a teenage girl called my companion and I over to her. Usually when girls call us over the gospel is the last thing they want to talk about. This one, however, was determined to talk to us and practically chased us down to do so. Surprisingly, she wanted us to teach her and had already been attending church, but in another ward. Ever since that day we have been teaching her and she has progressed beyond our expectations. She has already begun attending seminary and has made multiple friends at church, not to mention learned and applied everything we've taught her. Alejandra will be baptized this coming Saturday.
Los Alcarrizos has proven to be a rich area in terms of missionary work and I only hope that we will see fruits. Missionary work is fulfilling but with so much dependence on the agency of others it can also be overwhelmingly disappointing. I have seen so many families who were so ready for the blessings of the gospel turn their backs on our message for such petty things and deny truths that could have changed their lives for the better. I have seen so much good here in Los Alcarrizos and I only hope that we might be able to add a little bit more.