I’ll be honest, this week was a little rough. We got stopped by drunk people way too often for my comfort. But I've never seen a Christmas like the way they celebrate here!
On December 24, things are quiet, except for the Mercado because everyone's out of their house buying things, and getting ready for the festival. At this time, I was really excited, because I was about to move into my new, beautiful house that actually has a sink! At about 2:00, we got a call from the bishop (the only guy in the ward who owns a truck) who told us he had time to move everything. We had packed everything up earlier that morning so we were ready. We loaded everything up and finished moving all our things at about 5 that afternoon. After that, the day was normal until nighttime. President Crapo sent out a letter the missionaries telling us we could stay up till midnight to watch the fireworks, so that's what we did. I've never seen anything like it: literally everyone in the city shooting off fireworks. The noise and the lights are incredible. The fireworks lasted a half an hour.
It was a pretty cool Christmas. There's only one thing that's better than getting a new house for Christmas, and that's talking with the family for an hour. It was a very cool, very special experience to speak with my family over Skype for an hour, and see how they've grown. I can't wait to talk to you guys again on Mother's day!
That was really fun this week, but as many times as there are good days, there are bad days.
An investigator who was very important and dear to us recently told us he wanted nothing more to do with the Church. This statement describes really well how it feels when this happens.
“There's a certain kind of pain that only a missionary feels. Watching someone turn away from the Gospel after embracing it so fully is worse than watching someone die. It's watching someone die spiritually. And honestly, I've never felt so hurt or completely crushed in my life. You visit someone, you pray with them, you pray for them, you sit next to them in church, and you listen to them say, over and over, that they know that this is the true Church of God; and then just like that, their faith is nothing but a shoot in stony ground. When the trials and tribulations come, they turn away, and deny everything they had. You do everything you possibly can for them, as a junior companion who barely speaks the language, and then they're gone. And there's nothing you can do about it. You see thousands of people say no, you have doors closed in your face, you have people cuss you out, call you liars, call you crazy, and tell you that you're lost down here in Guatemala, but this is the first time anyone has listened so sincerely and so dearly, and later rejected you so coldly.”
What can you do?
You keep praying for them. You keep them dear to your heart, because they are just as important to God as they are to you. And you keep moving forward, keep sharing the message of eternal life. Some will receive it, and others will reject. When your heart is broken, and your investigators, some of your dearest friends, turn you away, you know how Jesus felt. You know why he was born: to bring eternal life. And you know how he felt when every time, another child of God, a fellow human, a dear friend, said no to him. He met and talked with thousands of people. Thousands listened; hundreds of thousands turned away from him. When one turns away, you know at least a piece of what he felt.
Remember why He was born for you. Don't you dare turn Him away.
Thank you guys for all of your support! I love you all, and I think about you guys every day! Keep writing, Happy New Year, and I'll see you soon!
Elder Jeffrey Reed