Friday, January 27, 2017

Jan 24, 2017- Kindness

So one experience that impacted us the week was teaching a lady we first met when I was companions with Elder Ortiz, but we kind of lost contact. How we initially met was she was lifting some rocks over her fence. We offered our help and she gladly accepted. It probably took us 5 seconds to do, but she immediately ran into her house to get us ice cold water and some cookies. She said that any weekend day we would always be invited to come to her house to share a message about Jesus. 

On a few other occasions we've come to her house in a moment that she wasn't able to receive us but ran into her house to look for something to gift us.

This weekend we finally found her again and finally we were able to share with her. We asked her if she was just born this nice, or how she began to treat people with such kindness. She said she used to only think of herself, she got mad at people easily, she described herself as a cold person. Then she gave birth to a son that has autism and her perspective completely changed. Having her son and raising him helped her to see the reality of things, it gave her a perspective of who we really are as human beings. She began to believe far more in God.

Just from her example, I think we both started being a little bit more generous to everyone well met, it was really cool, something that happened without me and my companion even talking about it.

Have a great week!! 

Elder Birrell

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jan 17, 2017- Lay your burdens at His feet

Well, it’s official, at least one more change here in Dorsal with Elder Dussan (no surprise) and we’re going to do everything in our power to have some success this change. We’re working with some really cool people, but anything can happen, so we’re trying to be better and better every day.

Remember the De La Cruz family from last week? Well, yesterday we had a great lesson with them and they opened up to us quite a bit. So, apparently the night that we found them, the wife was literally getting ready to move out- they were going to be separated. After that visit, things calmed down and since then things have constantly gotten better. They said this past year has been the most difficult of their lives, but that ever since we started sharing with them, they’ve actually enjoyed life again. They said they’ve finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel. They still have problems, but things are just different now. Obviously, we as missionaries did relatively little in this change, but this is yet another testament to the power and peace of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

There’s a convert in our ward named Fabian and he was baptized in June, but had been investigating the church for 3 years. He’s just 20 years old, but he’s really smart and he knows a lot about the gospel. Where he works, there is a culture of rejection of the “Mormons” and at times it can be pretty hostile opposition. At first, Fabian didn’t know how to respond to all of the questions people would ask him, but then he got studying. Now Fabian can respond to all the questions- and with really good responses, better responses than I can give to the questions and doubts people have about the church, doctrine, policies, and church leaders. Is this a good thing? Yes, it’s a very good thing to understand the things that seem to trouble others. But we shared this scripture with him-  Jacob 5:47-48. In this part of Jacob 5 the author talks of a vineyard that needs to be destroyed and burned. It wasn’t because the vineyard wasn’t nourished, nor because it wasn’t cared for with great effort. What was the problem?

“Because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots.”

The branches are kind of like the knowledge that Fabian has. We should know these things, but only as fast as we grow our roots in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the reception of the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. Aided by daily prayer and scripture study and weekly church attendance are the roots of our personal testimony. Without branches, our testimony isn’t as complete and we need to work on that too as our roots grow. Having our roots in the gospel of Jesus Christ helps us see things with far more clarity, we see things for what they really are, we understand what’s really important in life.

Early Sunday morning the mother of Evans passed away. Due to the difficult circumstances in Haiti, she wasn’t able to get the help she needed. Prayers for him and his family would be very much appreciated.

I’ll close with this thought/experience. This is by no means a political or social commentary; this is simply a testament to the infinite power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. There is an active member of our ward here and he is attracted to his own gender. On Saturday we had the opportunity to eat lunch with him. When he was 21 he had plans to serve a mission, but he acted upon a certain attraction, felt too embarrassed to tell anyone, confess, repent and move on so he could serve a mission. Instead for 20 years he decided to stay away from the church he knew to be true. He said he lived in darkness, and what made that worse is that he knew where the light was, he just felt too ashamed to go there.
His mother was a faithful member until the day she died and always loved and supported her son, regularly asking for his advice on lessons she would teach and always letting him know he was loved. After his mother passed away, he was in her room looking through her old notes, books, journals, and scriptures and he got an undeniable impression from the Holy Ghost. He needed to come back to the church. In that moment he decided to come back and take whatever steps that were needed to become the worthy priesthood holder he once was. He told us it was the hardest thing he’d ever done, but that he knows the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real. He’s never been happier and the burden he’d carried for so long has been lightened. I can’t imagine how hard it must be for him to live with this attraction, or how hard it is for others. I don’t have that attraction, I don’t know. Jesus Christ does understand and I invite everyone, no matter what burden you may have, to lay it down at His feet.

Have a great week!


Elder Birrell

Jan 10, 2017- TEN investigators came to church!

This week we saw the hand of God in the work and many blessings. We had our difficult days, but overall it was a wonderful week.

We were blessed to have 10 investigators at church on Sunday, so I’ll explain a little bit about each one.

Graciela- She’s the one we found after 5 weeks of not visiting her. I felt something special the first time we talked to her and I think there’s a great chance she progresses. We hardly got to talk to her during/after church because the members did such a great job explaining things to her and being her friend. Things are looking great.

De La Cruz family- We found them when I was with Elder Ortiz as well. We were contacting one night and it was the last contact of the night. A mom opened the door, saw us, and immediately tried to hide herself. Her husband (who clearly had too much to drink that night) came out to talk to us. He told us he used to be Mormon, but now was Atheist. He then said his son Andrew wants to be Mormon. He had obviously forgotten almost everything about the church. We started sharing with them and this Sunday the whole family came to church. We’ve seen the faith of the dad grow immensely and it’s a miracle just to have the mom in the church. They have 3 kids, two of which want to get baptized, but we’re focusing our efforts on helping the mom. The dad is Peruvian, his son is Peruvian, the mom in Chilean and has a Chilean daughter, and together they have a Peruvian-Chilean son.

Evans- He’s the cousin of a Haitian member- Fritznel. We haven’t been able to teach him much because he’d been in the hospital for a while because he almost completely cut his right hand off in a work accident. It’s a super tough situation, especially since he can’t work for some months and that’s mainly why he’s in Chile. Despite the circumstances, he’s always smiling and his desire to be baptized has grown. He’s a good guy and has a lot of faith in Jesus Christ.
Hector and Isabel- They’re the Peruvians that live in the house of members. They’re doing well, they’re pretty much coming to church every week and they always love it. Hector is further along than Isabel at this point, but they’re doing well. Hector is in 2 Nephi 7 in his personal reading now and he’s loving it. The problem: they don’t want to get married. After an extensive conversation last night, we realized this wasn’t a matter of money, nor wanting to get married in Peru. It’s a far more delicate matter of trust and forgiveness. The only thing that can fix this is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Guanilo family- A family we found the first day of this change (a day before Elder Dussan got here). They are also Peruvians. The mom and dad are members (they were baptized 8 years ago) but have been inactive for a few years now. They also have a son named Brad (11 years old) and Brad is a super smart kid. In Chile if you get the best grade of the class you win a computer and Brad won the computer this year. They want to come back to church, but it’s been hard to get them to just do it. After a really spiritual lesson (more of an interactive discussion) on the life of the Savior, they finally made the decision to do it. Now we’re getting Brad ready for baptism. Awesome family.

Adolphe- Another friend of Fritznel, we found him like 2 weeks ago. He speaks Spanish super well and has lots of faith in Jesus Christ. He shared with us an experience in Haiti during an earthquake (2010 I think). Basically the streets were absolutely filled with dead or wounded people, and he felt an impression to stay where he was standing. He came out of the natural disaster unharmed and for years he’s wondered why- what’s the purpose of him still living. He said he’s yet to find the answer, but we know the answer lies within the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We’re all good here in Dorsal!!


Elder Birrell

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Jan 3, 2017- Blessings of Member Missionaries

On Wednesday we had interchanges with the zone leaders so I could interview an investigator that was to be baptized that Saturday. The Elder I was with (Elder Loayza) talked about this investigator as a one in a million kind of investigator. She was smart, well read, understood everything the missionaries had taught including both the small details and the deeper message, but above all she was spiritual and could detect and comprehend the spiritual impressions she had received. She was ready, but just 30 minutes before the interview was to take place, she called us, saying that she wasn’t ready and from further conversation, we realized it was her mom that was giving her the idea that she wasn’t ready. She totally was ready. I felt that in talking to her, but she didn’t stay true to the simple, pure, and direct light God had given to her through the Holy Ghost.

The powers of the adversary are real, especially in situations such as that, but we all have the power to overcome it as we stay true to the light that God has given us.

This week we were able to see the fruits of working with members in many occasions. Both my companion and I got the feeling we weren’t maximizing these living testaments of the blessings of living the gospel. I think sometimes people look at us and think we are here to fulfill some obligation, sell something, say memorized scripts, or some other purpose other than to share our love for our Savior and invite people to come unto Him. Obviously this isn’t true, but when members bear testimony and share experiences, people’s ears start to open as well as their hearts and they suddenly see this message in a completely new light.

Just yesterday we went to teach someone we met 5 weeks ago, but because of her work hasn’t been able to meet with us recently. We came with the 1st counselor in the obispado (bishopric) and the teacher of the gospel principles class. For some reason, we couldn’t share in her apartment, so we went to the house of the members. It was one of the most spiritual lessons I’d been a part of. We didn’t teach anything we had planned, but we were guided by the Holy Ghost in everything we did and said and the testimonies and friendship given by the member couple were irreplaceable. I want to better include members in this great work as part of my resolutions for the new year.

We’re all good and happy here in Dorsal and anxious to do better this week than we did last week. J


Elder Birrell