Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Work of God Marches On!

Hello family, friends, and whoever else this transmission may reach! This is Elder Knorr, reporting in as usual from the Spain Madrid Mission. Things are going great here in our area! We have lots of new investigators and many who have the potential to soon have baptismal dates (that seems to be the big hurdle...) so we expect to see some big results soon.

We are seeing
miracles happen: This Saturday, 6 young people will be getting baptized in Barrio 2! Among them is Antoni, a 9-year-old boy who is an example to us all through his understanding and righteous desire to be baptized. It's a very exciting time for the ward, for the converts, and for us, the missionaries. We hope to see many more people follow their example and enter into the waters of baptism. Among our other investigators who could have baptismal dates soon: José, a young man from Nicaragua, who is married to a member, has lots of questions and desires to learn more and apply it. Also, we are teaching Claris and Mylena, who are Brazilian-born, Bolivian-raised sisters, and their mother Clara. As a matter of fact, we are teaching ALL of them tonight, and we will be setting baptismal dates with all of them. Oh, we're also teaching a great young family from the Dominican Republic and another awesome guy named Gregorio from Ecuador. We're just teaching a lot!

We've been upping our
level of effort this week, setting even more aggressive goals and making more and more detailed plans. The mission has changed the definition of what constitutes a "contact." Before, anyone we approached and tried to share the gospel with counted as a contact. Now, it is only a contact if we testify of a truth and then invite them to do something. This has made things more difficult, as we can no longer count outright rejections (aka, people who basically plug their ears, shout "la la la la la!" and run away) as contacts, and those still happen to us many times a day. This has forced us to approach even more people each day in order to achieve the same standards of excellence set by the mission. It really requires a new level of focus, dedication and courage. But it's going well. :)

In other news, not a lot has happened. I ran 10 laps at the nearby outdoor track this morning. I've been buying a lot of fruit (pears, peaches, nectarines, apples, oranges, bananas) and enjoying it greatly. The peaches are still under-ripe and crunchy. :( Not the most delicious experience yet, but I'm sure they'll get to that nice soft stage in no time. Today we're planning on going to a big park near the outskirts of Madrid to ride bikes and maybe play some American football (and, of course, invite anyone i
nterested in learning to come and play with us). Other than that, we may clean up the apartment a bit and write some letters.

You ask if I have any last minute requests for the package...? I just expect an auspicious plethora of all things patriotic and American! I'm afraid that this 4th of July I won't see so much as a red, white and blue sprinkled cupcake or a cheap sparkler, but I know that my sacrifice is worth it. :) I don't know if anyone who lives in the United States fully appreciates what they have there, and I'm not just talking about the food selection here. Let me tell you one thing, though: Having lived away from my country for this long, I have developed the firm resolution that I will never live anywhere other than there again. I could go into more depth and detail, but I'll refrain right now. Suffice it to say that you don't know how good you have it 'til you've gone without it.

As a mission, we just received a special new addition: Elder Dredge. He is now the companion of Elder Whitesides, the Mission Secretary. Elder Dredge was one of the Assistants to the President in the Bilbao Mission and he is a fantastic missionary. He has come here to our mission to teach us everything we'll need to know about Bilbao. He'll only be with us for one transfer (and then he goes home) but we're glad he's here and we're excited to receive the rest of them (the Bilbao missionaries)!

Ethan's taken to playing chess? Wow, that brings back memories. Remember how Dad and I would play on Sunday afternoons? I remember that, for awhile, he would always beat me. They we broke even. Then I always won. :) I look forward to playing you when I get back, Ethan! You'd better study up on your French Defense! :)

I love being a missionary! Last night we taught a very spiritual lesson to Gregorio, and as we walked out and headed home, I remember just feeling WAY elated and happy and satisfied. I knew that I had done something good, and that I had truly helped someone learn something that would help them the rest of their life if they lived it. There is no other experience like this one. There is nothing else that can teach these lessons and build these characteristics in this way. The mission is where it's at. Thank you all for supporting me and helping me in this. I love you.

-Elder Knorr