Sunday, September 6, 2015

August 17, 2015 An Incredible Week!

Wow it's been an incredible week! As always I've got way too much too write about and way too little time. Long story short, this transfer we really have been counseling a lot and trying to think outside of "the box" of how missionary work has been done in Jamaica and in this mission; and the ball has slowly been picking up speed and our productivity is getting better and better and this last week I really think things are paying off.

We saw so many miracles as a district it's crazy. First of all, I have to tell you about Clara. She is a member, single mom with two kids and is such an incredible person. In the last couple weeks she has really caught the missionary spirit and we are working with her a ton. Elder Boden and I are teaching Julio, who is a progressing investigator and a reference from Clara. We are teaching him with her son, Brian who is almost 16. Julio seems humble and willing to look for the truth. We are also teaching Miriam and Pedro with Clara. They have a lot of potential although it's been hard for us to meet with them. Miriam came to church on Sunday and was so intrigued by it. We had a speaker from the stake who taught us about maintaining the home and family and Miriam said "why don't they teach any of this in the Catholic Church?" She said that she felt so good there she was trying not to cry. Ana is another investigator we are teaching with Clara (yay English class!) and she really wants to know the truth but it's difficult because her husband doesn't let her leave the house, and wouldn't let us come to the house.... So English class is he only time we have to teach her. Watching Clara is so incredible. She doesn't have great knowledge but she has such an unselfish desire to help other people. She spends her own time thinking about the investigators and how we can help them. She got so excited when we suggested doing role plays together! I couldn't believe it. She got her kids last night and the three of us taught them the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have another appointment to do the same tonight. She is such a sweet person.

On another topic, we finally got a meeting with the Bishop! For the last few months he's been in the Dominican Republic a lot of the time, but on Sunday we were able to meet right before church and council together which was so cool because Bishop Chetty is SO amazing. We were able to talk about how we've been working with the less actives in the area and also about the Friday night activities (we sort of had to take initiative and get that started without Bishop) and get his ideas and so forth. He also mentioned that there was some confusion in the stake setting up the program and there was only one speaker, so he asked me if I could be the other speaker. Can't remember what exactly I spoke about (hope somebody gained something from it) but I just felt really good that the Bishop trusts our district enough to ask a missionary to give a full talk on a few minutes notice. He's actually been calling us quite a bit over the last few weeks and asking us to visit people and asking us questions so I think we are really starting to build a relationship. When I first came to Jamaica, the Bishop as well as the rest of the ward were understandably less than excited about the missionary..... yeah the missionaries, as nothing exciting has happened in over a year and a half. Overall, things are starting to warm up here in Jamaica. I wish I could do more than scratch the surface, but just hope you all know that this work is real and that God's behind it. Miracles are a product of obedience to principles. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen

Elder Sirrine

August 10, 2015 Chronicles of Jamaica

The Jamaica missionaries! Plus the Palmer couple
Left to right standing: Elders Casper, Boden, Thelemaque, the Palmers, Sisters Lobo, Snow, Lesuma, Urizar
Bottom left to right: St Rose, Me, Lapointe
Our lovely district

It's been another great week! We are starting to see some results from various things we've changed and been figuring out in the last couple of weeks, and we had a more fruitful week.  In fact, we have two baptismal dates in the district!  The sisters have been teaching Edgar, and he is progressing incredibly and has plans to be baptized the very end of this month! His wife is a member.... in Mexico. So he actually won't be baptized here; he is planning on going to Mexico for two months, and will be baptized there.

The other is from our pool, his name is Mickey.  We found Mickey a week or so ago during an elliptical event, which went really well.  We had been having decent success with the free lemonade ellipticals as far as finding potentials went, but couldn't figure out how to get contacts that would turn into investigators.  After counseling about it, the idea we received was to combine that concept with a church tour. So we set up on the corner of Jamaica Ave and the street our church is on and tried to get people inside the church.  It was very effective.  Once people went inside the church, you could visibly see the difference the Spirit brought. Several of us had full lessons - Elder Boden and I had a full Restoration lesson complete with a hymn inside the chapel! Anyways, one of the contacts was Mickey.  It was the Zone Leaders who helped him, although Elder Boden and I met him.

Well several days later, we saw Mickey on the street and had a little chat with him - he was excited to see us! We asked him if he had been in contact with the Zone Leaders and he said no, so we took his number again and called the Zone Leaders and they said they just hadn't gotten around to it yet. Then just yesterday Elder Boden and I were on the street getting a good licking from some.... fellow... (sometimes in Jamaica when you're fearlessing you end up getting the fearlessing done to you) and Mickey walked right up and joined in the fun! We were finally able to peel off with Mickey and started walking toward the church as we talked.  The Zone Leaders still hadn't contacted him so we decided to just teach him right then. We went into the chapel and sang "Nearer my God to Thee" and then had a really good lesson.  We shared the Restoration and he committed to be baptized September 5. The Spirit was there so strong. Afterwards he said his favorite part was the hymn, and what a difference that made. Within a few minutes there was a feeling of mutual trust between us that was very special.  He said he had never felt that way before, never felt so much like he could be himself and be understood. Nobody was emotional but God's presence was so obviously felt.  We are a little sad that he doesn't speak Spanish - we have another lesson with him tonight but then we will need to pass him to the Zone Leaders. We feel really good about both Edgar and Mickey! They are both solid.

For the sake of the ward, I'm a little sad that neither of them will be baptized here.  They need to taste the missionary work. The activities we have started have been successful. We are breaking the ice.  But waking up a ward is difficult.... they need a little something.  It's been a year and a half since there's been a baptism in Jamaica.  But we are so excited to see some people that are wanting to change their lives and increase their commitment towards God.  Besides those two, the district has four investigators who are progressing! On our part, we have been working with Miriam and Pedro. These two are such an unlikely story! Elder Vi and I met Pedro a few months ago on the street, he's younger, probably a teenagerish and though he is Hispanic, he's more comfortable with English.  We had a pretty long conversation right there (he's very friendly), but, long story short, we felt like we were wasting our time. He was born Catholic but didn't agree with how they did things and thought they were too "lax", and so had wandered into a Muslim church one day and decided to be Muslim. Very interesting fellow. He gave us his information so we could come hang out sometime.  We were sort of like, "yeah.... we'll see you sometime....". Never thought he'd actually become an investigator.  Well a few weeks after that, we fearlessed a woman in the park and she didn't seem super interested in hearing the message herself, but she said she had a son who needed it.  When she said her son's name was Pedro, we asked her where she lived and it turns out it was that Pedro. We've had some contact with Pedro, and he's reading the Book of Mormon a lot! He loves it.  He's studied the Bible and the Koran, but he says he's never read a book with so many answers to questions of the soul. Then I wondered if he had ever read Preach my Gospel since he quoted chapter 5.... So we finally got a solid appointment with him and his mother. After some pondering and praying, we decided to call Clara, a member whom we don't really know, to see if she could come teach with us.  Well we got there and it didn't take more than five minutes before Clara and Miriam figured out they somehow knew each other from their childhood! They were instant best friends, it was incredible. As of yet, they aren't thirsting after change, but they are on the path. I'm excited for them.

The other contact we have that really has desires to change is Santos. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see him in any sort of a sober state yet, but hopefully this week. Whenever we see him in the park he's too drunk to have a good lesson or remember the appointments we set up. But his father was a member, who died when he was eight years old. For some reason, Santos breaks my heart even more than the rest.  It's as if I can feel his father there pleading for him. He loves his father so much, always talks about him. Looking into his eyes is what breaks my heart. They are so sad, and they are dull in a way I can't describe. In the last while I've worked with these people so much that I have come to feel something different about their eyes the more intoxicated they are, something beyond and more saddening than the obvious physical impairments. The only explanation I can come up with is that something of their spirit is clouded over. There is left a shell, something hollow. I can't describe it, but it's something that has surprised me as I have sat in deep conversation with the same people in two different states. Santos wants to quit drinking. He knows it's ruined his life. He speaks fondly of memories of sitting in church with his father. He wants to come back to his father. We sat with him a few days ago for a while just talking. As we finally walked away he called out and said, "bye papa..." That was just too much I about lost it.

Lessons learned this week? For me it was the power of revelation. I know it's real. I've experienced it. I believe that God still inspires men and women and that those who have to care for others receive inspiration to guide their responsibility. I love being a missionary and am grateful to be out here with my only purpose being feeding Christ's sheep; caring for them and sharing the gospel message. I know that this is a good message. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Elder Sirrine

Aug 3, 2015 No letter this week