This was of course yet another awesome week in El Milagro. This week we had no garbage duty but we have been helping out an investigator named Valerio Chacon build an adobe wall in his house. In reality, at first he did not want any help, but considering he has one leg and no one in his house to help him out we kind of insisted.
This week we also had the wonderful opportunity to have the baptism of Ricardo Alfredo Otiniano Caceres. He is 20 years old and futbol (soccer) is his life. He gives me all the updates on scores and standings. He is 20 years old and lives in a pretty rough situation with his mom, stepdad, and half-sister. To make it simple, before we met him he did not have a very optimistic view of his future. His family has no money, his step-dad is really hard on him, he is still trying to finish high school, and he is about as shy as possible.... but boy has he changed. Since being introduced to the Gospel he has begun to look at things in the big picture of God's eternal plan for us. Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy here on Earth and if we follow the Gospel of his son Jesus Christ we can find that happiness in whatever situation we find ourselves in. In the short month that we have known Ricardo he has changed drastically. He has begun to come out of his shell, his self-confidence is up, he has begun to make plans again to finish high school and enroll to become a police officer. These temporal things began to change hand in hand with his growing testimony in Jesus Christ and his Gospel. His mom still constantly reminds us that Ricardo still has a long way to go and to change, but with the help of our Heavenly Father little by little, if he continues on the path that God has set for him, his future will continue to change for the better.
Along this same message of God's plan for us, yesterday we had a really interesting lesson with Jorge Gamboa, the husband of Gloria. His wife has been sick for a long time and he thought that when she got baptized that she would be healed... but it did not quite happen exactly like that... he is now contemplating that if he gets baptized she might be healed. The thing we had to tell him was that sometimes things happen in this life that we just cannot explain. He and his wife did nothing wrong to bring this trial into their life, but sometimes things just happen in this life. We might not understand it, but things happen that will allow us to grow and experience true happiness here or in the life to come. God knows us better than we know us. He is always able to see things in the perspective of eternity whereas sometimes we are a little more shortsighted to this world. He knows how we will gain eternal happiness and sometimes the hard times happen in this life no matter what we do. All we can do is control the things we can control and follow the example of his son Jesus Christ and we will have peace here and be happy. The blessings might be immediate or a long way off, but our Heavenly Father knows what will help us in the long run, all we have to do is put our trust in him.
On a little brighter note, this week we spent quite a bit of time teaching Gloria. Turns out she has a neighbor and friend who she believes is a witch or practices witchcraft. Pretty crazy, I know, but we expressed to Gloria that we don’t believe that she is trying to harm her by putting special salt around her house and gifting her strange fruits. This question came up when we were teaching about the theme of faith. It is amazing some of the things that people experience here and the types of faith they have in ways that God might work and help people. The theme of witchery and witchcraft/spirits/magic is quite a strange one for me, but for the people here in Peru it is a lot more normal to believe and talk about these things. A little strange I know, but maybe I cannot explain everything either.
Well this was another great week here in El Milagro and it is still as sandy as ever. Until next time. Hasta Luego!!!