Well, we had another Monday in Málaga this week for Zone Leader Council, so we're finally back in Alcázar and doing email on Tuesday. It is always awesome to go to Málaga to be with other missionaries, plan how to be better, and get a little 'recharge'! Hermana Deere made us the most amazing burritos ever and that alone made the trip worth it! Haha. As always we took the bullet train there and back so the travel went pretty fast. No matter how great the conferences are, though, it is even better to get back to our areas and back to work!
We've been seeing a lot of miracles in La Mancha lately. The La Mancha zone has always been infamous for being harder than the rest, for teaching and baptizing less than the other zones, but this week we saw that rumor totally turned on its head! Elder Rodríguez and I are especially happy to have found tons of new investigators this week. The just come at us from everywhere! It seems like everywhere we go we find someone who is willing to talk to us. We found a new guy named Paco this week who is really great. He is from Sevilla and reminds me a lot of Jesús. He has a 4 year old son. He came to church on Sunday and we're hoping to see him keep progressing.
In Zone Leader Council we talked a lot about 'The Rescue', which is a new program we are going to start to help us find less active members, help them find their testimonies again, and help them and their families make it to the goal of being sealed in the temple. We read John 15 which Hermana Deere described as "a chapter about lost things." I loved reading them but was particularly touched by the most famous of the parables, that of the prodigal son:
11 ¶And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more aworthy to be called thybson.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
There are lots of things packed into this story, but I just want to point out some of my favorites in the little time I have left. First and foremost, like the citizen in the strange country, the world can only offer us the husks of the swine. Our Father, however, is willing to take us back - to fall upon us and give us again the best robe, the ring on the hand, and the shoes on our feet. He is waiting and watching for us and will run to us and lift us up as we begin the long road back home. Our Father in Heaven longs for us to return to his house and our souls long for the same (Alma 36:22). Although we are lost and spiritually dead, Jesus Christ has broken the bands of death. He will leave the 99 to find the 1 and carry us upon his shoulders back to the fold. He will light the lamp and sweep the house to find us. And when we come, there is much rejoicing in heaven and on Earth. I'm so grateful for the Gospel. I'm so grateful to be a missionary and to be able to help Heavenly Father in the great task of bringing eternal life and immortality to all men. God loves us and the path He has shown us may be hard, but it is the only one worth anything.
Have an AWESOME week!! I love you all SO much!!
Here is a photo of Andy at zone leader conference at the mission home in Málaga. This photo comes from the mission blog at http://thespainmalagamission.blogspot.com/