Sunday, October 9, 2011

Training, Week 1 and Conference Weekend!

Hello to all!
Well wasn't this last week, as usual, such an incredible one! On Tues. night, we got the call from the zone leaders, that said that Elder Kendell and Elder Harris were both leaving, and that I was going to stay, be senior companion, and also be a trainer. It was some big, overwhelming news, given that I am still young in the mission, don't know my area too well, and am 8 hrs away from Asuncion, but I felt excited and ready for the new challenge. The other elders said goodbye to many members, converts, and friends in the area, and on Wed. night, we all got on an overnight bus that left at 11 from Saltos and we got into Asuncion the next morning at 6-7. It was a pretty miserable ride...there was a little 4 year old kid in front of me that cried for a combined 3 hours, and it wasn't the little innocent cry, it was the kind of crying where you-would-think-that-because-he-was-crying-so-hard-and-loud-that-he-would-get-tired-after-5-minutes cry, but no, he definitely had some inner strength that night. We got to Asuncion, and we went to the office. We had a trainers meeting, where President Madariaga talked all about how vital the trainer is for the new missionaries, to set the tone for their whole mission, even their life and personal salvation. It really hit me hard, I understood how important my job would become in my new companions life. All the trainers went on one side of the room, and the new missionaries on the other, and they called the names out. I still remember when I was waiting there for Elder Olson (my trainer), it doesn't feel like it was that long ago. They called my name, and I received my "kid", Elder Finch. We had some more meetings, took some pictures, and then rushed over to the Asuncion Terminal. We barely made our bus, and headed out towards the Brazil border. After the long ride, we got here to Saltos.
Our first day together, we had a big branch "open house". It was a national holiday, so many members and investigators came to have a big barbecue lunch. Then as missionaries, in the chapel we had 3 stations, where my companion and I taught about the restoration, another missionary on baptism, and the other on the atonement. It was a really cool activity, where many ward friendships were strengthened, and knowledge of the church was improved by those in attendance.
We are preparing a baptismal service for this Saturday, a few people are progressing named Alex, Lucy, and Enrique, and have been to church enough to be baptized, so we are trying to teach a few more lessons and prepare them well to make sacred covenants with the Lord. I will be sure to let you know how they are progressing next week, they are awesome and I love them, and am trying my best to help them.
As most of you know, General Conference came around this last weekend. We had to cram into a taxi and head down towards La Paloma to see conference. Elder Colligan and his new missionary companion were there, so we got to spend a lot of time together. I greatly enjoyed conference this last weekend, what an uplifting, spiritual builder it was. I enjoyed literally every single talk. The power went out in all of the city of La Paloma for the Sat. night session, so for the second year in a row I missed Elder Bednar speak... I guess I will have to wait for the Ensign Magazine again haha, but we were able to see the rest.
I particularly enjoyed Pres. Uchtdorf's talk on Sat. morning on the worth of souls, where he talked all about how amazing the stars, world, nature are, yet us as Gods children, we are His most important creations. I felt the Spirit testify to me very strongly when he said that "YOU matter to Him". I know that there is a God, and He is our father, and that He loves us.
I also enjoyed Elder Holland's Priesthood talk on Missionary Work, where he explained that "we are at war!" spiritually, and that we need to get on the correct team right now, from the beginning. The mission is an incredible spiritual experience, and I invite everyone out there that is of age or close to being able to serve a mission, to PREPARE NOW. If you aren't on the team yet or if you are on the wrong path or unsure if the mission is right for you...whatever your circumstance is, you can repent and get on now! Don't wait until the last second, but ask in prayer to know what to do. And when you do it, when you get on board, you will be eternally grateful for that decision. I know that because I have experienced it, and I know the power of the Atonement is real, and that you are never too far to return. You are never too far to come back. What a great talk, I cannot wait to go back and study it again.
I enjoyed Pres. Eyring and his talk about studying the Book of Mormon. I have felt the strength that it has given me, as I have been studying from it daily. Never will a day go by in my life without reading from the Book of Mormon. I know it is the word of God, and that we can strengthen our testimony of the Savior and of the Restoration by daily reading in it.
Of course, our dear Prophet, Pres. Monson really spoke to me this last conference, and I know he is a Prophet of God. He always seems to have the most incredible, compelling, even hilarious stories and experiences, that always apply to me in my life. I loved how he talked about being rooted, and to "be not moved." I greatly enjoyed conference, and I challenge all of you to reread and study the words that were shared, and to apply it to your life.
Its been a fun last week, I am staying positive and working hard. Its been a lot of big changes for me in my life, and I have felt a little overwhelmed at times. Remember me, my companion, and the people here in your prayers. Thanks for the kind messages of support, I truly am thankful.
Until next week,
-Elder Babcock

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