[Toni: Elder Rivera's reference to the miracle of Christ turning water into wine was to show the parallel of in his own life the miracle of Christ change him]
I have been doing a lot of changing recently, in fact the changes in me have been crazy dramatic. I have finally been able to completely lose myself. What I mean is that, I have let my old self go for now. When I get back maybe I will find it again, but for right now I need to keep focused on my job here. These changes came as I realized how much responsibility comes with leadership positions; there is not new power, or authority that comes with leadership, only more responsibilities. Even the Assistants to the President of the mission are not given more authority, all of us have the same authority on our missions, but some are just given more responsibility.
What changed me? I think really what changed me was with a person I met, I cannot spell his name but I can tell you how I met him and what he made me think about.
My companion and I have been working very hard this week to find new people to teach. We have also been getting to know our area better, there is a lot of stuff to do here, and as we were looking through all of our records we came across a name that we had not seen before. This man had been baptized in 2001 and became less active about three years ago. So we went to find him. Guess what, we found him. And we found out why he is less active. His situation is one of the worst I have seen so far, this man has 11 kids, but three years ago his wife died. And he was unable to find the strength to return back to church. He is a farmer and speaks mostly Illakano, but from him I learned so much... I learned how right after he became less active how the missionaries came to teach him once, or twice, but because he could not go back to church the missionaries stopped teaching him. I do not know why this man and his humble testimony about what we said [Toni: I couldn't figure out what he was trying to say in that last sentence. I think he is losing some of his English skills]. This man has forgotten so much because he has not been able to come to church.
As I sat there and was listening to him talk about his life, how his only friend at church stopped visiting him, I realized how important friends are. As I realized that I do not know what happened, yes I still miss swimming, and my home, but I realized that for only 2 years do I get to meet and teach these wonderful people. I realized that I may not be perfect but there is a lot of stuff that I can do, even though there are things I need to work on.
And there is one other thing that really influenced me recently. My second companion, and one of my best friends I have ever met, was sent home, or choose to go home. I do not know what happened and it is something that I do not need to know.
This changed me because of one thing...
I was able to attend a baptism of a family that me and Elder B taught and really spent a lot of time with. As I attended their baptism (we had promised that we would) it affected me that Elder B was not there. At this time I did not know that he had gone home, but I felt that he was not going to be able to attend when we had communicated via email. His excuse was that he had an appointment. But something told me that I would not be seeing him for a long time. This family had been taught by many many sets of Elders before, but Elder B and I were able to do so much for them, and we helped them resolve their concerns, and finally agree to be baptized.
As I was talking to them before they were baptized they asked me why Elder B was not there. I could not speak for a second. I did not know the real reason, but I knew something happened and that they would not see him as a missionary. As they were baptized it felt weird being there, it felt weird telling them that Elder B was just really busy in his area. Now that I know what happened I hope that when they find out that he went home, that their testimonies will be strong enough to keep strong in the gospel that they grew to love.
I have seen so many miracles recently. So so many... I cannot describe them all.