Hola familia! Boy what a week, I feel like there´s hardly time to breath but I really like being busy and not having any time to waste. There is less-time to the actual missionary work but not doing it as much makes me work even harder when I can do it. This week had some really cool things, one of them being one of the highlights of my entire mission. So as far as the giant baptism goes 5 people ended up being baptized so that was super cool. Our baptisms fell through and half of the other side´s baptisms did too, but I still feel like it was a success. So I think I´ve said this before but we share the area with the asistentes and last week we got a new one named Elder Shumway. The best way to describe Elder Shumway is Russell Allphin, super funny and an awesome attitude. I love getting to work with them. So anyways this week I had to go to a meeting for operation smile because they want the missionaries to participate in the program, so the asistentes asked me to go to the meeting for them with the other zone leader in my zone, Elder Yauney. So we went and they told us it was going to be a super official meeting with doctors from the States so we had to be super professional. So we arrived 15 minutes early and had put on our nicer shirts and ties and polished the shoes and the works. When we got there we arrived at the same time as a group of highschool girls but we just assumed that they were there to hang out with the doctors children or something. So we walked in and they told us to go sign in and as we signed in the sign in paper asked us for our highschool's name. We looked around and realized that everybody there looked about high school age and they were pretty much all girls. We talked to the person who looked in charge and she said we were in the right place. So we called the asistentes and they told us to stick around and see if we could get some information out of it. We tried to see if we could just get the information we needed straight from the source and then leave but she told us we just needed to stay in the meeting and we´d learn what we need to. So we sat in the very back corner as all of the highschoolers looked at us and it was super awkward. We sat through the entire meeting at didn´t get any of the information that we needed so we talked to the lady again after and they all of the sudden she had all of the information we needed ready. Haha we ended up being there in total about 2 and a half hours with a group of like 20 highschool girls and 5 highschool guys. It was pretty funny the whole situation but we might get to participate in operation smile next week so it was totally worth it. It was actually really cool and i learned a lot about operation smile and I really like the program. Anyways that was not the thing that was the highlight of my mission That happened just yesterday. There is a less-active family that I´ve been working with since before Elder Beus got here and The wife and children have been coming to church. Two of the daughters aren´t baptized yet but are over 8 so we´ve been working on them about that, but the husband/father would never talk with us and actually threw me out of the house multiple times and didn´t treat me very respectfully, but I kept feeling like I needed to return and try with him. Well yesterday I saw him standing in front of his house so I went up to say hi to him and talk about the baptism of his daughters when all of the sudden he just invited us in and gave us some water and started talking to us. He started out by saying that his family has said good things about us and that is really important to him. He also sincerely apologized for the way he treated me. I talked to him about things and in the end he gave us permission to baptize his daughters and he said he wants to come back to church and see them progress in the gospel! I have been praying and working so hard for this family for so long now and it was one of the highligts of my mission as he invited us in and accepted what we had to say. He said he wants us to continue to stop by and teach his family too. I know that this is a culmination of our work, the work that the branch president has put in with this family, and more than anything the Lord´s hand in this. I felt like Ammon in Alma 26 and I feel like I had a taste of real joy. I love this work and I love this gospel. I feel like the Lord really wants us helping these less-active families come back to the gospel. I also talked to the Elders of my last area today and they told me that the familia Cristaldo is still active. I can´t describe to you how amazing it feels to see people you love so much and work so hard with and spend so much time on your knees praying on their behalf accept the gospel because it truly is the most important thing they could ever do. Like I said about Alma 26, v. 27-31 pretty much sum up the way that I feel. So much of missionary work is so hard and you are frustrated and disappointed and questioning what it could possibly be that you are doing wrong, but in these moments you learn just whose work it is and you grow so much closer to the Savior. But one of the greatest feelings for me in missionary work and honestly that I´ve ever really felt is seeing real growth, because to me that´s what success is. Success to me isn't necessarily baptizing a thousand people, but seeing the church grow down here and seeing souls come unto Christ. These souls are investigators, less-active members, ward leaders that faithfully come every week even if they have no idea how to properly perform their calling. I love so much being able to strengthen everyone and in the end I feel like I´m more strengthened than anybody else. One of the greatest feelings on earth is getting word that a less-active person or family, or a recent convert that you baptized is still going to church and active after you´ve left. I´m tearing up here in the cyber just trying to write how I feel about this work. I love the Savior so much. I´ve been realizing a lot lately just what it means that he did a perfect Atonement. That means that it doesn´t matter what our sins our because He suffered for them all. I think a lot of times instead of having faith that the Atonement is actually perfect we doubt and think that there´s no way that He could actually have paid for this sin or there´s no way that He could actually forgive me this many times. The truth is if it wasn´t a perfect Atonement than that would be completely true, but it was and is perfect! Repentance is not a plan B but rather the plan of happiness! I love my Savior so much and i love being on His team in teaching others about this plan. I´m working hard and keeping all of the rules the very best I can because I´m representing no one less than Jesus Christ and I love Him and love His work. I hope you guys have an awesome week!
Un abrazo y mucho amor,
Elder Zachary J. Hulsey
These are a few guys that got baptized last year and are leaving on their missions The one in the white leaves tomorrow to Mexico and the one in the blue leaves next week to Argentina. They are from Luque but I met them in Capiata and they invited me to their going away party. They are pretty sweet youth. Also before I forget, in the next package you send if you could send some pens, preferable black because they are really expensive and kinda a pain to buy here, that would be super nice. Love you