Well... what a weird week. We had some very strange teaching opportunities. We met a guy who is a return missionary, and has fallen away from the Church. I mean "fallen away" as in "looks like a pirate, not a return missionary." He had a huge, straggly beard and was dressed literally as a pirate would, with a bandanna and ripped clothes. He seemed like someone that would be very difficult to have a conversation with, but we were wrong. Elder Ichi and I got his number down and met up with him another day, and once we sat down and talked to him we noticed that he really is a normal guy. He said that after his mission in Peru (Cedar, don't become like this guy) he came back and let himself relax a little too much once he didn't have so many rules. He said he learned the hard way that most of the commandments are real. He doesn't associate himself with the Church anymore, but he did love his mission and he respects us missionaries greatly. It was one of the most interesting lessons I have ever had. I would say it was 'the' most interesting, if not for another lesson/dinner that we had with Catholic missionaries.
Yes, that isn't a typo. Apparently there is such a thing as a Catholic missionary, but they are a different breed of missionary. They are called "Focus Missionaries", and they stay by the college campuses and target the youth their age. They don't really proselyte or contact people like we do, they mostly hold Bible study groups. We met them a couple of weeks ago and talked for a bit, then we gave each other our information to meet up another time. They called us earlier this week and invited us to dinner, and before we knew what was happening we were having dinner with 4 Catholic missionaries. It wasn't contentious, it was mostly us sharing our basic beliefs and experiences with each other and finding out more about the two churches. One thing that we did not get into was the Great Apostasy, which they asked about and challenged us to show them evidence of, but we felt it wasn't the right place to have that sort of detailed discussion and went back to basics to keep the discussion healthy. It was pretty sweet, I have to say.
We taught another guy who majored in religion, that was also interesting. He was pretty open about hearing our message, which was a surprise because most of the people who study religion in this area either don't believe in God or do not want to hear anything else about God. We'll hopefully meet up with him again this next week to share more.
Another cool experience- we taught an older woman who hadn't been active in the Church for over 20 years. We met her on the street and asked her if we could sit down and talk for a little bit. We found out that she had previously been the Relief Society President of the Spanish branch here in the Cambridge area. It didn't sound like she had been taught everything before being baptized. She had heard some misunderstandings about the temple and what their purpose was. It was such a great experience- she asked us, "Where in the Bible does it say anything about doing things for dead people?", and we were able to show and explain to her several different scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:29; Malachi 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:18-19; and 1 Peter 4:6. It was fantastic- she wrote down everything we shared and said she would look into it. The sad thing is that she is moving back to the Dominican Republic within the next week, so we might not be able to meet with her again.
Yes, awesome week. Conference was very uplifting, and I feel like I learned a ton of ways that I can improve. Hope that everyone is doing well, I love you all!