This is the best ward I think I've had in the mission.
The missionary family from last week got us an awesome referral. We found him on Monday, and had a 2nd visit on Saturday. We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he said he'll be reading the WHOLE THING this week! We'll be going to see him on Saturday to see how it went. His name is Cesar, by the way.
This week's missionary family is pretty cool as well, the Hernandez family. They're an older couple with their YSA-age kids. The Dad was a counselor in the stake presidency at one point, and now he's the High Priest Group Leader. They live in a private community where we aren't allowed to contact, or even enter IF we don't have a set appointment, AND the people we are going to visit told security what time we're coming, so basically, getting an investigator in there is a great opportunity, so we can actually have work in that part of the area.
Private communities here are very different here from in the States. There are ALWAYS security guards. Sometimes they let you in with just the address or the name. Sometimes they're more strict, like the place described above. Sometimes. security calls the house of the person, and the person in the house gives permission to be able to let you in. I've only seen one that's MILDLY similar to the system used in the USA, and heard of another that's in another mission. There are also some that only control the cars going in and out, and bikes and pedestrians are free to come and go.
About half of our area is communities like this, with varying degrees of strictness in their security. But in any of them, (with 1 exception) they don't let us contact. So, as mentioned above, basically member references are the only way we can get into those communities.
Like these communities, just about everything here has security guards. Shopping centers, restaurants, gas stations, literally EVERY decent-sized business that's formally established has a guy with a shotgun (or several) to take care of it. It's nice to know that there are places like that where we are protected.
The chapels don't have security guards, but have high fences, often with barbed wire, and sometimes electric gates to go in and out. The clerk's offices are basically bank vaults, so nobody enters through the tiled ceilings or breaks in to steal the computers. If you don't have the key, you don't get in. Or out.
Well, enough talk about security. The most important security we can have is our testimony. As a missionary, our testimonies are tried a lot. Someone will come up to you in the street and try to convince you that the Book of Mormon is of the devil, because it's not in the Bible. They'll say that we worship Joseph Smith, and all kinds of other lies they've heard about the church throughout the course of their daily doings, from people who don't know, because they have never investigated. It can be trying at times, but knowing that one has received witness of the Holy Ghost that this is the Lord's church, and His work, it doesn't faze you. On the other hand, with recent converts, whose testimonies are still fragile, people tell them these things and sometimes they fall away. We must strengthen our testimony, and have this sureness and security so that we will not be "carried about by every wind of doctrine by the sleight of men" (Ephesians 4), and "when the Devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind . . . it shall have no power over [us] to drag [us] down to the gulf of misery and endless woe, because of the rock upon which [we] are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereupon if men build, THEY CANNOT FALL." (Helaman 5:12). That foundation is Christ, and the revelation that his Prophets receive from Him to guide us.
We strengthen our testimony by daily prayer and scripture study, weekly church attendance, constant obedience to the commandments of God, and regular temple attendance, if possible. We must be strong and strengthen our testimonies day by day, so that when the tough moments come, we will not be dragged down where we don't want to end up. I testify that we will all be blessed as we work on strengthening our testimony, and "lay up treasures in Heaven."
Take care. I love you all.
Happy Mother's Day!