First of all, thank you all so much for the package! It made my day! I have been loving the fall here because it means it’s not so hot, but I didn’t realize how lame Utah autumns are till I saw all leaf you sent, haha! Thanks for sending a little bit of home out here, you guys are the best!
I’ll send a ton of pictures on this one, so much happened this week! The work is moving forward!
Monday: Sunday night during our planning session, we didn’t have much of a desire to make very good plans for after our P-day ended at 6, but we decided to give it our all and instead set up some lessons and planned more effectively, and one of our plans was to go find Destani, a 9 year old girl the bishop told us to stop by. We did, and she is amazing. She’s an adorable little girl, and she speaks perfect Spanish and English. Her mom wasn’t there, but she said she’d be back in about ten or twenty minutes, so we told her we’d come back in an hour after our other appointment to talk to her. We came back to find Destani pacing back and forth in front of her door crying, because her Mom had been gone since 7 am and still wasn’t home even though she said she’d be back by 1 pm. We calmed her down, found out who the friend was that her mom was with, and managed to get ahold of her mom, who said she was on her way home. Hortencia (Destani’s mom) asked us if we could help Destani with her homework till she got back, so we sat down on the porch with her, taugt her about prayer and Jesus, prayed with her so she could feel better, then worked on her homework with her. Destani’s dad had some depression problems and a little bit of substance abuse, and Hortencia had taken Destani and her little sister Alicia back to Mexico when things got rough with her husband. Eventually Hortencia and Shayne got in contact again and resolved there conflict, and Hortencia was going to come back when she got the money, after which Shayne was going to baptize Destani. When Hortencia and her two kids got here, they were told that Shayne had died of a heart attack a few days before. On our way home that night, I was overwhelmed by a feeling of the love that Christ has for His children. I’m not sure why, but I could feel looking at Destani how much He loves her, and that he knows exactly what she’s going through and has gone through. I felt such a desire to dedicate myself 110% to this work and to helping others turn to Christ who’s hands are always stretched out to lift us up and save us. Needless to say, I’m never going to even think about making mediocre plans, because every time I waste my time doing something meaningless, there is one of God’s children out there who needs me.
Tuesday: We had a lesson with Osvaldo at Temple square, and although he was half asleep, it was a good one. Both of our other lessons fell through, but we managed to get ahold of some formers even though none of them wanted to hear from us.
Wednesday: We had a CRAZY day, with 5 lessons. We had a lesson with Osvaldo at four, and then we had a huge change of plans because an investigator didn’t show up till an hour later. I taught Luis the Plan of Salvation while Elder Firpo taught Maria with her 7 kids and sister. We set up a lesson with Rosa, who’s getting baptized on the 12th, and with Lupe and her two kids, who are getting baptized on the 19th. After all that, we headed over to Destani’s house to teach her the Plan of Salvation. We talked to her about the fact that although her Dad died, he is not gone and that families can be together forever. She had incredible questions about her family and her Dad, and the Spirit was amazingly strong. I can’t wait for her to get baptized!
Thursday: We had another crazy day, this time we had a lesson with Destani at 6 about prayer, and then we had to be at the church at 7 for Luis and Osvaldo’s baptismal interviews. We quickly taught Osvaldo the Plan of Salvation after his interview, and went over how he’d be baptized with him and his older brother who was going to baptize him, Vicente. Luis and Osvaldo were so ready! Their baptisms were AMAZING.
Friday: We had an amazing lesson with Lupe, a lady in her thirties, at temple square. She has been learning for a while with other missionaries, but hasn’t been progressing. We talked to her about baptism and she accepted the 19th. We’ve got a lot to do to help her feel ready, but the Spirit was so strong as we talked about prophets.
Saturday: We had an amazing day, with three baptisms! In the morning we went to Layton with Destani to see Talon’s baptism and so Elder Firpo could get his driving privileges. At Talon’s baptism, the Spirit was so strong, and I was amazed to hear Collins, his 22 year old brother, say that he would get baptized too, with time, even though he never thought he would before. I’m coming to cherish baptisms more than anything else, as they are such a powerful yet simple way to feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness of this gospel. As Talon entered into a covenant with his Father in Heaven, I could feel the ability that the gospel has to mend and heal and change lives.
In the evening, Elder Firpo and I had two baptisms in our area. At 5, we had the baptism of Osvaldo Solis, a 9 year old boy whose father is not a member and family is a little less active. As I looked at Osvaldo’s family all there sitting together, including their father, I felt the strongest desire to unite families in the gospel and point them to the temple and eternal life. Our family has been immensely blessed because of our unity in the faith, and more than anything I want others to have this same incredible blessing. It was awesome to watch Osvaldo’s 17 year old brother Vicente baptism him, and we’re praying this will be the extra boost to help Vicente get out on a mission.
At 7, we had the baptism of Luis Reynoso, from Peru. He has an incredibly solid understanding of the gospel, and especially of the doctrine of repentance. As I talked to him Thursday night when he had his interview, he was talking about how he usually used to have a couple drinks playing professional pool, because that’s what everyone does and he’s really good at it. He doesn’t have family here and doesn’t know many people, so all he does is work and then go play pool. However, ever since he learned about repentance and about the commandments, he’s stopped playing pool in order to live the higher law of Christ. He said “I guess I just have to give up pool, but I don’t mind. Something good for something so much better.” He understands what he got by being baptized, and to watch him come up out of the water with a big smile on his face was wonderful. The service was small but reverent and powerful, and it was so peaceful and comforting for me to be there. He was baptized by Hector, a young man who is coming back from inactivity and has been helping us teach him. It was wonderful to see it be a changing point in both of their lives. Christ’s hands are always stretched out to lift us up, and it’s amazing to see people take hold.
Sunday: It was an amazing Sacrament meeting. It started with the confirmations of Osvaldo and Luis, and then a singer named Cactus Jack and his girlfriend sang “Lead Kindly Light” between to incredible talks. One was a missionary who just got back from Mexico, and the other was a seminary teacher from Venezuela who talked about putting in the work in order to achieve the blessings of the gospel. I absolutely love the Spirit I can feel on Sunday at church. It’s good that it’s all in Spanish, too, it forces me to focus reaaallly hard to understand everything, and it helps me to get so much more out of it. That night we went to temple square with Hortencia and Destania, as well as the Branch President and Hermano Gomez, an amazing member who’s helped us with rides every night this week! We talked about the Restoration and went to the Christus to talk to Destani about Christ’s Atonement. An amazing end to an amazing week.
If that all wasn’t enough for an awesome week, this morning we got a brand spanking new shiny 2014 Chevy Cruise to ride around in! We’re so excited to have more lessons and to be able to run around much faster to do this great work. I’ll send ya’ll a bunch of awesome pictures, I got a new camera and finally have my memory cards with me. I’ll leave you all with a scripture: Mosiah 26:18 – “Yea, blessed is this people who are willing to bear my name; for in my name shall they be called; and they are mine.” When we take upon ourselves the name of Christ and stand for what we know, we are His and He will watch over us and lead us to the green pastures. Love you all millions!