Thursday, May 26, 2011
Received May 25, 2011
Dear Family and Friends,
I hope that you are all doing just great. It has been a wet and rainy week this past week here in Puerto Rico. I think you could say that we are in the rainy season. It has rained really hard for the past week now. And it has been raining for a few hours already today. It is so beautiful and it feels so amazing to be in that cool rain. It feels like taking a nice warm shower. And it makes it really fun to be a missionary. I just want you all to know how much I love this work. Thanks to all of you for supporting me in my journey to this point. There has been nothing more incredible to me in my life besides my mission. Nothing has been more important other than my family. Please GO ON A MISSION! It is the only thing that you could ever do to try and give back a little of what the Savior has given you. I love Him! He lives! And there is nothing better than being one of His servants in these last days.
This week has been an incredible week for us. We have had several meetings where we have studied and discussed prayer and faith. We read some scriptures in the Book of Mormon that talk about how our Heavenly Father is capable of doing His own work but that He lets us to grow and struggle to do it along side Him so that we can come to know Him more. We talked a lot about faith and prayer and how prayer is not just pleading for a wish list from the Lord but that it is seeking His will. We also communicate with him and act upon the promptings we receive in response to those supplications that we made. These were some incredible learning experiences for our group, especially with what we are doing right now (with the Sons of Mosiah project).
Last Wednesday we put our new learning to the test. Elder Zenger and I had been a little discouraged because some of the people in our area we have met have decided to stop listening to us, or they have just picked up and moved to the Dominican Republic, which happens sometimes. But we knew that this is the Lord's work and He is capable of doing what He wants. We just needed to seek out His will and then act with Him and go for it. That night, before we went out to search for families, we promised that we would talk to every family that we saw. We asked that He would bless us with a family to teach. Then we went out and went to work. At the end of the night, the last house that we called out to, a sweet Dominican man named Freddy answered. And he invited us up to his balcony to talk with him and his wife. We talked about families and we talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We invited them to take the challenge to test our words and invited them to be baptized if they were found to be true. And they accepted the invitation. We returned a few more times throughout the week and things have been just going great. Last night we shared the good news of the restoration of the true gospel. We had invited one of the recent converts in the ward to be with us and help us share our testimonies. It was one of the most powerful lessons that we have had in our time here. I also had a new missionary working with me because they came in yesterday and are awaiting transfers. Anyways, with all of us there, the spirit was so strong. They understood the lesson so well. And when we told the story of Joseph Smith, Maria, Freddy's wife, just kept saying "wow." At the end of the lesson she talked about how she had grown up with parents who attended two different churches and had always wondered which of them to be true. She said that I promised myself that when I found the truth I would follow it for the rest of my life. We left them with the invitation to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. I know God will answer their prayers because I know that this is His work. I know that we were led to them. I know that He answered all of our prayers, both ours and hers. I know that this family will someday become an eternal family and I will be forever blessed to be able to have known them.
Our tradeoff experience this week was absolutely incredible, I was in Caguas with Elder Gines and Elder Delgado. Elder Gines is from St. George and actually played baseball with Uncle Chris. Anyways, they are both fairly new missionaries. Elder Gines is in like his 3rd transfer and is training Elder Delgado. I went in knowing that we could really have some neat experiences together and all grow a little closer and I was so excited. In the morning they were doing their weekly planning session and we began to talk about baptismal dates. They talked about how it is hard for them to invite people to be baptized in the first lesson because they feel that the investigators don't know everything that they need to know to make that decision. So we talked a little about it, searched about it in the scriptures, and then went to work. I was praying all day that we would be able to have some growing experiences and I was absolutely amazed at how the Lord set forth His hand and blessed us with one of the most incredible days that I have had in my mission.
The first visit we made was a young man that we found. His name is Samuel. We found him and talked to him a little about the plan of salvation. He said that he wanted to know what will happen to him after this life. We explained the plan to him and then I led our discussion to the importance of following the Lord and demonstrating that faith through a covenant that we make at baptism. Then I left the rest to Elder Gines and Elder Delgado. And I was so blessed to feel the power in Elder Gines' invitation. It wasn't the most perfect invitation Spanish-wise but the spirit was just there, and Samuel couldn't deny what he was felling. He said, "yes" and explained that he said yes because of what he was feeling. He said those were the feelings that he was looking for in his life. After that we went and visited one of their continuing investigators. When we arrived there Elder Delgado couldn't wait to invite the man to get baptized. We were in the middle of the lesson about the restoration and he just jumped out and invited him. It caught the man a little off guard but once again the spirit was just there and he couldn't deny it. He said "yes."
The last appointment of the night was just incredible. We went to visit a less active family for the first time. The mom is a member and was baptized like 20 years ago. The dad was really warm and receptive and fun. We sat down and talked for a bit and then the dad asked what is going to happen to me after this life. He said, "I love my family and I want to be with them forever. Tell me how I can. I am 40 years-old and I smoke. I don't like how I feel and I want to change all that I need a change in my life. But I don't know what I can do. Please help me." I was shocked! The missionaries in years past had probably passed by their home lots of times, but it just happened to be on this night that he was prepared for us. We talked about the Atonement and the Doctrine of Christ and he accepted the challenge to be baptized. I wish that you could have seen the excitement in the faces of these Elders. Elder Gines said that he finally understood why we invited people to be baptized in the first lesson and Elder Delgado said that, for the first time in his mission, he had a spiritual experience. I was just so thankful that the Lord had answered my prayers and that we were able to have a great building experience together.
I love you all and I am so thankful for all you do. I know that Jesus Christ is the Head of this work. I know that He is the Savior of the world and that it is through, and only through Him, that we will ever be able to be with our families forever.
Have a fantastic week all of you and know how much I love you.
Received May 18, 2011
Good morning Everyone!
I hope that you all are having a fantastic week so far. Things here are going so well. This morning we had a great district meeting with the sons of Mosiah and with President Alvarado and members of the mission presidency. It was absolutely incredible. We talked about prayer and about how heartfelt and sincere prayer is important to our work. It is just as much a part of the work here as talking to people and teaching lessons. It was a really great meeting. Elder Zenger and I have been searching for what more we could do for our area and for the investigators and less actives with whom we are working. What we learned today was an important answer to our prayers and pleas for help that we might be successful in this assignment. So we are really excited to put what we learned today into practice and I know that we are going to see some huge miracles.
A lot of you have asked and are wondering about Tortola and our experience there so I will start by sharing a little bit about it with you. Tortola was great! It is one of the British Virgin Islands which means they talk a type of English that you can hardly understand and they drive on the wrong side of the road. It was great to be there. It reminded me a lot of Curacao. It is a lot greener than Aruba and Curacao were but the humility of the people was just as great. The scenery is just amazing! Off in the distance are all of the other Virgin Islands and every house is built on the hills facing the bays and looking off to those other islands. It doesn't matter where you are on the island, everything points out to that great view. It was such a blessing to be able to marvel at just how impressive the creations of the Lord are. I wish you could have seen it because it was absolutely incredible! We got there on Friday morning and had some fun experiences. The senior couple came to pick us up but our flight was delayed and they had to run and met somebody on another island. So the Branch Mission Leader came to pick us up. He gave us some keys and wished us luck and we were on our way. We thought that we would be staying with the senior couple missionaries but when we tried the key in their door it didn't work. Luckily the window was propped open a little so we broke in hoping and praying that it was the right apartment. Fortunately it was. Anyways, we went and got some food for the weekend and then went out to work. Our Branch Mission Leader had a flight to catch when we got there and the Branch President is the husband in the senior couple so we were kind of without direction. But we just went for it and were blessed to be able to find some great families. We eventually met up with the senior couple in Friday night and they told us that the reason we couldn't get into the apartment was because the keys were for another apartment. We had no idea that the other apartment was still open in the area so that was the start of our weekend, but things turned out great.
We spent most of the weekend working with three young men who are at, or approaching, missionary age. They were doing great! There was one particular young man that everyone in the Branch was really worried about because he had been saying recently that he wasn't sure if he wanted to go on a mission. We went with one of the other young men to visit him and we talked about the miracle of the mission and what a blessing it is to be able to be one of the missionaries dedicated to serving the Lord full-time. We talked about how we were called before we were born to do this important work and what a miracle it is to be able to meet and work with people, many of whom you just know that you knew before this earth life and whom you promised that you would find and bring to the truth. The spirit was so strong and when we left him he had a huge smile and was full of desire to serve the Lord, it was great.
The youth here are just so great. We walked into the early morning seminary class on Monday and I was shocked to see eight youth gathered there. This is on an island with a population of probably 10,000 people. And they had that many kids in seminary!?! I was shocked. Church on Sunday was just incredible. We walked into the Priesthood class and I was just blown away by the spirit that I felt. There were probably only 40 or so members meeting together on the third floor of the office building that the church uses. But it was such a strong spirit. It was the first English Sacrament Meeting that I have experienced in two years and I was just amazed at how strong the spirit was. I was amazed at how much things have changed during these two years for me. Church seems like a totally different experience now than it ever has.
There was one family that we visited that afternoon. There are two young men in the family who were the first ones baptized. Their mom is Hindu. But last week she threw her Hindu things into the ocean and said that this is what her family needed. She said that her family needed to have the church in their life and she was willing to give up her traditional beliefs so that she could be with her family forever. One of the young men was really sweet. He sits in front of his house and the family told us that when people walk by they ask him who he is what he is doing, He replies by saying, "I am a child of God. And He wants me to be like Him." Pretty profound stuff for a 10 year-old. But that is just a taste of the kind of people that we met on our journey to Tortola.
We did a lot of work with the less active members. We met one family in particular. The Dawsom family. They live at the very top of Tortola. We had to hike up a huge hill that went straight up to get to their house. But once we arrived we were able to have an incredible lesson. Brother Dawsom had served a mission and Sister Dawsom was baptized when they were married. They have a son who was 8 years-old and is preparing for baptism. It was a great opportunity to sit down with them and talk about the reason why we get baptized. Really that is the same reason that we do anything that we do in the church, to follow the Savior. The family just moved from here from South Africa. We talked about the temple and they said that it was where they wanted to be and we challenged them to set a date and make a goal to get to the temple as soon as they could!
The highlight of the trip was working with Chela and Alex. Chela has been listening to the missionaries for years. Alex has a brother who is a member of the church and served a mission. The brother just got married in the temple. Chela and Alex have been together for seven years now. Chela has set a couple of baptismal dates but told us that she just wasn't ready at those times. Anyway, we called them the night we arrived in Tortola and she invited us to come over and visit. When we arrived on Saturday it was obvious that the Lord had prepared them to receive our message. We sat down and talked about what they were searching for and talked about how King Benjamin's people found peace and joy after receiving a remission of their sins. We explained the doctrine he taught his people concerning humility and repentance and sincerely seeking to know and follow Jesus Christ. When we are prepared to do that we enter a covenant and invited them to be baptized. Chela looked us in the eyes and said, "I have been thinking about this lately. I need to make this change in my life and I am going to do it this time. This is what I need in my life."
Alex, who was listening to the missionaries teach for the first time, said that he had been searching for the truth his whole life. He said he sees his brother and sees the happiness that his brother has in his life since he has chosen to join the church and said that he feels and wants that in his own life. He said that he still had a lot that he needed to learn but he really liked what he was feeling and that that he, along with Chela, knows that there is a change that he needs to make in his life. They have a baptismal date for the 2nd of July and they are really excited to get there. When we told the senior couple that they had two new investigators with baptismal dates they were very excited. I went with them to visit with Alex and Chela on Monday night before we left Tortola and we had an excellent lesson. Alex said that he wanted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon because he knew that was the only way that he would be able to know that it was truly from God. It was amazing that it was Alex who said this and that we did not have to point this out and ask him to seek this confirmation himself. I think I can count on one less than one hand the number of times that somebody has said that they have wanted to to do that. It was such an incredible blessing to see that the Lord has prepared the way for this family to accept the gospel of the Savior into their lives. It is exactly what the Branch in Tortola needs. They have been struggling for a while now and to have these new families is going to get them all excited about helping with the missionary work.
All in all the trip was absolutely incredible. It was such a blessing to be among more of the Lord's children and to be able to see, just as I have seen everywhere else, that it doesn't matter who you are are. It doesn't matter what kind of possessions you have. Or what kind of things you have done in your life. Our Heavenly Father loves us all and wants the best for us. He wants us to be happy and is always willing to bless us with the truth when we are ready to receive it!
I know that Savior lives! I know that He suffered for us and gave His life for us that we could find peace and joy in this life and with Him and our Father in the eternities. The Book of Mormon testifies of Him. The Book of Mormon is true and I know that without a doubt. I know that because the Book of Mormon is true, and because Joseph Smith was a prophet, that I can be together with my family forever, which is the greatest blessing that I could ever imagine.
I love you all so much. Keep us in your prayers. I hope that you have a fantastic week!
Received May 11, 2011
Dear Family and Friends!
I hope that all of you wonderful mothers and grandmothers, wives and daughters, had a fantastic Mother's Day this past Sunday. It was such a sweet experience to be able to talk to you mom! I love you so much! It was great to hear all of your voices. You all sound like you are doing so great and you are really excited for what is to come in the future! I hope that the rest of you had a great day as well and that all of you mothers felt appreciated and loved.
Mom had an interesting question in her email today. She said that it was the Mexican Mother's Day yesterday and that in France they will celebrate it in two weeks. She asked if it was like that here in Puerto Rico or if it was just the same as the states. Because of the influence of the US here, most of the holidays are the same. So when you have Labor Day there, we have Labor Day here too. So Mother's Day was on Sunday. However, the area where I am currently serving is full of Dominicans and so . . . they celebrate on the last Sunday of the month instead of the second Sunday of the month like we do. Just a little tidbit of info for y'all. And sorry mom, as much as I would love to be able to call you again that day, they aren't going to let us do that. But know that I love you nonetheless!
This past week was great for Elder Zenger and I. We are still trying to find some solid families to get this new unit going in the San Juan area, I have never worked so hard in all of my life. We are all giving it all that we have and I can't wait to see the miracles that are going to come of it all. Some of the families that we are working with have fallen a bit but our faith is still high and we are going to keep moving forward knowing that the Lord is going to bless us.
Mom and dad and Fam, I told you this story on Sunday but its a really good one so I am going to repeat it for you and everyone else who did not hear it. This Sunday, for the first time in months, maybe even a year, we had the Antigua family return to church. I'm not sure if I have told you about them but last week during church, we left to go and find those that had committed to come but who did not show up. We got to their house and we asked them what time it was. We pointed out that we weren't in church and they asked us why we had left. And we told them that we left church for them. That the Lord had sent us to find them. Elder Zenger and I have come to realize that we don't have a lot of time to beat around the bush. There isn't a lot of time for us to gradually help people see that they aren't keeping the commandments we just have to tell them they are not and challenge them to do it. But make sure that we do it in the most loving way possible. We talked to them about how wickedness never was happiness and the spirit was very strong as we spoke. We showed them in the scriptures the blessings that await those who keep the commandments and that some blessings are not available to those who don't. We learn so much about humility, enduring to the end, and exercising our faith to follow Heavenly Father that will bless us with more peace and joy in our lives if we keep the commandments. That hope, confidence, peace, and joy may not come to us to the full extent available of we fail to keep the commandments. This is the blessing that we fail to obtain when we are disobedient to the commandments and the covenants that we have made. At the end of the lesson they committed to come back to church. After the commitment I asked the Hermana, "why do you want to come back to church?" And she said, "I don't want to lose my family." I guess when the truth is understood it changes behavior.
We were so excited we couldn't keep our excitement down. As I mentioned, one of the families that we are working with informed us that they would be moving back to the Dominican Republic. That had us a little down but we kept up our faith. We knew that we had been doing all that the Lord had asked of us and that He was going to bless them. The next day we passed by a family that we had talked to last week, the Luna family. They are such a solid family. They are a great mother and father and three just incredible kids. A lot of the youth here in Puerto Rico are kind of lost. They aren't really sure where they are going and they aren't really sure who they want to be. But this family is "just spot-on." They know what they want and they are looking for it. We sat down with them on the first night and shared with them the Proclamation to the World on the Family. They loved it and had all sorts of questions about eternal families and how our families can be together forever. We talked a little about Joseph Smith and about how the power and authority had been restored in our day because our Heavenly Father loves us and wants the best for us. On Sunday we went back and shared a little bit more. We talked about the Book of Mormon and they were all so excited to read it. We told them that it was the key to knowing whether Joseph Smith was a prophet and whether the gospel of Christ did indeed provide that our families could be together forever. We are going to pass by once again tonight and we know that the meetings we have had have been filled with the spirit and that they are seeking the truth with real intent. Things have been going great and its going to be just incredible. Even though we took a hit with the loss of the Espinal family, we have been blessed to have the opportunity to find a truly prepared family. Keep them in your prayers. At this point in the game we are running a two minute drill and there is not a lot of time to waste, so yeah. We need all the help that we can get.
Yesterday we had a really neat experience with this man named Fernando. He is a Seventh-Day Adventist. We had passed by on Saturday and he told us that he was going to be getting baptized soon. We asked if we could share a message about baptism. He said that he wanted to ask his Pastor first. So we went back yesterday he said that his Pastor said that it would be a waste of time, that we didn't believe in Christ and didn't preach the truth. You know all of that distorted jazz that seems to have misled even the best of us. Anyways, we asked him if we could still share a quick message with him and he invited us in. For those of you who know me, you know I like to argue and I like to win, It was hard for Elder Zenger and I to both hold back with this man but we tried our hardest to insure that the spirit was there and to love and teach so that it would stay with us. We talked about the Savior for the entire time and talked about how we were there to help him come to know the Savior more fully. At the end of the lesson we had covered the restoration and had done so without a single bit of contention. Knowing who I am inside at times, and my tendency to want to win the debate, I was shocked at our ability to let the spirit teach the truth to this man's soul. Our words would have been so inadequate alone, even though they were right.
At the end Fernando said, "I have one thing I want to tell you." He said, "I have felt the Lord here with me so strongly today as you have been here. I want you to know that I am going to keep working towards baptism. But I love what I am feeling and I want you to come back anytime that you are here because I would love to feel what I am feeling again." We testified to him that he was feeling the spirit and that it was testifying to him about the truth. We walked away and I was so happy. Fernando probably didn't understand. In fact, I know that he didn't understand completely what we had explained to him. But he had recognized the strong spirit that was present which was testifying to him of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. And he said that he wanted to feel that more in his life. This is exactly what we are here to do and we couldn't be more excited that we swallowed our natural instinct to become defensive and refute the untruths that were told Fernando by his Pastor.
I know that this is the work of our Heavenly Father. I know that He loves His children and I know that we are constantly being guided in his work to those who are looking for the truth but only don't know whwere to find it!
I love you all so much! I hope that you all have a fantastic week!
Wish me luck as we head off to Tortola . . . Oh yeah . . . I forgot to tell you. I'm off to Tortola. If you have questions, Dad will tell you what's up.
Adios mis amigos,
Les amo un monton
Tu misionero Favorito
Received May 4, 2011
Dear Family and Friends!
I hope that all of you are doing so great. It was a great blessing to be able to hear from all of you and hear about all that is going on back at home. I can't believe that Trent went to prom already. That is so crazy to me. But hey buddy, you look great in your pictures and I hope you had a blast! By the look of things, it appears that it might have been a little cold. You'll have to tell me all about it. I hope it went well.
I just got done talking with a less active member here in the library at the university. It was a really neat experience. We just sat down and he started talking to us. "Hey elders!" he said (which is always a surprise). I was especially surprised because he just didn't look the type of person that would know the missionaries. We talked to him for a little bit but he looked busy and we are all trying to get done as fast as we can. But after he finished on his computer he came up to me and asked if we could talk for a little bit. We went and found a place where we could talk quietly and we talked for a bit about all that is going on in his life. It was a really neat experience. We talked about the basic three" prayer, scriptures, and church. He talked about how he was cold and that he knew he needed to get warm and revive his heart as far as his activity level in church goes. I told him that if he would do those three things, there is no way that he couldn't heat up. He said that he has really missed the gospel in his life and he wants to come back. He said that he would come play some ball with us today so we will see how it goes. But because I had that visit with him, I am running a little behind. So I am sure that this email will be a little shorter today. But don't worry, the sacrifice is for a good cause.
This past week was a great week for us. We have been working so hard with the families that we already have found. And with the goals that we have for our Sons of Mosiah project we are seeking more. That is all we are looking to find. Families, families, families, families . . . and this past week we have been blessed by some of the miracles that we have received from the Lord.
I think I told you guys about the family Espinal last week. They were the Dominican family that we found on the way to their friends house. And when their friend wasn't there, they invited us in to talk a little bit more. This past week we were sitting with them and Elder Zenger and I both had the feeling that we needed to talk about our purpose as missionaries and that we needed to tell them why we were there. We talked about baptism and they seemed really interested in what we were talking about. We taught them about the example of Jesus Christ and the importance that it was that we make the decision to be baptized for ourselves when we were accountable because it is a covenant we make with the Lord. That decision cannot be really following the example of the Savior and making a personal covenant with Heavenly Father when that decisions is made for us. The Domincan Republic is exactly like her, even the pets are Catholic. So it was really neat as they began to understand the doctrine and as it began to click the real purpose for baptism. There was such a neat spirit there. When we invited them to follow the example of Jesus Christ and prepare for baptism and the making of a covenant, it was just so easy. There wasn't anything to doubt. They said "of course we will prepare for that."
Once again the Lord blessed us and put us in the path of somebody who needed to hear the message of the restored gospel. A family who needs this more now than ever. A family who needs to truly know Jesus Christ and all that He truly did for us. And a family who needs to know how they can be together forever. We passed by last night and reminded them about why we were coming to visit and they all seemed really excited about their baptism. We talked about the Book of Mormon last night and the grandma was a little hesitant to accept anything at the start. "I only believe in the bible," she said. We told her to just give it a try after explaining to her what the book was. By the time we left she wouldn't give me back my triple combination. We had to show her that the missionary copy that we gave her was the same copy as my leather triple that we were taking away. She couldn't put down what she was reading. It was so great!
The Rodriguez family is doing well. We haven't been able to get all of them together again for a while. Sven people is a lot and with all of the work and school schedules that everyone has going on right now it's even harder. But things are going well. We have been able to see different members of the family at different times and things are going great. They are reading in the Book of Mormon and they saw the restoration video and are loving it. Right now we are working with them about praying together. Its crazy how shy they are when it comes to praying. Everyone here prays except they do not feel comfortable praying out loud. They just don't do it. And they really feel uncomfortable when we pray with them or ask them to say a prayer that we can all hear. But slowly and surely they are getting more comfortable praying as a family and the spirit is starting to enter more into their lives. I love it. Its the work of the Savior and I can't get enough of it.
I am really sorry that this email is so short. But I have to get going! I love you all so much! I am looking forward to talking to you a little bit on Sunday.
Mom I want you to know that you are my hero and that I love you! Thank you so much for being the type of mother who has put me made it possible for me to be in the place where I am today! I am so thankful for you mom and I hope that you have the most incredible Mother's Day morning that you could ever have!
And to all you other mothers, sisters, and daughters out there, I love you too . . . you know in a missionary kind of way.
Have a fantastic week and know that I am always praying for you.
Received April 27, 2011
Dear Family and Friends!
I hope that all of you had a fantastic Easter weekend. This past weekend was so spiritual for us. We had a great Easter conference and the spirit was so strong as all of us gathered together to remember the miracle of the Savior's resurrection, and also to remember the love that He showed to us. Friday night we had a really special fireside for all of the investigators and less active members in the area. The entire mission was there and we lined the auditorium walls singing songs about Easter throughout the entire fireside. President Alvarado gave a great talk. The spirit was so strong. There weren't a lot of dry eyes by the end of the night.
The biggest surprise of the whole weekend happened at that fireside. I was talking to some people who were visiting from the English-speaking islands. We were trying to figure out who would translate and I felt a tap at my shoulder. I turned around and there, standing right in front of me, was Mary Pabon. I was so shocked and so happy to see her there with her recently baptized husband Angel Pabon. I don't know if you remember this couple but thy are the couple that I found the first weekend that I was in Vega Baja, almost a year ago. And here they were at the Easter fireside that the mission was presenting. Angel looked so great in his white shirt and tie and he just looked so happy and peaceful. Mary said that she was preparing for baptism, but like always, is taking her time because she doesn't like to read. President Alvarado came up and talked to them afterwards with me and he told her that he would get her the CDs in English and that Elder Ward and I would be able to come up and visit her while we are here in the north during the week. It was such a special experience to see somebody that I had worked with for so long who was still faithful and strong. Even though I was never able to see them make the commitment while I was serving there it was still meaningful to me. I felt so happy and peaceful to know that Angel had done exactly what he knew that he needed to do. I got just a little taste of that joy that it talks about in Doctrine and Covenants section 18. I can't imagine what it must feel like after this life is all over.
Anyways on Saturday we had a lot of really neat activities as well. We went to the biggest mall in Puerto Rico for lunch all dressed up in our suits and ties (Elders) and dresses (Sisters) and we did another flash mob. Just a few of us started singing and eventually everyone slowly joins in. It was incredible and it was really neat to see everyone in the mall just kind of stop and listen to the words of the songs that we were singing. With all of the hustle and bustle, and especially with a lot of things that the churches here do this time of year, the poeple tend to forget the true message of the season. Not only did He atone for our sins and give His life for us, but that He is not dead, He is risen! It was great to be able to bring that spirit and that testimony to all gathered there.
That night we all met at the stake center and he had a luau. We were all a little confused about why would be having a luau in Puerto Rico. But President Alvarado had on of the Hawaiian branch presidents explain why we were doing it. He told us that a luau is a family tradition and the family and the importance of family is something that is all over the Hawaiian culture. President Alvarado talked about how that message is what we are about sharing. That is what this plan is about. That is what the resurrection is about. It is about families and being part of the family of God. We wanted to have the biggest family that you could have. So we did! It was great! Elder Zenger and I, along with a few other Elders, and all of the Hawaiian Elders, got together and did the haka. It was intense! I have a picture of us all in our lava lavas. I'll send it to you soon. It was sweet! Kam a tee Kam a tee koorah koorah!
Anyways, so that was the Easter conference. Prior to taking time out of our work for the Easter conference we had some incredible experiences. On Wednesday night we were out working. As I told you in the emails last week we had to cut our p-day short so we could get to all we needed to before the weekend conference. That night we had a practice for the singing we had to attend . We were riding along one of the main roads and we saw a family pulled off to the side of the road talking. We were late for our practice but we could just feel the spirit directing us to pull over and talk to the family. Elder Zenger and I talked with them for a bit and we had a great conversation. They invited us back the to visit them at home the next evening. The next day we got off of the train and walked into the the plaza in our area and there, once again, was the same family. They were again having car trouble. We stopped to help them and it was kind of the like God reminding us about the need to help them and not to forget about this family. We went over and talked to them a little more to see how we might be able to help. We helped them out as much as we could and got them on their way. Before they left we asked if it was still OK for us to come by and visit that evening. They said they would watch for us. We passed by their place and they were there.
The name of the family is the Rodriguez family. Elder Zenger and I could tell that they were a special family and that the Lord had helped us find them for some reason or another. We could just feel it. We were inspired to talk about the doctrine of Christ and that they needed to be invited to be baptized. We talked a about how our families could be together forever and they were touched by the message. Then we started to talk about the example that Jesus Christ set for us and how we needed to follow that example. The spirit touched them all really quickly and they all testified that they knew that the baptism that they had received previously was probably not the baptism that God wanted for them. The spirit was so strong and we invited them to be baptized. Half of the family responded with a quick "yes!" The rest of them responded saying. "yeah, we want to do it, but lets get to know you a little more first." It was perfect. The family Rodriguez, a family of seven, said that they wanted to work towards receiving testimony of our message and preparing to make a covenant with their Heavenly Father through baptism according to Christ's example and by restored priesthood authority. We gave them a Book of Mormon and they said that they would read it.
I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who knows the needs of every one of His children. It has been a struggle to try and get this area moving forward. There are 18 of us in the same ward and the areas in which we are working feel a little cramped. Even though this has been a huge change for all of us and we are having to adjust to working this way, the Lord is leading us to people in our path. And we are not just finding individuals to teach, but entire families. These are strong families that are going to be a great strength in the church in this area and will help the church to continue to build here forever. Yesterday we had a meeting with President Alvarado and he talked about how we aren't just working now only to build a new ward, our work is to accomplish something that has never been done here in Puerto Rico. We are building a new stake! We are building a new mission.
I know that God loves us and that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world. This past weekend was so special. Our meeting on Sunday was powerful! There were some families visiting with us. One was visiting from Saint Croix. They are from Utah but right they are living in Saint Croix. I was privileged to be able to translate the beautiful talks for them from Spanish to English. All of the talks had the same theme - that Christ died and that He lives again. One of the main results of His sacrifice is that our families can be together forever. During the closing hymn the father in the family turned to me and told me about their son. He is 20 years old. He said that one year ago he never thought of serving a mission. But something changed and he had just received his mission call to the Oaxaca Mexico mission (Go Punky!). He said that his son's life has completely changed. I talked with the son afterwards and it was incredible to see the spirit that was in his face. He was a living, breathing, testimony of the power of the Atonement and I could see what a blessing it was not only in his life, but in the lives of his entire family. And that's why we are here! And I am so thankful that I can be here and I can be a part of this work!
I love you all so much and I hope that you have a fantastic week!
Received April 20, 2011
Good afternoon everybody!
And Happy Easter to all of you! What a great and beautiful time of year that it is. What a great blessing it is to be able to look back and think upon the most important day and week that has ever passed in history. I love this time of year so much and there is always such a sweet spirit on Easter morning. I hope that you all have a very Happy Easter and that you know how much I love you all! Thank you once again for all of your letters and your packages, you all sound like you are doing great!
Because it is Easter this weekend, our mission is going to be having an Easter conference. We are all going to be together on Friday and Saturday, which is good because that is the day that all of Puerto Rico will be shut inside of their house praying, or out on the beach. So we are going to be taking time together as a mission to remember this special day, but because of that, our Pday ends in about 10 minutes, so I have to be brief. Sorry - but know that I love you!
The Sons of Mosiah project is going fantastic! It has been such a sweet blessing and special privilege to be able to come together with every one of the elders with whom we started the mission. It has been an exciting week. All of us are brand new to the areas where we are assigned and we are all doing a lot of finding and contacting. And although we aren't like the original sons of Mosiah, we are doing what they did and going to the scriptures and putting ourselves to a lot of fasting and prayer.
The area where I am working in is called Rio Piedras. Its the name of the section of the city of San Juan we are in. Its very humble and it has a ton of Dominicans. It feels like I am right smack dab back in the Dominican Republic and I am loving every single minute of it! We take the train every day and its incredible to see all of the prepared people that the Lord is putting in our path. This is truly something that has been being set up for years and we are already seeing so many miracles.
Elder Zenger and I were working in our area on Saturday afternoon and we had been praying for days that we could find some prepared families so that we could try and reach the goal that we have set as a group. That day we found one! Their names are la familia Clase. We found them sitting outside of their house on Saturday. We asked if we could come in and they let us right inside. They gave up their chairs and they all sat scrunched together on the stairs while we sat there teaching them about the family and about the doctrine of Christ. The parents told us that they had been praying and thinking recently about how they could help their children learn more about God and there we were. They admitted that they themselves could be better examples and were looking for how they were going to do that, then we showed up. Well, we didn't just show up. The Lord led us to them. And it is such a blessing. We invited them to be baptized and they said yes but that they wanted to wait to set a date until they learn a little bit more. We left them with a Book of Mormon and both mom and dad were very excited to read it! What a miracle and what a special blessing we received that day. I know that the Lord is watching over us and protecting us and that He is going to help us achieve those miracles that this area of the vineyard needs.
Yesterday i was on a trade-off in Caguas with 2 Hawaiian missionaries. It was great! Both of them are very young in the mission and they are so dedicated to the work that they were doing. Even though they have no investigators they are pushing as hard as they can to find those that the Lord has put in their path. It was really neat to see that fire as I worked alongside them. We had one appointment yesterday and it was with a member and her husband. They told me that the husband was less active. As we began talking about the doctrine of Christ it came out that he was never baptized. After speaking about this for a few minutes we discovered why he had not been baptized and determined that it was something that we would not be able to resolve that night. He talked about how for years his son, who is now on a mission, had always tried to talk to him about the gospel and get him to get baptized. My heart went out to his as I thought about all that he had gone through and the probable heartache that he had felt for his dad. Then it hit me! I told him to write to his son and ask why he was on a mission. He said that he would and then the mom did something unexpected. She asked us why we were on a mission. I want to share with you what I said.
On March 25, 1983 my family became an eternal family in Provo, Utah. My parents were sealed for time and for all eternity. Because of this I know that we are going to be together forever and I want that blessing for all. I know that Jesus Christ lives and that He suffered and died for each and every one of us. I know that during this week we are commemorating and celebrating that He did atone for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and then He died on the cross on Calvary. I also know that he was resurrected on that Sunday. He lives! I know He lives and I know that He invited each and every one of us, with loving hands to "come unto me, repent and be converted, so that I may heal you."
I love Him! I want that all of His children in this world to receive exactly what He intended for us to receive when He suffered and gave all that He had for us.
Eternal life with my family and my wife and my children.
I love you all and I hope that you have a fantastic Easter weekend!
How great it is to be a part of this great work! How true it is and how true it is that He lives!
Received April 13, 2011
Dear family and Friends!
Thank you so much for all of the wonderful emails and letters and packages that you sent for my birthday. I was able to receive all of them today. We had a great Zone Council on Monday getting ready for transfers and everything. It was really sweet because all of the zone leaders and the president's family were there and they sang to me! It was also great because it meant that I got to get all of your letters and packages as well, so thank you so much! I love you!
This past weekend we had a baptism! Brenda Garcia, the miracle that found us three weeks ago entered into the waters of baptism and it was such a great service. The spirit was so strong and she looked so content. The meeting that we had on Sunday was one of the most powerful testimony meetings that I have ever attended in my life. It was strong! We had several events combine to soften the hearts of the members here and lead to a powerful testimony meeting. A dear sister who everyone loved pass away this week. Some of the missionaries were leaving the area. And Brenda told her conversion story to everyone. It was just so special and neat.
Brenda talked about meeting us that day she was ready for everything to be done. She told how she had decided that she needed to end it. That was the only way that she would be happy and that she would be happy with her kids. She told how she didn't know where to turn, but then the Lord led us to her. She said that she put off her planned suicide for a day and when she read in the Book of Mormon the next day she found the answers that she was looking for. It was a bitter-sweet goodbye last night. Reflecting on the story has made me think so much about the talk "Teaching helps Save Lives." She said that the only reason that her kids were still there was because God had led us to her. And it was all Him. God is our Heavenly Father and He lives! And He knows each and every one of us. It was a blessing for me to be able to see that love shown in the life of Brenda, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to see how the gospel literally saved her life and to see the change that the Savior's love has brought to both her and her family. It truly is the work of angels.
As I mentioned, yesterday was my last day in Ponce . . . THE SPECIAL PROJECT HAS OFFICIALLY BEGUN!
On Monday, while the rest of the zone leaders were discussing transfers, President invited the five of us that were there from my group to meet and discuss the big plans. He said. "take off your glasses Elders, and put these ones on." He said a miracle needs to happen. Something that has never happened before. He told us that all 14 of us, every missionary that came with me, will be living in the same apartment. We will be working in the ward of Hato Rey. He said there are 150 people attending Sacrament Meeting right now and we need 100 more, with 46 new priesthood holders. The goal is that by the end of the project the ward will be qualified to have another unit added in the area.
We are also assigned to travel to all of the zones as well. We will be going and ministering to all of the young missionaries. We will also be taking two visits to the islands to the east of the main island to explode them so that the couple missionaries serving on those islands will have people to teach out there as well.
As far as my companion . . . you may have heard of him. His name is Elder Zenger! Yup, the same Elder Zenger that we all love and who was my CCM companion in the Dominican. I don't think there has ever been two more excited missionaries in all of the world. We can't wait to get out and get to work! And our area? We are serving in the biggest University in Puerto Rico. I CAN'T WAIT!!!!
God has prepared us for something great! And I know that if we do all that He asks, we are going to see those planned miracles. As we were in the President's office talking about what we were going to call our group, we opened up to Alma 17, and it was there. The Sons of Mosiah! Not to be boastful, but its such a miracle that we are all still her. And after having gone our separate ways, the Lord has prepared each and every one of us so that we could be right here, right now, for this great project.
I love you all so much! I won't be able to write much more because we have a ton to do.
BUT know that I love you and that I know that God Lives! That Jesus is our Savior! And that the families can be together forever!
I hope that you all have a fantastic week and know that you will always be in my prayers!