Monday, June 28, 2010

Bienvenidos a la Mission Puerto Rico, San Juan, Happy 4th of July!


Buenos Dias todos,

Hello everyone! I Hope that you all had a great week. Family, Grandma and Grandpa, thank you so much for your letters and your emails. It was so great to hear from you! I love you guys so much and I am thankful for all that you do for me! You guys are incredible!

It sounds like everyone had a good week so I am glad. Before I get started, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy 4th of July! I'm not really sure how they celebrate it here because I was in the Domincan Republic last year. Last year all we did was sing all the patriotic songs that we could find in the 2 or 3 English hymn books that were at the CCM. Which of course made all of the Dominicans mad. But hey, it was our day! We needed to celebrate it somehow. I'm sure there will be some kind of party or free day here, but well see. I know that its on a Sunday this year but I'm assuming that just means y'all celebrate it on Saturday! I hope you all have fun together! Go America!!!

Anyways, my family asked all about the last transfer meeting and President Martineau leaving and about my new companion. Things were awesome. It was a really neat meeting and I think grandma and grandpa hit the nail on the head, it definitely was very bitter sweet. All of the elders who came in with me are just solid missionaries and we really grew to love and respect President Martineau. We all looked like a bunch of babies with all of our red puffy eyes but it was worth it. President Martineau and Sister Martineau are incredible people and it was a blessing to be able to serve with them in this mission. President gave the leaving talk that he usually gives to all the missionaries who are leaving the mission. The talk was about the things that they need to keep doing as the return to the real world in order to keep the change of heart that occurred in the mission. It was great advice and its a blessing to be able to try and develop these habits now so the adjustment wont be as hard in the future!

Anywho, our new mission president. President Alvarado, touches ground tonight at about 7 o'clock. When that happens the missions will be officially combined and we will be the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission (lose the West) with President Alvarado as our mission president! We are all really excited to work with him as well. He is such a great man and he is going to work wonders here.

Anyways, that's the report on the big change. As for transfers, I think someone thinks my Spanish is really bad because I got another Latino companion. But I am pumped to get working with him. His name is Elder De Leon and guess what . . . he's from Guatemala just like Elder Moran, hahah. It has been a fun first few days. I can't believe how different he and Elder Moran are. He is a bit taller than Elder Moran and weighs about 200 pounds. He's had two transfers in the mission and so he is still pretty green. But he likes teaching and talking to people, which makes me happy! I still have a lot of patience and humility to learn and I think that having a fairly new companion is going to help a lot. Anyways, keep me in your prayers. Change is always a little difficult for me.

As for the area, things are going well. We had a tragedy in our ward this week and so the work with the members has kind of slowed down a bit as we have all realized how fragile life can be. About 70 percent of our area is within the mountains in the central part of the island. So there are a lot of families that live up there. On Friday night, a family and the grandson of another member family were involved in a terrible accident. They got hit by a drunk driver who ran a red light. The grandson of the other family died on impact and the rest of the family is an in the hospital with their two youngest children in and out of surgery and in critical condition. They are all in our prayers right now and there was a very solemn mood in church yesterday. It continues today as the funeral is tonight.

Yesterday we went and visited the grandpa of the boy who died. He is such a good and faithful man. He has his own health problems and was just released from being in the hospital for a week. We went over yesterday to talk to him a bit and I couldn't hold up. There was a big picture of his two grandchildren on the wall and we asked which one was the little boy who passed away. He pointed to a little boy in a suit and said that's him, the future missionary. I couldn't help but think of the talk and the story that President Monson shared in this last conference and I don't know why, but the thought of those on the other side who are working along side us, perhaps even harder than we are for the same work, just broke me down. It was a really neat experience to be able to share with him thoughts about the atonement and the resurrection and the plan of salvation. It was a really neat experience and a huge testimony builder. I know that there have been some tragedies back home as well, and its just such a blessing and miracle that we have the knowledge that we do of God's plan for His children. A plan that allows for all of us to return and live with Him again. And not just alone but we can go and live as families. I am so grateful for that plan. I have been forever, but now more than ever.

Our investigators are doing well. Angel Pabon told us this week that he would like to choose his own day for baptism. His wife keeps saying that things are moving too fast and that she doesn't like it. But this week she sat down to listen to our message. It was the first time that she has done that in about a dozen visits that we have had with her husband. So the baptism is on delay for now. We invited Angel to pray to know which day he should get baptized and he said he would do it. While it was a little discouraging, I was really happy. The baptism is going to mean more if he communicates with God about the day upon which he should be baptized. Its his baptism anyways! And who knows, maybe its because instead of one baptism we are supposed to have two . . . him and his wife!!!! So we are still really excited. This week he is going to tell us the day and then things are going to keep moving forward. He came to church yesterday and once again he loved it. He continues to work on his coffee addiction. Things are all going well! So there is no need to worry about anything.

We had another visit with our friend Rafeal this week. Rafael is the guy that we found last week who we had met at the gas station a few weeks ago and then we knocked on his door in the rain. We went to his house for the appointment that we had scheduled and his brother came out to talk to us. His brother started ranting and raving about the Bible and how churches (one in specific) should be using the King James version of the Bible. He wasn't talking about us by the way. Anyways, we stood there for about 15 minutes just listening to him and we were trying to find a way to politely excuse ourselves so we could leave. This is very hard to do when someone is speaking to you in Spanish. There aren't a lot of breaks like there are in English. People can talk for a long time and you wont find a pause to interrupt. Anyways after about 20 minutes I was ready to just walk away, because we had other things to do. It just seemed as though Rafeal wasn't there. But just as I was about to leave, Rafeal came out and invited us in.

We sat down and got to have a great discussion with him about the original church of Christ and the real power and authority of the priesthood. He loved every part of it. He told us that he had been praying to God to help him find the truth. He said that when he talked to us in the gas station he thought nothing of it, but when he saw us on his door step, he thought "someone is trying to tell me something." He said that a couple of years ago he asked for the chance to read the Book of Mormon again. Even though he had assisted our church 20 or 30 years ago, his fire and desire to learn more about the gospel have never been hotter. He is reading in the Book of Mormon and he says that he thinks that he has found what he has been looking for.

He told his brother that he wanted him to take the Book of Mormon that we had offered him. He said that if he didn't take it, he was rejecting an answer that God was sending him. I was shocked by what Rafael said but it showed that he really has respect for the Book of Mormon and it made us both really excited! I was glad that we were patient enough to listen to his brother or else we may have left without ever having that opportunity to teach him.

Anyways, things here are going great! Thanks for all of your love and support. I don't think you know how much a letter to a missionary means . . . especially one who has been out for a little while. Your love and support mean the world to me and I am so thankful for all that you do.

This week is going to be a long week. It sounds like we are going to be changing the day that we have for preparation day. They said that our new day is going to be Wednesday. So if you don't hear from me next Monday or Tuesday that will be the reason.

Hope you all have a great Fourth of July and that the fireworks and barbeques are all fun! Don't party too hard!

Love you all so much.

¡¡¡¡¡¡¡¡Los Angeles Tienen Fechas Bautismales!!!!!!!! Hope you had a good Fathers day!



Received June 22, 2010

Buenos Dias a Todos! Y Feliz Dia de Padre, Yo espero que el dia fue increible para todos!

Good morning everyone! I hope that you are all having a great day so far and I hope that you had an incredible Fathers Day weekend. I also hope that the sun is shining and you are all living it up. This week has been full of rain, which of course I loved. But yeah, I hope the summer is going great for everyone back home. We literally sprinted for 10 seconds from the car to the email place and we got soaked! I'm loving every minute of it! (hahah)

Anywho, I am glad that the family got the package and I am glad that everything got there. I am also glad that you all liked what was inside. Happy Fathers Day once again dad. I love you! It sounds like the weekend was full of fun parties and celebrations too! I hope that you all had a great time and that you were able to share that time together.

I have had some questions about letters. If you want to write me a letter send it to the mission office. I know I gave you another address at the start of this transfer, but that address doesn't exist. So yeah, if you want to write me, the address to use is the same one that you used to write me in the islands.

Tomorrow we have transfers. I am sad to see Elder Moran leaving. I have grown to love this little Guatemalan. But it will be good for him to get out of his "greenie" area. Anyways, tomorrow we have the big transfer meeting with all of the Elders. It is going to be a really special meeting too because it is President Martineau's last meeting with us as mission president. He leaves next week on the first and President Alvarado takes his seat as the new mission president of the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission. We are all really sad to see President Martineau leaving but we are also really excited to have Puerto Rico joined together and unified once again. What we want more than anything is that these awesome saints can have their own temple here on this blessed island. That's the goal that we have been working towards since day one and I know that this change in the mission is pure inspiration and its going to help. But I will forever be grateful for the chance to serve with President Martineau. He is an incredible man and I hope that one day you guys get to meet him.

Anyways, enough business. I just wanted to let you know why I was writing on Tuesday instead of Monday and I ended up blabbing, lo siento. Anyways . . .

The big news from this week is that we set another baptismal date with Angel Pabon. This is the other angel that we were working with, not the one that was supposed to get baptized last week. We found Angel Pabon my first week here and he is absolutely golden. He loves the Book of Mormon as I have probably told you guys. Time and time again the book has answered his prayers or erased his doubts that he has had for his entire life. He loves church and has now come 3 or 4 times. He told us that one of the ways he knows that the church is true is because of the love and warmth that he felt as he went to church for the first time. The first day he came we were in a meeting but the members welcomed him with open arms. He told us this week that he had the feeling that first day that he had finally made it home. He said he knows that this is the place where God wants him to be. We talked this week about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had invited him to be baptized before but he wanted to pray about it. This time we invited him and he was set. Without a doubt he said "yes" and he said "he knew it was time." We talked about the 10th of July and he said that would be perfect. Our firework show is just going to be a week later than all of yours! :)

His wife was sitting with us during the lesson and she asked why everything was moving so quickly. Our Ward Mission Leader shared Alma 32:21 and she loved the scripture. It was perfect because it was exactly what she needed to hear. She has a lot of medical problems and the last thing she wants is to be pushed, so she is taking her time with us. But she said that she will support her husband with all her heart and its up to him. He told us he knows that now is the time to be baptized and he is really excited to finally take this next step.

Yesterday we taught him la palabra de sabiduria and he sold us that he was really addicted to coffee. But he told us that quitting would not be a problem because he knows that he needs to quit and he knows that God will give him the strength that he needs to do so, so that he can be baptized. The man is golden and I am so thankful that we have been able to get to know him a little better. His faith is an incredible example to me. I know that he is going to get baptized and not only that, he is going to become a strong priesthood holder and someone who is going to help this ward get to full strength, which is exactly what we need.

The other Angel, came to church this week in a shirt and tie. He apologized for not wearing a white shirt. He said that it was dirty (we've never told him anything about dress in church). I laughed and the smile on my face couldn't have been bigger. Its a big trial to have your baptism taken out from under your feet at the last minute, the day of his interview, but the faith that he has shown has been incredible. He told us on Sunday that he is not going to give up until he is a member of the true church of Jesus Christ. He told us this week that he is looking for an apartment so that he can get out of the situation with the lady in his house and so that he can live closer to the church! He is so awesome and also so prepared.

I know for a fact that we don't deserve these two miracles in our lives but how blessed we are to have them!

On Fathers Day we had a really cool experience. We thought that Fathers Day would be a great day to do some finding because everyone would be at home. But I forgot about how the holidays are in Puerto Rico. It's true that families are at home and they are all together, but yeah. We were getting towards the end of the mountain urb where we were toking and we came upon this one house. It was raining of course and the guy told us to get inside. We ran in under his porch and I looked at him and I thought, where in the world have I seen this guy before. We started talking and then he asked if we remembered him. Two weeks ago we had talked to him at a gas station and he told us that he was baptized into our church. He also told us that he had been baptized in every other church, he just wanted to be covered when the end came.

Since that night I wished we could have talked to him more or approached it better and here the Lord had given us the chance. He started saying the same type of stuff and I asked him about the Book of Mormon. He went on about the Bible and how the Bible says you can't have more bible. We explained that and he was a little baffled. Then he asked why there were so many churches. We taught about the apostasy and he loved it. We ended up teaching him on his porch for 45 minutes about the gospel. By the end he had come fully around and his attitude had totally changed.

We had asked if he had read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and he said that he does not pray. We taught about prayer and how he too can receive the answer that he needs because God is his father and He loves him. We started to wind things down and I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to share 2 Nephi 33:9-11 with him. He read it and he asked if he could have a Book of Mormon so that he could actually read it and pray about it and know for himself this time.

I'm not really sure why we and he were given second chances to talk to one another, but this much I do know, we were not the ones teaching that lesson. Things went too well to be coming out of our brains and our mouths. I knew there was something special about this man, the first time I talked to him. I was so baffled when that experience turned out as it did. And then we got this second chance. And I knew it was because God knows that he needs this message. It was not an accident that we were led to his house once again. His Heavenly Father wanted him to hear this message again and he had the chance.

This Saturday we have another appointment with him and I am pumped to see where this story goes. Time and time again I am amazed at how perfectly our Heavenly Father knows us and loves us perfectly. And how we are constantly blessed by his hand every single day! I am so thankful that I have such a loving Heavenly Father who loves his children so perfectly.

Thank you to all of you for all that you do! I know that the summer is a busy time but thank you for still taking the time to write me and show me your support!

It sounds like Mckay and Trent have world cup fever. To be honest the Puerto Ricans could care less about the world cup. I think its kind of funny, but my companion and I have been talking about it. I got a tournament bracket when I was in Curacao because they are crazy about it there and its in our room here. He was looking at it today and talking about all of the teams! So don't worry, the fever is here a little bit too, as much as it can be at least!

Anywho, that's not why I am here. Thanks for all of you and for your prayers and love and support. You are all constantly in my prayers. Thanks for all of your love! I hope you can feel mine!

Tomorrow I get a new companion! Que Loco

Have a great week!

Great Visit with Brother Howe - June 13, 2010


Received June 14, 2010

Buenos Dias Todos!

FIRST OF ALL! HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you dad and I hope that you have a great Father's Day this Sunday! Enjoy the steak and the US Open.

I hope that this week has been an amazing week for all of you! It sounds like it has been a little sad with the weather but I hope that things will start to brighten up this next week!

I want to thank you all for all that you do for me! Especially mom and dad. I got all of your letters and your packages this week and it was so amazing! Thank you so much for all that you two do for me! I love you more than you know. And I am so grateful, and will be eternally grateful, that I have been blessed to be a part of your family! Grandma and grandpa, thank you for the picture and the talk! You guys are the best and I love you!

Dad thank you so much for telling me about the visit that you had with Brother Howe. That was so neat to be able to share in that experience with you. Brother Howe is such a great man! I love you Brother Howe and I am praying for you! Keep those spirits up! I will prepare as well as you for that Jackson Hole hike in a year!

So yeah, thanks to all of you for your love and your stories. It is always so great and such a blessing to hear from all of you guys. I'm not really sure why I have been blessed with family and friends such as you who love and support me endlessly, but I am so thankful for it, THANK YOU!

Anywho, this week was a busy week for us, and it was also kind of a sad week. I know that you are all probably thinking that we had a baptism this weekend but we didn't. It was a huge trial of faith for all of us, especially for Angel. But he is doing great and we are working towards another baptismal date in July.

We went over to his house and Monday night and Elder Moran and I were both shocked that there was now a bunch of new furniture in his house and then we saw a lady come out to greet us. Our hearts both sank because we both knew what it meant. After talking to him for a little bit we found out the story. A friend of a friend of Angel had told him the story about this lady who was out of a house and passing through a really rough time. She just needed a roof over her head for a few weeks until things worked out for her new place. And so Angel, being the great Christian man that he is, welcomed her into his house because he had an extra room that he wasn't using.

So yeah, for those of you who don't know about the requirements for baptism here in our mission, an investigator can't be baptized if there is someone of the opposite sex living within the house and they aren't family.

It was a shock to all of us and Angel was really discouraged because he had been looking forward to this day since the day that we had set the baptismal date with him. But he relied on that testimony that he has and he said that he doesn't know why God has that rule, but He does, and Angel said that he will work through this problem and keep the faith until he can reach the day of his baptism. It was a real trial for him but I am amazed at how much stronger he has come out of this experience. He is willing now more than ever to work hard to reach that goal. I learned a great lesson too. A lot of times we don't know why things like this happen. I know that we were all looking forward to Angel´s baptism but it seems to me that the plan for Angel was a little different than we expected. But once again, like a have seen before, the scripture in Ether 12:6 is so true. Our true testimonies come and are strengthened after we have had trials of our faith. I saw that example and that principle stronger more than ever this week in the life of our investigator and in my own life. But what a blessing it is to have a loving Heavenly Father who loves us and is an active part of our lives. He just helps us to become the best that we can be! I love it.

So yeah, that was a big bump in the road. But the good news is that the road continues and we didn't drive off the cliff. We just found another mountain that we need to climb so up we go!

Our other Angel is doing just great! Angel Pavon came to church for the second time yesterday and I could tell that he absolutely loved it. By the end he was making sure to shake all of the members' hands before he left. He is loving the Book of Mormon and continues to actually study the book. I am amazed at the joy that he is finding in the message and the peace that the scriptures are bringing to his life.

We gave him a Bible too and he has been studying both. He has had a rough life with all of the health problems that his wife has had but his faith is so incredible. All he wants to do is follow God and be on the right path. I know that he is seeing the blessings that are coming as he is doing what God asks him too. He told us this week that he has now set apart Sunday as God's day. He and his wife used to buy their food and do all their shopping on Sunday but they have moved those chores to Friday after his experience in church last week. We continue to work with him and his wife, but his wife just doesn't really have the same fire that he does. We haven't been able to teach his wife since the last time we talked to her. She hasn't been feeling too well but we know that one day she is going to come around! She has so much interest in our message. She just needs a little fire under her and then its showtime!

I had the great privilege this week of doing 3 baptismal interviews. I did one for a lady named Blanca. She was a baptism that the assistants to the President had. She talked about how the missionaries had passed by her house so many times before but how she always used to reject them and tell them that she was Catholic and to stop bothering her. She said that the day she talked to the missionaries this time they were at her neighbor´s house. She went to them and started talking to them! She said I didn't know why but for some reason their message really touched me this time. She said that the gospel of Jesus Christ has changed her life. She is going through a lot of hard family things and she told me that now "I smile when I am not doing anything. I smile because I am just filled with happiness and love. I know that God loves me and I know that I am doing what he wants me to do!"

It was an incredible experience for me and a real testimony builder to just see how really important this work and this message are. But also I see how we never know when someone will be ready to feel the testimony of the Holy Ghost. But we know that one day everyone will have that opportunity! It gave me a new found desire to get out and talk to all of those people that tell us they are Catholic and to stop bugging them! I am loving every minute of this experience and I want to thank you for all that you do. Elder Holland called this the work of angels and I am so blessed to be a part of it! But you are part of it too with all of your prayers and support. Thank you for all you do and for saying and doing the things that have helped me to stay out here and keep working hard! I hope that one day I can thank each and every one of you for all that you have done for me!

I hope that all of you fathers have an incredible Father's Day this weekend! Thank you dad for all that you do. You are my hero and I hope you know just how much I love you! You too Grandpa! Thanks for all you do!

I hope that you all have an amazing week! Thanks again for all that you do!

HAPPY FATHERS DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Preparing for Angel´s baptism!

Received June 8, 2010

Buenos Dias Y'all

I hope that you all had a great week this past week! I really hope that you don't think that I think none of you are writing me or emailing me. I am sorry if you got that feeling from my email last week or from my letters. I couldn't be more grateful for the support that I receive from all of you back home. I realize how busy you all are and I honestly don't expect all of the support that I have been receiving. So if you felt that last week I was talking about how nobody was supporting me I apologize. Honestly that is the complete opposite of how I feel. I love you all with all my heart and I couldn't be more thankful for the love and kindness and support that you have all shown me over the past year! Thank you! Thank you! Thank You!

Anyways, this week was a fun week for us. Things are really starting to pick up here and I am loving things every day more and more in Vega Baja. This beach mountain town is awesome! I really can't believe how beautiful it is here and how blessed we are to live in this awesome world. Sometimes I wish that you all could see it for yourselves. And then other times I wish that I could keep it all to myself . . . no I'm just kidding. I hope that you all will one day get to see the beauty of Puerto Rico because it really is amazing.

But by far the best thing about right now is not the beauty of the earth but the beautiful experiences that we are having with our investigators (was that cheesy enough for you guys!?) No, but really, thank you all for your prayers and your love because things are going great and miracles are happening. These special happenings are blessings and miracles that we don't deserve, so thank you for your prayers, they mean the world.

We are planning to have a baptism this week with our great friend Angel. Like I said last week, this man is just amazing. He is so golden and so prepared for the message. He can't wait for his baptism and neither can we. Its so exciting to be a part of the work when you have someone like Angel. He is truly a blessing in our lives. This week was a little stressful though. We had an appointment to go and visit him on Saturday. He called us that morning and said that he had been robbed. Someone had stolen all of his personal papers. He said he wasn't going to be able to meet with us because he would be out trying to fix everything. He told us that he wasn't sure that he would be able to come to church the next day either. We were both really worried because this was a huge obstacle that would maybe push back his date to make his baptismal covenant with Heavenly Father. We dropped to our knees and prayed. Later that day we got a call from him saying that they had found his papers and that everything would be OK. He thanked us for the prayers we offered to help him and said that he would see us in church the next day. What a miracle! I know that God heard our prayers and that he blessed Angel with the miracle that he needed. Angel knows he needs to be baptized and he is doing everything that he needs to do and he is being blessed abundantly by the Lord.

On Sunday we were in Elder's Quorum and we were discussing blessings for the sick and afflicted. We read together in James 5 about the blessings and Angel raised his hand. He said "the scripture said that if there are any sick among you to call upon the elders of the church. Well I am sick and I know that you are Elders, so I would like to ask if I could have a blessing." I was so shocked. But at the same time not really because I have seen the amount of faith that Angel has and this was just another demonstration of that incredible faith.

The Elders in the quorum gave him a blessing and it was a sweet experience to see the members of the ward give him a priesthood blessing. It was a really neat experience for Angel too. He said that as soon as they started the blessing, he felt something rush through his body and he felt better. He knew that he was being blessed by the power of God.

Needless to say we are really excited to see our friend enter the waters of baptism on Saturday. It should be another incredible experience with our Angel.

That's the first Angel and our other Angel is doing just great! He came to church for the first time yesterday and he loved it. The part he liked the most was sacrament meeting and specifically the sacrament. That was really cool because I've never really seen that in an investigator before. The part he loved most about church was the reason that all of us go every week. It was really neat to hear that come from his mouth but also to see the appreciation that he had for that time even though he hasn't been baptized yet. He is also just awesome and so prepared.

It was a huge surprise to see him on church on Sunday! We are still working really closely with his wife. But she just has a ton of medical problems and so its really hard for her to take the time to listen to us. But little by little we are gaining her confidence.

We were teaching Angel the plan of salvation this week and he had a question about children and sin and infant baptism. We turned to Moroni 8 and read it with him and he loved it. He said once again, as he had other times, that the words coming from the Book of Mormon confirm something that had always felt in his heart, something that he had always known to be true. He said he knew for his whole life that it was wrong to think that children could sin and that now he had found the answer that he had been searching for. He continues to read in the Book of Mormon and is loving every word of every page that he has been reading. It has been an incredible experience to see the way that the Book of Mormon has blessed this man. It truly contains the answers to questions of the soul and we are so blessed to have it. It has been a huge testimony builder for me to see the difference and the influence that the book has made on Angel.

He continues to progress and work his way towards baptism. We are still working to set a goal with him. He knows that our message is true because he has felt it! This should be a great week with him! We are both really excited to see where it will all go!

But yeah that's about it for this week. We had to drop a lot of investigators this week which was kind of hard. But it was also good because it gave us the opportunity to do some searching for those that God has prepared. We talked to some really awesome people and we are excited to get to working with them this week! I know that I talked last week about a lady that we had found named Mary Selles. The lessons that we had with her were amazing. She is the one that asked us if we would keep coming back. We weren't able to talk to her this week because the appointments that we had with her all dropped. But we are still working with her and I know that she has some great potential!

But yeah, things are going great! And once again I hope that you all don't feel like I am discouraged. I could never be discouraged with the way that you have been supporting me! I love you guys so much and it means the world to me that you would just take the time to pray for me. So yeah, I really hope that none of you feel that I am discouraged or feel that you are not supporting me. I am so grateful for all you have done, and all that you continue to do for me!

Anyways, it sounds like summer is in full swing. I hope that you all have a great week of fun in the sun. It gets really hot here during the day and then it rains. Then it just stays hot and the humidity is 100%. Its like a sauna, but its good! Keeps that water weight down.

I love you so much and I am so thankful for all that you do. Have a great week and know that you are all in my prayers!

Happy Memorial Day, Singing in the Rain


Received June 1, 2010

Good Morning Family and Friends!

Thanks again to all of you for your emails. You guys rock! And I hope you know how much I love you and how much all of you mean to me! Thanks for all you do. Thanks for all your love and support. I really appreciate it!

Well it sounds like summer back home has officially begun now that all the kids are out of school and that there are a bunch of new graduates running around! I hope that you all had a fun weekend celebrating and that it was a good Memorial Day for everyone.

Some of you asked if they celebrate Memorial Day here in Puerto Rico. I wasn't near any cemeteries yesterday but I know that it was a holiday here. All of the government offices were closed along with a lot of other things and everyone was partying it up. So yeah, I think they had the day off. But I am not sure if they celebrate it in the same way we do. I know that on November 1st they all go to the graves and remember those who have gone before. So I'm not sure if they do it on Memorial Day as well.

Anyways, I am sure you were all dying to know that . . . (haha)! Sorry I just thought I would answer the question.

Anywho,

This week went by so slow. I don't really know what happened but it seemed like this week went by slowly. I am adjusting to life here in Puerto Rico but it is just so different from the way that my life has been these last six months. It feels like I have been transferred to another mission. It's so weird. The change has been kind of hard. Almost as hard as it was last year. But it was a great opportunity and blessing to be able to suffer a little bit and grow closer to my Heavenly Father. It's true what they say about the mission; there is nothing like it in the world. And it is the best thing that any young man could be doing in his life. I am thankful for the opportunity to be here and I hope you know how much all of your support and love means to me.

This week was a really neat week for me though. A lot of really special things happened for us this week and it gave me just an overwhelming gratitude for this opportunity that I have to serve. We had a really neat experience on Wednesday. My companion and I weren't getting along so well and we started to knock on some doors. Right as we started the rain began to fall and it just started to pour. I started to get my umbrella out of my pack and I asked my companion if he had his or had at least brought his jacket. He looked at me and said no. I thought to myself, "well, he's been a jerk to me lately so he deserves to suffer." But then I thought "no, that's not right." So I threw him my umbrella and pulled out my rain jacket. We kept going getting more and more wet but loving every minute of it.

We got to the end of the street and when we yelled at the house the lady there started laughing at us and invited us in. I'm not sure that she would have invited us in if we both had our rain gear. But I think because we were sharing what little we had, it struck something in her. She told us to get in before we got soaked (it was a little late for that but we were still really thankful for the offer).

We went in and taught a first lesson and the lesson went great. The lady's name is Mary Selles. She´s been through a lot in her life and she actually told us that she had talked to the sister missionaries before, so that was great! She had been given a Book of Mormon but her pastor had told her some lies and so she got rid of the book. We shared our message with her and it was a message that she really wanted to hear. She talked about how sick she was of all of the confusion and corruption that there is in the world, but especially in the churches. I felt like our message was specifically for her and she loved it. At the end we read with her in Mosiah chapter 3 when King Benjamin talks about the Savior and His atonement. Then we asked her if she thought the book was evil like her pastor had said. She said of course not, that the book made her feel good and it talked about the Savior, therefore how could it be evil! We went back a few days later and reviewed the original church of Christ and the apostasy with her. She stopped us in the middle of the lesson and she said "look, I am feeling great and I am learning more than I have ever learned in my church. You are going to keep coming back right?" We said "of course" and it made me so thankful that we were guided to her that day in the rain. She said that she will be at church this week because she knows that this message is special. We both left that cida singing in the rain.

Our awesome friend Angel Colon is doing great! We taught him this past week about tithing and the word of wisdom and his answer for both of them was "well, I know that's what I need to do so I better do it." The man is incredibly prepared to receive the gospel and is taking all of the steps that he needs to take in order to be baptized. His date is on the 12th of June (here in a couple of weeks) and I have never seen somebody so committed to being baptized . . . well besides Jose Petrona. . . nobody! :)

We have another investigator named Freddy. I don't know if I have told you about him. He is a dry member. He knows the church is true he just is stuck living with his ex-girlfriend because he has nowhere to go and has no job nor money to find a place of his own. Anyways . . . we passed by this week to check up on him and he sat us down and taught us for like half an hour. It was a really sweet experience. I never thought that I would see the day when an investigator taught us a full lesson. We always learn things from them. But not like that! (hahah) It was awesome!

One more story and then I will let you guys go. I know that everyone is so busy now and that there are more things to do so I won't take up all of your time (hahah).

Anyways, I think I told you about the other Angel that we have, Angel Pavon. We also found him knocking doors in the rain (Blessings!!!!!). Anyways, the man is also incredibly prepared. He has so many questions and doubts about God's doctrines that have been changed by men. For example, he told us in the first cida that everyone says God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are the same person, but deep down something tells him that is not true. Or another example he gave is that everyone says we began to exist when we were created by God, but that deep down inside something tells him that he lived with God before this life.

He has read a ton of the Book of Mormon in just the few weeks that we have been teaching him but the real miracle came yesterday. He is great and awesome and ready but his wife didn't really want to have anything to do with us. She is so nice to us. But I think she just didn't really appreciate what she had heard about us from before and so she always has something else to be doing when we come over. We had been praying really hard that we would find the way to be able to get her involved or be able to just talk to her at least. When we went over yesterday it was the same old story. But towards the end of the lesson Angel asked why satan was cast down to the earth. Why did God send him here where we were going to be. She was walking by right as he asked that question and she kind of stalled there pretending to do something so she could hear the answer. We answered the question and I could tell that she really liked it because she went inside and stopped whatever she was doing and came out and sat in the back of the room to hear the rest.

She asked if we were Mormons and what we were all about. We told her, and she liked what we said. Then she asked how we could know which church was true. We turned to James 1:5 and asked her to read it. She then told us that she can only read English. That she grew up and went to school in New York. She went and got her English Bible and I went and talked to her about it! It was a complete answer to our prayers and it was truly a miracle. We were able to talk about a lot of things. She talked about how she doesn't want to be pushed but that she wants to know. I told her that she can know if she asks and does those things that God requires us to do in order to receive this answer.

She asked about the Book of Mormon and said that she wanted to talk more about that next time. Then I went to put away my puzzle showing the plan of salvation and she was so interested in it! What is that! Oh we have to talk about that next time too. She told us that she would be with us in the next lesson because she likes our style and has so many questions. It was truly a miracle! Because I'm not really sure what changed her heart or her mind but I know one thing is for sure . . . that her mind was in fact changed and I know that it was only through God's power that it happened! Just an incredible experience.

Anywho, it was a great week. It was a hard week, but in our hardest weeks and our hardest times, we seem to have the sweetest, neatest weeks and the sweetest neatest times. I want to thank you all for always, or at least trying to always, be there for me. I don't think you know how much it means to me. I love you all with all my heart and I know that there is an army of prayers behind me. I am so thankful for that! I hope you all have a great week and that you know how much I love you guys!

Enjoy the summer and Trent . . . use sunscreen buddy! (hahah silly goose.)

Love you guys,

Getting Back into the swig of things, Borriqua Style


Received May 24, 2010

Buenos Dias!

I hope that you all are having a great week so far and that your week last week was just incredible! It's exciting to hear that Tyler and Jason and now home from their missions and that they were able to give great homecoming talks! Tell them "Hi" for me. It sounds like they did a great job! I hope the adjustment back to non-mission life goes well for them.

As far as the rest of you it sounds like things are winding down with school and that the kids are getting more and more excited. I can't believe that this is the end of the school year! Where in the world did the year go? Anyways, good luck mom with trying to control the kids this week! And I hope everyone else has a fun week trying to stay calm.

I love you guys and I hope that all is going well back home! Thanks again for the emails everyone. So I found out this week that we are going to be changing apartments soon. Sad I know because the apartment we are in now is incredible! But it will be good because we live about 15 minutes away from the main part of the city in which we live. Which means 15 minutes from the church which tends to be a hassle! Anyways, I tell you this because if you want to send letters don't use the address that I gave you last week. Just use the mission office address for everything. The assistants are in my district and they are in the office a lot. We also have a couple living in our ward who serve in the office. Yesterday they brought me a letter from grandma and grandpa and they said that they bring us whatever we get every time they come out. So yeah, just use the mission office address for the few of you who are still hanging in there and writing. You really don't know how much it means to me! Your love keeps me going!

Anyways, enough of the boring stuff. This week was a good week for us. I was a bit discouraged last week because I went from an area that had a teaching pool of a gazillion people to an area with 2 or 3. Needless to say we did a lot of tracting and street contacting this week. We received some great blessings from the Lord and we are going to keep working with these new investigators to keep them progressing.

But by far the biggest news of the week is that we had the blessing and the miracle to be able to set a baptismal date with our good friend Angel. He is an absolute miracle for us. The missionaries serving in this area before us did nothing to find him. He was a referral from the office. Anyways, the man is absolutely golden. He has read every pamphlet that we have given him about the lessons and he is also reading in the Book of Mormon. On Saturday we taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ and when we came to the part about baptism (we read in Mosiah chapter 18 about the covenant we accept at baptism) we asked him if that was a promise that he wanted to make. He said that he knew that being baptized was what he needed to do and that on June 12th he would be receiving new life. It was an incredible experience.

I haven't really had that on my mission. I've seen it a few times but most of the time people don't tell us that they have been waiting and wanting to make a covenant with the Lord. Angel said that this is exactly what he has been wanting to do and it is exactly what he needs to do. Just an amazing blessing for us during a time where we have been a little discouraged by the lack of success elsewhere. It just went to show us that honestly we as missionaries do nothing special. This man was a gift from the Lord and I am so excited to keep working with him.

I also had another cool experience this week with a member family. The Alvarado family invited us over for dinner this week. This is not the Brother Alvarado who will be my new mission president . . . although he does live in our stake. At the end of the meal we sat down to share the message we had prepared with the family. I should also tell you that the senior couple that I told you about earlier in this email was there also. We had talked with them about sharing a fun lesson about the Book of Mormon with the family. We had it all planned out.

The dad sat down and said "OK elders now, I told you why we invited you over right?" I looked at my companion and he had no idea what the father was speaking about, and I had no idea either. The senior couple had no idea and so we all said "no." He said "oh, woops, guess I forgot to tell you. Anyhow, I wanted you to come over tonight to help us learn a little about how we can have more love in our home and how our children need to stop fighting with each other."

I was just a little stumped. I had no idea what to say. The lesson that we had prepared had just been thrown out the window. My mind was blank and all I could think of was just to pray . . . pray and the answer will come. I prayed and soon scriptures starting entering my mind. It was an amazing experience because the scriptures that came to my mind were some scriptures that I had read before but that I have not memorized. But there they were. And it turned out to be an amazing lesson. We saw the parents on Sunday and they thanked us again for the great lesson that we shared and for the help that we were able to give the family. I kind of just laughed to myself because honestly I know that we did nothing.

I love you guys so much and I want you to know how much I love you and how thankful I am for you! I know that this is God's work and that these are His children. He knows each and everyone of us separately and individually and He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. I don't just know that because I saw it this week, I know it because I felt it this week too. Prayers to help with the challenges and struggles and feelings of despair were answered by you guys and others this week. I am so thankful for all you do and for a loving Heavenly Father who is always there for his children!

I hope you have a great week! I hope that the summer starts to come so the kids can get out a little bit! Congrats Trent on making it to the end of Junior high! You are a stud!

Write soon! Your words mean the world to me,

Your Favorite Missionary ,

Elder Oviatt

oh p.s. the picture is of me last p-day on the beach by our house... jealous? :) Tracting in the tropical rain definitely has it's payback blessings

I forgot all of my Spanish! All is Good, God Gave me Another Latin.



Received May 17, 2010

Buenos Dias, (I think that's right)

Good morning family and friends!

First off thanks to all of you for the letters and the packages that you sent to me while I was away. It was great to be able to get back to the island and see all of that love for me in the mission office. I don't know why but I have truly been blessed with an incredible support system and I am so thankful for that.

Thank you all for your great emails and your letters and your love and support. As most of you have already guessed by now, I am back in Puerto Rico. It was kind of a culture shock when I landed on Friday afternoon. I never realized how incredibly different the work and the people are between Puerto Rico and the islands. But I am excited to be back and to get to work.

Things went well on the flight up here. I had no problems and I didn't have to pay anything which was a miracle for me. We got to the airport on Friday morning and there had been a problem with the system of the airline but everything worked out just fine and I was able to get through.

Like I said in the title of this email, I have another Latin companion. His name is Elder Moran and he is from Guatemala. This will be his fourth transfer in the mission so we have the exact same time in Puerto Rico as each other. I was here for three transfers before I went back to Aruba and Curacao. And wouldn't you know it, but his last companion was a missionary that most of you are familiar with Elder Lopez! (hahah)

I really wanted to be with Elder Lopez but it's not going to happen now that he is in the islands and I am back in Puerto Rico. But I guess this is close enough! Anyways, my companion is about 24 years old and I can tell that this is where he wants to be. He is a really hard worker which is a great blessing to me. The only problem is the Spanish (hahah). He doesn't know English. It feels a little like my first transfer with Elder Blandon again. Elder Moran speaks so quietly and quickly that it's hard to understand him. Or maybe I have just forgotten a lot of Spanish but that's OK. It will pick right back up here in a few weeks.

I have been placed in an area called Vega Baja which is about 30 minutes outside of San Juan. Our area is the biggest area in Puerto Rico (by far) and it would be the biggest area in the mission if it wasn't for the other area that i was just in. (hahah).

Anywho, I'm not really sure why it is so big but is going to be an adventure! We cover 4 pueblos or cities. Most areas in Puerto Rico cover one. And if not just one than maybe two. We happen to have four. They also called me to be a district leader so yeah....needless to say there is a lot of work to do.

I really love my new area though. It is so beautiful and the people rock. As I was driving through the town of Vega Baja I thought to myself that this is my kind of town! Our apartment is about a stones through away from the beach. I will try and include a picture but yeah it's going to be a great transfer and I am pumped!

There is a lot of work to do in our area. They just had a baptism this past week and it was the first baptism in months and months and months in this area, so the members are all really excited! They tasted the joy that comes from a baptism and they want more. So I am really excited to get to work with them to see if maybe we can find the same type of success through the members that we found in Curacao. I know the experience in Curacao was a miracle but hey, miracles happen right!

The investigators that we do have are just awesome. We taught probably our fastest progressing investigator last night. His name is Angel. He is a great man who has so much faith and he told us last night that he knows the Book of Mormon is true. We taught him the plan of salvation last night and the spirit was absolutely incredible. He said that he was willing to do whatever he needed to do to be able to live in the Celestial Kingdom. We are really excited for the potential and for the testimony that he is sharing with us. We are going to be setting a date for baptism this week so we are both really excited.

Our other great investigator is named Freddy. This guy rocks. He knows the church is true but we have just run into a huge problem with him. He is living with his girlfriend and he has no job. He wants more than anything to move out so that he can get baptized but he has absolutely no where to go. We are trying to think of something to do, but they have had this problem for a long time. At this point we just need a miracle. He's so awesome! It's hard for me to see him have to be held back because of his situation. But I know that one day all will work out and he will be able to get baptized.

Other than that things are going well. We are going to be working really hard to find some new investigators and I know that we are going to find some. They are out there I know it! We just don't know them yet! But we will soon for sure.

I love you guys so much. I included a picture of the outside of our apartment and me with Angel's puppy. I hope you like it!

Thank you so much for all of your love and support. I am going to need it this transfer! So yeah, thanks and please don't ever stop! You have no idea how much it means to me. Just keep sending letters and stuff to the mission office since I am not sure if stuff sent to my address here will work. The assistants to the president are in my district and they are in the office all the time, so I would be able to get the stuff easy!

I love you guys so much! Thanks for all you do! Say hi to Ky, Dillan, Tyler, and Jason and everyone else that is coming home!

Thanks again!

5 Baptisms and Mothers Day in the Same Weekend! Absolutely Incredible!


Received May 10, 2010

Bon Dia Familia I Amigonan!

I love you guys! And once again I want to say thank you for all you do.

Family and Grandma and Grandpa, it was absolutely amazing to be able to talk to you guys yesterday. It was so great to hear your voices and to be able to share with each other for a while. Thank you so much for all that you guys do and I want you all to know again how much I love you.

This week was probably the best week that I will ever have in my mission. Not Just because I got to talk to you guys, but also because of the baptism that we were able to witness of the Petrona family. I know that you my family has already heard all about it on the phone call, but I will tell it again just in case I left any of it out . . . and for those of you who were not part of the phone call.

So last week I told you that Jose wasn't sure if he wanted to get baptized without his family. Claris and her mom had told us that they didn't feel ready to be baptized. We invited Jose to ask God. We told him that we would support him in whatever he decided because we knew that he would counsel with the Lord and that he would receive his answer. And that whatever he received in answer, we would be behind him 100 percent. That was on Monday night.

Wednesday night we went back to their house and Jose came out to greet us. Then came Claris and then Monica and then the kids. We all sat around outside in the beautiful Caribbean sea breeze. We asked Jose how he was feeling about the baptism on Saturday. He said "good, really good." And then he said "ClarisTambien" (or Claris too). We were both a little surprised by that. We asked again to made sure that we really understood Jose correctly. When we asked if that meant he wanted to be baptized, he said "yeah. But not just me. We are all going to get baptized!"

We were absolutely blown away. We weren't really expecting that to happen, even though it was something that we had been praying for the whole transfer. But there it was. Jose said he received his answer and the rest of the family did the same. They all knew what they had to do. They knew that they all needed to be clean and that now was the time to do it. We hurried and scrambled and made some phone calls to arrange for our district leader to come in and do the interviews.

We had the interviews on Friday and it was so awesome. Jose told us that he had dreamed the night before that our Branch President was baptizing him and that he was there with his family and all of us standing around watching him. He knew what he was about to do was the right thing to do.

Saturday came around and we were so excited that it was hard to wait until 4:30 for the baptism. We all got there but I couldn't get the door to the church open! This was a problem because of the baptismal clothes were inside. I tried once again to open the locked and jammed door and this time I broke the key in half (ya know with my super human strength). So we had to wait a little while for the Branch President to show up.

He did arrive and and we were able to get everything going again with just a little delay. The baptism itself was absolutely incredible! Every time one of the family entered the water I could just feel this joy and this peace. I could see it on each of their faces. We all knew that what they were doing was of God and we all knew that this was a special day for them. Jose was baptized first and it was just incredible for me. In my mission I've never been to a baptism with more than two people being baptized and it was just incredible. Every time another family member entered the water and was baptized, our joy just kept building and building. This family has been through so much and they have lived some pretty crazy lives but on Saturday afternoon in the beautiful Caribbean sun, they were cleansed and had made a covenant with their Heavenly Father. I know because I felt, everyone there felt, that they had been cleansed from their sins and they had committed themselves to follow him! It was such an amazing day! But then we had
part two the next day and it was even more incredible.

Sunday morning we had the confirmations of all 5 members of the family in the sacrament meeting. The promises and things that were made and said during the confirmations blessings were just incredible. To see the light and joy that was in their eyes afterward was just indescribable. It was truly a miracle to see the change that had occurred in this family and I am so grateful and thankful and blessed to have been a part of it. During priesthood meeting Jose received the Aaronic priesthood and was ordained a Priest. Then he invited his son to come up so that he would be able to confer the Aaronic Priesthood on his 13 year-old son. It was the most incredible experience that I have ever had in my life. There was no where else in the world that I would've rather been at that moment. (Sorry family but its true). Words cannot describe the joy and the peace that we felt this weekend to be able to see our friends the Petrona family enter the waters of baptism and enter the door that will one day lead them to the Celestial Kingdom where they will be able to live together forever!

I know that this is the work of God! There is no doubt in my mind. I am so thankful for my Savior Jesus Christ and for his atoning sacrifice and the power that comes from it. I know He lives and I know that the cleansing power of His atonement is real. I love Him with all of my heart and there is nowhere else I would rather be than in His service.

And then after that amazing experience, I got to talk my family and tell them all about it! I hope that you guys enjoyed our conversation as much as I did! Thank you so much for all that you do and for your love and support! I love you guys.

The rest of our investigators are doing well. The Burnabella family is now in Venezuela working to get married. We are really on edge because Clifton only has a few weeks before he gets back here and if they can't get married before that, Madeline probably wont be allowed to re-enter Curacao for a few years. Your prayers and your faith worked this last week for the Petrona family, this family needs those prayers now too! I know that whatever happens will happen but at this point, they need all the help and blessings that they can get. Their faith still astounds me. They are so converted and want more than anything to get baptized. I just hope that all will go well.

We are working with Jose's mother and her family and they are absolutely amazing too. I won't be able to be here to see them get baptized but it was an amazing experience to be able to work with that 7-member family too! Iris, Jose's mom, has gone from smoking three packs of cigarettes a day to none in just one week. And wouldn't you believe it, we haven't taught them the word of wisdom yet. They came to the baptism and they received their own witnesses that is what they needed to be doing and working towards! They are so fired up for their own baptism and we are excited to get them there! Once again it has been an absolute miracle for me to be able to work with these families. There is absolutely nothing that we did to find or teach these families. They were given to us by God and I am so thankful that He knows His children and He knows what they need.

This week I am leaving Curacao and it's going to be sad for me. But I am excited to get back to Puerto Rico and start applying the things and lessons that I have learned down here in the islands! I will get there on Friday so if you want send me a letter, it would be great to hear from you all.

I have been thinking of Brother Howe a lot this past few weeks and so I just want to say Hi to him! I hope all is going well Brother Howe. I want you to know how much I love you and how thankful I am for the time that I was able to be with you in priest's quorum. All of us young men, but especially me, were so influenced by your strong testimony and your love for the Savior. I know that I wouldn't be the same as I am today if it wasn't for your love and your friendship that you shared with me. Thanks for being such an incredible man! I hope that all is going well!

Thanks again to you all for all you do. I love you guys and I am loving every minute of my time here. Your love and support keeps me going. I don't think you realize just how much it means to me so thank you!

Attached is a picture of us with the family after the baptism. Jose gave me a huge hug and I got all wet but believe me, I wanted to get as wet as I could get! What an incredible day!

I love you guys!

HAPPY MOTHER"S DAY MOM! I LOVE YOU MOMMA! WITH ALL MY HEART!

Received May 4, 2010

Bon dia,

FIRST OFF!!!

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

To all moms but especially to my mom!

Mom I love you so much and I am so thankful for all that you do for me! You are so amazing! I love you so much! I hope that you have an amazing week! It will be exciting to hear about how all has been when we speak on Sunday!

I love you mom!

I hope that you all have had a great morning so far and a great day and that everything is going well. I am sorry that the email is one day late. We had the kings birthday to celebrate this weekend and so when everyone was off for the day, we got to go out and work! It was fun. But I'm still really confused about why everyone had a day off for the queen's birthday. Oh well.

This week has been a crazy week. I feel like I have been on an emotional roller coaster for the past week and a half. We have been super super busy trying to prepare the Petrona family for baptism and also to maintain a progressing work on the island. And to do this all while having to deal with problem after problem with the cars and the house. But it is awesome and I am loving every minute of it. But I am just shocked by how crazy things are.

We have a baptism that is supposed to occur this Saturday and we are hoping that all will go well. The Petrona family is so awesome and it has been such a blessing to be able to know them. Our journey with them started almost 6 weeks ago and there have been challenges all along the way. Why would it be any different for the week of their baptism . . . right?

They ended up getting kicked out of the house where they have been living last week so at this point they are in a frantic search for a house. As much as they know that this message is true, we aren't really the top thing on the priority list right now. And a week before a baptism it is a little difficult for that to be happening, but it's good. They know that they want to be baptized and they are going to do all that they can to get there. It all depends on what they feel and the will of the Lord as it always is.

But we had a cool experience with them on Saturday. Because they got kicked out of their house they are living with a friend. It turns out this lady is pretty hard core anti-Mormon. She was in the room with them when we sat down to teach them on Saturday. The first thing out of her mouth was "listen, I want you to explain to me, no to all of us, including them (the family) why they need to stop drinking coffee before their baptism." She wanted facts and medical reports and I thought "oh boy here we go." But a voice just came to me in my head reminding "you don't need to, just testify." I opened my mouth and the words just came out. Her heart was touched or something because for the rest of the lesson she was on the side of supporting the baptism of this family. I don't know what I said but I know that I didn't say anything to change her, it was all the spirit.

So yeah, we are working really hard with them. Jose told us last night that he is not really sure if this week is going to be the best week for the baptism. I was really sad to hear that. I just hope it's honestly because they don't feel prepared not because of something that somebody is telling him. This family has so much faith and such a testimony, but it's still new to them. We need your prayers to make this happen. At this point it's fifty-fifty. I would love to be able to see them be baptized but in the end it really isn't about what I want, its about what God wants and what they chose to do! So we'll see. It seems that on Sunday you will be able to figure out if we had a baptism or not! What a cliffhanger, huh?

As for the other family we are teaching they are doing just great! We set a baptismal date with them on Saturday and the lesson was just awesome. We got to the end of the lesson and it seemed like my companion wasn't wanting to set a baptismal date. I asked him about it and he told me if I felt it to do it that I should. I committed the family in a way that I had never done before. It was almost weird. I was talking about things that really didn't matter to baptism but were things that I know that family needed to hear. The dad of this family is a little rough and is a little cold to our message. When we invited the family to be baptized, they all agreed, including him.

The dad said it was a goal for him. He really wants to know if the gospel we are teaching them is true and if they should join the church. He said that he will do whatever he needs to do to come to know for himself. But he didn't want us to be mad at him if he is not ready on the date when it arrives. While I was pleased I was also a little shocked that he was willing to go this far and I know it's because the spirit touched his heart. Really, once again I'm not sure what I said but I know it was not me that touched his heart and gave him the desire to know. It was the spirit that he felt from the truthfulness of the message.

I wish that you all could have seen the joy that was on the mothers face. She wants more than anything for her family to be baptized and accept Christ together. Hearing her husband agree to work towards baptism made her the happiest that I have ever seen her.

As for the other people, the Burnabella family is doing just fine. They fly out to Venezuela on Friday to get married. We need a miracle to make sure that everything goes well. They have the faith that they everything will work out well and that Maedeline will be able to get enter Venezuela and then be able to leave again without any problems! I love this family so much! I won't be here for their baptism but I know that they are going to do great things in this gospel! It has been an absolute blessing to be able to work with them and help them along this path.

There is one miracle story that I do want to tell you about. As I said last week, we had to get the cars registered and it was ridiculous. We ended up spending all day last P-Day at the DMV. We went on Thursday to get the car inspected and we had some more issues to resolve but eventually it all worked out. We had finally jumped through all of the hoops to be able to get the car officially registered. We did it and it felt amazing.

Then my companion said that we should hand them the paperwork for the other car at the same time to see if they would let us pay for the other car too (and not have to go through the week-long process again for that car). We did it and it worked! I was so amazed and so happy. You have no idea! Such a blessing and a miracle to help us be able to return our focus to the work and the people that we are serving and teaching. It may not seem big to you guys but it was a huge blessing to us. It was yet another chance for me to see that our Heavenly Father truly knows us and the issues we are dealing with and that he loves us enough to help us, even with silly things like registering cars!

I am so thankful for all of you guys and the blessings that you are to me in my life! I am excited for Sunday but there is a lot of work that needs to be done before then so pray for us! We need all the help that we can get!

I love you guys! And once again . . .

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY TO ALL!!!!!

Aruba and Back in one day Congrats Grad! Way To Go!


Received April 26, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

I hope that you all had an amazing week! Way to go Mckay on graduating from BYU.
That is so awesome! I hope that you had a great day doing so! It was also great to hear that Jenny was able to finally make it home safe and sound! Sounds like it was quite the adventure. But I am glad that you were able to make it home.

It was also crazy to hear that Jason Harris had to wait for a while to get home from his mission. It doesn't seem right that it is the time for all of those elders will to be coming home in the next few weeks. It seems like they just left yesterday how crazy is that! Keep me updated on the calls of Jonny and Preston! Way to go guys! I am happy to hear that we are going to get two more solid warriors in God's Army. Maybe both of you will be lucky enough to get called to the BEST MISSION ON EARTH -- Puerto Rico, San Juan. Keep your fingers crossed!

Well this week was just great. I hope that it was all good for you guys too. Once again, I thank you for all of your letters and your love. I just love hearing from you guys.

We had Zone Conference this week. it was originally scheduled to be held here in
Curacao. We were going to have 8 elders in our apartment again. But the conference
was moved to another island and a different day. Wednesday morning Elder Wilkes and I
woke up early early so we could get to the airport to and catch our 7 o' clock flight to Aruba. We got there without a problem. It was really weird to be in Aruba again. But I loved it. We got picked up at the airport and we drove straight to the church where we had an amazing zone conference. There were just the 8 of us missionaries and the Mission President and his wife. After the meetings we drove right back to the airport. Zone conference ended up getting out really late and we got to the airport like 40 minutes before our flight. It was like home alone with missionaries! (hahah) It was fun though and we were blessed to get there right at the time that we needed to. We then flew back to Curacao. When we arrived we took the Mission President and his wife to their hotel. We went up to their room to help them unload some stuff. It was really weird to be in a hotel room. That is something that I never thought I would see in my mission. But none the less it was cool. So yeah, that was our day. We got back at about 4:00 and went out to work! It was crazy but a really cool experience. We flew to Aruba and back in one day! We thought about doing it again for preparation day. No . . . I'm just kidding! That would be fun though!

Anyways, that was a cool story for the week. But now I will give you an update on our
investigators.

The Petrona family is doing just great. We had a little trouble this week with the other family. Jose's sister had some troubles at home and ended up going into a panic attack. She stopped eating for the entire week and didn't recognize who we were or anyone in her family. She just recognized our voices. It was really a strange phenomenon. On Saturday we were able to give her a blessing with the Branch President. She woke up on Sunday morning back to normal! It was quite the miracle. It was also just another testimony to me about how true priesthood power really is.

But like I said, the Petrona family is doing just great. Jose is an absolute rock and is reading the Book of Mormon every single day. He has completely turned his life around and all he wants is the best for his family. So he is really excited for his baptism and the baptism of his family. We were able to meet with Monica and Claris alone this week which is something that we have been trying to do for a long time. Jose is a rock, but we were feeling that Monica and Claris were having some doubts. We went by on Wednesday afternoon to talk to them. It turns out that Claris had started to fully read and pray about the Book of Mormon and she was loving every word. But Monica told us that she was little worried about being so old. She was worried that she would start to fall behind as the others kept learning. She expressed some other fears. As she was talking I just heard this voice in my head "Fear Not, only Believe." Then I thought about it one more time and it hit me. That is from the Bible. I didn't know exactly where it was but I opened the Bible to look for the scripture and I found it within seconds. That is something that rarely happens to me when I am looking for scriptures (hahah). I started to talk and all of these words just started coming out of my mouth. I was saying really bold things that I don't usually share with people and then I shared the scripture in Mark 5:36. (As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe). I told her to put her name in the scripture in place of the ruler of the synagogue (also something that I don't usually do) and I was completely floored by the effect that it had on her. She lifted up her head and she said "that's it! That's exactly what I have to do! I can't fear. I have to believe."

I was so thankful that I was able to have that experience. I know that, without a doubt, it was the spirit teaching her. I knew that was the exact scripture that she needed to hear at that very moment and it was so amazing to be able to just be taken away and have to words just start to flow. It was amazing and it's just an amazing blessing to be able to have experiences like this every single day.

We found a great new investigator this week. She is actually from a reference we received from another member! (Member references rock!) It turns out that her son played in the Little League World Series. I have come to find that this is the goal of every little kid here in Curacao. As for her . . . she is so awesome. The member who gave us the reference doesn't even know her that well. The member worked with her a little bit at the doctor's office. She said that she has been hearing a lot about our church lately and that she thinks God is trying to tell her something. We gave her a Book of Mormon and talked about how her family can be together forever. She loved the message and was really excited to get going! We are really excited to follow up with her this week to see how everything went!

Well I have to get going. We have to go wait in line at the DMV to get the car registered. You know how long that takes in America. Imagine how long it takes in a place like Curacao (joy and rapture, hahah). But at least we can do it on our preparation day and not have to worry about it another day.

I love you guys. Thank you so much for your love and support. I will try and attach a
picture! I hope you enjoy it!

This is from my birthday with two members, Annie who is from Jamaica, and Sherman who is from Curacao! Happy 20th!

I love you all! Have a great week!

My Miracles :) I love that family

Received April 19, 2010

Good morning Family and Friends,

I hope all is going well back home! That was so crazy to hear that Jenny is trapped in London! Jen I hope everything is going OK! You are in my prayers big time! I hope and know that everything will work out just the way that it should! That's so crazy that something natural could cause such a big mess for the entire world!

But yeah, everything will work out the way that it should just like it always does. I hope that you are able to make it home and I hope that soon you and your parents will be able to get back to London to go on the huge trip that ya'll were excited for. It was kind of cool to hear that information from like four different people. You sure are loved! Good luck.

This week here has been great. We have been busy with a lot of missionary work. We
are starting to get on top of the workload but sometimes it still gets the best of us. For the last two preparation days we have been working on closing apartments and cleaning (yuck) just silly things like that. Today we are planning to go to the the outskirts of the island and check out the national park. It will be a nice hour or two of relaxation. Something that we have needed for a long time.

But I'm sure that you all don't want to hear about that. You want to hear about what we did this week. So I will tell you!

This week was awesome! I chose the subject for this email because this week we were
able to have an absolutely incredible experience with the Petrona family (that's Jose and Claris and Monica). We went over on Tuesday night for the teaching appointment that we had and we took 4 members with us. Not only the members but we were also on a trade-off with on of the assistants. Then we also had their family of 5. We were all gathered around their house under their porch light as the sun was going down. It was so awesome! Having like 12 people gathered around talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ was so celestial!

Anywho we taught them the gospel, faith repentance, baptism, etc. and at the end the
spirit was just incredible. We knew that we needed to set a baptismal date with the
family. We invited them to be baptized and Jose said yes right off the bat, without a
doubt. We then talked to his wife and the Grandma. Claris said that the change that she has seen in her husband's life has been a miracle. That he has completely changed his life around and has chosen to follow Christ. She said that she knows this church is true and that she needs to do what her Savior wants of her. She said that she was going to be baptized. Monica agreed to be baptized too. She told us again that she is afraid of putting her head under water but she said that she would do it, if that is what she needed to do. The best part were the two teenage boys. We asked them and they were just like "yeah", like it was no big deal! I love it! It was awesome! We set the date for May 8th, which is my last Saturday here in Curacao and it is the Saturday before Mother's Day so yes, we are all very excited.

And then . . . on Saturday we called them to check up on them and they said that their dueno had turned off their water and that she was really mad at them for some reason. So they were kind of having emergencies. We offered to help but there really wasn't anything we could do. We were a little worried though because we had an appointment scheduled with them and then church the next day. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to meet with them or if they were going to be able to come to church. We went to their sister's house (who is the other family we are teaching) and wouldn't you know it, they were all there! We all crammed into their beautiful humble home and it was just awesome! There were like 14 Dominicans sitting there learning about this gospel and it was just incredible. I wish I could have taken a picture because my description doesn't do it justice. But it was just awesome.

Then on Sunday they came to church and were all smiles, even though they are going
through something really really hard. They still have the joy knowing that what they have found is true. Their testimonies are new but they are so strong. They asked us on Saturday how we have so much faith and we told them that we were just talking about how our faith is nothing compared to theirs and it's true! The Petrona family is amazing! I love them and I am so excited to see where they are going to go! This family is going to be sealed in the temple someday and I can't wait to see that day.

We also set a baptismal date with a lady named Amada. Amada is a really special story
for me too because she is a referral that I received last transfer from some other elders. They called us one Saturday morning at like 10:00 and said there was this lady who they had talked to and the cida was at 11:00. We were a little ticked because we had plans and stuff already and we decided we would not go to visit her and keep our other plans instead. But I just had this huge strong feeling that we needed to go see that lady. We ended up dropping what we had already scheduled and we went to visit her. Now, here we are a few weeks later and she has committed to baptism. It is just amazing. She is searching for peace and stability in her life. She is reading the Book of Mormon and she loves it. We taught her some of the commandments the other day and my companion talked about how when we follow Christ we find stability in our lives. She told us that is exactly what she wants she asked how she could do it. We responded with a baptismal invitation. She accepted and will be baptized on the 22nd of May! We are just pumped!

The Burnabella family is getting all of their papers together and they are flying out to
Venezuela at the end of April to get married! We are all so excited for them. Madeline came to church yesterday and I was watching her in the congregation. She looks like such a normal member. Both she and Clifton are awesome and set to be baptized! I might not be here to see it. But that doesn't matter. I am just so excited for them. They are on their way to the Celestial Kingdom and I can't wait to give them a great big hug when we all get there. That will be an amazing day!

I've gotta get going but I want to thank you all for your love and your support. You are all amazing! Mckay, felicidades on making it all the way to graduation! I am little saddened that I will not be there to witness it but I want to let you know how much I love you and how much I admire you! Way to go man! You made it! you are on to bigger and better things! You rock! Congrats again. We will celebrate when I get home. Congrats again man that is so awesome!

I love you guys and you are all in my prayers. Thanks for all you do.

Birthday Blessings :) WOW!!!!

Received April 12, 2010

Bon Dia pa Tur Gende!

Mi Ta Spera Ku Boso Tabatin un Seman Hopi Dushi i Ku Boso ta Bai tin un Seman Yen Yen di Felicidat I Exito!

Hey family and Friends!

I thought I would throw down a little Papiamentu for you guys. If any of you understand it write me back and tell me what it says. I would be impressed.

Well thank you so much for all of your birthday wishes, support and prayers. As I said last week, this has been a super busy time on the island of Curacao. So those prayers were needed big time. Not only were they needed but they have helped so much.

A lot of you are asking about my birthday -- it was amazing! I woke up and had a great surprise. I opened a letter and it was full of pictures! I couldn't believe it! It was perfect. And then we went to church and it was even better! Heavenly Father truly does know and love us because I got a huge birthday present this past week. We had 11 investigators in church yesterday. Something that hasn't happened on this island for a LONG time (if ever). I am not being prideful because there was nothing that we did to get these people in church. They were all blessed by a loving Heavenly Father who knows that there are two young men in Curacao who are completely lost but still trying their best, and he sure blessed us.

Eight of those investigators came from two families that were referrals from the branch president's family. They are both way cool families and are way into our message! I am really excited for these two miracles that we have been given. They both came to us in phone calls. We didn't do a thing to find these people. The Lord just blessed us with these awesome golden investigators. Both families are from the Dominican and they are really excited about the first few lessons that we have shared with them.

We met them for the first time on Wednesday. It rained all day on Wednesday so it was a perfect day. Those of you who know me know how much I love the rain :), it was awesome! Anyways, we met up with the branch president's family and went to get to know these two awesome families. The first family is Iris and her daughter, and her daughter's daughters. They are all just awesome and they are all reading in the Book of Mormon. Their daughters said that they would rather have it in Papiamentu when we went over on Saturday so that is just awesome. They all came to church yesterday and they absolutely loved it. When I asked them if they were coming back next week they said you betchya! I was pumped!

The second family is also way cool. Monica is the grandma. Jose and Gladis are the parents. And there are two teenage boys. Jose is so into the message. We taught the Joseph Smith story and he loved it. He took away one principle and has applied it to everything in his life. If you are lacking knowledge ask God and he will tell you! They all came to church yesterday and they absolutely loved it as well.
We are pumped to have these two awesome families. But we are also pumped to get some more youth into the church! These kids are so awesome. I know that this is what they need and I am so excited for them. Like I said before, these are miracles in my eyes and I am so thankful that Our loving Heavenly Father loves us and is always willing to bless us.

The Burnabella family is doing great. They have made plans to fly to Venezuela to get married towards the end of April. They will be back sometime in May to get baptized. I may not be here when that happens but it doesn't matter. I couldn't be happier for them.

I had an amazing experience this week. On Friday we woke up and drove to the other side of the island. We had a cida with one of our investigators in the afternoon and I have been studying a lot about God's love for his children. We were both pumped to teach that lesson. Well we got to the other side of the island, had our lunch appointment, and then got a call from the investigator who said she couldn't do it. I was so discouraged. Things kind of kept falling those two days and so I was kind of bummed. I was thinking of who we could visit and a recent convert's name popped into my head. We went and she said, "I knew God would answer my prayers!" It turns out that she had been going through a really hard time in her life. All of her family is getting ready to move to Holland and she is going through a bunch of medical problems. She said she felt so alone and she only wanted somebody to talk to. She also suffers from depression and she told us how depressed she was. She said "today I asked God to help me, to just give me anything, anyone to talk to, and then you Elders came to my door.

I was so shocked and amazed at the way God had led us to her house to answer her prayers. Not only were we there but I had studied all morning and had a book full of scriptures about God's perfect love for his children. I know for a fact that God led us directly to one of his children who was in need. At the end of that lesson I was so thankful that I had the opportunity to be a part of that experience. It was just awesome!

A funny story and then I have to go. We were teaching the Dominican family and here in the Caribbean they have these windows that are just panes of glass that fold out to let air in. They had their windows open and the curtains were covering the window. I was teaching and then something started to come through the curtain and right as I turned around the curtain fell and something fell on me. I let out a high squealed Mckay and I screamed. Then a cat came crawling out of the curtain. I felt like such a wimp but we also had a good laugh.

God loves us and we are His children. There is no doubt about that in my mind! Thank you so much (all of you) for all that you do for me. Thank you as well for the example that you are to me in your service to others. We are the Lord's hands here and I know that when we serve as the instruments that we truly are, amazing spiritual experiences come about!

Conference Was Incredible! I miss it already :(

Received April 6, 2010

Bon Dia!

Caitlyn and Ian! I didn't forget your birthdays. I just didn't realize they were so close! I hope the 2nd was a great day for you guys!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

OK . . .

Sorry that I am writing you on a Tuesday instead of a Monday. There is a funny story
behind it. We had our p-day yesterday as usual, and there was still a lot of work to be done cleaning and moving stuff out old missionary apartments (as there has been all week ICKY!). So we went over to do that in the morning. After we had done the moving and cleaning we wanted to we came to do email -- and absolutely everything was closed down. Curacao was dead. Apparently they have a big parade the day after Easter to celebrate! So yeah, that's why I am emailing you all today instead of yesterday.

By far the best part of last week was conference. We got to watch all of the sessions
because the church here has a satellite set up which is nice. For two of the sessions I watched in in Papiamentu because there were some investigators here with us. It was pretty interesting to watch conference that way. Conference was so incredible! Each and every speaker spoke about something that I needed to hear, something that I could use to grow closer to Christ. The Sunday morning session was absolutely incredible. It blew me away. When President Monson got to the end of the talk I just started to bawl like a baby. And then when the choir sang "He Is Risen" I just kept right on bawling and bawling. The investigators started to cry too. It was kind of a funny sight I am sure. The investigator and I are both like 6-3 and 200 pounds (big guys) and it was a funny sight to see us both bawling. But it is a testimony of how strong the spirit was during that session of conference.

Anyways this week has been absolutely crazy. On Tuesday we had to close one
apartment by moving stuff out and cleaning it. It was a hard day. All I wanted was to
be out teaching and I couldn't because of these menial chores! But it was a good
experience. I learned so much. All morning things were going wrong. I had to go to the bank 5 or 6 times because we had to jump through hoops to pay the rent, the morning was just going bad. I kept praying and I knew that eventually it would all work out. Every time I felt like giving up D&C 121 and 122 kept going through my head and I knew that this was something that needed to be done.

Towards the end of the day everything just worked out perfectly. We had to get a bed
out of the apartment and we did not have access to a truck large enough to move it. I
prayed for a miracle all weekend and it came at the last minute. A member said he could help us and the rest of the night went by without a problem. The apartment was closed and it was a huge load off of my shoulders.

That has been much of my week this week but it has also been a great week of teaching
and finding new people. We had a lot of investigators come to sacrament meeting and
they absolutely loved it. We had inherited a baptismal date, we had never taught her and there was still a little more to teach her. So went over Saturday in between conference sessions to finish up the lessons on the commandments. She kept asking what she needed to know to get baptized so we just kept going. She was so awesome. For some reason she didn't come to conference though, so the date has been changed to a later date. I was excited to have a "white birthday" but that's OK . . . maybe next year!

Oh and thanks to all of you who wished me a happy birthday. You have no idea how
much that means to me. I love you all!

Well I have to get going. I am sorry that there isn't more but I don't have a lot of time. We have appointments all day today with members and we have got to get going.

I can tell that this is going to be a very busy transfer and a great opportunity for me to learn a lot. But its also going to be a pretty stressful time so I want to thank you for all of your prayers and support. That support and love got me through this week as the Lord blessed me! Keep me in your prayers as I will keep you in mine! I love you all and have a great week!

The church is true! There is no doubt in my mind about that. How blessed we are to
have a living prophet on the earth along with 12 living apostles! As they said I want to add my testimony! Christ lives and He is the Savior of us all! How blessed we are to be members of His true church!

Have a great week you guys! Until next Monday.