Monday, June 28, 2010

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!

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