September 22, 2010
Dear Family and Friends,
I love you! I hope that this week has gone well for you all and I hope that you are having a good day today. We are doing great here in Ponce. Thank you Mom and Dad for the letters and the package that you sent. It was so great to hear from you guys and the elders in our apartment are all loving the chocolate that you sent. We are loving it so much that Elder Turner and I have decided to start running at 5:30 every morning to make sure that we don't get fat!
This past week has been just incredible for me. I have absolutely grown to love my new area and the new assignment that I have been given. It is so fun to be able to work with all of these awesome missionaries and to learn from them. I have loved opening up our new area here in the city of Ponce! Elder Turner and I have started to work in an area of Ponce that usually doesn't get "worked" by the missionaries. They sent two more elders down here this transfer so Elder Turner's former companion took over all of the investigators that they had been working with in their old area and we have now gone to work to find some new ones in our new area! We had some great miracles this week in being led to some really prepared people.
One of the most amazing things that happened to us this week happened to us on Saturday. We were out trying to find a reference that we had been given and we ended up having to go way up into the mountains to find the person. We finally got to the house and it turns out that they weren't there. As we were searching for the house we were looking for we passed a house and Elder Turner and I both felt that we needed to talk to the people in that house,. We decided that we would stop and hit it on the way back from the referral. We stopped on the way back and started talking to the people that were living there. A man named Luis came out and started talking to us. After talking to him for a while we came to find that he lives in what we call our "hot pocket." Its the urbanization that we have picked out to work and work and work and work. It was an absolute miracle that we were led to him all the way up there. At the time we were about 30 miles from the urbanization. After talking to him for awhile we came to find that he has a family and that he has been feeling a little down lately. He said that he wants God back in his life and all he wants is his family to be happy. We sat down and shared a message with him about eternal families and the restoration of God's sealing power to the earth. He was so happy and so interested about the Book of Mormon. He told us that he would read it by the time we came back on Wednesday night, not just the assigned chapter that we had given him, but the entire Book of Mormon!
We had been praying for God to lead us to people He has chosen for us to teach since we do not have that many investigators right now. We had no idea that we would find anyone up there in the mountains. But I know that God knew that Luis would be there and that's why we were led to him. We have a cita tonight with him and his family and we are really excited to see how things turn out. Families are our focus and we are so pumped to have this family to work with!
We were out looking for a less active family this week. We had turned down the wrong street in our search. As we were talking to those we met on the street I felt that I needed to go and talk to this man who was sitting at the end of the street. After talking to him for a little bit, he told me that he was a member of the church! Elder Turner came and, after talking to him for a little while longer, we came to find that it was the exact man that we had been looking for. He told us to come back the next day. He said that he had been going through a difficult time and said "all I want is peace in my life again. All I want is to know that God loves me and cares about me."
We went back the next day and shared with him about the Book of Mormon and about how people in the Book of Mormon felt the love of God in their lives again after reading the scriptures and praying. We committed him to do so. We went back yesterday and he said "Elders, I am not going to lie. I haven't read the book. But I have been praying every day and I am starting to feel great." He volunteered to give the opening prayer and he gave one of the sweetest heartfelt prayers that I have ever heard in my life. It has been incredible to see the way that one week full of prayers has changed the life of our new friend Raymond. He is so much happier now and I know that it is because God is back in his life and he feels that he is doing what his Father in Heaven wants him to be doing! It is so amazing to see that change in people when they take those first few steps to start again doing the things that God always asks us to do.
We are working with another investigating family. The mom is Annette and she has two teenage children. Annette is quitting smoking so that she can get baptized once and for all. She has had 1 cigarette in the past 10 days and said that she has found her strength to quit through prayer, scripture study, and the love of her family. We have been passing by pretty often to help her to prepare for baptism and every time I am just amazed at the faith that she is showing. She is going through some pretty wicked nicotine withdrawals but she knows that this is exactly what God has asked her to do and she is so willing to do it. Her baptism is set for the middle of October and she is planning to walk into those waters with the two children that live with her, and her oldest daughter who is also listening to the missionaries in the other part of ponce. These people are changing their lives to follow their Savior. Every day my love for the Savior grows more and more as I see the atonement work in the lives of my brothers and sisters, and as I also see it work in my own life. I love Him and I know He loves me. I am so grateful that I can be here giving all that I have to him.
I hope that you all have a great week! You are in my prayers. Even those who think I have forgotten about you. Don't worry, I haven't :)