October 13, 2010
Dearest Family and Friends!
I hope that you all had a fantastic fall week and I hope that everything is going well for you so far this week! Thanks for the emails that you sent! It was so great to hear from you mom and dad and grandma and grandpa! I am glad that everything is going well back home and that you are all doing great! I hope you all know that I love you and I am praying for you. I hope that all is going well! Oh and PS Happy October 12th :) I hope you had a good one! Love you!
Annette is scheduled for baptism this Saturday. We are so excited that we will finally be able to watch her make that commitment to the Lord. She has been changing every day since the day I first met her, always trying to become better. And I am so excited that we will be able to see her make that covenant with God and Our Savior and promise them to make that a permanent change. Her life has changed so much for the better in just these few months that the missionaries have been working with her. She is experiencing the atonement in her life. She has had a mighty change of heart and that mighty change of heart is touching and changing the hearts of everyone around her. That includes Elder Turner and I. We love her so much and too see the desire that she has to make this covenant with God is one of the happiest feelings that anyone can feel. Saturday is going to be a great day!
We have been really worried about her two children. She has four kids. One is like 22 and is being taught by the missionaries on the other side of Ponce. Annette has three other children still at home. There is a 17 year-old young man, a 13 year-old young woman, and a 7 year-old boy. We have been a little worried about the 17 year-old this past couple of weeks. Both his mother and his sister have dived right into the church and have had the baptismal date as their goal since day one. We passed by on Sunday night and sat down with the two older kids. We asked them how they were feeling about baptism. We talked about how it was their day and their decision, that nobody was there to push them. Anyways, we asked them how they felt and he got really quiet. He looked at us and said, "I am ready. I want to get baptized. I got my answer and I know its true."
They had to pry us off of the wall because Elder and Turner and I were absolutely blown away. We have been working with these two kids for so long and we had just not been able to figure him out. We had been praying for him all week that somehow his heart would be touched. And low and behold that is exactly what happened. It was such a sweet experience for us. Truly we had been part of a miracle. This young man, who we both love with all of our hearts, needs this gospel in his life so much. And we have been doing everything that we could to get him excited about what we were telling him. In the end, we didn't have to do anything. It was the Lord who did the work and it was the Lord who did the heart changing. I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father who loves each and every one of His children. It was so neat to see the way that the Lord worked in him to help him feel that desire to follow his Savior and be baptized. But not just that, to have the desire to change his life for the better and leave behind the worldly things that aren't going to take him anywhere. The baptism is going to be on Saturday. It has been a while since I have had the opportunity to participate in a baptism and to be able to feel that excitement in the air when you know that something so sacred and special is about to occur. It is a feeling that I have been missing and I am so excited to be able to see that again. And to see this family move one step closer to becoming an eternal family.
On Sunday Elder Turner and I were out contacting some references that we had received from Salt Lake. We arrived at one home and we were shocked at how much the house just screamed "family" to us. We walked in and we both knew 100% that the Lord had sent us to that house to bring a very special message to that family. The family that we taught is a great family. The mom is a sister of the wife of our presidents brother. To make a long story short, she went to a baptism of our Mission President's niece and was so shocked by the spirit and the peace that she felt. Elder Turner and I were both aware that God had just handed us a golden opportunity and we were both really nervous that we would screw it up. As we sat down and began the lesson things just felt natural. It was such a special feeling to be able to testify about the family. I don't know if I have ever told you guys this but i always have my family, including Grandma and Grandpa with me when I teach, The Puerto Ricans love you guys - especially Mckays hair!
They were so impressed by the fact that our families could be together forever. We read with them in 2 Nephi chapter 31 and we invited them to be baptized. They said that they weren't sure about that commitment and we invited the father to kneel down and pray with us. The dad said such a sweet and humble prayer. The spirit touched each and every one of us. As he ended we asked what he felt and he said, "I know that this is what my family needs. We are going to do it. We will get baptized." Each member of the family prayed and each one had the same experience. The family felt the Lord touch their hearts Sunday night. With the spirit there they could not deny what they needed to do. They accepted a baptismal date for the 13th of November and we have begun preparations for their baptism. Families are the central part of God's plan for us and it was a very sweet and surreal experience for us to be able to see the spirit start to work within this family. We have been searching, praying, fasting, studying, eating, sleeping and breathing families for weeks now. And the Lord blessed us with one of the most incredible experiences in my mission. This family decided together that they were going to follow Christ. They decided together that they are going to do all they can to become an eternal family. It was incredible.
Last night Elder Turner and I were on a way to one of our appointments and we talked to a very nice young man. We talked to him a little bit and asked him if we could come back after our cita. He agreed right away and we were both really excited and eager to get back there because we knew that something amazing was going to happen. His name is Joseph and while we were teaching him, we both looked at this 22 year-old young man and we could see him with the name tag and a tie. We knew that he was going to be a future missionary and that something special was going to happen in the lesson with him. We talked for a while about all of the confusion in the world and then simply taught about what Christ desires of us and what He has in store for us. We invited him to be baptized and I wish I could have taken a picture of the huge grin that was on his face. He could not stop smiling nor keep from saying wow. He was finally able to get out the words, "of course, of course I will be baptized." We gave him the Book of Mormon and told him that it was the key for him to know if what we were telling him was true. We are on our way back towards the end of the week and we are really excited to get this kid on the way to the temple and out into the mission field.
It has been an incredible week for us. Elder turner and I are both humbled as we look at all of the blessings and miracles that we have received. God has truly been blessing his two worn-out missionaries in Ponce. There is no way that we could be doing these things ourselves. I know that God lives! I know that He loves me for I am His son. I have felt the Savior carrying me these last few weeks and I have felt His love and seen His every day miracles day after day. We don't deserve the blessings that we have been given nor the blessings that we are receiving but I know that we are getting them because God loves His children. When we put forth our best effort, even though it is so short of what is needed, He makes up the difference and miracles occur. I love each and every one of you and I am praying for you constantly.
Know that I love you. Even if you don't get letters from me or even if you don't hear from me or I from you, know that I love you guys and that you are constantly in my prayers.
This is the Work of our Lord and Savior and there is no where else that I would rather be at this time.
May He be with you till we meet again