Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Happy President's Day

Received February 23, 2011

Dear Family and Friends!

Hey everyone! I have to say that this week has been just an incredible week. Thank you so much for all of the letters and the packages that you sent. Grandma and Grandpa, the ties are just great and thank you mom and dad for all of the things that you sent to the Rivera family, and for the other stuff that you sent. On Sunday the Rivera family invited us over for a dinner with them and some other people. I knew that it would be the perfect time to take over all of the things that you sent. I had just enough time to add one of the pictures that Grandma and Grandpa sent me along with the note from you guys. I wish that you could have seen the look on Andres' face as he saw us walking up the stairs with the big stack of books. They were especially grateful for the hymnbook. They have talking about getting a hymnbook for a while now and this was a huge surprise for us. When Alexia saw the picture of us all doing crazy things in front of the church on the day of her baptism, she was filled with so much joy. She started to cry and couldn't express how thankful she was for that great act of kindness. I want you to know how much I love you guys and how thankful I am for all that you do for me. I know that I couldn't do it without you so thank you so much!

This past week we had our zone conference and it was great. We talked about the Book of Mormon and we have started a new program in the mission called the "100 club." We took the challenge to read the Book of Mormon 100 minutes a day for a 100 days. Elder Varner and I wanted to do it so we have been waking up even earlier to get in that extra time reading the Book of Mormon. It has absolutely changed my life. I have always loved the Book of Mormon and the comfort and that it brings into our lives. As we have been making this sacrifice to read even more in that blessed book, and especially to start off our day with some study of the scriptures has helped me so much. I have been in a funk for the past few months and this was the perfect time to have an improved focus on the Book of Mormon. I know that our Savior lives and I know that He atoned for each and every one of us. I can't express how thankful I am for His loving hand in all parts of our lives. But I am thankful for Him and I love Him. I know that you love Him too and I am so thankful for that testimony that you all always share with me.

This past week we had the flood of Ponce in full force. Last week we only had the flood for one day but this week we had it for both days as we are going to have it in the future. It was awesome! I know it seems like a weird concept to a lot of you, but the miracles that we are seeing are just incredible. We have some areas in the city that haven't had any active investigators eight months that are now setting baptismal dates with families, and strong families too. The Lord is blessing us for making that extra push and I am so excited for the other blessings that we are going to see in the future. This past Monday I was with Elder Putnam and we were in his area searching for families. As we worked he said that he felt like we needed to go and pass by a family that they had visited a few times. We passed by and, for the first time, they invited us in to sit down for a lesson with them. We started talking about the Plan of Salvation. It was so interesting because at the start of the lesson they just seemed like "yeah, whatever. We will listen to these guys because they are nice and they always come over." But something happened during the lesson that brought a change to them. We talked about why we are here and we talked about the atonement of the Savior. We read some scriptures from the Book of Mormon and their ¿complecciones? seemed to just totally change. At the end of the lesson we talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and what He expects of us as we come to know Him and know His path. By the end of the lesson you could just see it in their eyes. They wanted something more than they had. They wanted to be able to be with their family and be together forever. After the discussion we had with them they knew what they needed to do and they were willing to commit to do it. When we reached the end of the lesson it just felt right to talk about the baptismal date. It was like we didn't even have to invite them. They knew what they needed to do and they wanted to do it. At the end of the lesson we asked the dad (whose name just so happens to be the best name in the world . . . Jonathan) if he would offer the final prayer. He was a little reluctant and he asked if we would help him out a little bit. But as he started to pray we could just feel the spirit so strongly. He asked our Heavenly Father to help him and his family be prepared to get baptized on the 26th of March. As he asked it we all just felt a peace and a joy that came over us.

We passed by again yesterday to see how things were going with them. It seems that the opposition always comes really quick when we have such meaningful experiences with the people we find, but they are doing just great. They had both read in the Book of Mormon and we talked a little bit more about baptism and why we need to get baptized, and what it is going to be like. They have a little girl who is 8 years old and when she saw the picture of the little girl getting baptized she was so excited. They need the gospel so much in their lives. When they heard us talking about eternal families they couldn't be happier or more excited for what was awaiting them. It gave them the desire to do whatever they needed to do so that they would be able to live with God once again and be able to be there with their family members close by their sides.

Ramiro and Dalia are doing just great. Ramiro finished his other job that he has been trying to finish for the past few weeks. That other job was one of the biggest factors in them not being able to be baptized on their scheduled day. But he now has everything under control and he said that he wants to move ahead 100% now and is really excited to be able to start coming to church regularly. Dalia doesn't work this weekend and they have committed to come to church for the first time together! We can't wait to get them prepared for their baptism. They are such a neat family and they mean the world to me. Ramiro was an absolute miracle to us. It has been such a blessing to be able to work with. Every time we go over to their house the spirit is so strong and we are all uplifted together. They will be getting baptized in March and I cant wait for that day.

The Galarza family is coming along as well. We still cant get Nelly to accept a baptismal date but the spirit is working on her and its working very strongly. She is changing so much and she asked us last week to come and teach her son because she is worried about some of the things that he is starting to get into. They too will be getting baptized soon and that will be a miraculous day.

I cannot say the smallest part of what I am feeling right now. God lives and He loves each and every one of us. I can't express to you what a blessed work this is. It is so full of ups and downs. But every single one of them is a blessing and every single one of them is helping me grow closer to my Savior.

I love you all so much family and friends.

I hope that you have a great week.

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