Received February 9, 2011
Here is this week's email. One note Jonny sent in a personal email to me. He was teaching a man they contacted and he told Jonny that he was enjoying the Book of Mormon so much that he got into trouble for reading it while he was playing outfield in a softball game. I mean come on . . . what else is there to do in the outfield? Why would anyone get upset at him for reading while he is out there?
Dear Family and Friends,
I am really really sorry that the email didn't work last week. Most of all I am sorry that you weren't able to get the birthday wishes that I had sent to you dad! I hope you know how much I love you and how much I hope that you had a great birthday! Sounds like it was quite the busy birthday with so much stuff to do but I just wanted to wish you happy birthday once again! Thank you for being the best dad in the world! Hope that you had a happy birthday pops! Love you.
Well this past week was a great week for us. It was a really, really busy week for us and we had a lot of work to do. We had so much to do outside of our teaching area, with meetings and tradeoffs, and the need to go and help some of the elders in our zone, that there wasn't a lot of time to do all that we really needed to do. But because that was the situation, and the circumstances that we had, it led to some great opportunities to see the hand of God in our lives and to experience some great miracles.
One of the miracles that we experienced had to do with some goals that Elder Varner and I had set that we were going to accomplish this week. When we attended the Zone Council this week we found that the goals we had set were very similar to something new that President Alvarado wants to bring to the rest of the mission, But he wanted to try it out on the zone leaders first to see how it would work out and to see the type of the results that had come. Elder Varner and I looked at the rest of the work that still needed to be done on Friday and we still had about 75% of our goals unmet. There were a lot of lessons and contacts that we needed to achieve and the only way that we were going to be able to get through it was through some big miracles.
So we went to work and we saw miracles happen again and again and again. Every single day we were seeing miracles come which were helping us move closer and closer to the mark for which we were shooting. Now, don't get me wrong, we weren't doing all of this just to get some numbers so that we could say that we had achieved some numbers. We knew that both of us had received what we felt to be a revelation regarding new goals that we needed to implement in our own area and in our own zone. Our attendance at the Zone Council helped us realize that the same revelation had also been received by the mission president, along with some great promised blessings. So we knew that we had to work hard to accomplish our goals because it was something Heavenly Father had asked us to do. When He asks, you can do it! We were not working to please ourselves or to please man. We were working so hard because we knew that revelation and commandment had come from God and "we knew that if we did not doubt, God would deliver us, because that is what our mothers taught us!"
Anyways, it all came down to Sunday night at 8:30. We needed one more lesson taught to a family. We had spent the whole day visiting and contacting every family that we knew. We had not had a whole lot of luck, but we knew that if we kept trying, somehow a miracle would occur. We thought of one last family that we could visit. We pulled up to their house and we yelled out but there was no response. We looked behind us and, a couple of houses down, we saw our dear friend Tito, who was sitting outside of his house. Tito is a great senior man who has recently lost his wife. He loves having us over because he feels so good when we are around. He just happened to be outside chatting with the daughter of the family that we were attempting to visit. We asked her to call her family and see if they wanted to come out and hear the message we were going to share with Tito. She did and our prayers were answered. The rest of her family came out and we were able to teach the lesson that we needed to reach the goal that we had set based on the revelation that we had had received. It was such a blessing because it wasn't just another lesson, Tito felt a very strong spirit with us. His friends felt the same. We invited him to come to church with his friends next week and he said that he would come. He said that he knew it is what he needed to do.
This week was such a testimony builder for me. At this point in my mission things like that don't seem as big to me as they used to. We get used to pushing ourselves more and more to the limit. This past week we pushed ourselves even further than we thought we could. And I was reminded again of a principle that I have learned over and over again in my mission. It doesn't matter how strong or talented we are, it will never be enough to accomplish the work that is truly needed here. This is the Lord's work. If you do all that you can as He has asked us to do. If we will give the work all that we have. Our mortal efforts alone will not be sufficient to accomplish the things which He has commanded. But He will bless you to be able to do it through His miraculous support. Just do your best in His service and the Lord will make up the difference
Ramiro and Dalia aren't going to be getting baptized this weekend. We are a little sad but not to bad. What happened is that his recent job change required that he work two jobs last week. He had to try and the work that he from the one while still working in the new job. Because of the time required for him to do both, we were not able to meet with them and finish up the last few things that were needed before the baptism. It was hard. Last week he told us that he thought he probably wouldn't be able to get baptized and he started to tear up. We assured him that everything would be OK and that we would be at his side to make sure that they could be ready within the next few weeks. We had a great lesson with Dalia last night. She has been reading in the Book of Mormon and she loves it. She has been praying about the messages and about whether Joseph Smith is a prophet. She said that she feels great. As we were talking about church last night the spirit was working in her and she knew that she needed to come to church this Sunday so that she could receive her answer and know for herself that these things are true. We committed her to come and she said that she will be there with Ramiro. Keep her in your prayers! We are going to need that extra help this week.
Yesterday we also had a huge miracle. A couple of weeks ago we had a member come down to visit his father. The member lives in Utah but we found him when his dad stopped us and told us to go back to the house. His dad lives in the another area in the mission and is working towards baptism with the Elders there. We had heard that they had been having some struggles with him and a lot of the time he is at his daughter's house which is in our area. It was 3:00 in the afternoon and all of our planned citas had fallen through. I was on a tradeoff with one of the missionaries that we had been working with and I knew that he needed to have a good day with me. I also knew that having nothing to do in the middle of the afternoon is never a good thing. I began praying and asked for guidance on what to do. I got the feeling that we needed to go pass by this house. So we went by the house and the dad wasn't there but his grandson was. Pedro Luis, who is about 30 years old, was there with his girlfriend. He looks and acts exactly like his Uncle. When I asked if we could share a message with him he invited us right in. We sat down and began talking to them. During our conversation we started talking about prophets. When I asked him what he would ask a prophet in our day he responded with perhaps the most inspired answer that I have heard in my mission. He said that he would ask three things: (1) How the prophet was called of God? (2) Why was it that God needed to call him? And (3) How is it that he (Pedro) could know that he was a prophet of God?
As he asked me those three questions I about shouted for joy. On the inside I could see that he was truly trying to think what he would ask and I could see the spirit working in him. Those three questions led perfectly into the message of the restoration and into how families can be together forever. He had been going through a really hard time lately with the loss of his job and some family problems. As we explained to him how a loving Heavenly Father had called a prophet in our day, and how he could know simply by reading the Book of Mormon, he was thrilled. There was such a big smile on his face and you could just see it and feel it. There was a peace in his life that just wasn't there before. You could see it in his face that he knew that he had found something special. We asked him to kneel and pray at the end of the lesson and to ask God if the things we had taught him were true. This he did. As he closed the prayer we looked at him and he said, "this feels really good."
I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God. God has restored the Fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our days. I know that the answer comes as easily as a sincere and humble prayer and then the faith that comes to act on the answer. It's just like what I was talking about earlier. We can't do this work on our own. It is impossible for any man to be able to know the entire gospel of Jesus Christ in its perfection. Without divine guidance we cannot know the things that we have to come to know. And that's why God asks us to do the best that we can do and then He will make up the difference.
We have a return appointment with them tonight and we are so excited. As we left yesterday, his girlfriend was reading the Book of Mormon already and you could tell how excited she was to have another book from God! We are going to set some baptismal dates with them and get them on the way to an eternal family. We cant wait!
I am sorry that I have to get going. We had to take some time during email today to plan a big movement of missionaries that we are going to do starting this week! We are going to be bringing all 20 missionaries in the zone to Ponce to build up our center of strength here in the zone. It is going to be an amazing few days every week and we are excited to see all of the miracles that will come. But in order to get it set up, we had to look at the maps on the computer to get it all figured out (don't worry, we had permission to do it). So yeah! Keep us in your prayers. We are in about finding the elect and we are going to start to find them with this huge plan!
I love you guys so much. I love you for all that you do and for the people that you are. I know that Christ lives! And that He is our Savior. This is His work and this is His church. How blessed we are to be a part of it all.