Received January 26, 2011
Dear Family and Friends!
It was so great to get all of the emails from you this week! It sounds like you are all doing great. Its so strange to hear everyone talking about snow and snow blowers and cold weather. A lot of Puertoriqueños have lived up north in New York and New Jersey and they always talk about how cold it was and how they almost died. The other half of the people we talk to tell us that they have never seen snow. They are usually the ones all bundled up in their jackets when its a freezing 75 degrees outside. I love it. Life is good. I'm not here for the weather, as you know, I am just not used to hearing all this talk about snow.
Speaking of letters and emails, we had a funny experience last night. We now have a new "greenie" missionary living with us. We aren't training him. His trainer is an Elder who also lives with us. The whole experience reminds me a little bit of when I was training Elder Martinez. This new Elder is from Honduras and he's just so excited to be here. Anyways, last night we all got home together and I asked him if he thought anyone had written him. I threw the keys to him and told him to check in the mailbox. At our apartment there are four mail boxes built into the exterior wall one above another. Ours is the top mailbox. He checked our box and there was nothing in it. Then he decided to search all of the other boxes as well in hopes of finding a letter that was placed in another box in error. When he opened the second to last one he pulled out a letter. Then he held up the letter and said, "hey Elder Oviatt! Did you know that this letter was in here?" I grabbed the letter and looked at the postmark. It was postmarked the middle of October! Caitlyn, I found your long lost letter! (haha) I am sorry that I never responded to it. It wasn't because I didn't want to write, or didn't have time, its just that it was hibernating in the wrong mailbox. But I have it now and I will be writing soon! I thought it was funny. I hope you all do too.
Anyways, this past week has been a great week for Elder Varner and I. Grandma and Grandpa asked if Ramiro came back to church! Did he ever! And he absolutely loved it. He wasn't able to come with Dalia. She has had to work for the past two weeks. But she is planning to come this Sunday so we are all really excited. They are both doing great. They are both reading in the Book of Mormon and they are learning so much. We are so blessed to have been able to be led to them because they were just ready for the restored gospel to become a part of their lives. Every time we go over there the spirit is so strong and we are uplifted together! I love it. Its the most incredible experience in the world to see somebody take the restored knowledge of the atonement of Christ and apply it to their lives. Then they begin to see the differences that start to come into their lives. They say that you know how true something is by its fruits. It has been such a blessing to be able to see many of those fruits throughout my entire mission. Now once again I see these fruits in the lives of Ramiro and Dalia. True doctrine understood changes behavior, and that's why this gospel changes lives better than anything else that the world has to offer, because its true. And it comes from God. They are working now to start reading and praying together as a couple and we are even more excited to see the change that will continue to occur in their lives. We still have a little work to do with Dalia. She has never been much of a church goer. But Ramiro is solid. He is so excited for his baptism on the 12th. In fact he is so excited that he was telling everyone about it! Keep us in your prayers. This is usually the time that the challenges begin to come to those in their position of study and prayer! But I know that its all going to work out great.
We had quite the experience with the Galarca family this week. Raul and Nelly have been going through some tough times. Raul is still looking for a job and is not having a lot of luck. There just aren't many jobs to be found here. Anyways, this last week they called the agency that has been giving them their unemployment benefits and there were no more benfits for them. Something has gone wrong in the system and they just don't have the money they need to be able support all of the people that need the benefits so they are just out of luck. Elder Varner and I have been praying about what to do to help them for a long time. An answer hit Elder Varner on Saturday morning. The stake was having a career fair but it was for people on unemployment. We had about a billion other things to do Saturday morning as well, but we just kept feeling that we really needed to pass by their house, so off we went! We get there and they were so excited to see us. We told them about the stake activity and Nelly was really happy to hear the good news and told Raul that we needed to get on it and go! That night we were able to pass by with the bishop and we read together in Doctrine and Covenants 121 and talked about how God will always be there for us and about how our hard times in this life will be for our good and if we can endure it well, and rely upon the Lord, it will all come out for our benefit.
Nelly then shared one of the most amazing things that I have heard her say in the months that we have known them. She said that they had finally prayed as a couple (which almost caused me to shout with joy because we have been talking about that for months now). Anyways, they had prayed that they would be able to find a way for Raul to find a job. She said that, for the first time in a long time, she was able to peacefully go to sleep and then get up the next morning with hope for a better day. She said that after a few hours of awakening with that new hope, we passed by their house with the news of the unemployment activity at the church. She said that with our arrival she knew that God had answered her prayers. It was a humbling experience for us to realize that we almost missed our chance at helping them to have that faith building experience that we had been praying for for them for so long. I am just so thankful that our Heavenly Father prompted us and allowed us to be a part of that experience. I have the faith that we were able to help their family out in just that little way. God truly does bring about great things by the way of small and simple things and I was so thankful for that opportunity that we had.
We stopped by on Sunday morning with waffles and invited them to church. They came to church but it was a little discouraging. It was like the powerful experience that we had with them the day before never happened. They looked so good all seated together as a family in church but I have never seen a better example of how important agency can be. We had a great Sacrament Meeting and one of the best gospel doctrine classes that we have had here, but some members of the family just didn't want to participate in the rich experience that was offered at church and ended up leaving early. It was hard for me to see that after the obvious answers to their prayers that had come just the day before. We love this family so much! They have been so good to us and all we want is for them to have all of the blessings that our Heavenly Father has waiting for them. I know that they want to go to the temple. Every time we talk about the temple in their home there is such a sweet spirit and you can see all of their faces light up. I know that each and everyone of them know that the things they have been taught are true. Truly families can be together forever and the sealing authority that allows this great blessing has been restored to the earth. But there are just a few doubts that we can't get them to reveal to us that we can help them get over the hump. But we continue to love them and we continue to pray and do all that we can do for them. It is all going to turn out well. We just need to learn a little patience I guess.
We found a great new family this week. The mom is studying to become a teacher (like you mom!) and she is such a cool lady. They have three young children, the eldest is such a sweet 8 year-old boy. Elder Varner and I have been searching since Alexia's baptism for more families to teach but we haven't had a lot of success. But we fell blessed by the Lord to find this incredible family. They are so sweet. As we talked about the Plan of Salvation and the Apostasy and Restoration, they were just so interested listened intently to what we were teaching. We weren't able to get as far as we wanted to in the lesson. We will be returning tomorrow to teach them about the Book of Mormon and invite them to be baptized. We are so excited for them. Heaven truly led us to them. They are both interested in the message. That is something that doesn't happen a lot here. We are excited for this opportunity. Thanks to all of you for your prayers. They are being answered!
I hope that you all have a great week this week and that school and work goes well for you all. I also hope that have a happy birthday Jen!
I love all of you so much and I am so thankful for all that you do for me! Enjoy the Game tonight, I hope its a good one.