Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pictures of Baptism

Received January 19, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for all of your love and your prayers and your support. it was so great to hear from all of you this week and to feel of your love. I want you to know how much it means to me so thank you! Mom and dad, thank you so much for the package. It was so great to get everything that was inside. This morning, as the transfer vehicle came around, I sent the wrapped Christmas present off to Elder Martinez. I know that the shoes will make his year. Thank you so much for the love and support that you have given me as I have served. I love you more than you could ever know and I am so thankful for everything that you do!

This last weekend was a really busy weekend for us but we had a really neat experience. This past weekend was the Caribbean Area Conference. We were going to have a visit from President Uchtdorf who was going to come down to Puerto Rico and talk to the rest of the Caribbean saints from here. But for some reason that plan didn't work out that way. Instead, they did something really cool. They had all of the stakes in the Caribbean meet together on Sunday morning. The saints all sand the opening hymns and then there was an invocation. At 10:15 a broadcast started from Salt Lake and it was them! They were broadcasting a meeting all the way from Salt Lake City! I was so amazed! What a blessing it was to be able to see them right there even though they were thousands of miles away. And to know that they were focused on us, and only us, just for that short time, was really neat.

The main speakers at the conference were Elder Oaks and President Uchtdorf. They both gave absolutely incredible talks. Elder Oaks gave a talk that everyone down here needed to hear. He talked about differences in the cultures and that there the culture that exists here in the Caribbean, and the culture that we have as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was pretty strong with the members but to me it was exactly what they needed to hear. It felt a lot like a loving parent talking to a child and helping them see how they could do better. I was amazed at out how simple he made things. If the members will just do the simple things, and keep the commandments that they have promised to keep, he said that the Lord would build temples here. It was a great talk and I hope that I can somehow get my hands on it.

President Uchtdorf also talked about the same type of thing. But he said some really cool things that I had never heard before. He said that he loves the Caribbean. He said that he loves the warm weather here, but more than the weather he loved being around the people, who are even warmer and more loving than the weather. He said that when he was a pilot he would often fly to the Caribbean and that most of the vacations that he took with his family were to travel here! He talked about the youth in the church and all of the programs and opportunities that the church has for the youth of the world. That thought hit me really hard. Peer pressure is a big thing here and it is hard for some of the youth. But he talked about things that I had never really heard before and they were things that the parents of these youth needed to hear. If they listened, his words will help the parents better know how to protect their children and help them be ready to serve missions when the time for them to serve came. I am so thankful for the call that the prophet is making for more missionaries. There is no greater work than this work and it is something that every single youth needs to be involved in. What he said at conference was so inspired and something that has really impressed me. If you remember he said spoke about how unified the Apostles and the First Presidency are together. It was just a great weekend and an incredible blessing to be able to be a part of it.

We had two investigators come to the Area Conference and they both loved it. One of them was Ramiro Vega. I told you a little about Ramiro last week. He is the man who is preparing for baptism along with his wife. We have not been able to get him to come to church for the longest time, but finally we were able to get them to come to the conference! He showed up just as the conference was starting. As it finished, he ran to look for his sister who attends to another ward in the stake. When we finally found him we asked him how we liked the conference. Her responded that he loved it. When we asked if he would be coming back to church next week he said, "I'll be there." The way he said it almost seemed to say, "I'll be back. I'm here now and I am here to stay."

We stopped by their home on Monday night and we talked to him a little more about the conference. We then talked to him about the restoration of the gospel. It all made a little bit more sense to him now. We talked about how he felt during the conference and he said that he felt a peace that he had never really felt before. We asked him if he knew that the feeling of the spirit that he experienced actually meant those who spoke were called of God. And with conviction he said, "yes!" As we talked about the Joseph Smith story he began to tear up and he said "it gets me every time! I love it!" He and his wife have never been more solid nor more focused and resolved to make their goal of baptism on the 12th! I can't think of a better Valentine's Day present for them and their family. the only better will be in one year when they go to the temple to be sealed!

The Rivera family is doing absolutely fantastic! On Friday Andres attended the Duty to God training program held at the stake for all of the young men. I know that they announced the new Duty to God program last year, but they just now putting it in place this year here in Puerto Rico. I'm not sure if it has something to do with translating the program into Spanish, or if it was already implemented here but they are now putting a bigger focus on the program. But the meeting was really neat. We were able to attend and it made me think back on the years that I had as a young man and how all that I dreamed about was being a missionary. I left with a new found excitement to go on living the dream that I had so long waited for!

Anyways, back to the Rivera family. Andres loved the Duty to God meeting and it will really help him in his calling as the Young Men's President. You can see from the pictures I attached that there are a couple of young Riveras that will benefit from the program and their father's calling. On Sunday morning they all showed up in perfect Sunday attire. Andres in his white shirt and tie and their boys the same. They just look so good and the boys look like future missionaries! Its so exciting! They absolutely loved the conference. They were so excited to be able to hear from the apostles and when we asked them about what they heard they said that they loved the messages and that they now had additional direction and were really excited about what the apostles talked about that they could now put into place in their home.

They had Monday afternoon free due to the holiday and we went to visit them. They were dying to know more about Family Home evening. We explained what it is and Andres was so excited. We are going to have the first Family Home Evening in their home with them tonight. He told Alexia that we would show a great example so we have to plan it well because we have to kick it off with a success. I love the Rivera family! They still have a picture of the temple right there in the doorway entrance as you walk into the home. That is where they have the door of their tent directed and before a year has passed they will have visited the temple! I am so excited for them. There is nothing more that I could ever want for them then for them to be able to go to the temple!

Anyways, I hope that everything is going well back home. Things here are going great here . We just had transfers and Elder Varner and I are still together. I am really excited we have a cool plan to go to everyone's apartment tomorrow and leave a title of liberty on everyone's door (but shhhhhh! It's a secret. You cant tell anybody ok :)

I love you all and I hope you can all feel that love!

Have a Fantastic Day

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