Received January 12, 2011
Good afternoon everyone,
I hope that everyone had a great week this last week. I apologize for not being able to write an email. We celebrated 3 kings day here in Puerto Rico and with all of the celebrations going on, all of the places to do email were closed. It was pretty crazy. I felt bad that I wasn't able to get an email sent to you but I am glad to hear that you were able to get the letter before today. I wasn't sure if the letter would get there either because of all of the festivities. But it was a great blessing to hear that the letter got there!
It sounds like my father was kind enough to email everyone with the text of the letter that I had written them so I hope that you all enjoyed it! Alexia's baptism, like I said last week, was so incredible! I've got some great pictures to send you, but I can't connect them up today. I guess that you will have to wait until next week. But, by far, it was one of the best days that I have had in a long time.
It was such a scary decision when we decided to go ahead with the baptism of Andres even though his wife would not be getting baptized at the same time. It was scary because I have just seen way too many part-member families here and the only reason that they are part-member is that dad or mom got baptized before the other one, and then their spouse just got cold and never wanted to make that decision again. We knew that Alexia needed to keep the fire that she had and we knew that Andres would be able to help her. We were so blessed that the spirit had touched her and that she had received the confidence that she needed to have in order to be able to move forward, knowing that she is doing what her heavenly father wants her to do.
This past Sunday they came to church early so that Andres could be able to bless the sacrament again. He looks like such a natural and the spirit is so incredible when he says the prayers. Elder Varner and I got a huge shock when the bishop got up and announced that they were releasing the Young Mens President. Right away I knew who the new one would be and sure enough, they called and sustained Andres Rivera as the new Young Mens President. He has such a fire for his calling. He reminds me of a new missionary. He is just a ball full of fire and faith, knowing that he can take on the world, because the Lord is on his side. We went and visited one of the young men who is investigating with us right now. Andres did an excellent job. Then on Monday we went out and visited all of the young men in our ward. It was such a miracle for us. There are a lot of less active young men in the ward and we have been trying to get them to come back. But we just haven't been able to touch them with the right message to reach their hearts and have them come back. Andres was the man for the job. He was able to relate to them so easily. He talked about his mountain biking and his martial arts training and his Kinect system. I am so amazed at how truly prepared this family was for this ward. The Rivera family is going to be instrumental in the building up of the kingdom of God here and it has been my blessing and privilege to be able to witness their conversion process.
When we went over on Monday afternoon to go out and look for the jovenens, we noticed that Alexia had put up a beautiful picture of the Salt Lake City temple! We quickly commented on the picture and she said, "I love it. I put it there as a reminder to all of us that this is where will be in January of 2012! :) I wish that you could have seen our reactions and felt the joy that we both felt. To know the temple is what they are working towards means everything to me. I cannot wait until that day. I don't care if I have to go to the temple in the Ukraine, I cant wait to see this family become an eternal family.
We are still working with Raul and Nelly. They are both moving slowly reading in the Book of Mormon. But after we read with them once again, and talked about the temple, it finally clicked in their minds. They began to see the connections. They love to learn about the temple. The whole family is fascinated by the pictures of the temple, and even though its the same one that they have seen a hundred times, this time it was different. And they just looked so much happier. It finally seemed like it clicked to them. We are offering them what God wants for their family and all they have to do is accept it! And the way that they are going to know if its true or not is from reading and praying!
We have another family that we are working with. I'm not sure if I have mentioned them before but they are Ramiro and Dalia Vega. We met Ramiro a while ago. He stopped us and said, "Hey! I found your book in my house and I started to read it. And I love it! I want you to come by so that we can talk about it some more." We have been stopping by ever since. He has a sister who goes to another ward in Ponce and he has seen how the gospel has changed her life. Both he and his wife have been reading in the Book of Mormon and they love it. He now calls himself a Mormon-catholic because he loves what he is learning so much but he is struggling with the idea of leaving the church. He has a baptism date for February and it is becoming more and more solid with each visit that we make. Last night we went over with a neat couple from our ward. The sister in the couple was studying to be a nun and the brother was a normal catholic man looking for more. Anyways, the connection that they have with Ramiro and Dalia its just incredible. The spirit is always so strong when they are there. This last time we again pulled out a picture of the temple and showed it to Ramiro and Dalia. It was a blessing to be able to listen to the testimony of the other couple who was teaching with us. It was very obvious that the happiest day in their life was the day that they were sealed in the holy temple. Gardell (the brother) said that he has never felt something like that in his life and he wants so much to go back there once again. Ramiro and Dalia loved their testimonies Ramiro told us at the end that it was "finally time for him to come to church." It just so happens that this week is Stake Conference. It is going to be incredible to see Ramiro and his wife seated next to his sister. Its about the family. That's why we are here. ITS ABOUT THE FAMILY!
Things are going great here. I have a very stressful week on board with a zone conference that we are responsible for tomorrow and the stuff that we will be presenting during Stake Conference. But the Lord is carrying me through it. I love Him and I love His work! He is there, even for silly things like this. He is there and He is helping me through it all. I know that this is what He wants for us. God intends for His children to be happy. That's what he wants. And there has been no greater happiness that I have felt than to know that the joy that I feel with my own family is available to all my brothers and sisters here.
I want you to know how much I love you all and how grateful I am for your love and support.
I got the news this week . . . and I am so excited! It has been approved by the First Presidency! We will be extending our mission! The date that they have given us for our release date is the 18th of June, It's a Saturday, so I am sorry that I won't be able to mow the lawn in the morning. But if you keep it until the night, I would love to do it for you. :)
This is the work of Jesus Christ, and I am so blessed to be a part of it!