Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Transfer -- One more for me in Ponce

Received March 2, 2011

Dearest Family and Friends,

How are all of you this morning? How is it going back at home? I hope that everyone had a good night's sleep last night. I want you to know that I would have made you all banana pancakes if I would've been there, but alas, I guess you will have to wait. Just know that the banana pancakes were incredible! You'll just have to wait to see what I am talking about. They are even better on rainy days! :)

Anyways, I really do hope that all of you are doing well and that this last week has been an incredible week for the you. It sounds like Utah is having some pretty crazy weather back there. Dad wrote me a letter and he talked about how it was snowing a ton and then melting all in the same day. It's weird for me to think about things like that happening. I hope that everyone is doing well as they are into full swing with work and school. It's weird to think that it is almost time for midterms and that conference will be here in a month. But I hope that you all had a fantastic February and that March will be even better for ya'll.

Today we had transfers. I love transfer days because it always comes at the perfect time. It seems like it comes just when everyone is ready for a little shake up. That little shake up to the zone always brings about something fun and brings with it new life. Everyone always seems re-energized and ready to go out and work. A lot of you are probably wondering what is going on with me. I am still in Ponce and still working hard. This will probably be my last transfer in Ponce and my last transfer of serving as a Zone Leader. Then it will be off to the special assignment that President Alvarado has up his sleeve. This transfer is going to be a transfer of sprinting and I am so excited for what lies ahead of us. Elder Varner and I will be getting a new companion. He is probably the missionary that will be taking my place as a Zone Leader when I leave. His name is Elder Putnam. Elder Varner will be traveling throughout the zone and will eventually be called as an Assistant to the President, but basically for this transfer, the three of us are companions working together.

I know that I have mentioned Elder Putnam but I am not sure how much I have shared with you about him. He is a great missionary! He was baptized when he was 16. He had a pretty rough life growing up. Both of his parents were alcoholics. When they divorced his mom got into drugs and things went from bad to worse Then his dad was killed in a car accident and he got sent to live with his grandparents who were not the nicest of people. He said that he was lost. He started to run away from home. His football coach noticed what was going on and invited him to come dinner, and then share a family home evening with them. He said that from there the rest was history. I am really excited to be working with him this transfer. His testimony is so strong and he is so close to the spirit. He said that he was debating whether or not to serve a mission. He left work early one day and went and parked his car and then prayed for direction. When he finished his prayer he looked up and saw two missionaries riding right in front of where he had parked. He felt that this was and answer for him and and he knew that he was supposed to be here. So yeah, I am pumped! He will basically be my companion while Elder Varner travels throughout the zone getting a better feel of whats going on. You can basically say that I am ""Zone Leader" training. So that is all of the information on transfers.

We saw some huge miracles and changes in some of the missionaries that were serving here in the zone. Many of those missionaries left and are moving on to become district leaders and trainers. We saw some huge changes of heart in the zone this last transfer and it was all due to the way that the missionaries are working and the spirit that they are feeling. These are the blessings that come when we work hard in the service of the Lord. When President Alvarado showed us the transfer board I couldn't have been more excited for the missinoareis who were coming to our zone. We have received a lot of new missionaries who have come into the zone. They are here to replace the four of us that are serving here that arrived in Puerto Rico in my group. We will all be leaving in the zone in the middle of April. So yeah, this transfer is going to be incredible.

This past week has been an incredible week for us. Andres and Alexia are doing so great. We visited their family the other night and they were felling sick but wanted to visit with us. We sat together and had a great conversation about the Book of Mormon. One of the things that has amazed me throughout the course of my mission is to realize the type of opposition that comes to our recent converts and our investigators that we never see nor hear about. Andres was pulling out all of the foolish things that he had heard from people and he laughed about it. He said, "those people are so foolish." He shared his testimony that if they would just be humble and read the book and ask God about it, they would get an answer from Him and they would know. He said that whatever people say to him about the book does not matter because he knows it to be true because that's what God had told him. I was so amazed at what he said. I thought to myself, "how many members of the church don't even have that principle embedded in their hearts." He talked about how people from day one have made attempted to explain away the Book of Mormon but everyone has failed.

It was a sweet experience to hear such a powerful testimony from the Andres and Alexia. Both had done what the Lord asks of each of us. Search it out in our minds and in our hearts and then ask in faith. They both shared the answers that they received when they took that challenge. It was a sweet experience to see that this family is truly converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to be able to testify that these things are true. God loves us! Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. They have revealed the Father's plan once again through the Prophet Joseph Smith so that our families can be together forever. I know that because I prayed and asked God. With all my heart I testify that it is the word of God and that it came forth as a testimony and evidence to the world that this work is true. I love this work with all of my heart.

We had Zone Council on Monday and we talked a lot about faith. One of the members of the Mission Presidency talked about a talk that had been given by Elder Cook. Elder Cook talked about how faith is pushing our selves to the limit. Sometimes life (and our Heavenly Father's plan) requires us to reach so far to try and accomplish something that we learn that is can only be done with the assistance of the Savior. He alone will be the one who can help us. It requires a lot of humility to have that kind of faith to reach so far and to not know what will happen. That is to have the faith and the assurance that your Savior will be there and take care of you. It was great. It was something that I needed to hear as we are coming into this new transfer. Anyways, that night Elder Putnam and I went out to try and apply that principle to ourselves and our investigators.

We went and visited Ramiro and Dalia that night. I love them so much. I love going to their house because the spirit is always so present and so strong. As we sat down we could just feel that something amazing was going to happen as long as we would follow the spirit. We knew that Ramiro and Dalia would be accepting baptismal dates by the end of the night. We talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ and we talked a lot about the Holy Ghost and about the changes that the Holy Ghost brings to our lives. We testified of the feelings that we receive when we have the Holy Ghost with us and we know that we have received a remission of our sins. We got to the end and Elder Putnam shared an incredible testimony of his own baptism and then there was the invitation, "will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one who holds the authority of God?" The spirit was so strong in the room. It was an incredible lesson and we knew that we were not teaching alone. There was no way that they could refuse the invitation. In fact, they both nodded their heads and said yes. We invited them to be baptized on March 26th. Ramiro put his head down and said that he wasn't sure and that he needed to think about it. The song "Think, Ponder and Pray" came to my head and we talked about that for a minute. I told him it was great that he wanted to think about it because that was exactly the thing that the Lord wanted him to do. Then we knelt down and we invited him to pray about it. He began his prayer. As soon as he said "Heavenly Father" the spirit absolutely poured into the room. It was so powerful that Ramiro couldn't speak. The spirit was working within him. He had accepted what we had taught and he had opened his heart to truly find what the Lord desired of him. As he started to pray again he asked the Lord for strength so that he would be able to do what the Lord required of him. As he ended his prayer I don't think that there was a dry eye in the room. Even Dalia had felt the spirit so strongly as her husband had poured out his heart to the Lord seeking the truth. We testified to them and left as soon as we could so that spirit could continue working in their hearts. It was an incredible experience to be a physical and spiritual witness and to see the interaction between a Heavenly Father and His son. I know that Ramiro wants to know the truth. He wants to do what God would ask of him. That is that he prayed for and the reason that he got an answer.

I love you all so much and I am thankful for all that you do. The church is true! The Church is true! There is no doubt about it. I know that God lives and that he hears and answers the petitions of our hearts. I have been led and guided by him in so many ways this past week and I thank you for your prayers and for being the Lord's instruments as you have played a part in him answering my own prayers. He lives! And He loves us! What a great message that is.

I wish you all the best of luck on this week. Please know that I love you all.

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