Received November 17, 2010
Dear family and Friends,
Thank you so much for your letters and your emails. I received something all throughout last week and today. But most of all, thank you for all of the prayers and all of the thoughts that you have been sending my way. This past week we had our Zone Conference and Elder Varner and I were in charge of planning it. I have planned big things before but for some reason we were really stressed out about how this conference would go and whether the plans that we made would work. But as we got closer to the day I began to feel more and more confident and I know that it was because of the prayers that were being sent on my behalf, so thank you so much! You have no idea how much it meant to me.
We are doing something new in the mission. We as a mission are going to study a Christ-like attribute every single day for the next few weeks until the new year. We are also wanting our families to participate in this study with us too! This week we are studying hope and next week we will be studying charity. I have only had one day to study hope so I'll share what I find with you next week. But please, study with me! And then share with me what you learned! Even though we are far apart, this is something that will be so fun! I am really excited to see the things that you guys learn too! So yeah, have fun studying :)
Yesterday was the zone conference and it turned out great. President Alvarado talked about the restoration of the gospel and most specifically the restoration of the keys of the priesthood. We separated into groups and searched through the Doctrine and Covenants to try and find all of the crucial events that occurred during the restoration. It was an incredible experience for all of us. Our testimonies were strengthened so much. The best part of the day though was when we got to watch the Joseph Smith movie just after we had gone through all of the miracles that had to occur for the restoration of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. It was an absolutely incredible experience and I know now more than I ever have before that Joseph Smith was, and is, a prophet of God. What he said he saw he truly did see! He was the prophet called by our Heavenly Father to restore every last piece of the pure gospel that was lost. I know that because of that restoration it is now possible for each and every one of us to be able to receive what God has prepared for us. Those saints and the early leaders of the church went through so much for us. They were willing to give their lives so that their children's children would be able to participate in the fullness of the gospel. The first section in the Doctrine and Covenants talks about how the weak things of the world will carry this gospel forth. I want you to know what a privilege and a blessing it is to be a weak thing. I know that I am weak but miracles are happening. And it is because the message I share is the truth. This is God's work! I see His hand in it every single day!
As for the work week things went great! Raul and his wife and their four children all came to church on Sunday. For the most part, they loved it. It is always a different experience for people but they all really enjoyed the spirit that they felt. The teenage kids are going to mutual tonight and we are going to try and get them to start attending seminary in the mornings! Raul still has his baptismal date scheduled for the 27th. We are working with the rest of the family and they are really interested in what we are sharing. We have shared some really spiritual moments together. They are all reading in the Book of Mormon and loving it! This family is sent from God and we can all feel it. The ward that we are working in is so excited to have this family to welcome into the church. I cant tell you how much joy I feel when I see this family together doing the things that I know will bring their lives true happiness. They are going through so much right now. But I have seen the restored gospel and the spirit of the Lord bring a peace and a happiness to their lives that just wasn't there when we first met them. I just love being a part of this process. This gospel changes lives because it is true . . . because it comes from Him.
The other family that we have been working with, Andres' family, were our miracles for this week. When we had gone to pick them up last week we had told them that we would bring breakfast to them the next week. They thought that we were kidding but on Sunday morning we woke them up with breakfast and they loved it! They absolutely loved church. Last night we passed by and asked them about church and how they are liking things. Andres said the part he loves the most about the church is what he saw last Sunday. One of the recent converts was ordained to be a priest last Sunday and Andres said that he loved it. It is not like the other churches where one or two people command and all have to obey. In most of the churches they have attended there were only one or two people who have the power and everyone else is just left in the dark. It is true that in the Church there is order. We have prophets, apostles, and bishops. But what he said opened my eyes so much. What a blessing it is that each and every one of us, no matter how learned and matter how old we are, if we are worthy we have the chance to have that priesthood power bless our lives and the lives of those we love! I am so glad that he was able to recognize that! It made my night.
When we asked Alexia, she said that her favorite part of all this is the way that her kids are enjoying it. They told her that their other church is so boring and that they never want to go back. She said that all she wants is for her kids to be able to learn about God and become honest and trustworthy men. She has seen how this message is going to bring that to their lives.
But by far the best part of the visit that we made last night was when we sat down to start the lesson. The first thing out of Andres' mouth was what do we need to do in order to get baptized? Elder Varner and I were both a little caught of guard, but we thumbed through the scriptures and talked about it with them. Then we invited them to be baptized. Andres accepted without a doubt. His wife also said yes, but i was so impressed by her faith. She told us directly, "you know, I know that I don't know all that I need to know in order to be baptized. And I know that at this moment I am not ready for what I need to do. But I know that this is what my Savior wants me to do. I know that this is what my Heavenly Father wants me to do. So yeah, I'll do it." We set the date for the 18th of December, and yes, you better believe it. Even though we are in the middle of the Caribbean, and its 80 degrees outside, this Christmas season Ponce is going to have a very, very white Christmas!
I am so thankful for this gospel. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Father's plan for our families. I know that life is hard and I know that we have so many ups and downs. But the thing that I have seen throughout my mission is that there is only one thing that will be a constant source of peace and joy in our lives. Its not money. Its not friends. Its not cars or houses. Its the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ and that knowledge that He did what He did so that we and our families could return back to the Father's presence to live forever!
I love each and every one of you and I hope that you have a fantastic week! Its almost thanksgiving and I hope all those preparations go well!
I love you all!