Thursday, May 26, 2011

I left my Voice in Tortola

Received May 18, 2011

Good morning Everyone!

I hope that you all are having a fantastic week so far. Things here are going so well. This morning we had a great district meeting with the sons of Mosiah and with President Alvarado and members of the mission presidency. It was absolutely incredible. We talked about prayer and about how heartfelt and sincere prayer is important to our work. It is just as much a part of the work here as talking to people and teaching lessons. It was a really great meeting. Elder Zenger and I have been searching for what more we could do for our area and for the investigators and less actives with whom we are working. What we learned today was an important answer to our prayers and pleas for help that we might be successful in this assignment. So we are really excited to put what we learned today into practice and I know that we are going to see some huge miracles.

A lot of you have asked and are wondering about Tortola and our experience there so I will start by sharing a little bit about it with you. Tortola was great! It is one of the British Virgin Islands which means they talk a type of English that you can hardly understand and they drive on the wrong side of the road. It was great to be there. It reminded me a lot of Curacao. It is a lot greener than Aruba and Curacao were but the humility of the people was just as great. The scenery is just amazing! Off in the distance are all of the other Virgin Islands and every house is built on the hills facing the bays and looking off to those other islands. It doesn't matter where you are on the island, everything points out to that great view. It was such a blessing to be able to marvel at just how impressive the creations of the Lord are. I wish you could have seen it because it was absolutely incredible! We got there on Friday morning and had some fun experiences. The senior couple came to pick us up but our flight was delayed and they had to run and met somebody on another island. So the Branch Mission Leader came to pick us up. He gave us some keys and wished us luck and we were on our way. We thought that we would be staying with the senior couple missionaries but when we tried the key in their door it didn't work. Luckily the window was propped open a little so we broke in hoping and praying that it was the right apartment. Fortunately it was. Anyways, we went and got some food for the weekend and then went out to work. Our Branch Mission Leader had a flight to catch when we got there and the Branch President is the husband in the senior couple so we were kind of without direction. But we just went for it and were blessed to be able to find some great families. We eventually met up with the senior couple in Friday night and they told us that the reason we couldn't get into the apartment was because the keys were for another apartment. We had no idea that the other apartment was still open in the area so that was the start of our weekend, but things turned out great.

We spent most of the weekend working with three young men who are at, or approaching, missionary age. They were doing great! There was one particular young man that everyone in the Branch was really worried about because he had been saying recently that he wasn't sure if he wanted to go on a mission. We went with one of the other young men to visit him and we talked about the miracle of the mission and what a blessing it is to be able to be one of the missionaries dedicated to serving the Lord full-time. We talked about how we were called before we were born to do this important work and what a miracle it is to be able to meet and work with people, many of whom you just know that you knew before this earth life and whom you promised that you would find and bring to the truth. The spirit was so strong and when we left him he had a huge smile and was full of desire to serve the Lord, it was great.

The youth here are just so great. We walked into the early morning seminary class on Monday and I was shocked to see eight youth gathered there. This is on an island with a population of probably 10,000 people. And they had that many kids in seminary!?! I was shocked. Church on Sunday was just incredible. We walked into the Priesthood class and I was just blown away by the spirit that I felt. There were probably only 40 or so members meeting together on the third floor of the office building that the church uses. But it was such a strong spirit. It was the first English Sacrament Meeting that I have experienced in two years and I was just amazed at how strong the spirit was. I was amazed at how much things have changed during these two years for me. Church seems like a totally different experience now than it ever has.

There was one family that we visited that afternoon. There are two young men in the family who were the first ones baptized. Their mom is Hindu. But last week she threw her Hindu things into the ocean and said that this is what her family needed. She said that her family needed to have the church in their life and she was willing to give up her traditional beliefs so that she could be with her family forever. One of the young men was really sweet. He sits in front of his house and the family told us that when people walk by they ask him who he is what he is doing, He replies by saying, "I am a child of God. And He wants me to be like Him." Pretty profound stuff for a 10 year-old. But that is just a taste of the kind of people that we met on our journey to Tortola.

We did a lot of work with the less active members. We met one family in particular. The Dawsom family. They live at the very top of Tortola. We had to hike up a huge hill that went straight up to get to their house. But once we arrived we were able to have an incredible lesson. Brother Dawsom had served a mission and Sister Dawsom was baptized when they were married. They have a son who was 8 years-old and is preparing for baptism. It was a great opportunity to sit down with them and talk about the reason why we get baptized. Really that is the same reason that we do anything that we do in the church, to follow the Savior. The family just moved from here from South Africa. We talked about the temple and they said that it was where they wanted to be and we challenged them to set a date and make a goal to get to the temple as soon as they could!

The highlight of the trip was working with Chela and Alex. Chela has been listening to the missionaries for years. Alex has a brother who is a member of the church and served a mission. The brother just got married in the temple. Chela and Alex have been together for seven years now. Chela has set a couple of baptismal dates but told us that she just wasn't ready at those times. Anyway, we called them the night we arrived in Tortola and she invited us to come over and visit. When we arrived on Saturday it was obvious that the Lord had prepared them to receive our message. We sat down and talked about what they were searching for and talked about how King Benjamin's people found peace and joy after receiving a remission of their sins. We explained the doctrine he taught his people concerning humility and repentance and sincerely seeking to know and follow Jesus Christ. When we are prepared to do that we enter a covenant and invited them to be baptized. Chela looked us in the eyes and said, "I have been thinking about this lately. I need to make this change in my life and I am going to do it this time. This is what I need in my life."

Alex, who was listening to the missionaries teach for the first time, said that he had been searching for the truth his whole life. He said he sees his brother and sees the happiness that his brother has in his life since he has chosen to join the church and said that he feels and wants that in his own life. He said that he still had a lot that he needed to learn but he really liked what he was feeling and that that he, along with Chela, knows that there is a change that he needs to make in his life. They have a baptismal date for the 2nd of July and they are really excited to get there. When we told the senior couple that they had two new investigators with baptismal dates they were very excited. I went with them to visit with Alex and Chela on Monday night before we left Tortola and we had an excellent lesson. Alex said that he wanted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon because he knew that was the only way that he would be able to know that it was truly from God. It was amazing that it was Alex who said this and that we did not have to point this out and ask him to seek this confirmation himself. I think I can count on one less than one hand the number of times that somebody has said that they have wanted to to do that. It was such an incredible blessing to see that the Lord has prepared the way for this family to accept the gospel of the Savior into their lives. It is exactly what the Branch in Tortola needs. They have been struggling for a while now and to have these new families is going to get them all excited about helping with the missionary work.

All in all the trip was absolutely incredible. It was such a blessing to be among more of the Lord's children and to be able to see, just as I have seen everywhere else, that it doesn't matter who you are are. It doesn't matter what kind of possessions you have. Or what kind of things you have done in your life. Our Heavenly Father loves us all and wants the best for us. He wants us to be happy and is always willing to bless us with the truth when we are ready to receive it!

I know that Savior lives! I know that He suffered for us and gave His life for us that we could find peace and joy in this life and with Him and our Father in the eternities. The Book of Mormon testifies of Him. The Book of Mormon is true and I know that without a doubt. I know that because the Book of Mormon is true, and because Joseph Smith was a prophet, that I can be together with my family forever, which is the greatest blessing that I could ever imagine.

I love you all so much. Keep us in your prayers. I hope that you have a fantastic week!

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