Thursday, May 26, 2011
Received March 23, 2011
Family and Friends!
I never thought that I would live to see the day that I could ask any youth on the street in Puerto Rico about a guy named Jimmer Fredette and they would all get a huge smile on their face and say man, that guy is goooooooood! It sounds like things are going well back home. You should just know that the madness has reached all the way down to the Caribbean. Its funny. You can ask them who BYU is and they have no idea but if you ask them about Jimmer, they know everything about them.
Anyways, we aren't here for that. I just thought that I would give you a little update of what is happening here at my home country!
But I hope that everything is going well back at home for you guys. It sounds like things are starting to warm up and that the winter is starting to move out. I hope that Aunt Audrey is doing ok! I wasn't aware that she was going in for surgery so I hope that all went well and that she is well on her way to recovery!
Things here are going great. We are now into the full swing of things with this transfer. We have 3 training sessions scheduled this week with the zone and I am really excited to see how things will go. It has been hard to look back and think of all of the things that weren't done right in the zone on our part but it is more amazing to look back and to see that even though we didn't do everything to 100% perfection, we had done our best. And because of the effort trying our best the Lord made up the difference. I know that this principle is true! All we can do is the best that we can and every time he will make up the difference.
Things are going well with the people that we are teaching. We taught the Galarza family the word of wisdom once again this week. It was rough. It took two nights to commit them to live it. The first night we thought things had gone well but we went back the next night and Nelly was really mad about having to stop drinking coffee. It was an adventure for us. And of course me being from Utah and "never having to deal with that kind of stuff," anything I said just kind of got thrown out the window. But thank goodness we had Elder Putnam there with us. What a blessing that was! Elder Putnam was able to tell his story and about all the things that he went through in order to get ready for his own baptism. He shared how much his life has changed and even though it was hard to give up stuff like coffee, the blessings that he has received in return have been so much greater. I was shocked at the difference that occurred in Nelly. She sat back in the chair and it was like a light bulb had gone off. The spirit touched her and all that we were teaching just made more sense.
She is a little worried about her kids she said that they have agreed to baptism but she just wants them to be a little more excited about it. We were a little stumped on what we could do and so we prayed about it. On Sunday night we got our answer. We were at our Mission President's parent''s house. We asked his mom if there was anything that we could do for her. It turns out that she is the seminary teacher and she said that she would like us to start coming to her seminary class in the morning. She said that when the missionaries are there things just start to go better and she said that it was a great tool in getting youth ready for baptism. She talked about when she had taught the seminary class of our mission president and how that year three or four youth had been baptized just because their friends had invited them to seminary! So there it was! We told her that we would start to attend seminary. So this past Monday we started to attend early morning seminary and its going great! We are so excited about the changes that we are going to see in the youth in our ward. But even better this is the answer to our prayers for the Galarza children that we were looking for!
Brenda Garcia is doing fantastic. We were really nervous this week as she explained to us the situation with her son. She said that she was really worried about her 17 year-old son. She is sad because he is starting to go down a path that she doesn't want him to go down. She asked if we would prepare a really special lesson so that we could capture his attention and get him interested in our message. I was scared. The youth here are so hard to reach with our message. They have everything and just aren't really concerned about what we have to tell them. I knew that this was the chance that we had with Brenda. This was either going to make it or it was going to break it. We began praying really hard so that we would know what to teach the young man. As we thought about what we could teach, the same topic kept coming up in all of our studies and conversations that week. It was to teach about the atonement. And as we thought about the atonement we thought about the push-up lesson.
So on Saturday we set off to Brenda's house to meet Manuel for the first time with 18 doughnuts in hand. We got there and we met him and he seemed like a great kid. We sat down and we told them that we had a really special treat for them that night. We said that we had brought more than enough doughnuts. By this time the visitors who were at the house began to enter the room. Brenda's sister and her mom both kind of turned us off us before . . . they took a seat and we explained what was going on. They handed out the doughnuts and for every doughnut I got to do 10 push-ups. We got to the point were nobody wanted doughnuts anymore because they realized what was going on, but we kept going. It was an incredible experience for me. I know that the Savior did so much more for us than just a few push-ups. As I was struggling to get the push-ups done so that they could have an excess of doughnuts, I thought about all that He had gone through just so that I could have the chance to even be in that room. Just so that I could have the chance to even be alive! He gave everything for me. In that moment I think the mind of every single one of us was opened to just what exactly the Savior did for us. I know that He lives! I know that He suffered for each and every one of the errors that we will ever commit in this life. And not just the errors . . . every thing! Everything we ever felt, feel, or will feel. He knows these feelings and to know that He did this just because He loves me makes me want to follow Him. And that is why I am here. And that is why God has revealed the truth. Because the only way back home is to follow the Savior.
It was a really neat lesson after that. We had a returned missionary with us who gave such a powerful testimony about how the gospel had changed his life and the life of his family. It was one of the sweetest, strongest assistance of the spirit that I have felt in my entire life. And every single one of us could just feel the love of the Savior.
The next day we went back before Manuel left for San Juan again. He was so happy to see us. It felt like seeing an old friend. Brenda talked about how they had talked about what we had taught them and Manuel also wants to get baptized. She said that there are some things that still need to be worked out with his living arrangements but he said that he wanted to come down every weekend to be with his mom so that he could meet with us and talk about the Book of Mormon and about the Savior and so that he could come to church with his mom. We talked about the restoration of the gospel on Sunday and her dad was there. Her dad was absolutely thrilled about what we were telling him. When we told him about the Book of Mormon he said that it was exactly what he had been looking for. He told us "I haven't been to church for 30 years because they all come from man." He said that he thought that God's church wasn't on the earth today and that he would most definitely read the Book of Mormon to know if what we were telling him was true. He agreed to finish our lesson with the prayer and he gave such a humble sincere prayer. He asked to know the truth and for confirmation that this is what he has been looking for for the past 30 years.
On Monday we passed by and he had read 30 pages in the Book of Mormon. He said he will be in church on Sunday and Brenda could not have been any happier.
Out of all the emotions that I feel right now probably the greatest feeling that I feel is complete gratitude for all that our Father has given to us. Brenda is the answer to nights and days worth of prayers. And it is not just her. Her entire family, each and every one of them, are the people that we spend all day looking for. And the thing about them is they found us. God led them to us because He loves us all. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior! I know that He loves me and I love Him with all of my heart. I know that the invitation that He makes to each one of us a simple one. Responding to that invitation will change our lives. He invites each and every one of us to come unto him and follow him. I know that if we do as he asks, our lives will be changed.
I love each and every one of you so much