email sent 6/20/2011
First off, the picture. TODAY the Liahonas from MAY and JUNE got here and the Elders were playing soccer so I took advantage and started reading away (one of the favorite experiences of the month). I´m going to have to enjoy the conference edition in little bits, but I dove right in and started reading June´s. Strangely, it talks A LOT about families and the importance of MARRIAGE. Everyone has started teasing me quite a lot now that I´m two weeks into my last transfer, and it was no different when they realized that I was reading the article about the LDS concept of marriage. My new district leader, Elder Vergara, is ex-assistant and is strangely trunky, considering he goes home in December. Our district meeting on Tuesday was pretty ridiculous. Anyway, Elder Vergara, just to tease me, found this picture of Jesus Christ being baptized and wanted to take a picture of "his focus" and "my focus." Not really accurate, but funny.
Okay, besides that, this week was pretty normal. Our numbers were not really that impressive, but we have TWO baptismal dates! Finally!!! So many things are happening on my mission that have NEVER happened before and I´m so excited because I always wanted my mission to be like this and it finally is. Now I´ll explain.
Exhibit A: Marco and Gema are GETTING MARRIED so that Marco can get baptized!! We even went to the Registro Civil with Gema and they set the date for their wedding: July 15. July 16 he gets baptized, and July 17 he gets confirmed, and that night I get on a bus headed to Antofa. They wanted to postpone their wedding further, but I played the little "I´m going home in one month!" card and here we are with a date for this transfer. Perfect. They´re a family that recently came to Arica from Santiago and THEY talked to US in the street. What a blessing! We have taught millions of couples who just live together and always had hope that they´d get married but they (almost) never do. But as soon as they heard about the Law of Chastity they were into the idea of getting married. They´ve been together since high school, about 13 years, and she got baptized while they were separated for a time. Her 9 year old daughter got baptized recently, but they were pretty less active until they got here because of some "problems" in Santiago and luckily they came filled with faith. Marco is sooooooo willing to obey the commandments and the family has been receiving a ton of blessings for coming back to church. It´s so awesome to see people´s conversion! We gave them the Liahona that talks about temples to help them set that goal. We may be projecting kind of far in the future but it´s all about ETERNAL salvation, right?
Exhibit B: Yesterday a guy named Allan came to church who I contacted knocking doors with Hermana Lindner about a month ago. He told us not to come back because he was always busy, but we left a passalong card with the address of the church and the meeting schedule. How many times have I done that on my mission? A million. How many times have they actually come to church? NEVER. Until right now! Our ward meets in the same building as another ward, and they have Sacrament Meeting at 11:30, right when ours finishes. A guy from the other ward, our mamita´s son, Carlos, who got back from his mission in February, said that he was talking with someone outside the building right before their Sacrament Meeting started and he saw a guy come in, take two steps, look around and start to leave. He said he had to run a little bit to catch him, but he grabbed him and brought him into Sacrament Meeting. Their Sacrament Meeting ended while we still had half an hour left of third hour, so he went to look for us in Relief Society (which was initially really suspicious, because he usually TOTALLY avoids us) and introduced us (well, I already knew him kind of) and we brought him to Elder´s Quorum. Obviously once he was safely inside EQ Carlos told us all the details. Carlos had also set an appt for us that afternoon at 5 pm (totally still thinking like a missionary-- "if the missionaries can meet with him this afternoon and set a return appt, he´ll be a new investigator AND have attendance at church!" Ka-ching), and when we went it was perfect. He has kind of low self esteem, but we talked a lot about our worth as children of God and he really opened up to us. We taught him about the Restoration and he accepted a baptismal date for July 9! At the end he prayed, and he had told us that he had trouble expressing himself, and he was pretty nervous to say the prayer, but it was one of the sweetest prayers I´ve ever heard. He said "Heavenly Father, I thank thee that after SO MANY YEARS of looking, I have finally found thy church, and I ask thee that this feeling I have of knowing thee never ever ever ends." He wanted to say more, but he was struggling, so kind of frustrated he just ended "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Wow. Tears were falling from my eyes, and Hermana Canto was in the same boat. We´re going back on Wednesday, and I am so excited to help this young man realize his true worth.
Other than that, we´re still looking for our other two baptisms for this transfer, but I have a lot of faith in God and in this work. I´ll make sure to keep you posted!
I love you! Thanks for writing. Have a great week!