A lot of stuff happened this week. I will try to blurt it all out in an orderly fashion.
First off, we had a wedding!! It was amazing. Patricio and Alejandra got married and now Patricio will be worthy to be able to baptize his nephew Alan who we have been working with. This moment when we were in the civil office as they were getting married was one of the happiest moments of my life! The spirit was so strong in there and I knew that this is what they should be doing. I love this gospel and the joy it brings to us. Patricio's mom told me that every single pair of missionaries have tried to get her son married for about 7 years now...but none of them were able to until me and Elder Cottrell got here. They said for some reason we are different from others. It was a tender mercy for me to hear that and I am glad that my testimony and faith in Christ is helping some people. I know its not anything of our own doing...its the Lord being able to work through and use us as we put ourselves in the right place.
The best part about this wedding was that it was my birthday present because my birthday was this week! There is not any way better to celebrate your birthday than this!
(ps- I'm not really 20 years old am I?)
So, to explain a little bit about this week...normally each week we have a goal to contact 140 people. This means talk to knock doors...in the street...wherever, but 140 people we invite to church and to hear the gospel and to repent and get baptized. Well, this week our new mission president talked with all of the leaders in the mission and they decided to up the goal this week....to 490! Nice. Well, at first it seemed a bit high...but we talked a lot about trusting in the Lord and having faith to follow him and just do it. The goal of this is to show the Lord that we really do care about finding the people who are prepared to be baptized into the gospel...and we know that if we show our faith and obedience then we will find those people. So me and Elder Cottrell talked to many people this week! We ended up surpassing our goal and we talked to over 600 people! It wasnt easy, but it was worth it, and I know that our mission president is an inspired man.
We found many people this week because of this and we were able to have many amazing experiences. One blessing was Margaret. One morning we found Margaret in the entrance to a cyber (a place to do internet) She works there and was standing there with another lady...and we went up and introduced ourselves and invited them to hear more about this message. The other lady rejected very fast but Margaret said yes, so we returned the next day and we found out that a few years ago Margaret's mom was doing REALLY bad. She was taking pills and she was depressed. The missionaries found her and she was converted to the gospel of Christ and she was baptized and her life changed 180 degrees. Margaret saw this change in her mom and was basically just waiting for us to come up and invite her as well! We taught her the doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, the holy Ghost...) and she accepted a baptismal date! We were so happy and overwhelmed that she was so willing. At the point in the lesson when we were teaching her about the Holy Ghost I felt prompted to read from Galations 5:22-23. As I did, I asked Margaret if she was feeling any of these feelings in this moment, and she said yes definitely. We testified that it was the Holy Ghost confirming the truth of what we were teaching her. She is going to be baptized on September 3rd, and we need to teach her more and help her start keeping some of the commandments. Finding her was certainly a tender mercy for me and my companion. I know that when we do our part, the Lord does His. (D&C 82:10)
One awesome random thing that happened this week has to do with soccer. We were passing by some teenagers playing baby soccer (soccer on a small cement court) so I walked up to them and invited them to play soccer every Saturday at the mormon church at 10:30 am. They said, "hey, do you want to play a little game right now?" We really couldnt so we said maybe another time, because we had to leave. Plus we are pretty bad at soccer. But then I asked if I could try to score a goal really quick. So they threw me the ball and one of the guys went as goalie, and I put the ball down. I went to kick it and aimed for one of the top corners. To my surprise, it went exacly where I wanted it to (I've been practicing :D) and it hit off the pole in the corner and rebounded in. I was like, "GOAAL!" And then we walked off. Ha ha. As we walked away they were like "what?! he said he wasnt good!"
Proof that miracles do happen! :D Or maybe just luck... :D Either way, it was cool, and I know that they will listen to missionaries in the future now because we have super soccer power!
There are teenagers here called "flaites" who are like the "soccer gangsters" basically, who dress uniquely and they think they are so dangerous but not really. At least not unless they are in packs. But I like becoming friends with them. Most of them are really cool kids, but when they are all together they go down in intelligence points. lol
We are trying our best to be friends with everyone we possible can here in Santa Barbara.
If you are wodering if I have grown much since I got here, this story will answer that... On my birthday, a really good friend of mine who is another missionary here called me on my birthday and said "Hey....Elder Gomez!! How does it feel to be 20 years-old........stuck in the body of a 13 year-old Mexican?" Heh.. He thinks he is funny...alright it was a little funny. And it answers your question- no, I guess I havent grown much :)
One day this week we found a girl named Rosio walking in the street, we talked to her, invited her to come to church. She said she actually has a friend who goes to church. She named off Ricardo, the son of the branch president. She said that he is the boyfriend of her sister! Her sister is Daniela, who is a slower-progressing investigator of ours. But anyway, we said, "awesome! Could we come by and share something with you and your sister?" She said that her parents didnt like our religion..so we were bumbed out for a second, but then she cut our disappointment off by saying "but that doesnt matter because I have to choose my own religion and I like yours!" We just stood there with our mouths open because its not very often at all you hear something like that...first of all that a 13 year-old is being bold when it comes to making her own important decisions even against her parents...and secondly, that she said she likes OUR religion! That is very rare! But we were excited. We invited her to come to church if she could.
Sunday came along....our little branch was all going to go to stake conference in a van. So we went to the church to wait for the van and all of the sudden guess who walks up, Ricardo, Daniela, and ROSIO! What? (its one of those moments when your joy is overflowing) There are some investigators who we have tried to get to church for ages and they never com! And Rosio just shows up! It was really cool.
Its also really neat because we would never have found Margaret or Rosio this week (and many other awesome people that I dont have time to mention) if we wouldnt have received the challenge to do 490 contacts!
I know that really, we receive the testimony AFTER the trial of our faith. We found many amazing people at the VERY end of the day! After we had worked our tails off all day without much success....and at the very end we find several people who are willing. Its not just chance, I KNOW that the Lord blesses us when we keep his commandments. Remember Ether 12:6...we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. I testify of the truthfulness of this scripture.
I tesify to you all that I am happy when I am doing what I am supposed to. When I am keeping the commandments. For real, this is an eternal principle. We cant be completely happy unless we are like Christ. (loving, humble, patient, obedient...etc.) Hopefully we all try to be more like him by repenting in the areas we need to and becoming better!
To explain the difference in weather from here and there, today we had a snowball fight with our zone and the other Los Angeles zone up in the mountains right by a volcano.
I thank you all for the birthday wishes. I love you all and pray the best for you.
-Me and my cute chow chow
-Me and Ryley Boman up in the snow by the Antuco volcano
-Me and Elder Tavernier by the freezing cold river
-The volcano is back in the fog.
-The volcano is back in the fog.
-Me and my goat!-the wedding!
Tender Mercy- Patricio's and Alejandra's wedding. There was perhaps nothing more satisfying that has happened to me in my life than being a part of that and feeling the spirit so strongly.