Shoutout to TALI who will be 18 years-old on Friday! Happy birthday!
So, this week was a busy week. We had a lot of stuff going on. First off, we have transfers tomorrow and we got the news that I am going to stay here in Santa Barbara for another transfer with my son, Elder Barton. We were both really happy about that because things are going great here and we have two investigators who will be getting baptized this coming transfer, Margaret and Daniela.
We found out this week that Daniela is pregnant! So when she gets baptized it will be two people at once :D Her and Ricardo (member) are planning on getting married next month so thats exciting. I know that the best thing for Daniela to do right now is get baptized so she can start her family off with the spirit. The gospel truly blesses families. Here in Santa Barbara there are a lot of broken families and a major reason is because of a lack of three simple things... 1- Daily family prayer, 2- Daily family scripture study, and 3- Weekly family home evenings. I promise everyone who can here my voice that if you do these three things in your family that you will see miracles happen in your family!
We had a conference this week and it was so good. President Martinez talked about the importance of obedience. At the end of his talk he started getting all worked up and excited and all of the sudden he ripped out a tunic from his suit coat and he tore it in half and it read, "in memory of our religion, our God, our family.....etc". He urged us all to make this oath....the oath to obey the commandments of God. He told an awesome story about when he was on his mission (in Santiago) He was a new missionary and his senior companion was from the USA and his companion started teaching him English. He gave him a list of words to practice and he said to master those words to start. So at the first zone conference they had, his companion told him, "now is the time to put it into practice!" So President Martinez started to use the words he had just learned. As he said some of the words and phrases, nearly everyone there started laughing at him. One elder, named Elder Palmer took him over to the side and said, "do you know what you are saying?" and President Martinez said, "I'm saying the English that my companion taught me all week" And Elder Palmer said that the words he was saying were words that a missionary should never ever say. (Something that is awesome is that Elder Palmer's nephew, another Elder Palmer, is in my mission right now and he was in the conference also.) President Martinez said that because this missionary knew the importance of obedience on his mission, he has always been successful in his life from then on. And the nephew Elder Palmer testified to that as well. I know also that if we are 100% obedient with the commandments of God, he will pour out blessings upon us and we will PROSPER IN THE LAND....but when we are not obedient, we have no such promise! (Malachi 3:10, Alma 37:13, D&C 82:10)
I have been thinking a lot lately about sharing the gospel with people. Specifically the normal members of the church, and specifically the message of the Restoration. How incredible our message to the world is!! Seriously, think about it. What purpose do we have to our lives if we take away the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, if we take away the Book of Mormon? There is no purpose to our life!! We wouldnt know where we are going or why we're here or where we came from...and even if we did, we wouldnt have the way to receive it!!
But the truth is that God is our Father and we have divine purposes here on the earth...to return to live with Him and with our families for eternity and to be HAPPY! I will testify that YES, the world does have a Creator. And YES, that Creator is our Father, through his son, Jesus Christ. YES we are accountable for our actions on this earth! And YES, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only way to happiness, was RESTORED to the earth in its fullness through the prophet, Joseph Smith, beginning with the first vision when he was only 14 years-old. Carlos' age! Here are a few of his own words that are a huge part of my testimony.
"I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two aPersonages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was bhated and cpersecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true."
"I soon found, however, that my telling the story....was the cause of great apersecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an bobscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution"
Even unto his death he testified...and sealed his testimony with his blood!
“I am going like a alamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a bconscience cvoid of offense towards God, and towards all men. .”
And the Book of Mormon is the biggest evidence of all of these things. The Book of Mormon is so true. I have read it and studied it over again and it has changed my life!
This week we found a really neat family. We actually have a lesson with them tonight so we are excited. One of the daughters (Yasmin) is especially interested and a friend of the family (Teresa) is the most interested out of all of them. The coolest part is that they live next door to the branch president's family and they are good friends of them. Teresa is really smart when it comes to the Bible and religion and she has another religion that she participates in. She started asking all sorts of questions about the church and they were all just impressing her so much, we taught them about the retoration and by the end when we invited her to read and pray about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith she was so stoked! They both agreed and supposedly today Teresa will have a giant list of questions for us. In part of the lesson we shared the scripture in Amos 8 about how there will be HUNGER on the earth...not of bread or water, but hearing the word of God. She just got quiet for a second and said, "that is EXACTLY how I have felt in my church!" She explained that she knows that the pastor doesnt teach 100% doctrine...and she has never been able to satisfy that "hunger" (not until NOW!!!)
I love this work. This week was hard one, but hard work pays off. (mom and dad, are you both thinking "why didn't he learn this before the mission?!" :D) It's true though. My emotions were pretty alive this week...In the sense that I have felt a lot of sorrow for people rejecting the gospel. I had one moment with one of the inactive members here that was pretty intense. She started going off about all of the problems here and how she gets really mad at this and that and all sorts of things...I said that the only thing that we can all do is keep our baptismal covenant...without gossip, without hate, without resentment, but with forgiveness and love. It was cool and intense...I got pretty emotional about it. I have been trying so hard to help everyone here for months...to help them just forgive and ENDURE to the end!
We had a good testimony meeting yesterday. Many members bore their testimony about how they all need to start being better members of Christ's true church. How they need to reunite here as a branch. I think it helped a lot of them! They are awesome members...its just we all get too comfortable sometimes and we forget to do the simple necesities of the gospel. For that reason exists repentance!
I got a surprise call last night from someone who I didnt recognize for a second. It turned out to be BETO!!!!!!!!! From Labranza. He is one of the amazing people who I was able to teach and baptize! Him and his family are still going actively to church which just made me so happy! I was super super pumped to hear from and talk to him..just ask Elder Barton! By the way, Elder Barton is doing good. He has progressed a lot from the beginning of his first transfer to the end. But yeah...Beto calling was a huge tender mercy for me, especially to hear that he is still active in the church and everything is going great. It was especially good to hear from him after a bumby week.
I love you all. Have a great week. Tali, its weird that you are 18 now, but I am happy for you!
Me and my long lost Colombian cousin!
My distict this transfer
My zone from this transfer
All at a conference