Happy late birthday future Elder Hardy and future Elder Vera! (the 22nd and 23rd)
Sounds like everyone is doing great! I am happy that you are all participating in the work of the Lord! You cant even fully realize what you are doing for the Shield kids. Just like what happened to dad with an 11 year-old who he taught and baptized on his mission..and he was reunited with him in the temple and found out that many fruits have come because of him. That's called a miracle!!!!! Don't ever stop helping in missionary work! I know one day I will reunite with people from my mission and my joy will be even more than it is now! This week was a week of miracles. My testimony has grown a LOT with respect to the power of fasting and prayer and faith. These three things put together make miracles!
So we had just gotten back from an interchange...I was working in a city called Cabrero and my companion was over in our area. We went to a house of a younger couple, Diego and Antonia, who we found and have taught twice and they werent home. Diego's dad, Ariel, was home so he received us and we began to talk to him and Maria Jose, Diego's 21 year old sister. Ariel was recently diagnosed with diabetes and he has always been a healthy man so it took him really hard. He said that we came just in the right time...like angels sent from God just in the right moment to share a message of hope. We explained how the gospel will change his life and give him peace and joy if he lets it. If he does certain things like go to church and such. He said that he would like to come to church. Years ago he talked to missionaries but unfortunately he worked on Sundays so he never was able to go, but he wants to now, and Maria Jose said that she would like to come too. I'll keep you updated on what happens with them.
Right after we got out of Ariel's house, we realized that we had several missed calls, so we called Ana Maria back and she said that the dad of Valentina and Valeria (our two investigators who were going to get baptized on the 3rd of March) wont let them come to stay with their mom on the weekend of the 3rd...meaning that they wouldnt be able to come to their own baptism! Problem?....yes! School starts on the 5th, and their dad is very very strict and angry all the time, so he just said flat out "NO!" so they were all bummed out. We went straight over to Ana's house obviously and we talked to them about it all and it seemed like the only solution was that they get baptized the next day (Sunday) So I called the assistants to the mission president to ask for advice and explain the situation...if they can get baptized knowing that their dad is going to be a loser about it and not let them come the majority of weekends to visit their mom once school starts. Valentina and Valeria are completely ready for baptism and me and my companion specifically felt like they needed to be baptized. They have an amazing desire to change and they are already completely different people than they were about a month ago. We went to the ward BBQ which was right afterward, so we could talk to the bishop about it and see if he will let them be confirmed right after their baptism after church the next day (this is all happening on Saturday) He said yes if all goes well in the baptism interview, so we called Elder Wood, who is another missionary, to come and do the baptismal interview, so he came and interviewed them. He said they were very prepared and they passed. Our ward mission leader started putting together the baptismal program and he is amazing! He fulfills his calling so well. We were really lucky that we were in a ward activity because all of the ward members who we needed to talk to were there.
We felt a little bad because Elder Wood and Elder Shiflet were fasting and they came right in the middle of the ward BBQ. Ha ha. More strength to them. They are the two missionaries who we live with. Anyway, we had 6 investigators who came to the ward BBQ so that was good!
Felipe, our 15 year old investigator, and his younger brother Cristian 8, came to the BBQ and they had a great time. Also another investigator Felipe came. There are a lot of Felipe's here! Felipe is one of the most prepared people for baptism I have met! He has integrated himself in the church like he's always been a member, but yesterday was only his second time ever coming to church! We are really excited for him and his family.
Back to the baptism, on Sunday morning me and my companion walked to another part of the city to get two baptismal tunics for Valentina and Valeria. Chuch went really well and Valeria and Valentina went to young womens. The young women in the ward are trying hard to welcome them in the ward which we are grateful for. We had 7 investigators come to the sacrament meeting, including all of Felipe's family (his mom, Gladys, and Cristian, and his cousin, Carlos) That was great! We had an accident happen....that was all my fault. We were filling up the font and I went to check it every now and then to see if it was good...it still faulted some water so I let it keep going....but then I forgot about it because the talks were so good..so at the end of Sacrament meeting, all of the members stood up to leave and their was water all over the church hallway. They were so confused and me and my companion looked at each other like "OH NO!" and we ran in and turned the water off. It was an adventure. Many members helped us sop up all the water. Gladys was just standing there in a corner so I walked up to here and said, "you came just on the right day" Ha ha right when there's a FLOOD in the church! (note that just last week, her house flooded! Ironic) During church, Gladys was searching the scriptures and principios del evangelio very determinely. She looked very interested. Her whole family stayed for the baptism. We sorted out the water mess and got ready for the baptism. There were a lot of members present which was great. The stake president was there, the bishop, the ward mission leader, etc.
They got baptized and they were so changed! It was so awesome to see their countenances after they were baptized and received the Holy Ghost. From a month ago, they are completely diferent people. Valentina gave me a little thank you note later in the afternoon after the baptism and she talked about the "chains" that had her bound (emotionally or spiritually) that we were able to help her break through teaching them the gospel. That's the most special part...that they feel such a difference in their lives. That they have changed. Valeria is quieter but also she is so different. She always looked blank and now you cant get a smile off her face! They have been borne again!
After the baptism, Gladys came up to me and said "when is Felipe's baptism??" and then Cristian asked "Can I get baptized tomorrow?!" Ha ha. I said...how about in a few more weeks? And he said "aawwww" *disappointedly* But they are progressing well. We are working with them, espeically Gladys, because she is going to get baptized with her sons too..I thnk she just didnt want to come out and say "when's our baptism?!" so she used Felipe's name. The bishop is really happy that there will be a new family in his ward.
Other events that happened this week: We were at the church when the seminary teachers from several wards were having a meeting. I found Sister Mondaca, from Santa Barbara. I was so happy to see her. I asked how the branch is doing. She said "lazy" but she said that one sister, who was reactivated when I was there, who just went with her two cute little daughters, is now going with her non member husband! He didnt want much with the church before, but she always had so much faith and hope! She bore her testimony often about how she knows one day she will go to the temple with him! And now he is going to chuch with her every week! Also another couple, Mitsy and Patricio, who we brought to church when I was there, are going regularly and are preparing to get married! YEAH! The sad part, the primary president, Nilva, passed away suddenly three weeks ago. She was about 55, she had a surgery and there were complications and she died. That was shocking to me to hear. But what made me happy and comforted me was to know that she came to church on Sunday and took the sacrament! A true example of enduring to the end. Even in a hard place like Santa Barbara. She died the next day, Monday.
The sacrament is so very important! We just take it every Sunday and if we arent worthy to, we just prepare ourselves and BECOME worthy!
I know the gospel is true and that the church was restored to the earth through a prophet. God lives, He loves His children. And He will bless you if you let Him, by keeping the commandments! Also, when members fulfill their callings, miracles always happen! We cant afford to be lazy in our callings! I saw many amazing things happen this week thanks to people fulfilling callings.
Tender Mercy- Talking to elderly people in the street and in their houses. Many times they just talk and talk and talk....I feel sometimes very clearly that they must not talk to many people because people dont want to listen to them. Younger people in todays world are "too busy" with all of the technology going 100 miles per hour. Listening is so important!
Love, Elder Gomez
-Baptism of Valentina and Valeria
-Another of baptism
-Ward BBQ...the Barbequers
-B-day party of Claudio (another BBQ)
-Kilo Yogurt challenge! I won!!!!!!!!!! I beat my companion!!!!!! That has never happened before.
-The bishop's son, Milo. no wonder he is so hyper all the time!!!
-Our investigators, Felipe and Cristian, and the BBQ
-Ana, Elder Strait, Felipe, Cristian, (in the back are Nicole and Silvia, two recent converts, and on the other side, Valeria and Valentina
-Bevis and Butthead of our ward. They are both 7. Victor and Nefi are their names!