This week was greeeaaat! For lack of time I am going to have to give everyone the revised version of everything, with details only on the most important events!
This week we had 2 baptisms! Edgardo and Soledad were baptized!
This week was also the week of miracles in our zone! I am so proud of all of the missionaries here!
We spent most of our time this week preparing things for the baptism and preparing our investigators for the baptism. Edgardo is a stud. He was one extemely prepared by the Lord for the gospel. He kept 100% of his commitments! There arent many people I know who keep all of the commitments they make! Edgardo is a great example of one who applies the doctrine of Christ in his life. Also, he is one who has truly been affected and CHANGED by the RESTORED gospel of Jesus Christ. Edgardo worked in the Catholic church as one who prepared couples for their wedding. He expressed to us that after all of the years that he's worked in the catholic church, it never filled him up like this wonderful true gospel. From the first time we taught him, he understood perfectly, through the Holy Ghost that was present, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God who restored the church. He even understood things somehow before we would even teach him them...for example, we hadnt even taught about missionary work and he told us before his baptism that he wants to go out and help everyone find this gospel! He understands that he is going to have to work in this church! He will magnify whatever calling he receives! His grandson said that he was preparing to do his frist communion in the catholic church and he said "no!" You need to come to the church of Jesus Christ, the mormon church, and only this church! We commited to this church and we are going to follow it for our whole lives! Then a day later Vicente, this same grandson, told us..."hey, I still want to get baptized you know." We were surprised but happy by his comment and we challenged him right there to be baptized on May 12th and he accepted. We said that his grandpa could even baptize him because he will have the priesthood by then. He was stoked. We talked to his mother right there on the spot to ask her for her permission...and if she will support her son..and we took advantage of inviting her to be baptized too :) She said that the time is getting closer to when she will decide to, but that we shouldnt push her :) We left her a chapter in the Book of Mormon. She is awesome. Her name is Pilar. Edgardo's OTHER daughter, Maria Jose, is also really willing and she will be getting baptized soon too I feel.
He brought several family and friends to his baptism and at the baptism he introduced me and my companion to one of his friends saying "this is my friend and we are going to get him to come to church! We'll get him! You need to come here with me every week!" He came out of the water amazingly happy and his confirmation was great! The older member with prostate cancer who loves fishing who has become great friends with Edgardo confirmed him. It was awesome! I think Edgardo is a tender mercy for Brother Merino as well...because there arent many members who are about 65-70 years old....so they are best friends now! It will be good because I think Brother Merino has a little time left of life. He's already lived way over the time the doctors have estimated...I hope I am wrong, but either way, he is an amazing man of faith the size of a mountain!
Soledad is good...we taught her a lot this week preparing her to make the baptismal covenant with the Lord. She is a great lady who has a very good heart. She will be a great blessing to the church in the future. I love this ward because so many people help us fellowship our investigators. We have gained a lot of trust with all of the members so they are all itching to help us in the work of the Lord. I was able to do to the baptism and confirmation of Soledad and it was a good experience. Each confirmation that I have ever done has been unique and this one was special too!
We are following still with Valentina, Soledad's 12 year old daughter. She is so cool. I love watching people's countenances CHANGE because of the gospel! That is exactly what is happening with Valentina. When we first met her, she was shy and she looked like a zombie. Ha ha, now she is always happy! Smiling! Friendly! Cheerful! The main change happened right when she started to PRAY. We invited her to pray and each time we came by, she would say "no, I didnt pray" a little zombie-ish...then finally we came and asked the same thing and she said with more light in her eyes "yes, I did pray!" She came to the baptism and she loved it and we invited her to be baptized on the 12th as well as Vicente and she accepted! So....we have some more people who will be getting baptized.
The mission has been struggling as a whole lately....and so this last Tuesday we talked with the zone and invited them that they can believe in miracles. We shared with them the story about when we invited Soledad to be baptized and we prayed with her right there asking if she should be baptized this weekend....and she received a confirmation from the spirit that YES, she should. So...many of the areas got pumped up and something amazing started happening....we started seeing miracles around the zone. I have never seen so many miracles simultaneously! :) We had 6 investigators as a zone with baptismal dates for the 28th of April at the start of last week...generally that means that 6 or less people will actually get baptize, because usually some of those dates fall...at least that is what the pattern has been lately in the mission. Well.....we started seeing miracle after miracle in the zone. I wish that all of you at home could just BE HERE to experience what I have been experimenting lately! It's been amazing. I want you all to meet the misionaries who I serve with! ANYWAY, many of the missionaries started doing what we had done with Soledad, that is-praying right there in the lesson asking God if they should get baptized this weekend. The first miracle, The ORTIZ family! They are an amazing family of 5 from a different area, who I have met several times. Elder Hanes, 6 foot 8 inches tall, and Elder Kuhn, my height, almost-olympic wrestler from Alta high school, are teaching them and the 3 kids wanted to get baptized this weekend. The parents havent been sure about it...as of three days before the baptism, they werent going to get baptized with their kids, but Elder Kuhn and Elder Hanes applied what we had applied and the mom prayed asking if she should get baptized the 28th...then something amazing happened! They waited FIFTEEN MINUTES on their knees in silence for the spirit! They didnt say a word....after 15 minutes, the parents were both crying and they received a confirmation from the spirit that they had to get baptized for sure with their kids.
As soon as this happened we called all of the areas telling them of the miracle that had happened and another area told us that he same thing happened to them! They asked God in prayer and Nancy Gomez (an investigator in Yumbel!, not you, mom) received her answer that she needed to get baptized this weekend. We told everyone of that miracle as well. Then....the next day, two new missionaries in a town called Cabrero, who are awesome, called us saying that they had told the branch president that they were going to have a miracle baptism this weekend, but the branch president just laughed at them, not really believing that they could do it... We tried to excited them assuring them that they CAN do it! And Elder Ramon told me, "I know, dont worry, we will call the branch president tonight telling him that we are having a baptism this weekend and it will strenghten his faith!" so....that night, we got a call from call from Cabrero, and Elder Ramon was on the other line. I asked how they were doing and he said very good. The he started crying over the phone and said "Elder Gomez...miracles exist. We are going to have a baptism this Saturday! Alejandra is getting baptized! The spirit was there so strongly. It was even stronger than when I received my own testimony of the church!" I was so so so grateful when I heard Elder Ramon say this! I may of may not have also been screaming for joy in the house! Ha ha. Alejandra was an eternal investigator...or in other words, a person who has investigated the church for a long long time never willing to get baptized....but she did!!! Miracles DO exist! We told the assistants to president Martinez all about them and they were very happy. Our zone completed with our baptismal goal this week now, baptizing 13! Our goal was 12 :)
I went with elder Beatty to do the baptismal interviews with the Ortiz family, and I interviewed the two parents....Ximena was the hardest one...who, even RIGHT before her baptismal interview, had a lot of doubts. We got her into the interview, and I had the most spiritual baptismal interview of my life! We said the opening prayer and the spirit flooded in the room. She said her doubts right off the bat, but she knew exactly that she needed to be baptized with the rest of her family on Saturday. Since the spirit was there, it was just testifying to her the whole time...I told her that I am just a young man...practically a teenager, but I was really called of God to judge her right now whether she is ready for baptism. I told her that when I first interviewed someone for baptism....I didnt feel like I really was someone who could do it...but that the Lord always helps me know in some way whether the person is ready or not. During the transcourse of the interview, we talked about several things...but it was cool watchng the spirit work with her. She would have some question of doubt...but then she would just answer it herself. She was receiving pure personal revelation I think! The interview ended after an hour or so...extremely long, (I'm sure the missionaries were very nervous) and at the end before we went out, she thanked me so much for all that I had done in the interview to help convince her completely to get baptized. I didnt thnk I had done anything! Her husband, Franco, was ready too! He is very ready as well. In his opening prayer of the interview he said "please bless me that tomorrow can be the MOST WONDERFUL DAY OF MY WHOLE LIFE so that we can be TOGETHER FOREVER!" Stud. Ximena said in the closing prayer, "thank you for helping me realize that miracles exist. and that we can repent and change!" Later, just minutes before the baptism, Ximena and Franco took me aside and thanked me by telling me that I was an important part in their decision to get baptized. They thanked me for the interviews the day before and said that that is what helped them decide 100% to follow through with everything and they said they are eternally grateful. It is so crazy how TINY things that we do can make eternal differences! I know that by "small and simple things" great things are brought to pass.
The other event that happened this week was me going to Santa Barbara! That just happened today! I called and asked President Martinez if I could go visit, because I thnk this next Tuesday I am going to be transferred out of Los Angeles. He said yes. So..I went and visited. I was happy to see a lof of the people doing good!
Luz and Pancho are getting married soon! (the other couple that have lived together for 20 years. Patricio and Alejandra are good. They are now the young mens president and young womens president. Others are good too.
Tender Mercy- Watching many other missionaries who are passing through hard times gain a testimony of prayer and faith and miracles this week. I also gained a stronger testimony of miracles but watching other missionaries have these experiences was just awesome!
Well....I love you all, talk to you soon.
-Baptism of Edgardo with his family
-Baptism of Soledad with family
-right after baptismal interviews of family ortiz
-Edgardo and Soledad alone
-Us and Edgardo STUD
-baptism of Ortiz family from another area. AWESOME! elder McConnell was at this baptism also!
-Ortiz baptism with elder Kuhn and Elder Hanes
-Soledad showing us how to cook.
-Me with Ana, Soledad's mom who ALWAYS tries to give us food.
-In Sta. Barbara with Daniela, a convert, with her HUSBAND now, Ricardo, and their daughter, who I have never met!