June 14, 2010 (Early Birthday!)
It has been a great week. Thank you for everything, especially your emails! They really lift my spirits. I want you to know how much I love all of you.
So first off, thank you so much for the birthday box! I'm sorry, I couldn't resist.... I opened it early! I loved it! We're gonna be getting really fat soon from all of the chocolate. All the better to reach my goal of 300 lbs before I get home! I'm just sending a few pictures I took in Copiapó after our Zone Conference and receiving the box. It was our last Zone Conference with President Urra (and of course I was assigned to translate for the new missionaries, like always...)! I am really going to miss President Urra; he has been such a great example for me. I have learned much from him that I'll be sure to use and apply throughout the rest of my mission and all my life. I will miss him and his wife, but I'll just make sure to keep writing him after I end my mission! President Bruce will be the new mission President. He's from California and will be getting here to Chile in a couple of weeks. Lot's of things could change in the mission when he arrives... But I guess only time will tell!
Wow, where do I start with miracles this week? Our investigator family is still progressing a lot! Manuel has a very strong testimony, as does his wife Mónica. Valeria, their daughter, will also be baptized on June 26th if all goes through, and it should be a beautiful baptismal service. This week we had a neat experience as the family attended church. Manuel lost his job about 5 months ago, and he started losing his faith. While he was going through this crisis, he dreamed of Christ. Our Savior told him: "Wait just a minute. I'm coming back soon." Soon after, the missionaries arrived. As we were speaking with Manuel, he described the way that Christ looked. We invited him to see the portrait of Jesus Christ that is in all the Bishop's offices, the one with the red robe. When Manuel saw it he got really emotional. He said, "That's Him." It was a tender mercy of a loving Father in Heaven, and I am so grateful that we could be instruments in the Lord's hands to help Manuel and Mónica save their faith and find the true Church of Jesus Christ in the earth. They are going to be faithful members, and I even believe that Manuel would be an awesome Branch President one day! Who knows? :)
Another great miracle was with an investigator named Cesar. His wife, Lorena, is a less active member of the church, but we started sharing the missionary lessons with her and her new husband a couple months ago. We lost contact with them for some time, but recently we started sharing the lessons again. Cesar felt strongly that our message was true. He felt something beginning to stir in his heart. He told us that, through our examples, he could tell what we were saying is true. I think that's a great lesson in practicing what we preach! I thought of Ammon when he started teaching Lamoni, how Lamoni was astonished when he saw Ammon's faithfulness and obedience. I know that this is true: a large part of the success we have in life, not only as missionaries, is by the example we set. Through our example of dedicated service, obedience, and diligence in doing what we know we should, we gain the confidence of those who surround us and show that we are disciples of Jesus Christ. I feel so humbled as I see the great goodness and power of our Eternal Father, and I know that this is His work. We, of ourselves, are nothing, but with God we can do all things. By small and simple things God brings about His great and eternal purposes.
On Saturday, we shared a message with Cesar, and we spoke of the Holy Ghost and requirements to have his constant companionship. We spoke of baptism and asked Cesar if he would like to be baptized on July 3rd. And he said yes! He went to church on Sunday, and in all of our little meetings we felt edified and strengthened. The Holy Ghost was with us as we taught and learned together. It was a beautiful Sabbath day yesterday; there were many families in church. I could see that really our little congregation is the salt of Diego de Almagro, the yeast that can lift up the lives of many. It is a great blessing and privilege to work in the Lord's vineyard.
So, just to let you know, I am loving life. Though I am anxious to see you all again, I have to take advantage of the short time I have left! I love the work, and I send you all my love. I'll see you in October!