July 26, 2010 (Ordained Melchizedek Priesthood Holder)
I'm happy to report that I have not been bitten by any poisonous spiders lately! :) It has actually been a really great week here in Diego de Almagro. We've been working really hard and seeing many miracles that the Lord has prepared for His children. I am so grateful to be a missionary in these times and develop such great love for the Chilean people. I am loving every minute of the work here!
This week, we ordained a new Melchizedec Priesthood holder, the first ordination to the Melchizedec Priesthood for many years here in the branch! It was amazing to have the interview with this brother who received the priesthood and feel the spirit as we spoke about the covenant he was about to make. We also had our Branch Conference on Sunday, and twenty nine people attended, which is also a record high! And though I know that numbers aren't always a measure of success, I can testify of the amazing spirit that we felt as we shared the talks we had prepared and as the District President shared the class with all the adults.
One investigator that we have in Diego de Almagro, Margaret, has gone to church twice now. She was very Catholic before, but after many experiences and sharing the gospel with her, we have seen a huge change of heart. If you remember, it was her husband who totally destroyed his wife's beliefs as he shared the fact that Mary had other children with Joseph. Margaret always shares with us how much she enjoys going to church and the warmth and feeling of belonging that there is there. Her husband Felix also enjoys listening to our message, but it's difficult for him to go to church because of his work schedule (10 days of work, 5 days of rest). However, he too has seen the change in his wife's countenance, and what has really stuck out to him is her cheery disposition after attending church and her new love of reading in the Book of Mormon. I marvel at the power of Redemption that the gospel offers us! I have seen hearts changed and sins forgiven. I have seen only a portion of God's love, and it has filled me to the overpowering of my body. I can only imagine the smallest portion of what our savior Jesus Christ did for us, and it is enough for me to serve Him with all diligence now and forever. And who can doubt that it's true? There are miracles in this work. The Lord hears and answers our prayers. I know that this is true. :)
We also had the privilege of helping one of our investigators put a baptismal date! Nicole lives in El Salvador, so we can only visit with her once a week. She has found the light of the gospel and accepted to be baptized on August 14th. It has been amazing to share with her from the beginning and see the Holy Ghost working through the light of Christ in her. She started changing her life after she understood and felt the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel. She stopped smoking. She took out her piercings, one by one. She has made new resolutions in her life, and her only desire is to follow her Savior Jesus Christ. Now she is ready to be baptized, and I'm very excited for her! We will be praying to help her and do all we can to strengthen her testimony.
Oh yeah, and about the pictures that I'm sending... The first are from when we were in Chañaral last P-day. We had a fun time on the beach with the other missionaries. I am also sending you the shocked look I had when I got my "Casa Papers" with my flight plans! It seems to be just a crazy dream as I think about the end of my mission, so I'll just keep working. :) And the brownie pictures are for mom. I guess I'm not a very good baker anymore! I used a good brownie recipe the other day to make some treats for the members, but look what happened! They never hardened out... They were in the oven at a high temperature for over 45 minutes and were totally liquid. Before I knew it, I smelt smoke -- the brownies had swelled and spilt over the pan! We took them out of the oven, but they were still liquidy. I'm not sure what went wrong... Maybe the materials we found here in Chile aren't the same as we have in the States... Oh well. :)
I just want you all to know that I am having a wonderful time here in the mission. There are always challenges and adversity, that is true. It was especially evident this week in the lives of many members and people who we love and serve. But, as we shared the pleasing word of God, hearts were warmed and confidence replaced doubt. I know that Christ lives. If we put our trust in Him, when adversity comes we won't think "Why me?" but rather, "For what?" What can we learn from this experience? How can I serve my Lord and do what He would have me do? Looking back on my mission, I have found that this is a great truth. Adversity is a tool to help us grow, and as we put our confidence in the Lord, we will pass the test and come out stronger, developing charity and a greater ability to serve others. We can also learn to grow closer as families with our loved ones as we face adversity together and carry each other's burdens.
Well, I guess that's enough for now. Oh how I wish I could share everything that I feel! I love all of you with all my heart, and I am so thankful that we can be together forever. I love the Gospel and know that it is true. See you soon!