Monday, June 27, 2011

Janis, I want to be baptized. When can I be baptized?

Hola Familia,
I had a wonderful week that ended wonderfully!!!  The week was pretty stressful because we put on a ward activity to get the members more involved in missionary work and we spent a lot of time planning and carrying it out.  We passed out 300 flyers and talked with a lot members exciting them to invite people.  Sadly the day of the activity was a huge thunderstorm with thunder that shook everything as if atomic bombs were falling and there was absolutely nobody in the streets.  However, all of our progressing investigators and recent converts came and we had a blast teaching them the plan of salvation.  We had three different rooms to talk about "where did we come from?", "why are we here?", and "where are we going after this life?".  When we finished all of our progressing investigators were super excited to be baptized and the ones that were hesitant realized that it is something absolutely necessary!!  It turned out a lot different than we planned when not very many showed up but man am I thankful for the fruits that did come!
So we had an amazing baptismal service for a complete family of four that were so happy to make this decision as a family.  I love helping people make the correct decisions but it is especially wonderful when it is a family with father, mother, and all the kids that want to make this wonderful choice together.  They already make a great addition to the ward and the ward is especially happy to receive them!  I attached a photo that you can see them!  We ate dinner with them after church and they are so peaceful and happy.  Missionary work never gets old and won't! :)  I am looking forward to helping them prepare for a temple marriage about a year from now we hope to go with them in this special moment!
Right now we have a wayward son of Lourdes on date for this coming Sunday.  What a special experience it has been teaching him.  His family had to kick him out on the street because he would come home drunk yelling and hitting people.  They are had a super hard time having to do this but they have told him that they aren't going to let him in when he is in this state.  We decided that we would give it a shot trying to help him out but the two times we found him in the street he was SUPER drunk crying and pleading for help.  However, one day I felt we should stop by an investigator who ended up not being home but in the way there we found him at a taco stand.  We talked to him for a bit and invited him to come to church the next Sunday.  To our utter surprise he came and also LOVED it.  He then didn't drink for the next whole week and came to church a second time.  After the services he came up to me and said, "Janis, I want to be baptized.  When can I be baptized?"  Oh I could barely keep in my excitement and told him we would come by later in the night and we could put everything in order for a baptism.  The lesson went great and he is probably one of the most happiest people I have ever taught and the most excited to be baptized.
I am so thankful for the impressions of the Spirit that lead and guide us everyday in finding the people that are prepared for the Gospel.  I love the mission and especially love the moments when it hits me and I think "wow I'm here and I am actually a missionary!"  I love reading my name tag and treasure putting it on every morning!  I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another Week of Multiple Miracles

Buenas Tardes Familia,
We had a crazy week that ended surprisingly well.  We started the week out with two complete families and a single mother to baptize but as the week progressed one by one they dropped off date.  It was hard to accept Sunday morning that we weren't going to baptize but we were excited to see our wonderful, progressing families in church.  We have one of the families with a baptismal date for this coming Sunday and we look forward to a wonderful experience throughout the week focusing on them.  The other family needs to get married and are more excited for the wedding than the baptism....we are going to work hard with them on the importance of both things and that it is vitally important that they are baptized as soon as possible.  More time they wait, more time for the opposition to do his nasty work.  We are praying hard for the two families and I know that God will work a miracle.  I will pray as if everything depends on the Lord and work as if everything depends on me.
We had an amazing experience this last week with inspiration from the Holy Ghost.  It was Saturday night and two of our evening appointments feel through.  With out any real solid plans of who we should pass by, we decided to seek inspiration.  We were in a bus to go to a part of our area pretty far away when I felt the need to immediately get off the bus and knock on the door of an investigator.  When we arrived at the door the investigator was not there.  I was a little confused because I felt so sure that I needed to go and knock her door.  On the way back to the main avenue to catch another bus we found a wayward son of Lourdes (a recent convert)!!  He is the only member of the Morales family that we haven't been able to talk to because he is living in the street and goes from place to place.  Lourdes, on the verge of tears, has wanted us to help him come unto Christ but without a way to contact him the Lord laid the way to find him in the street.  We talked to him for a bit in front of a taco stand and invited him to come to church.  He accepted but had the smell of a lot alcohol and the hopes of him remembering our little conversation was pretty slim.
After this miraculous encounter, we headed to a different part of the area to pass by another investigator.  However, again I got the impression that we must get off the bus and check on a family that lives in a HUGE apartment complex in my area.  We got off and I felt pretty lost and not sure of myself but I knew that I was impressed to get off and work in this apartment complex.  We checked on the family and they weren't there and as we were heading out to leave the thought came to me to pass by an inactive member who we had found randomly in the street the other day.  When we almost arrived at the door of the inactive member I recognized the building of a family we had received as a reference and felt the need to see how this family was doing.  About 5 months ago we had passed by and the mother told us to leave and to never come back unless called upon.  Not remembering this I went up to the gate to knock when one of the daughters came walking out of the house exclaiming "what a miracle!"  Taken aback by her extreme excitement at seeing us we walked in ready to find out why she greeted us so happily.  We started talking and she told us that her father, a member of the church, had recently died of cancer and that she had been thinking about us missionaries.  She said she had just been thinking about us when her mother asked her to go outside and dump some water out.  We shared a message with her but were interrupted by the mom telling us that we needed to leave.  We left but before leaving the daughter said the prayer.  She thanked God for allowing us to come and help her in her time of need and that only God knew what she was thinking and why she needed us to come by.  We wanted to find out why she had needed us to come by but with the time cut short by the mom and her vague answers we were left with the surety that we had come when we needed to come.  We also gave the message we were directed to give.  I don't know if I will ever know why we were directed to pass by with her but the Lord knows and I am thankful for the chance to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.
To end I thought I would tell you the exciting news that Lourdes´s son came to church and loved it!!!!!  What a cool experience to have found him in the street and that he actually came!  The Lord works in mysterious ways and has taken me on quite a few wonderful adventures lately.  I am excited to see what the next week has in store for us.  I love all of you and I hope that you have a wonderful start to summer vacations!
Con Amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Miracle Baptism of Daniel Peña

Hola Familia,
What an amazing week we had!!!  We are learning from our mistakes and working harder and smarter.  This week we had a baptism for Daniel Peña and I'll tell you more about how awesome of an experience it was a little later.  We also had two complete families in sacrament meeting and they are on date for this coming Sunday to be baptized!  This last Sunday was a neat experience once again to be sitting at the piano up in front and see that a good half of the ward are recent converts and investigators from my almost 6 months here.  I hope and pray that when I leave here that this doesn't change.  They all seem so happy and at peace and it brings happiness that I have never felt until the mission watching them enjoying the Sacrament.
So about the baptism of Daniel, it was a huge, honking, hecka miracle to the max!  He is a boyfriend of one of the members of the ward.  She brought him to church, introduced him to us, and then asked when we could come teach him.  We set up the appointment super grateful for the reference.  As we went to the first lesson we didn't know what to expect.  We began talking to him about how he liked Sacrament meeting the other day and he surprised us by saying that he had been in many a Sacrament meeting.  He then explained that he had been through many missionaries and that he still wasn't convinced about baptism. We had decided beforehand to talk about baptism and now in the lesson it was clear that it was the most important thing to talk about at the moment.  After teaching the doctrine it came time for the invitation to be baptized.  Feeling the strong Spirit that was in the room at the time I felt impressed to put him on date for the Sunday of the following week.  He thought about it for a moment and then started spitting out tons and tons of doubts.  We decided that instead of attacking them head on in this appointment that we would write a list and the next lesson we would address all of them.  He then listed off about 5 questions and doubts and we ended the lesson.
In the next lesson, we had prepared a lesson plan to address the list of questions and within a couple minutes we had resolved every single one of them.  We then asked him if he had any other doubts and he told us that he didn't.  Seizing this moment, I testified to him the importance of baptism and that he was ready to follow the example of Christ.  I then re-invited him and to our surprise he said "yes but I'll  tell you for sure the next time you come."  We were so excited and decided that the next time would be a baptismal interview by a Zone Leader.  When we were about to get to the church for the interview we got a phone call from his girlfriend the member telling us that he was sick and would not be going.  I told the girl from my ward that a missionary from far away was coming to talk specifically with Daniel and asked if he could still come.  About 10 minutes later she called us back saying that they would arrive in about 20 minutes.  Miraculously they arrived and we started the interview.  After the interview he came out and my Zone Leader told me that the next appointment on Friday he would tell us whether or not he would be baptized.  We were pretty excited that he was still considering following through with it and decided that we would pray and fast for him.
Thursday, a motorcycle policeman rolled up along side us and we not knowing what he would want greeted him cheerfully.  It turned out to be Daniel on duty in our area and he stopped to tell us that he would not be able to make it Friday because he was going to a different part of Distrito Federal to do something for work.  We made an appointment for later in the day on Friday and then went about our work of the day.  Friday we went to the church for the appointment and he wasn`t there.  We waited a whole 30 minutes calling every 2 or 3 minutes hoping that he would finally pick-up.  Elder Lubiano and I said a quick prayer together and then decided to wait a bit.  We then tried to call him again and this time he finally answered.  We asked him how he was doing and then if we could go ahead with his baptism and he said "yes, what do I need to bring?"!!!!  We then made all of the preparations.
Sunday the day of the baptism he arrived late to church meetings but man was I relieved to see him walk in, happy to be there.  During the third hour when we had finished putting all our investigators in their classes, the girl who gave us the referral of Daniel came up to us very worried about something.  She then explained that she was worried that Daniel wasn't ready for his baptism and that it would just be a bath rather than a real baptism.  I felt prompted to tell her that he was ready.  As I said it I felt a strong sensation of the Holy Ghost bearing testimony to me and to her that he was in fact ready and willing to be baptized for the right reasons.  She feeling a lot better about things went back to her class.  In the baptismal service there was such a sweet feeling of the Spirit in the room and I felt over and over again that Daniel was in fact ready.  As he went through the ordinance, the Spirit of Promise testified to us of the divinity of the baptism and that the Lord accepted it.  I talked to him afterwards as he explained to me that he finally understood the importance of obedience and that it was to do the things God commanded because there is no other way.
He congratulated us telling us that we were the winners of 8 other missionaries before us.  This experience is such a testimony to me of the purpose we have as missionaries.  We are here in the mission field to invite people unto Christ through faith, repentance, and baptism.  As we focus on this fundamental fact we will see much more success.  More people will want to take the step of baptism when they understand the importance and the blessings they will receive.
I love the Lord and going about His work.  It was such a sweet experience to look back on the conversion of Daniel and see the hand of the Lord guiding us in what to do.  I have learned that in every conversion story the hand of the Lord played the prominent role.  I am so grateful for this and for the opportunity to be a part of this miracle.  I hope all of you have a wonderful week and I love you tons and tons.  We will have news of the baptismal service of two families this next coming letter!
Con muchisimo amor,

Elder Janis

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Book of Mormon...

Hola Familia,
We had a spectacular week that ended with a crash and burn.  No, but really it was a great week in which we had a lot of success, found new people to teach, and we have a wonderful family that is preparing for baptism.  However, when Sunday came around only one investigator came to church and the baptism we had planned fell through.  The reason why the baptism fell through would take a long time to tell.  It sufficeth me to say that a member tried to kiss the investigator, Alejandra, and when her husband found out he lost complete confidence with the church and with us missionaries.  We tried to talk to the husband but he won't even leave the house to talk to us.  Alejandra really wanted to go through with it, she was even willing to think about sneaking away, but doesn't want to fight with her husband.  Sadly it didn't go through but we aren't giving up on her and we are going to try to talk to the husband again. We are going to work with the member so that he can help us restore the confidence of the husband. The Lord will lay the way and put the right things in place so that Alejandra can be baptized.  That I know!!  The mission wouldn't be the best two years FOR my life if there weren't any trials!!  Actually, I probably wouldn't learn anything if it were'`t for the trials! :)
I have such a love and excitement for the Book of Mormon.  Elder Lubiano and I have been studying from Preach My Gospel in the morning on how we can better use the wonderful tool and convincing power of the Book of Mormon.  I have thought a lot about the promise that comes in Moroni in the end of the Book of Mormon.  As missionaries we put every ounce of faith and hope in this promise as leave the investigators with their first Book of Mormon and an invitation to read and pray.  I have never in my mission had someone tell me, after reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, that it isn't true.  Surprise right!...that would be because it is the word of God and the fullness of the Gospel!  Well, one family that we are teaching in particular received the Book of Mormon really well except for the mom who turns out to be a Jehovah's Witness.  On the return appointment she told us that she would like to be dismissed from further lessons with us after reading and deciding that she couldn't believe in something that wasn't the Bible.  As she said this she began to try and hand us back the Book of Mormon as if it were smelly, moldy underwear with a look of disgust holding as far a way a possible.  Elder Lubiano and I didn't lose hope and we put our trust in the power that the Book of Mormon has.  We felt impressed to read 2 Nephi 31 with them and let the Holy Ghost work on them.  We read the powerful words of Nephi as he details to us the Doctrine of Christ and salvation.  Marta, the mom, began to tell us how beautiful the words were and that the things it explained were so wonderful.  When we finished reading with them she was cradling the Book of Mormon as if it were a newborn baby!  Elder Lubiano and I could barely believe the change that had been effected in her.  What a testament to the divinity and power of the Book of Mormon.  I LOVE reading from its pages every morning and feeling the love of God; a feeling of how close God is and His caring hand in our lives.  My testimony has grown so much in the past few days as we have applied the Book of Mormon with this family and with others.
I know the Book of Mormon is literally the word and will of God for us.  I know that it was written for us in these the last days and we can find so much peace and power reading from its pages.  Peace and power to do the right things and to keep our hope in the promises of the Lord of salvation and eternal life; promises that will be completed.  I love the things that I am learning in these the best two years of and for my life!!  I love all of you and hope that you had a wonderful week!
Con mucho amor,
Elder Janis