Monday, October 24, 2011

An Encounter with a Jehovah Witness and My Investigator Family

Hola Familia,

WHAT A WEEK!  I am just breathing a sigh of relief and am so thankful for a chance to sit back for a couple of moments.  This last week was an adventure and man was it great!

To start off, this last Sunday Elder Mendez baptized the Salomón Family who left the baptismal service happy and excited to learn more.  Their 9 year old daughter had tons and tons of fear of being baptized that night and absolutely refused to be baptized.  We tried to encourage her but she just started crying and saying "NO".  We decided that it would be best to let her watch her parents get baptized and next week she could be baptized.  She even refused to put on the baptismal clothing.  However, Monday night when we were about to start a lesson planned to encourage Pamela, the daughter, for her baptism and talk about the confirmations of the parents, a Jehovah's Witness knocked on the our utter disappointment the Salomón Family invited him in and he offered to listen to our lesson.  If you don't know very much about the Jehovah's Witnesses, they love to fight about doctrine using the Bible, don't believe in the Holy Ghost, and teach people that they must learn the Bible before they can be baptized.  This was such a huge problem because we were teaching the Holy Ghost, confirmation, and helping Pamela have less fear of being baptized.  He began asking me about why I was on a mission and what I was trying to acheive because he was looking for a way to attack me doctrinally in front of the Salomón family.  We never want to have a Bible bashing party especially not in front of recent converts and someone that was going to get baptized.  I having talked to tons of JW (Jehovah's Witnesses), knew where he was going and decided to change the subject asking him about his family.  To my relief he fell for the trick!  I told him that my family has 9 people in it.  He then began explaining to us that he didn't have very many kids because families with too many kids do drugs in the street and are super dysfunctional.  How crazy huh?  I then explained politely that we are a large family that doesn't have even the hint of those sorts of problems; all of this in front of our wonderful family.

I then knew that we had to gain control of the lesson, teach, and testify.  After we finished the lesson, the JW didn't leave.  Knowing that after listening to what we shared with the family he would tell them all about how we were wrong, we hesitated in leaving but we didn't want to be rude.  That's exactly what he did.  We returned about 20 minutes later with an "urgent need to use the bathroom" and when we entered he suddenly decided that it was time to go.  The next night we came back for our follow-up appointment and they were filled with doubts.  They had shared with the Jehovah's Witness the things that they had felt during the baptism and he told them simply "not everything that shines is gold."  The mom almost began crying as she expressed her confusion.  It was a hard battle to help them remember what they had felt and that it was the Holy Ghost testifying to them.  The Spirit filled the room as we testified and helped  them remember that which they felt.  It was a hard battle and I felt like the scripture in Mosiah 20:11 where it talks about fighting like a dragon for family.  I love them and I was fighting with all I have to help them work towards the confirmation and Pamela for her baptism.  It hit me after the week of passing every day and encouraging them that we were fighting for their salvation and man was it worth it!!

In the baptism of Pamela, the mom of the Salomón family gave the closing prayer and she began crying as she thanked the Lord for the blessing of finding the true Church and for being so good to her and her family.  In that moment I realized just how worth all that time, effort, prayer, and fasting had been.  SO WORTH IT!  I love the miracles that I am seeing!!


Elder Janis

Monday, October 17, 2011

No clean clothes...that just isn't a good way to start a day!

Hola Familia,

I am never going to forget the miracles that we saw this last week!! I know that last week I told you about miracles that we saw, but hey, this is the Lord´s work and it is FILLED with miracles!!

First of all I would like to tell you all about the day that we had Thursday; one of the hardest days yet. In the morning there was no water and so we couldn't shower and we didn't have clean clothes and so we ended up wearing clothes from the day before. That just isn't a good way to start a day ;)! Throughout the day we went from appointment to appointment and no one was there. We would then focus on diligence and began knocking doors to which nobody was answering their doors. On top of that, as we kept trudging along looking for a lesson or someone that would receive us the majority didn't want anything to do with us. The food appointment forgot that we were coming but through the grace and mercy of the Lord she made a quick and yummy lunch. On top of all of that I had the hardest time keeping my thoughts focused on the mission. This is hardly a problem but thoughts were popping into my mind about being at home, family, BYU, friends, and all sorts of other things that are associated with being home. Things that never were too much trouble to push out of my mind in order to work hard were fighting to get the foreground of my mind all day long.

However, I said a prayer and didn't let myself slack off. Actually, when I began thinking negatively or about things I didn't want to think about I instantly began walking faster, saying a prayer, or contacting the nearest person. As the day kept going we finally started to see the blessings begin pouring down from our loving and oh so patient Heavenly Father.

Miracle 1: About 3 days ago we contacted a less active member in the street and Thursday we had the chance to meet her son. We taught a lesson that went super well but over all we left with another baptismal date. Friday we put him in an interview and he decided to get baptized this last Sunday. It was so cool to just "happen" across another elect of God. Ismael was super excited to be baptized!

Miracle 2: After this amazing lesson we then went to a lesson with Alex, Cintya, and Pamela super nervous but ready and faithful to see another miracle. We were sure that God would help us come off the conquerors. In the morning we made a plan of what we were going to teach that was so inspired. We started the lesson with only Cintya and Pamela there which was divinely inspired. We had the opportunity to focus on Cintya and help her see that God had answered her prayers and that she had received assurances that the Church is true and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. She began shaking her head in agreement as she came to realize that she had received her answers. Right when we had established that with her, Alex came home from work. Perfect timing!! We then began establishing more concretely that which they knew to be true. We then read Moroni 10:3-7 and my companion Elder Mendez read and made emphasis that in verse 3 it says "it be wisdom in God that ye should read them" at this time and with the challenge in verse 7 that says "I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God." When we had read and explained these two doctrines that God had made known to them about the Book of Mormon and the church at this time in their lives that they needed it the most and that they had the challenge to accept that which they already knew. After we testified to that, the room filled with the force of the Holy Ghost and Cintya (the hardest one in the family) began shaking her head yes. We then taught baptism a bit and hard commited them to be baptized this coming Sunday and they said yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We could not have been happier. :) After leaving we said a prayer of gratitude and I felt as if I was surrounded by angles rejoicing! I will never forget that feeling of pure happiness.

I am loving that which I am seeing, feeling, and learning here in Mexico City on the Lord´s errand! I love you all tons and more!


Elder Janis

Monday, October 10, 2011

Three miracles this week recounted from tons

Hola Familia!
This last week was amazing!!  I had the opportunity to see tons of miracles but I will only have the chance to tell you about 3.
1- To start out the week, Elder Mèndez and I decided that we had to do everything we could this last week to be able to baptize this week.  The first morning we decided that we would focus on Lilian Perez whom we had found knocking doors the other week and who had gone to General Conference.  She has been progressing so well and absolutely loves listening to the church hymns she downloaded from the internet during her work.  She also has been reading and listening to the audio of the Book of Mormon and loves it because she feels a lot of peace as she reads.  We decided to read 3 Nephi 11 with her and then put her on date after reading it.  We did just that, testifying of the truths and applying them to her and her needs as the Spirit was present.  When the time was appropriate we invited her to be baptized this last week and she said YES!!!  It was a wonderful baptismal service and I being the one that was directing the service felt impressed to give her the chance to share with us the feelings she had during the ordinance. She told us how wonderful she felt and that she felt so good in the church.  It was so special to see her so content!
2- I went and did an interview for a companionship in my area that had only one hope of baptizing this week and I am willing to do everything I can to help them have success.  When I started the interview I already knew he had problems with two of the commandments.  As the interview went along I saw such a sincere desire to change, to be closer to God.  He was willing to change his life completely in order to be able to see more blessings in his life.  I was amazed at how readily he accepted the neccessity to stop smoking and quite drinking coffee.  In the end when it came to asking him if he was ready to be baptized this coming Sunday he told me no...I felt that he wanted to but had some sort of doubt.  As I talked to him a while, he said he wasn't going to be ready for Sunday.  I then felt prompted to promise him that he was ready and that after being baptized and confirmed the Lord would bless him with the Holy Ghost to strengthen him and guard him against temptation.  I then asked "will you be baptized this coming Sunday?"  he then replied, "yes, I need to prepare my clothes!"  He then told me that he had everything that he needed other than a tie.  I then felt impressed to gift him the tie I was wearing and man did his eyes light up as I took it off and gave it to him.  He was delighted and showed it to the other missionaries after the interview was over!
3- Elder Mèndez saw a miracle coming and knew that we had to do everything we could to make it happen this week.  We called up the Zone Leaders who came and I went with my leader named Elder Vasquez.  As we started the companion-exchange it started pouring rain but we just kept going because we all had our hearts set on a miracle.  We went by a family of three that also went with us to conference but they weren't home.  We decided that we would try again later and went to other houses marching along in the rain.  However, after about an hour we came back and they were home!  They let us in immediately and we went to teaching baptism and how the gospel of Christ helps us have the opportunity to have eternal families.  The room was overcome with the Spirit as we asked inspired questions and testified something like this:

Us-"Would heaven be heaven without our families?"

Them- NO

Us-What do we need to do in order to live in the presence of God with our families?

Them- Baptism

Us-If Christ were here in this room at this time, when would he tell you to get baptized?

Them-As soon as possible

Us- Well right now it is raining so we aren't going to do it tonight (HAHA) but when would be the next opportunity?

The oldest kid- TOMORROW!

Us- Tomorrow will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and by baptized be someone holding the authority of God.


We saw tons of miracles and I know that they were the products of fasting, prayers, obedience, diligence, and your prayers also!!  Elder Mèndez and I are so excited because we have 6 possibilities for baptism this coming week!!  I am so thankful for your prayers and support that help me keep going.  I am loving the mission more and more everyday.  I hope you all have a great week because we are seeing an extraordinary one!!
Con Amor,
Elder Janis

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Hardest Week

Hola Familia:
I had the hardest week that I have ever had in the mission this last week.  We had two wonderful people all ready and excited for baptism but the both fell through at the last moment.  One of them had to work or he wouldn't have money to buy his children their school books.  He almost cried as he tried to explain to us that he wanted to do it but if he didn't work this last Saturday and Sunday he wouldn't have the money that he needed.  The other one was a little more tragic.  We passed by his house in the morning and he told us that he would meet us down in the chapel in about 1 hour.  Elder Mèndez and I went to a lesson and then to the chapel to be waiting and ready for them.  However, after waiting about 30 minutes we gave the wife of the person that would get baptized a call and she told us that she was on her way.   We then waited about 2 hours; we passed by their house and the grandma's house, and then to the chapel waiting and calling only to get the voice mail box as the response.  We didn't want to leave and then have them show up.  We then decided that we had to pack up and stop by the house as soon as possible.  On the way up the super steep hill in our area we found Carlos, he who was going to get baptized, coming down the hill.  We greeted him to find that he was super mad and told us that he couldn't come because his wife had done something stupid, they had gone to the hospital, and he now had to go to work.  He was already late but told us that he would give us more details Monday night, tonight.  We hope that everything is alright and that we can help him again have the chance to be baptized.
It was hard to see these wonderful people have such hard conflicts and opposition to be baptized.  This last couple of weeks Elder Mèndez and I have seen tons and tons of miracles so this is probably a test of patience and humility.  We are only going to work harder and smarter to be able to help them get baptized in the coming weeks.  When the Lord's on your side, who's against you. 
I absolutely loved conference and as I listened to the wonderful words revealed from God to latter-day prophets and apostles I received ideas and inspiration to help me be even a better leader and missionary.  What a humbling blessing we have to listen to President Monson and know that he talks face-to-face with the Lord.  As he was talking, this thought came to my mind and the Spirit came and affirmed this thought as I listened to his inspired words.  One thing that he said that was so powerful and that I will not hesitate to apply is "I do everything I can to serve the Lord, and I will do everything I can to serve YOU."  What a strong message of what being a true disciple of Christ is really all about; be the servant/server rather than the one who receives the service.  I have been trying to apply this message and am praying to know how to apply it in a way to really help my district.
I had a wonderful opportunity to interview someone this last week that didn't want to get baptized.  I was pretty nervous going into the interview but this companionship of elders in my district had a goal they wanted to meet and I am willing to do everything to help them have success.  The interview lasted about 2 hours and was filled with the Spirit.  I could see her slowly changing her disposition and in the closing of the interview she told me that nothing would stop her from taking her baptism.  Not only was she to get baptized but she was to do it this last Sunday.  It was such a blessing to have that opportunity to work WITH/ALONGSIDE the Spirit and have success that I would have never had without the Lord's help.  It was also a huge blessing to leave the interview and see the excitement fill the faces of the elders as she said that she would get baptized.  I will always remember listening intently to every word she said and then when it came time to talk I would have words just put into my mouth.  I will never forget the opportunity the Lord gave me to help out my district in this way!
I love you all and am looking forward to what the Lord has planned for us this coming week!  I hope that you all have a wonderful week!
Con amor,
Elder Janis