Hey friends and family, it is good to be back. I love everyone’s letters and emails.
This week was good as well as disappointing. I think that is part of missionary work sometimes. The disappointments sure help us remain humble and challenge us to never give up. One thing that I have realized about myself is that when something doesn’t work out, I want to work even harder so it will work out next time.
This last week we have been focusing a lot of our time on two people. They are Tony and a woman, named Lydia. Tony was supposed to be baptized about two weeks ago. He was exited to get baptized from the very beginning. As we have been teaching Tony over the past few weeks, he has gained a stronger and stronger testimony. As his testimony grew, you could see a change in how he carried himself and the way that he would talk about the church. For example he used to say, “How are things at your church?” We would respond by saying, “It is not our church. We are just missionaries for the "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints". However, as time went on, he would say instead, “How is our church doing?” Or “When can I visit our church again?”
He seemed to be proud to be a part of the church. This was cool. We could also tell that his praying had become more sincere and more frequent. Originally when he prayed it was rough and it was evident that he felt silly praying. This gave us confidence that he was doing his part.
As his baptism date got closer, he got more and more excited. Then two days before his baptism, he told us that his family discouraged him from getting baptized. Apparently, his family has been a member of the same church for years and no one has ever left that church.
After he had heard this from his family, fear took over. I do understand the fear. It cannot be easy to be the first person to make a change in faith that is tradition in your family. We asked him to really pray and ask God what he should do. He committed that if he got the prompting to become a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that he would continue forward. We have been helping him to understand the Spirit better and encouraging him to pray sincerely. We are really hoping that Tony (38 years old), will be able to move forward in faith and listen and recognize his spiritual promptings.
The other person that was supposed to recently be baptized was Lydia. Lydia’s story is cool. A long time ago, a missionary met Lydia and her friend on the street and made her promise that one day in her life that she would visit the church. After a long time, she decided it was time to fulfill her promise. We met Lydia when she came to church for the first time.
As she told us her story, we were so happy. Over the past few weeks, we have been teaching her the Doctrine of Christ. At first, she showed little interest. But as time went on things began to change. Instead of us asking when we could meet with her again, she started asking us when would be her next lesson.
This was such a great experience for us. The best part, however, is when we were teaching her the commandments. She told us that she had decided after graduating she was going to go out and break all the commandments to make up for lost time. (She had been spending a lot of time studying never leaving her room.) She shared how these desires have changed and now she wants to serve a mission after she graduates.
What a change in motives and desires! She has even recognized the change. The first few times she came to church, she refused to take the sacrament. She said, “I don’t feel right taking the sacrament.” We didn’t argue with her. We told her to take the sacrament when she felt ready. Well this last Sunday, she took the sacrament!” Afterwards she said, "As I took the sacrament, I felt different. I felt good. I really feel like things are changing in my life and I really feel like I am changing". That was one of the most exciting statements I have heard on my mission.
There are a lot of things that are exciting on a mission. For me one of the greatest things to see is the change of heart that comes to a person as they learn of the Doctrine of Christ. When you see the Spirit teach, guide and love, it is a really exciting. But it more exciting when the person recognizes the change and from whence it comes. Often people do not see it because it is gradual but those that are really aware of the Spirit see it and acknowledge it. This is amazing.
When Lydia noticed the change, it was so exciting. I feel that she will be baptized. I hope she will continue her course of learning the teachings of the Savior and that she will continue to draw closer to the Lord and find happiness.
Sorry I do not have any funny stories. This is what I wanted to write about this week. I hope the letter was enjoyable. :)
Lastly, congratulations Sarah on new baby! :)
I love you all and hope that all is well back home.