Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jan. 13, 2014 Learning Patience and Experiencing Miracles

Hello "gente" :)

I´ll get right to it then. We were blessed with another baptism yesterday!!!!! Her name´s Barbara and she´s been coming to Church for the last 2 months but didn´t want to meet with us at first. That changed last week! Sometimes God literally wraps up His elects and hands them to us. It´s incredible, and once again my feelings are a mixture of lots of gratitude and a strong desire to feel more gratitude. Here´s what I started to write about her in my journal:

"Elder Chagas and Elder Marshall were going after Barbara for a good 2 months before we were finally able to sit down and teach her for the first time Wednesday. She´s 20 and the only non-member in her family. Her parents, brother and sister were all baptized 13 years (plus) ago, but before she turned 8 they fell away. Her brother Eric and sister Olivia both came down with a degenerative syndrome and are severely handicapped now. Some members made some cruel, insensitive comments and Raquel (the mom) and her husband had enough and walked out, and stayed out for 13 years. A few months ago Barbara was driving on the freeway when her tire exploded. She was crying and exasperated on the side of the road when Luis Fernando, a returned missionary from the next-door ward, stopped his car to help. He somehow recognized her and invited her to church. She came, dragging along her mom and siblings with her."

I didn´t get to finish in my journal yet, but continuing with the story...during the last 2 months Barbara and her family have been coming to church without missing a week. Gisele, our ward mission leader´s mom, struck up the friendship she had with Raquel years ago and finally convinced them to come over for a family night this past week. We felt we needed to invited Barbara to be baptized, so we did. She accepted, but wasn´t too certain she´d be ready anytime soon. Gisele turned to her and said something like, "Barbara I want to see you get baptized this Sunday morning. I know you´re ready and I know this is what you need." That was all she needed. We taught her all the discussions, committed her to all the commandments, she was interviewed Saturday, and baptized Sunday morning before sacrament meeting. The baptismal service started at 8:30, and in spite of being so early the room with the font was filled with people standing to support her. It was incredible. Luis Fernando, the man who helped her out on the freeway 2 months ago, was the member who baptized her. She sent us a text after church thanking for everything we´d done to help her go through with the decision. We did so little though--the members found her, basically invited her, baptized her, and confirmed her. We were just happy bystanders. I´m learning on my mission that miracles are going to happen inevitably as part of God´s work. Whether we´re a part of them or not is completely up to us. They can be a baptism like Barbara, divine protection just when we need it, an attribute we´re needing to get better at, a less active coming back to church, or just plain being happy when nothing is going our way. But they´re out there to be found. Pictures to come!

Speaking of attributes that we need to get better at, I´m convinced one of mine is patience. We had a bizarre amount of stubborn, hard-hearted people that we found and taught (only once), and I just about went insane by the end of some of the lessons. We taught Lucas on Friday, and he tried to tell us The Book of Mormon and the Bible were invented, written, and distorted by men. We read 1 Nephi 13 with him and said he was right about the distorted part when it came to the Bible. When we got over that part and invited him to read and ask God to know if The Book of Mormon was really His word or not he said, "eh I´ll read but I don´t want to ask God. That´d influence my opinion." Como assim amigo?! It didn´t matter what questions we asked or what examples we used, he would NOT agree to ask God. After a little while he said, "maybe when I get to the end of my life I´ll ask Him, just to see if I was right or not." Then I said, "Lucas, life isn´t just about finding the right answer, it´s about living it. There´s a game we play in the States called capture the flag. When you find the other team´s flag you´re only halfway finished. You´ve gotta bring it back to your area to win the game. It´s the same thing with The Book of Mormon. You need to find out it´s true, and then bring its teachings back to your life. Finding out only at the end isn´t really going to get you anywhere." And, still, Lucas refused. So we said goodbye and I walked out of the house just a liiiiitttttlleee bit frustrated. We met 4-5 similar investigators throughout the week. So, I need to work on patience. 

A quick update on Elvis before going: he didn´t get baptized but we´re still hoping. Satan´s working really hard with him in all kinds of ways: brothers-in-law, pastors saying all kinds of good stuff to him, a crazy work schedule and housing problems. But it´ll work out. Just please keep him in your prayers!

Love you all,

Elder Sears

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