These are my companions. The one on the right is Elder Woodland (my companion) and the one on the left is Elder Nottingham. They are both the best. We have a lot of fun together and they have taught me so much!
This has been a wonderful week. Elder Woodland and I saw some miracles as we tried to exercise greater faith. Something that I have found very interesting is that I asked y'all to pray that I would be able to learn everything that I needed to quickly. In response to that, almost all of the responsibilities that I needed to learn have been taken away and given to other office missionaries. Now I just have to focus on becoming a great missionary that can baptize. Please pray for the Columbus family. They are so close. We had dinner with the Columbus' at the Vega's house on Wednesday. Hermano Vega is a convert and before his baptism he was an alcoholic and drug addict. He bore his testimony of the Gospel and how it can change our hearts. The Suarez family was also there for dinner. Hermano Suarez is blind and has a powerful story. After dinner, he asked the Colons why they weren't baptized yet. Hermano Columbus (Kimberly) answered and said, "I am ready to be baptized right now. I just want to be baptized as a family, so I am waiting on my husband". Then Eduardo (Hermano Columbus) said, he wasn't sure and that he just need a little bit more time. Please pray that his heart will be softened and that he will be able to take the step in faith to be baptized. We are hoping they will be baptized this weekend. But haven't talked to them about that yet.
Another miracle that happened this week came from obedience to the commandment to talk with everyone. In D&C 33:9 it says to open your mouths and spare not and then we will be laden with sheaves upon our backs. President Ashton has been emphasizing this a lot recently. In the scriptures when it refers to sheaves it means baptisms (or the people and families that you help bring into the Gospel). So the commandment is to talk with every single person and to declare repentance to them. According to Preach My Gospel, the way that we declare repentance is by inviting others to make and keep commitments. So as we talk with every single person we see regardless of the language they speak or whether they live within our area boundaries, people will be baptized. President Ashton has taught us that most of the people we talk to on the streets will not be interested and even that none of them will probably ever be baptized, but if we obey the commandment the Lord is then able and bound to bless us. So Elder Woodland and I have been talking with absolutely everyone and on Saturday some missionaries in another area called and said that there was a less-active family that lived in our area that wanted to come back to church and that they had gone to their ward the past two Sundays and they had a 9 year-old that wasn't baptized yet but that had told the missionaries she wanted to be baptized.
How miraculous is God? I have come to be a firm believer in Moroni 9:
And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do , I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles.
Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous of God?
And if there were wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he ; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.
And the reason why he ceaseth to do among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should .
Behold, I say unto you that whoso believeth in Christ, doubting nothing, he shall ask the Father in the name of Christ it shall be granted him; and this is unto all, even unto the ends of the earth.
I know that miracles exist! I see them each and every day. All we have to do is look with spiritual eyes and we will truly find that the arm of the Lord is stretched out still.
Some other notes. President Ashton sat down and talked with us about what he learned at the Mission President's Seminar. He said that one of the main reasons for the age change of missionaries came because the church found that they were losing more Young Men than they were ordaining Melchizedek Priesthood holders. Last night the Spanish stake had a stake priesthood meeting and 5 young men that have recently opened there mission calls spoke and bore testimony. It was powerful. I was flooded with memories and feelings of opening my call and the spiritual witness I received that the Lord needed me here in Texas.
We were on exchanges Saturday and I went to the poorest part of the mission. It was very different out there. The missionary that I was with has only been out for 2 months is waiting for his visa to go to Argentina. We had a two hour study on faith and testimony. I realized that he was struggling in his testimony and as we talked I learned that he didn't think he could ask for another spiritual confirmation of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon after already receiving one. I went through the doctrine with him and taught him about the mercy and grace of God. We read in Preach My Gospel where it tells us missionaries to continually put Moroni's promise to the test and receive a renewal of our witness of the Book of Mormon. By the end of the study, he had changed. It was neat to see the hope that had come into his eyes and the power that was in his testimony throughout the rest of the day.
I know that this work is true. I continue to ask and receive spiritual confirmations time after time. It is my testimony that God is merciful. He is aware of us and our needs. He requires us to have faith but knows that the natural man is full of doubt and fear. He will always answer our sincere prayer to know of spiritual truths. And He will answer them through the Holy Ghost. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things".
This work is true. Thank you for your prayers. I love you all and pray for you often.