Sorry I never wrote you last week. With transfers we were pretty busy and I am no longer in a trio so it was hard to find an opportunity to get away from the area since I was the only one that knew what was going on! Elders Ayala and Jarvis were both transferred. I will miss them both. Especially Elder Ayala. He and I spent four transfers together and he is quite an incredible missionary.
My new companion is Elder Larson. He is from Mesa. Went to Mountain View. He is the youngest of 5. We are great friends. This is his third transfer but he is already speaking Spanish extremely well. It is fun having him and we get along great. We were both really excited about the transfer.
We went to the Natural History Museum a few weeks ago and I finally was able to get some pictures to send to you. And of course another sunrise picture.
These past two weeks have been full of ups and downs. Johnny Perez (the most prepared investigator I have ever taught) was supposed to be baptized on Saturday but his parents didn't let him. We had talked with his mom the previous Sunday about his baptism and she told us that she thought it was too fast and that he needed to wait a little longer but that it was his decision and she would support him. With transfers I couldn't be there Monday or Tuesday to follow up with her and by the time we finally taught him Thursday, he still had not talked with his parents more in depth. Friday night we spoke with his mom and she said it was too soon and that it would have to be a different week. Johnny then texted us later Friday night and said "you were right, Satan really doesn't want me to get baptized". It was so sad. As we spoke with his mom, he was almost in tears. He wants to be baptized so badly. He reads the Book of Mormon every single day, has a testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel, and is so prepared to be baptized! We fasted with Johnny on Saturday that Heavenly Father's will would happen and that helped him to feel better. His mom did bring him to church again on Sunday and he had another wonderful experience. The ward has really accepted and loved him and now it is just a matter of time until he will be baptized. We began teaching his mom and have another appointment with her tomorrow night. Please pray that her heart will be softened.
We have another investigator named Yomara that is about to move to California in a few weeks. She came to church last Sunday had the best experience. We asked what she liked about it and she talked about how wonderful the members were and how they made her feel so welcome. She said that she felt at home with family and that everyone greeted her and talked to her and made her feel loved. When we asked how her three year old son had liked it she said, "bastante, bastante!". I was so proud of our ward. In the time that I have been here, they have completely changed. We have a new bishop that meets with our investigators regularly and is a wonderful missionary on top of that. He is always inviting his friends to meet with the missionaries in his home. I am truly amazed at what he does and don't understand how he has the time. But we are being extremely blessed to have such a wonderful ward. I just wish that every ward could feel like ours. People that visit our church really should be able to feel that it is the true church just because of the love of the members.
La familia Padilla is still progressing wonderfully. They all want to be baptized and have very strong testimonies. Bishop met with them on Thursday and asked us to work a few more things out with them before their baptism. We gave the whole family Priesthood blessings the other day and the Spirit was so strong. After we gave Ramon (the 11 year old) a blessing he said that he had felt vibrations running down from his head throughout his whole body. A little bit afterwards he asked if we could give him a blessing every day so that he could feel that way again. Please pray that the whole family will feel ready and continue to repent.
So we had transfers on Wednesday, then Mission Leadership Council (MLC) on Friday and we have Zone Conferences starting tomorrow for the rest of the week. After that life calms down and we start exchanges three or four days a week with the zone leaders. In MLC on Friday, President Ashton taught about the Doctrine of Christ. He then talked about what the focus will be as a mission for the rest of the year. As he explained the process of receiving revelation for obtaining this focus, he talked about the Brother of Jared taking his stones to the Lord and asking Him to touch them. As he spoke about this, the Spirit came powerfully into my being. I learned that I need to go to the Lord with my problems and the solutions that I think will work and then ask Him to "touch them" and bless me with the reassurance that He will bless my efforts.
The Lord is blessing us. We are praying differently. We tell Heavenly Father that we are going to talk with every single person we can about the Gospel and ask Him to guide us to those who are prepared (the elect) or to guide them to us. It has been amazing as we have done so. A few day ago we talked with a lady outside her apartment and asked when we could come back to share our message. She set an appointment for yesterday night. We showed up to the appointment and her dad answered the door. Within the first minute he told us that he had talked with the other missionaries that lived in his complex and that he already had a church but that he had stopped going. We asked why he had stopped going and he invited us in. After explaining to us that he had been in leadership in one church and then switched to another and finally stopped going he said he just did feel God's love in church or unity in his family. He said that as a result of not going to church he had recently begun smoking and drinking again and that he knew he was setting a bad example for his family. He said he had been praying to find the truth and be able to change his ways and be happy. We looked him in the eyes and said, "We are representatives of Jesus Christ. God sent us here tonight in answer to your prayers. We will share a message with you that is true and that will bring peace and love into your home and life." At that point he stood up and said, "Let me get my wife, she will want to hear this". He went and told her that she needed to get off the phone (which is why she had previously declined joining us) and come listen to us. We were there briefly, felt the Spirit, and set a return appointment to which they promised to invite some of their friends that they think will be interested. I walked out in amazement. I echo the words of Mormon when he said, "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life" (3 Nephi 5:13). We are just two young men that are extremely inexperienced struggling to speak a foreign language and yet "[we] have been recommended as...worthy to represent the Lord as [ministers] of the restored gospel" (Missionary Call Letter). I know that this work is true and that the Lord is involved. Angels are preparing the hearts of the people to receive this glorious gospel. I am eternally grateful to be able to represent the Lord during this sacred time of my life and be an instrument in His hands in bringing salvation to His children.
I love you all and am so grateful for your prayers. Please keep praying. We need all the help we can get. God is kind and merciful and wants to bless us with miracles. I am a witness to those miracles.