Friday, December 20, 2013

A God of Miracles

Dear Family, How blessed we have been this past week. It has been incredible. Elder Dennis and Elder Larson and I are just loving life. We have been working really hard and being blessed with incredible results. This past week was just so wonderful. On Sunday, la familia Ortega came to church. They showed up 30 minutes early again and brought the whole crew. They took up an entire bench at church. The Primary sang some Christmas songs and they felt the Spirit so strongly. Also, la familia Del Castillo came for the first time! Last week they tried to come but couldn't find the chapel even though they drove around looking for it for an hour. This time the whole family came. The parents came to Gospel Principles and felt the Holy Ghost so strongly as we learned about temple covenants and their three daughters just wanted to stay in Young Womens. It was such a good Sunday to see all of them at church. The best part is that Hermana Del Castillo is really good friends with one of our other investigators named Mirna. Hermana Del Castillo, without us knowing, told Mirna that she had come to church with us and that she loved it so much. She invited Mirna to come this following Sunday with their family. When we went to the lesson with Mirna today, she told us that she was coming to church. It was such a miracle because we hadn't even invited her to come yet! The Lord is so kind. La familia Ortega is doing so well. They are faithful English class students and are always the first there. They write up on the board "On Time-Familia Ortega" and "Late-Los Misioneros". Our English class is definitely a highlight each week. We have 3-5 investigators there every class in addition to the members that come and the friends they bring. It has been a huge success and it just a blast to teach. The Ortega Family is on schedule to be baptized next Sunday on the 28th. Please continue to pray for them. They are so excited. We teach them every day and they just love it. The change in their home and their lives is just so drastic. In the course of about three weeks, they have become new people. There is a special spirit about them always and they becoming converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Hna Ortega (the wife of the man that was less-active for many years) committed to be baptized along with her three granddaughters (Jennifer, Sandy, and Nathalia). They have all been practicing praying and have begun praying together as a family. They had a really special experience doing it for the first time and committed themselves to continue every day with family prayer. This Sunday, Sandy and Nathalia will participate in the Young Women in Excellence dinner/event and they are so excited. We are planning on sending the sister missionaries to represent us. I just don't understand how God does it all. Our investigators are just so prepared and keep all their commitments and want to come to church and want to be baptized and we don't even do anything. We just meet people that want to learn about the Gospel and the Holy Ghost touches them and they Heavenly Father just works everything out and softens their hearts. As we taught Hermana Martinez last week (the less-active that just came to church for the first time in years and years) we found out that she has been reading in the Book of Mormon every day for the past month and has made considerable progress in her reading. I still remember how hard we had to push them just to bring their scriptures to the first few lessons. As I think about la familia Martinez, I can't help but think of 3 Nephi 18:32 32 Nevertheless, ye shall not cast him out of your asynagogues, or your places of worship, for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall bheal them; and ye shall be the means of bringing salvation unto them. I know that the Savior heals. I feel that healing often. I am so grateful for the incredible opportunity that I have to be "the means of bringing salvation unto them". What a magnificent calling this is! I have begun to understand a little more fully what the joy of the Gospel feels like. Last night we ate at the Colons and they are doing so well. They are working towards being sealed as a family this coming May. I love them so much. I will always be grateful for the chance the Lord gave me to know them and participate in their conversion process. If I had labored with all my might for two years just to have helped them receive the covenants and ordinances of the Gospel, it would have been more than worth it. They are moving to Kentucky in June just have committed me to take them all to Havasupai at some point. We made it through another transfer. The transfer in six weeks will only be one new missionary coming in. It is crazy to think that we can go from a transfer of 43 new missionaries to a transfer of one new missionary. One scripture that has been on my mind all week long and that we shared with the Colons last night is probably my favorite story in the Book of Mormon. As I have studied it repeatedly this week, the Spirit has taught me much more than I previously understood. In Mosiah 24, we read about Alma and his people. They have been persecuted ever since Alma fled from wicked King Noah's court and have finally found a new land where they were free, only to once again be put into bondage. Amulon, the appointed Lamanite leader in that part of the land, made it so that the people of Alma couldn't pray out loud for fear of being put to death, nevertheless they cried to the Lord in their hearts. We then read the following: 12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their ahearts to him; and he did know the bthoughts of their hearts. 13 And it acame to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage. 14 And I will also ease the aburdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand asbwitnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their cafflictions. 15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord didastrengthen them that they could bear up their bburdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with cpatience to all the will of the Lord. What I have learned about this story and these words of the Lord has been so comforting to me this week. First, the Lord hears and answers our prayers and is ever aware of us even when we feel He is not. Second, He knows of and remembers the covenants (in this case baptismal covenant) His people have made with Him. What I love the most is that the Lord says he is aware of the covenant they have made. This covenant is found in Mosiah 18:8-9: 8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye areadesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; 9 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand ascwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life— So this people covenanted with the Lord to bear one another's burdens and the Lord says, "I remember the covenant you have made and so I will bear your burdens and make them light." And why does He do this? So that we may "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all thing, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death". Thus He shows us how to keep our covenants and helps us to keep them. And not only does He help us when we need it but He helps us more than we need. Just like the extra baskets full after feeding the multitude, His grace in this instance is more than enough. He doesn't only strengthen us to be able to bear the burden, rather He strengthens us to such an extent that we can perform the task with ease. What a comfort that is and what a blessing! And all He ask in return is that we be witnesses for Him hereafter. I feel the Lord helping me keep my covenants every single day. He lightens my burden and strengthens me and has asked that I do the same for the rest of His children. I have found that doing so brings true joy, lasting joy. I know that this is the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have had far too many witnesses to ever deny it and even more, I feel it burning within me. I love my Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son with all my heart. They live. I know it. This is Their church and They guide it through a living prophet. It is all true. I love you, Elder Case

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