Monday, December 2, 2013

Miracles of the Atonement

Dear Family, This week has been incredible. We saw so many miracles and felt the Spirit in a variety of ways. On Monday night we showed up to teach Omar (he is the roommate of Hermano Duran, a man that has recently come back to church and is now an active and fully participating and serving in the ward). We taught the Restoration and after we shared the first vision we were just silent for about 30 seconds feeling the Spirit. We then looked Omar in the eyes and asked him to describe how he felt. Before we asked the Spirit was strong but not extremely noticeable but as we trusted that the Holy Ghost would bear witness of our words, He came. Omar was really quiet then said, "I feel really peaceful. I feel good." We asked if he had ever felt that way in his whole life and he said that he hadn't. At this point his roommate walked in and we asked him to bear his testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. It was so powerful. Omar said he would be baptized but didn't yet accept a baptismal date. After this lesson, we asked Hermano Duran if he could come with us to our next appointment with the Padillas (they live in the same complex) and he said no because he wanted to shower and get warm. We walked outside and were saying a prayer and then he called us and said that something kept on telling him that he needed to go to the lesson with us. He then bore a testimony of Christ and the Atonement that penetrated the heart of all who heard it. We were teaching about the Virgin Mary and why we worship Christ and not her. His testimony played a key part in their understanding of the Savior. I am so grateful that the Holy Ghost touched him and that he listened. The Lord truly is involved in this work and does work alongside us. Like it says in Jacob 5: 72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things. Other fun happenings this week include exchanges with Elder Preece, Elder Gray, and Elder Williams. All are missionaries that I look up to and love. They are all good teachers and it was incredible. Especially my time with Elder Gray. That Elder is still his incredible self. I love spending time with him, studying with him, and remembering our sacred time together in the MTC. For Thanksgiving we went to the Martinez family. They are a family that has been inactive for 20 years and has no intentions of coming back any time soon. Nevertheless, we stop by and visit them about once a week and help them to feel the Spirit and remember the feelings they had as they were converted and joined the church. They have a special place in my heart and it was an honor to spend Thanksgiving with them and their family. After that we went to the Vega's home. They are some of my favorite people in the whole world and the Padilla family came over there too. It was a really good experience and everyone left feeling edified. Tonight at 8:00 PM, Elder Larson and I will be getting a third companion. His name is Elder Dennis. He has currently been serving in El Salvador but was reassigned to our mission. His parents are mission president and wife in Guatamela I think. We are pretty excited to have him join us! Another thing I think I forgot to mention is that two weeks ago I went on an exchange with Elder Quigley. He is one of the Chinese missionaries and we went to his area. I didn't understand anything the whole day but I did learn two words, taught an English class, and ate octopus. The octopus was cold and hard and I kept trying to swallow it whole but one of the legs (tentacles?) kept popping out of my times. On Friday with Elder Gray we stopped by and taught a former investigator named Arnold. He felt the Spirit but said that he wasn't ready to be baptized yet because he needed to repent first. The next day with Elder Williams we stopped by and taught about repentance. That was a powerful lesson. He understood how to repent, why we repent, and what we repent of. He committed to be baptized on January 18th and said he was going to read the Book of Mormon everyday so that he could feel the same way he felt when we stopped by to teach him. That is the common theme with all our investigators. We have been focusing on pointing out the Holy Ghost throughout the lesson and having them describe to us how they feel. This is really helpful as they then try and recognize their answers about the Book of Mormon, the truthfulness of the Gospel and Joseph Smith. On Saturday Elder Williams and I taught Saul and Sofia. Sofia came to our English class on Tuesday! It was her first time in the chapel. The last time we taught them in their home they both told us that they had either had never felt clean or that they no longer felt clean. So on Saturday, Elder Williams said, "the scriptures say that no unclean thing can dwell with God, do you believe that?" They said yes. It was silent for a minute and then the Spirit whispered to me the words. I looked them in the eyes and said, "Saul and Sofia, I am about to ask you a really hard question. You both just said that you believe that no unclean thing can dwell with God and last time we talked about how neither of you feel clean. If you were to die tomorrow what would happen to you?" They both sat there, looking at their hands, thinking and wondering and soul searching. Their response was, "We would be condemned, eternally punished, and forever sorry that we did not repent". We then invited them to repent and be baptized. Saul still struggled but Sofia finally got it. It was a very powerful lesson. We then testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and what that can do in their lives if they will allow it to take effect. We have visited the Padillas every day this week. It is so fun to watch their progress and feel the Spirit in their home. They are all so happy and loving. We have been trying to help them be ready to be baptized on the 7th and Eva and Ramon feel that they are ready. Obispo Naranjo after interviewing them the other day suggested that we have them meet with President Ashton. Yesterday during church President interviewed Hermano Padilla for about an hour and a half and then walked out and told us that he was ready to be baptized and had passed his baptismal interview! Hermano Padilla promised to pray yesterday about being baptized this Saturday or this Sunday. When we stopped by last night he told us he would have his answer by Tuesday. Please pray that their financial situation will work out and that they will receive and recognize the answer and then follow the answer that they should be baptized this weekend. I love their family so much. We were at a baptismal service of an hermano in the ward on Saturday and afterwards were standing next to Ramon (the 11 year-old). There was some sister missionaries down the hallway and he looked at them and then looked at me with a funny expression. He asked, "Como se llaman las hermanas? Las Eldas? (What are the sisters called? The Eldas?)" It was so funny. They are ready to be baptized and it is such a miracle. The Atonement has wrought an incredible change in their lives and their faith is just so strong. As we were there last night, el Hermano had just finished explaining to us his financial situation and then Eva said, "Well, the elders taught us about tithing this week and told us a story about a widow giving all that she had. I think we need to pay our tithing even though it will be all that we have and then just trust God to bless us. He has to bless us if we obey." How special that was to hear. In my personal study this morning I was thinking about them as I read Alma 38:5 5 And now my son, Shiblon, I would that ye should remember, that as much as ye shall put your atrust in God even so much ye shall be bdelivered out of your trials, and your ctroubles, and your afflictions, and ye shall be lifted up at the last day. That is my testimony to each of you and to all that I meet. As we trust God and trust in the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will be made whole, we will be delivered, and we will be clean. I know that the Savior lives and loves us. He is so real and so close. As I partook of the Sacrament yesterday I thought of the words of "This is the Christ". 2. I read His words, the words He prayed While bearing sorrow in Gethsemane. I feel His love, the price He paid. How many drops of blood were spilled for me? With Saints of old in joyful cry I too can testify: This is the Christ. This is the Christ, the holy Son of God, Our Savior, Lord, Redeemer of mankind. This is the Christ, the Healer of our souls, Who ransomed us with love divine. As I thought of "how many drops of blood were spilled for me", I was overcome with gratitude for the Savior. I felt the Holy Ghost come and felt the renewing of my baptismal covenants. I felt clean. I just want others to feel that too. That is why we share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love you and am grateful for your prayers. Love, Elder Case

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