Thank you for your prayers. It was good to see and talk with you last week and seemed that you were all enjoying yourselves. Dad, I know that I always say this, but this really was the best week of my mission. It was just full of miracles, blessings, tender mercies and baptisms!
When I talked with you all on Christmas, I was not feeling well. I had a really bad sore throat, a cough, lots of congestion and felt like I was going to throw up the whole day. After we finished Skyping we went back to the apartment and I was going to take a nap because I felt horrible. As I thought about it being Christmas though and how many families would be home and together I couldn't stand the thought of being inside. I said a prayer and asked for health and strength and energy and told Heavenly Father that I wanted to do His will but I just needed to know what it was. We had five appointments after that, found a new family, and felt the Lord using us as instruments in His hands to bless His children. There is nothing I would rather have done on Christmas than represent the Savior and testify of His birth and His sacred mission here on earth. I am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and that it affords me the opportunity to not only repent and be made clean but to be strengthened and perfected. It was amazing to me that throughout the night on Christmas, I never really felt good, in fact I felt terrible the whole night, but the Lord strengthened me and allowed me accomplish His will and thus feel peace and joy. What a blessing.
When I say we are being blessed, I truly mean it. The Lord is so kind. This past week was Christmas Conference on Monday, P-Day on Tuesday, Christmas on Wednesday, and Weekly Planning on Thursday and yet we taught more investigator lessons than I have taught in my whole mission in a single week. We teach all the time from the time we leave the apartment from the time we return. It is wonderful.
La familia Ortega was baptized this Saturday and confirmed on Sunday! They were baptized exactly three weeks after the first day we knocked on their door. Their baptism was a fulfillment of a promise made through Priesthood Keys that there was one of our former investigators that would be baptized by the end of the year. We had a Family Home Evening with them last night with la familia Navarro (also from El Salvador) and Hermana Ortega told her whole conversion story and how she had tried to escape the missionaries the first night we stopped by and knocked and how since that day we have seen each other everyday except Christmas Eve. They are already planning on being sealed in one year from now and read the Book of Mormon every day. They had a very sweet experience during their confirmations and felt the Holy Ghost so strongly. Hermana Ortega said to tell you all hi and that she is my adopted mother. Mom, she told me to tell you that she will get me healthy and well in no time. She brought me lemon and honey tea to church on Sunday. All the Hispanic ladies in my area have been worried about my health and constantly make me lemon and honey tea and other sorts of concoctions. It is pretty funny.
So on Saturday, we had the baptismal service of the Ortegas and I baptized Natalia and Hermana Ortega (she asked me to because I weighed the most and she was worried about drowning) and then on Sunday, a member pulled me out of Priesthood and asked me to baptize her 8 year old son (named Ricardo) that night. That was a special privilege. The dad in that family is very inactive and he didn't even come to the baptism. So Saturday was four baptisms, then Sunday was four confirmations, then another baptism and then I also confirmed Ricardo. Right before Ricardo's baptism we had been with la familia Del Castillo giving them blessings because they were sick. It was all exhausting but amazing to be able to finally stop and think Sunday night about the miracle it is to have the Priesthood in our lives. To serve in the Priesthood in any capacity is the greatest thrill and most rewarding experience I have had in my life. I remember when President Lewis set me apart he said that if I would minister to the people I would have success. I have seen the fulfillment of that prophecy and promise in my life. I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have to represent the Savior. I know that I do not even come close but I do try my best to do what He would do and as I do so I feel His love, I know He is pleased, and I am blessed with His enabling grace. In Moroni 10:32 it says:
Yea, unto Christ, and be in him, and yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
I cannot deny the power of God. This is His very work. I am a witness of His power. He sends His angels to prepare the hearts of His children to receive this message. This week we taught la familia Del Castillo the Word of Wisdom and they thought it was the best thing in the whole world. I am fully convinced that angels (undoubtedly their ancestors that are waiting for their work to be done) first taught them all they needed to know because they were thrilled with the commandment and gave us all the coffee they had to throw away. They came to church again and every time we talk with them they say they are just so grateful that God sent us to them to teach them about His true church. They also keep telling us how grateful they are to be baptized on January 12th. They would be baptized on the 11th except that Elder Russel M. Nelson will be here at our Stake Conference that weekend so we moved their baptism to Sunday. They are a very special family. Please pray that they will continue to learn, understand, and progress to their baptism and their daughters will want to be baptized as well. We hope that Hermano Del Castillo will baptize them a week or two after his baptism.
Also, please pray for Mirna. She is doing really well. She is now living the Word of Wisdom and we also taught the Law of Chastity. She has been with her "husband" for 18 years and they have a daughter together but haven't ever been married. After we taught her she talked to her husband about getting married and he asked why she wanted to get married after so many years of just living together. She explained that she had to get married to be baptized and that she really wanted to be baptized. We are meeting with them both tonight to talk about it. Please pray that his (Rodolfo's) heart will be soft and open and that they will get married before January 12th. She and her daughter Julie are best friends with the Del Castillo's and they all want to be baptized the same day.
Anyways, I love this work! It is so fulfilling. It brings true peace and happiness. I love the Book of Mormon. Like mom has always said, it has the answers to all our questions. This whole week we have showed up to people's homes and opened the Book of Mormon and began to read and then the Spirit teaches what they need to know and all we do is extend a commitment of what they tell us they need to do or change in their life. It is incredible. I love you all and I love this Gospel!