Eduardo Colon and I. I love that man!
This has been a wonderful week! Thank you for praying for Norma to be baptized. I told la familia Ortega about my email home last week and explained that I was so grateful that they prayed for my family. It was a tender moment as they expressed their love and gratitude towards you all. They are planning a trip to Arizona next summer. I told them they could stay at our house in the basement. They can't wait to meet y'all.
Since Monday, we kept on teaching Norma and she just wanted to be baptized. She spoke with her mom about it numerous times and her mom said no even though at one point Norma broke down in tears. On Wednesday we taught her about fasting and invited her to fast with us on Friday that her mom would give her permission. We began the fast and then on Friday while I was at Zone Conference and Norma was at school, my companions stopped by. We figured that it wasn't enough to just fast and that the Lord would require us to act. They had a pleasant visit explained that Norma was ready and had passed her baptismal interview and that we wouldn't baptized her if she wasn't ready. Her mom gave them written permission that moment. When we told Norma later that day, she was amazed. There was a hitch though. We still needed her mom's signature on the baptismal record. We left that with Norma on Friday night and gave her the challenge to get the signature. When we showed up Saturday afternoon she told us that she felt that God had slapped her for lack of faith. She said that she was so nervous to ask her mom and that she almost didn't ask for fear of being yelled at. But she said that she asked her mom and that she immediately said she would sign it. Norma was overcome by the experience and the fact that God would be so merciful and that faith was so powerful.
I had the privilege of baptizing Norma on Saturday night and it was so special. What made it even better is that Eduardo Colon (our convert from last May) baptized another hermana in the same service. It was incredible to be able to see the fruits of our labors in that way. Him and I had a very spiritual and memorable moment afterwards as we felt the Spirit and talked about the truthfulness of the Gospel.
As Norma came up out of the water she was crying. She told me later that she accidentally swallowed some water and that she was half crying because of that and really crying because she felt so clean. During the closing hymn, "Mas Cerca Dios de Ti", I looked at Norma as tears streamed down her face while she realized that she had just made a covenant with God to be closer to Him. The next day during the confirmation she just sobbed as well. When we asked her how she felt during the confirmation she said "worse than the baptism!" She then explained that she meant she was just so overcome with the Holy Ghost and God's love that she didn't know how to react other than crying. What a blessing to have the Gospel in our lives and help other people to find it. In three days she read all of 1 Nephi and wrote a one page summary that she turned in to us. Saturday around noon we gave her "For the Strength of Youth" and at her baptism she told us she had already finished reading it. We taught her about the temple last night and she cannot wait to enter. She now has an eternal vision.
Our other investigator, Darbelio, that we were trying to help get married and baptized last weekend is doing wonderful. We haven't been able to see him all week because he was working extra to be able to come to church. We taught him about the temple (during the lesson with Norma) and he just loved the idea of being able to be sealed to his family forever. After the lesson we asked how his reading in the Book of Mormon has been going and he opened it up and said, well I am right here. He opened to Mosiah 9! We were blown away. I really don't understand it. There people just read the Book of Mormon like crazy, they read every day and they read a lot and they understand, feel the Spirit, and are becoming converted. I have learned that those who read the Book of Mormon frequently become converted. It is as simple as that. In 1 Nephi 15:23-24 it says:
And I said unto them that it was the of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the and the fiery of the overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.
Thus, if we hold fast to the word of God (study the Book of Mormon every day) and hearken (obey and apply what we learn) to it, we will never perish (gain Eternal Life). Studying the scriptures every day is just so important!
We are being so blessed and I am so grateful. Every day we see incredible miracles and feel the Spirit of the Lord. Last night we didn't have a set lesson and didn't quite know where to go but as we prayed and thought about it and hearkened to the feelings and promptings that came, we had an investigator named Amanda come to mind. A number of weeks ago during Mission Leadership Council, President Ashton reminded us that when we enter lessons we should ask people what blessings they have received since our last visit so that they begin to think of the mercy of God rather than all their problems when we ask how they are doing. During the meeting the Spirit whispered that that was something I needed to do so I wrote it down on my "Change" card and committed myself to begin doing it. We walked into Amanda's house and sat down and asked, "Since we saw you two weeks ago, how have you seen the hand of the Lord in your life?" That lead to her testifying of prayer and receiving and answer to prayer and then explaining that her husband and her had just separated. It changed the course of the lesson and brought the Spirit so strongly.
That experience made me think about General Conference, the Ensign, and other opportunities that we have to listen to Priesthood leaders. Those who have Priesthood Keys have the right to receive revelation for us. D&C 84:19 says:
And this greater administereth the gospel and holdeth the of the of the kingdom, even the key of the of God.
I just want to listen to Priesthood leaders, the Holy Ghost, and the scriptures and then obey and apply the direction that I receive because I know that it is what brings happiness and joy.
I know that this Gospel is true. It has to be. The Spirit witnesses every single day that Jesus Christ lives, that Joseph Smith was the Prophet of the Restoration, that he saw the Father and the Son, that the Book of Mormon is true and that this is the way to salvation. I love you all and could not be happier.