Monday, February 3, 2014

The Peaceful Reassurances

Dear Family, I love this work! Thank you for your continued prayers and faith on my behalf and for our investigators. They make the difference. On Saturday, we had the privilege of baptizing Erika, Kathryn, and Karla Del Castillo. The daughters of Mijail and Maria Del Castillo who were baptized two weeks ago. It was incredible. Hermano Melgar (an investigator of about 20 years and the only non-member in his family) was also baptized by the other elders. There were no less than 80 people at the service, which we did in the chapel, and the Spirit was so strong. During the opening hymn the Holy Ghost washed over me and then never left during the service. Once again, in the ordinances thereof, the power of Godliness is manifest. How true that is. In Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, the Del Castillo girls were confirmed along with Hermano Melgar and Julie! Thank you for praying that she would make it to church and be confirmed. When we walked into the chapel Sunday morning, la familia Ortega was there on the 5th row. They took up the entire row and as usual were the only ones in the chapel. There was someone new sitting with them that we had never met. It was Karla's huband, Pedro. Karla is the mom of the three girls that were baptized in December. We stopped by and visited them Sunday evening and asked how Pedro liked church. He said he loved it and felt really good. He told us that he really wanted to stay for the other classes but his two little boys were throwing a fit and he had to leave (next week we are going to go to Primary with them because they promised us that they would stay at church if we went with them). Pedro then told us that no one had invited him to church (we didn't even know he lived there since he works all the time) but that he just felt the desire to ask for work off and to go. We taught him the Restoration and after reciting the First Vision Elder Larson asked him how he felt. He said, "I feel just like I felt at church. Really good and peaceful." We testified that it was the Holy Ghost and that he already knew that what we shared is true. Elder Nielsen then invited him to be baptized and he said yes. Then Elder Nielsen invited him to be baptized on February 8th and he thought about it and said, "I will have my answer on Wednesday." What a miracle. He has already asked for a change in schedule so that he doesn't have to work on Sundays and can come to church every week with his family. He prayed at the end of the lesson and it was so sincere. On Friday we stopped by to try a media referral that we had received and realized that it was the same house as a lady that we had talked to outside the week prior. We knocked on the door and were immediately asked to come in. Only Karen (22) and Norma (17) were there. They are sisters and came here from El Salvador about two years ago. We taught them the Restoration and did the same procedure. Before the opening prayer we testify that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and that we were sent by a loving Heavenly Father to share the most special message in the whole world and that they will feel the Holy Ghost. We promise them that they will feel something very unique in their hearts and then we teach. When we asked them how they felt after listening to the First Vision, they said, "Strange and good". We invited them to explain how they felt. They said that they felt as if a weight had been lifted off their shoulders and they felt peace. We invited them to be baptized and they also accepted. They are preparing to be baptized on February 15th. On that same day, we taught Mirna and Julie. Mirna still hasn't resolved her marriage situation and thus cannot be baptized but as we taught about it and how "the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth remission of sins" (Moroni 8:25), she expressed her earnest desire to be baptized. After that lesson we taught the Padilla children. Eva (15) and Ramon (11) practically begged us to be baptized. We taught with their dad and he still said no. Please continue to pray that Tony Padilla's heart will be softened. It is so hard to teach them and see their desire to follow the Savior and listen to their testimonies of the Restored Gospel and then have their hopes squandered by the pride of their father. It has been incredible to have so many people want to be baptized. We finally understand that we invite when we feel the Spirit. Dad has told me many times that Stephen started having a lot of success on his mission when we would just invite people to be baptized every time he felt the Spirit. That is what we do and the response is always yes. The Holy Ghost is so amazing. Two more stories, on Sunday night, we had enough time for one more appointment and Elder Larson felt that we needed to go visit la familia Del Castillo. I was hesitant because we hadn't called them to set an appointment but we knocked and they were thrilled to see us. As we walked in (it was only Mijail and Maria) it felt different than it had in the past. They were in the middle of an intense argument and both immediately said that God had sent us to them in that moment. They spent about 15 minutes accusing each other and going back and forth with faults and complaints and we finally stopped them and said a prayer. The whole atmosphere changed and the Spirit came but was short lived as they went back to arguing. They were asking us for help and marriage advice and we finally had the chance to explain that we would set up an appointment with Bishop and that we didn't know anything about being married and that we were just young men but that we represented the Savior and we knew the Gospel would help them more than anything. We explained that we wanted to read in the Book of Mormon with them and we opened to Mosiah 3 and read from verse 5-19. The peaceful reassurance came. The Spirit of love, peace, harmony, unity, and forgiveness entered and all the negative feelings left. We finished with verse 19 and read: 19 For the anatural bman is an cenemy to God, and has been from the dfall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he eyields to the enticings of the fHoly Spirit, and gputteth off the hnatural man and becometh a isaint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a jchild, ksubmissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. Mijail then repeated the words submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things and looked at us and said thank you. This is what I needed. We had to leave to get home on time but committed them to kneel down as a couple and have Maria pray first and then Mijail. We texted them that night and they said that they prayed and then continued to read the Book of Mormon together and the next morning Mijail texted and said that he had read the Book of Mormon before going to work. They now know that it is a source of strength and that it contains peace and brings answers and understanding to our lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. The Lord answers my constant prayers about its truthfulness nearly every single day. One last story. We stopped by la familia Martinez (the less-actives that I love with my whole soul) after the baptism Saturday night. We watched the Mormon Message "None Were with Him" by Elder Holland and then asked them to share their feelings about the Savior. We had the most powerful and tender lesson on the Atonement that I have ever participated in during the which they explained that they don't have a single friend that loves them for who they are, Raul and Rosa, but that everyone only talks to them when they need help and want something. At the end of the last lesson with them we read 2 Nephi 2:30 where Lehi after teaching very powerful doctrine that condemns the wicked says, "I have none other object save it be the everlasting welfare of your souls". In this lesson though we read with them in 1 Nephi 21:15-16 15 For can a awoman forget her sucking child, that she should not have bcompassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may cforget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. 16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the apalms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. We then looked them in the eyes and said that the Savior of the world has not forgotten them. We testified that He walked "such a long, lonely path utterly alone, [so that] we do not have to do so" (Elder Holland "None Were with Him"). We testified that our Heavenly Father loves them and that He sent His representatives to them that night to manifest His love for Raul and Rosa and that He didn't expect anything in return. It was a sweet moment as the love of God abounded and tears were shed. I testify that this work is true. God loves us. We are His greatest creation. The Gospel has been restored to the earth and there is no greater joy than helping others to receive of blessings of the Atonement. I know that the peaceful assurances come each day so that we know that God loves us and is aware of us and will help us. What a glorious message. Love, Elder Case

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