Monday, March 31, 2014
This Ain't My First Rodeo!
Dear Family, As you can see from the pictures we went to the rodeo last week. It was a blast! We watched Mutton Bustin' (little kids riding sheep and trying to stay on) saw the fat pigs (Penelope has nothing on them), ate deep fried oreos (I thought they were disgusting), and enjoyed the time together. It was fun because Elder Gray and Elder Evertsen were both there! Our companionship is by far the oldest in the mission. Elder Cruz goes home in four weeks, I go home in 10 weeks, and Elder Nielsen goes home in 16 weeks. Together we have been out for 66 months or five and a half years. Our collective age is also 66 years old. Hence, this is not our first rodeo. We have a good time together. We continue to be blessed by the Lord. Yesterday was Ward Conference and it was really neat to see all of the recent converts participating. La familia Ortega was in the choir. Norma offered the opening prayer and then the Stake President (Presidente Portillo) called her up to bear her testimony of how she has felt since joining the church. She talked about how she is the only member in her family and that her family doesn't really treat her like they love her but that God has given her a new family, a ward family that has embraced her and loved her. It was a very touching and powerful testimony. Then we sustained Eduardo Colon to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and be ordained to the office of Elder! After church we were in Missionary Coordination and Pedro Perez (a high councilor) called me out and asked me to go with him to ordain Eduardo. I have never conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood before so it was a little nerve-racking but as always the words came. In the blessing I told him to use his priesthood to bless his family and the Spirit came. I can feel it right now just thinking about it. As I said those words, the import of what was happening finally hit me. I remembered the dozens of fathers blessings I have received throughout my life and the comfort, the physical and spiritual healing, the power, and the change that those blessings have wrought in my life and realized that the Colon family would now be recipients of all such blessings. How grateful I am for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! I know that the Priesthood Authority has been restored and that today President Monson is the Lord's chosen prophet for these tumultuous times. On Friday, we didn't have much planned so we dressed up in service clothes and went out to serve people. We stopped by a former investigator named Marta and she offered to have us back the next day. We stopped teaching her a number of months ago because she just refused to accept the apostasy and wanted to remain catholic. On Saturday, her neighbor (Hermana Cortez, the Stake Relief Society President) came with us and we found out that they have been getting together every Friday and reading the Book of Mormon. They are in 2 Nephi 7. Not surprisingly, reading the Book of Mormon has changed Marta. She was very receptive to us teaching the apostasy and understood it very well. She still didn't want to believe it just because it varied from her traditions but at the end of the lesson had the firm resolve to go to a private place and kneel down and pray and ask God if what we have shared is true and if she needs to be baptized. It was such a miracle! It was one of those miracles that just helps me remember how little I am and that fallen man cannot merit anything of himself (Alma 22:14). The fact that the last time I left her house I was upset and never wanted to come back because of how hardhearted she was to now how her be reading the Book of Mormon and committing to pray about its truthfulness is a change that only can come from the Lord. I know that there is nothing I can do of myself and that all of my strength and all of my blessings come through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. We also stopped by Giselle's house. She and her husband Gerrardo were outside washing the dog. We asked what service we could do. Gerrardo (being the man) said there was nothing. Giselle said we could cut down a tree that had died since her husband hadn't gotten around to doing it. They didn't have a saw or axe so we climbed a ladder and tied a rope around the middle of it and then hacked away with a machete (Costa Rican style). It was really run. It was one of those tall skinny pine trees that are all over the Mesa Temple grounds. I know that this is the Lord's work. I love the Gospel and am so grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What a blessing we have to be able to access the blessings of that infinite sacrifice. I love you. Thank you for your prayers. Love, Elder Case