This has been the best week of my whole mission! I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me...and the grace and the mercy and the miracles. I know that this is the work of the Lord. I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us. The longer I have been out on my mission, the more I have realized that I am not perfect and that I make mistakes all the time. The other thing that I have learned though is that Heavenly Father wants to forgive us and wants to bless us more than we can imagine. I love D&C 1:30-31
The "nevertheless" in these verses brings me so much hope! I love being a missionary. I cannot imagine doing anything else. On Wednesday we had Transfer Meeting. It was my last one. It was fun to be able to sit in the audience and be stress free. I told all the Office Staff that this was the easiest transfer of my whole mission. I don't think they found it funny... I got to bear my testimony to the whole mission. It was a sweet experience to be gathered together one last time with those that I have served with for so long.
My new companion is Elder Tittle. This is his second transfer. He is from Orem, UT. He is a catcher for BYU's baseball team and his dad works in BYU athletics. He is wonderful.
On Wednesday we went and taught Gerardo about family history. We made his FamilySeach account and got him started looking for his ancestors. Then on Friday we went back and taught the Atonement to him and his wife. It was so powerful. We showed up right after they had had a fight and the Spirit was not there but we began to teach about the Fall, death, the Resurrection, the suffering of Christ, mercy and justice, the Spirit came so strongly and they completely changed. We read a bunch of scriptures in the Book of Mormon and finished by explaining that the only way to not suffer justice is to repent but that repentance doesn't actually clean and purify us unless we make covenants. We read Moroni 8:25-26
And the first fruits of is ; and baptism cometh by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the commandments bringeth of sins;
And the remission of sins bringeth , and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the , which with hope and perfect , which love endureth by unto, until the end shall come, when all the shall dwell with God.
He looked at us and said, "Oh, I really need to get baptized". Then just to put the last nail in the coffin, we turned to 2 Nephi 31:10-12
And he said unto the children of men: thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.
I looked him in the eye and said, "Gerardo, we represent Jesus Christ and we invited you to follow him. Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized so that you can be clean?" He said yes, Giselle said, "There is a baptismal service on Sunday!" He then said, "How about next weekend?" So he is getting baptized. The amazing thing is that he told his granddaughter Madison and unbeknownst to us asked her to be baptized with him. She has been ready for two months but her parents wouldn't let her. Madison and her mom came to church and after Sacrament Meeting, Sharon (her mom) said she needed to speak to us. She said, "Can Madison get baptized this weekend with her grandpa?" I didn't know what to do. We are so blessed. Madison is so excited. They will both be baptized this Sunday at 5:00PM. Please pray for them that all is go well and that they will feel ready and they will be ready.
President Ashton recently had a Mission President's Seminar with Elder Bednar where the question was asked, "What is the difference between changing hearts and turning hearts?" The answer was explained that Elijah is in the business of turning hearts and we are in the business of changing hearts - it is the same business. Thus, it is interesting to me that Gerardo after searching out his ancestors online then came to the conclusion that he needed to be baptized. In other words, his heart changed. It turned. Also, he really wants to go to the temple for his ancestors but knows that he cannot go unless he is baptized. Now, baptize is not the end goal for him but rather the means to obtaining the goal of the temple. What a glorious and perfect plan. It is so simple and makes so much sense.
Also on Wednesday, we visited la Familia Castillo for the first time. The English elders met them and set an appointment then passed them off to us. Pedro (the father) is a member but hasn't been to church in 15 years. Him and his wife have four children. We taught them some of the Restoration on Wednesday and finished teaching it after dinner on Thursday. We invited them to be baptized and the three girls all said yes. The fourth child is also named Pedro but is only seven. We then invited the mom and she said, "Yes. I am completely ready. I really wanted to be baptized 15 years ago but we weren't married then so I wasn't. Now we are married and have four kids and I am ready." It was incredible. They are preparing to be baptized on May 17th. We dropped off brownies to them on Friday and they gave us dinner in return. Then we helped them move Pedro's sister all day Saturday. They all came to church yesterday along with the sister and her family. They sat on the second row and took up the whole bench! They loved church and are doing so well. They have already watched "Finding Faith in Christ" and "The Restoration".
What I understand now that I didn't understand at the beginning of my mission is what Aaron taught King Lamoni's father in Alma 22.
And since man had he could not anything of himself; but the sufferings and of Christ for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.
I know that I am fallen and cannot merit anything of myself but I know that the grace of Christ is sufficient, in fact there is more than enough, to save us and to make up the difference. I now that even with my imperfections that as long as I do my best, Heavenly Father will place people like the Castillo Family in my path, he will turn Gerardo's heart, and he will allow Madison to get baptized with her grandpa.
Yesterday, Elder Cruz came back with his family for the baptism of Aurora, Araceli, and Carina. It was a special service and the girls loved it. The Spirit was manifest as it always is in the ordinances of the Gospel.
I love this work. I know the Gospel is true. I know that we can do all things in Christ.