June 9 2014- Email #99
Family and Friends,
Wow! This week was fantastic. I feel like these last two weeks that I have to be a missionary are going to go by as if they are a blur. To start off I suppose I better introduce my new companion! We are now literally the three Nephites…Elder Holmstead and I received our new companion and the new AP in training Elder Campbell this Tuesday afternoon. He is from Oregon and has been a good friend of mine over my whole mission! I never imagined we would be companions one day. It is kind of weird though to be honest…three gringos as companions! We are having fun that is for sure. It has been especially good because we do triple divisions the few days we have to work in our area and we are getting done 3x the work! It has been great and we have been having a ton of success.
This week we were occupied visiting Mazatenango and Las Palmas zones to do the interviews. We have continued to check houses and visit the more remote parts of the mission. The beauty of this part of the world continues to amaze me as I get to know more and more of the mission. It has been especially cool to be able to be working closely with President in these last few weeks while we travel with Him and His wife, Sister Ruiz. They are inspired servants of the Lord and I am learning much from them.
On Wednesday it was really fun to be in Mazate again. I spent six months in Mazate with Elder Banegas and Elder Herrera…one of my favorite areas for sure! The cool thing was after finishing up the interviews in the morning I had the chance to go out with one of the zone leaders to my old area Lincoln and work the whole afternoon! It was really cool to be out in my old area working hard and showing Elder Crookston some old investigators of mine. At about 7pm that night the zone leaders had a meeting with President Ruiz in the Stake Center so I was waiting outside for President to finish and take us back to Retalhuleu and up walks an old friend and convert, Melvin. We hugged and I found out that he was there to get his Patriarchal Blessing and that he has now started his mission papers. He is going to get out his endowment in August and he will be leaving on his mission soon enough. Melvin has so much potential! It was so special to see him again and especially to hear that his whole family is still active in the church and working hard to progress. That made my day.
In our own area we are going strong! We have two people to baptize this Saturday…the first is the son of Wendy, Nathan. These people are SO cool I can´t even describe. They are now our best friends. We had family night with them again last night and we cooked dinner, had a lesson, and watched the Joseph Smith movie. Nathan is so excited about his baptism Saturday. He is 11 years old but is so very intelligent. We have not had the chance to really teach him too much due to the little time we have to be in our area but he understands everything super well. He already passed the baptismal interview and is set for this Saturday. This family has been completely reactivated and we know that they will stay strong in the Gospel.
We even had another miracle happen this week in regards to this same family. Wendy has a son who got married a few months back and his wife is named Allison. She and him have already separated due to some difficulties Wendy´s son has been having so Allison is living here in Retalhuleu with Wendy and Vinicio. She is 18 and has a 4 month old baby. She is really humble and has already accepted to be baptized on the 21st of this month. She was catholic before but we explained about the restoration and we watched the Bible Video of Jesus Christ´s baptism and she was super excited to have a baptism in the correct manner. Her husband is a member as well so they will be a family baptized and in a year they will have the goal to go to the temple. She is looking like she will be my last baptism of my mission! Scary….Haha
Vinicio, the husband of Wendy, sadly will not be able to be baptized in my time here in Guatemala. They are still working out the divorce and it seems that it will take about 2 months more until they can get legally married and he can be baptized. Vinicio is a really special man. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and has been praying. He asked us a really interesting question on Friday night…we were at his house and we were just about to leave when he said, “Elders, wait, I have a question.”. He continued “I am a bit of a hard man, I never get emotional… Why is it that when I pray about your church I start to cry?” The Spirit immediately filled the room and we all just sat for a minute thinking…we responded explaining to him that those feelings come from the Spirit and that it is the answer that the church is true. He has a true desire to repent and be baptized. He will be a future leader of the church here in Guatemala. He is very intelligent and has a great desire to do these things right.
This Saturday we also have another baptism of a young man named Wilmer. He is 15 and his family does not go to any church. His older brother, Avelardo, also has been coming to church but he has some difficulties. He has chosen to still wait and keep learning but Wilmer is totally ready! He is super excited but a bit timid. He asked that only we and the Bishop be at his baptism. Wilmer has definitely been prepared by the Lord. He is very humble and ready to do as the Lord desires he do. I have really loved teaching him about the church and the principles. Today we taught all the commandments and he understands all very well. His family and neighbors are definitely a bit of an opposition but he understands the need for baptism and has made his own decision to do it. I love his determination and I am so privileged to be part of his experience.
I love being a missionary. The Lord just keeps on blessing me and I am so grateful for it. Miracles come and keep coming and I am so happy to be part of this experience and work hard in the Lord´s service. I am trying my best to be a good missionary and find the Lord´s chosen children to receive the Gospel. I have a testimony that this is the true church and that God is preparing His children for the blessings we receive to be part of the truth. I am happy that I still have two weeks to work my heart out. I will keep doing it until the moment they take my name-tag away! I think even then I will try my best to continue being a missionary…there is work to do in all the world.
Elder Ty Russell