Letter received on 1/20/15. Posted on 3/3/15.
! Friends! Countrymen!
Lend me your ears.
BEST WEEK EVER. After a’tryin and a’tribulatin mucho, Sister Endemaño and I finally saw the fruits of our patience and faith! Hallelujah.
We had the biggest miracle in the form of a woman named Mayte this week. She is a former investigator that members of the ward kept telling us to look up, with whom, after weeks of trying, we finally got in contact! And she is amazing! She answered our phone call on Thursday night and started asking us about how fasting works because she wanted to try it, so we dropped everything and rushed on over to her house only to have the most spiritual lesson we’ve had all transfer, and possibly of my mission. She’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for and is the most elect individual I’ve met in my life. After our 24-hour fast that the three of us did together to soften her husband’s heart, she told us that she blindly opened up to a scripture: Psalms 71:3, which states “Be thou my strong habitation, where unto I may continually resort… for thou art my rock and my fortress.” After reading it to us she said, “Right when I read the word fortress, an image of the temple popped into my mind and I knew. I knew that I missed the temple open house for a reason. That I wasn’t supposed to go in as an outsider, but as a member.” She’s getting baptized on February 1st. She went through the refiner’s fire once last year when other sisters taught her and she fell, but she’s determined to not let it happen again. THE LORD PREPARES HEARTS. The Church is true.
More updates on Bart: after a couple of interesting lessons to which we took our bishop and a Cuban man who just talks and talks and talks, we have learned that before Bart is taught the lessons he really just needs to establish a relationship with God, above all. He has a hard time believing that God loves him as much as He loves everybody else and really feels like he’s never had an answer to prayers. Ever. He adores the Book of Mormon, and really is just eating it up (especially the parts about the end of the world, his favorite topic), but he just feels like God has too many things to handle to pay attention to Bart. We are struggling, testifying, and sharing scriptures to help him recognize it, but until he lets himself feel it, progress will continue slowly. It’s been really good for me, however, to really get down to the nitty gritty of what we teach. Our ultimate purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by firstly forming a relationship with Him and with God. Everything we teach comes down to that, basically, and remembering that with Bart has helped me to more fully apply this principle. We also had to get it out of his head that he wouldn’t be naked when he got baptized (for some reason he was pretty stuck on that idea and didn’t like the sound of it). That was fun too.
We are still teaching Henry (8), and this week were able to teach his sister, Natalie (12), too! It has been pretty fun to bring everything back to basics and to teach the lessons through objects, stories, games, and anything to hold their attention and to get them to participate. We’ve also had Megan (9), a member, teach and play with us every time, which has helped them out a lot! She is such a good friend to them at church and at school, but sometimes her comments in the lessons just crack us up. For example, we started talking about Adam and Eve one day and her response was, “Ohh, didn’t they get in trouble for eating peaches, or something?”. Needless to say, those lessons are a hoot, but teaching children is the best! Henry came to church again this week AND brought a friend that we are excited to begin teaching too!
Speaking of our good ole’ forefathers, we met Ricardo, who, after talking with him for a bit, informed me that he and I are “medio hermanos”. I was super lost and thought I just misheard him (he’s Puerto Rican and doesn’t look a thing like me), but proceeded to tell us that when Adam ate the fruit, God grabbed him by the chin and shook him around to chastise him. This grab left the marks that we today call “dimples”, so, if you have them, you’re a direct descendant from Adam. Ricardo had dimples, but told me that we’re just half-brothers because I only have one. I love people.
While dining with the sassiest and biggest personalitied Rena, a recent convert of the last year, Sister Endemaño asks her, “So, Rena, when are you going to teach us how to dance?” Some eyeball scarring occurred that day. Rena’s a 56-year-old big African-American lady. She called out her 7-year-old granddaughter, Tay-Tay, and they then proceeded to twerk together. So that was something.
As we were knocking doors this week, we started chatting with a couple of Cubans who were fixing up their boat
After a week of all diligence, we had the most beautiful sight yet: 6 investigators at Sacrament and two less active families with whom we have been working. I’ve never seen the chapel so full – our attendance was up to 110 instead of the usual 80 or so! The bishop cried. I almost joined him.
I loved Alma 48:15-16 this week, which describes how the Nephites had faith that as long as they kept the commandments of God and lived righteously, that he would warn them of any danger and would bless them to prosper. It made me think of how fully our confidence should be, not only in God, but in the Holy Ghost as well. We must have confidence that as we live righteously, he will guide us every step of the way and will warn us of any danger, spiritual or physical. We can trust Him completely, as long as we are in the right way. What a cool promise.
Also, I was lovin’ on Alma 49:13-14, which talks all about Moroni fortifying the cities. He didn’t fortify just one, but fortified every single one, especially focusing on the weak ones and making them the strongest. I thought of Satan (a lovely thing, I know). How whenever he tempts us and finds that we are too strong to fall in that area, he doesn’t just give up and stop tempting. He instead moves on to our next weakest point and keeps battering away. Good reminder to strengthen all the cities of my spiritual nation-self.
I love you! Spread some sunshine.
Highlight of the week: seeing a very skinny old man literally strutting down the street in a belly-shirt. In shades. And a head covering. With a great big bushy beard poking out.
Bart quote of the week: “I don’t know about baptism, man. My hormones really aren’t what they used to be anymore.”