WHAT a week!
We decided a few weeks ago that we couldn't keep visiting Dominica. We've treated all of her doubts, individually, several times...we've prayed for her and with her and she's been Reading and praying personally. She's recognized many answers to her prayers, but for her they're simply not enough to make her SURE that it's necessary to join the church, that she needs more than her personal perception and relationship with God. I have taught her, studied for her, prayed for her, fasted for her, and developed a deep love for her in these 4 months. I've always felt this understanding with Dominica. I've often thought, crazy as it sounds, that if I hadn't been born into the church, my journey to find the truth would be similar to hers. We think alike. I always understand what she's trying to say. From the very beginning, I could understand her - even when I couldn't understand her words. As a small part of her conversión process, I've lived what might've been. As I've grown and learned with her, I lived my own conversión from the beginning and felt my testimony strengthen immensely. You could say that I needed her conversión for my own true conversión. Dominica ultimately thanked us for what we've done for her and her relationship with God, I appreciate it, but I don't really need this. So, we left her. With a Libro de Mormon, every lesson taught, every pamphlet, every different approach we could think of tried. And she was silent for about 3 weeks. After battling problem after problem with Enrique, we decided to leave him, too. As Miley says, "there's always gonna be another mountain, I'm always gonna wanna make it move..." With Enrique, mountain after mountain after mountain...he didn't want to accept ANY commandment without a huge fight. So we left him, too. He refused to come to church because of experiences he's had with certain members, and plenty of other reasons.
Early this week, our Ward misión leader called and said that Dominica was doing everything in her power to contact us, but because our cell phone doesn't let us call anyone beside our leaders, and we use pay phones, she couldn't get Ahold of us. She finally found Hermano Rodrigo in Facebook. She felt our absence in her life, and she wanted to talk. We met with her, and she finally told us that she was starting to feel that baptism was a possibility. To hear these words from Dominica was unreal. Our next lesson, her dad got angry and wouldn't let us meet in her house. We had a member with us, and we went to her house. Dominica now has a tentative baptismal date for the 17th at the same time as...
We still had an appointment with Enrique after he sent us that nasty text. We went, not expecting much. We encouraged him to pray, and ask to know if the church was true. The next time we visited, he told us that he prayed and asked for a SIGN telling him so. I didn't know how to feel about that - our answers come in many different forms, I wasn't sure if his way of seeking his was right. We dived into a lesson on the way the Spirit Works, and how he needs to study and pray and pay close attention to how he feels, and his ANSWER will come. Later that day, we saw him randomly in another part of Santa Cruz. He called out, "I still haven't seen the sign!" A few days later, in the morning before our pivotal appointment with Dominica, I got the random idea to go see him, told my companion that maybe we should check if he's good to go for church on Sunday. But honestly, I didn't know why I wanted to go see him...he doesn't like us to show up unannounced, and I felt confident in his slow-but-sure progress. Well, we showed up at his door, and there he was with a super surprised look on his face. He had been sitting there Reading his Gospel Principles book, which he got back in his Canada days, in the section about AGENCY. He said that, this morning, he had felt like he was at a crossroads. He couldn't sleep the whole night before. And we showed up, and now he KNEW that he needed to get baptized. He's willing to sacrifice. All of his problems with certain commandments, the people of the church, the fact that he won't marry his Catholic girlfriend, that he's afraid of what people will think when they find out he's Mormon...he's accepted it. He knows it's true. And he's getting baptized on the 17th of January, a day before I leave this área.
Lomas Verdes was good to me in my second-to-last week. Jose finally received the priesthood yesterday. That was one of the coolest moments of my life. Maria and Jose are extremely strong in the church, already. They are both ready for callings, and Jose will bless the sacrament in my last Sunday here (18th). I watched their conversión process from the beginning, the very beginning. And on Sunday, I watched Jose receive this special authority, because he's worthy and because he's READY TO SERVE.
What else, what else? I may or may not be allergic to octopus, so I've got that going for me. We ate at Hermano Hugo's house yesterday, for my companion's birthday. I ate everything they gave me, and left the house with my voice ten times lower because of my tightening throat and my skin hot and itchy and swelling up under my eyes and in my ears. I thought I was just being dumb, the only food I'm allergic to is hazelnuts and I asked them if the cake had hazelnuts. So we went to our next appointment, with Familia Cuevas (my favorite family in the entire world) who wanted to see us on Hermana Mercado's birthday. I wasn't better by the time we got there, I was a lot worse! My whole body was itchy and red, but I could breathe so it wasn't all that scary. Familia Cuevas was a Little freaked out, and rushed me back to Hermano Hugo's, because he's a doctor. He ran out and got me medicine, and they gave me a shot. I was back to normal in about fifteen minutes! Turns out I ate octopus at some point, and I think that was it. I was a Little nervous, but how lucky am I that Hermano Hugo was close and ready! Lomas Verdes has the best people in the world, I'm 100% convinced. I'm in the process of writing all of my family here Little notes, and it's taking quite some time! There really aren't words to describe my gratitude.
Oh, the power of prayer. The power of the scriptures. The power and wisdom of God. The power of the priesthood. The power that each one of us has. The power of our KNOWLEDGE. You guys, I love being a missionary. How lucky I am that I can continue to be one my whole life? I love you all, I know the church is true without a doubt. It's confirmed each and every day, in just about a billion different ways. I love it, I love you ALL.
Beeeeg Keeees, Leeeetle Keeeees