My sweet family,
I truly don't even know where to start. This has been one of the all-around CRAZIEST weeks of my whole mission, maybe my life! Haha. But really. I have seen millions of little miracles this week, but also some of the hardest times I've had here out on my mission, the most frustrating moments. I guess I'll start in the beginning...
I don't know how much I've talked about Maria Guadelupe. She's a lady who we've been teaching these whole six weeks. She has two daughters, Esmeralda and Rubi. She likes to come to church, literally nothing more. We've invited her to baptism millions of times. Nothing ever changes. But this week, at the beginning, my companion and I had strong impressions that she was going to get baptized THIS WEEK. It was weird, because after five weeks of teaching and inviting, nothing was changing. But we had this hope, especially because her daughter wanted to get baptized. We had a lesson planned for Thursday, and we fasted and prayed. The lesson started like normal, shooting down everything we say, joking and such. We testified and testified and finally we told her a little bit about our special impressions, that this is what she needs in her life THIS WEEK. She started asking us if we had been praying for her this week. We told her, well YES. She said "I thought so." She had had a dream of us, telling her to come into the light. Our ward mission leader was there, too. Well, we continued in the lesson for quite some time, and ultimately, she agreed to be baptized. It was a super special moment, and my companion and I were just having one of those moments where we KNEW God exists and answers our prayers. Well, the Elders interviewed them and we filled out their papers. We were on Cloud 9. The next day, we went to see them. Suddenly, they told us they weren't going to get baptized. At least, not Esmeralda. Their dad doesn't agree, started putting lots of doubts in their heads. He told his eleven-year-old that she wasn't allowed to be baptized. It was pretty obvious that Maria Guadelupe wasn't feeling too secure about it, either. So, we left their house with another lesson planned WITH the husband for the next day, and with them telling us that they would not be baptized this Sunday. We went to all the members and had them pray for them, for the dad, that he would soften his heart and understand. We went the next day and had a long talk with him and his wife. He's a super good guy, and honestly felt that this decision would divide their family. We let them know that this is only something that will STRENGTHEN them as a family, we explained what baptism means, etc. We left on a super spiritual note, the little Esmeralda, when asked by her dad WHY she wanted to be baptized, and after about 5 minutes of silence, gave a powerful statement and testimony about how Jesus gave us the example of what we need to do in our lives. We left happy, and so super excited for the next day - the dad was going to come to their baptism. Well, we woke up the next morning and went to go pick them up for 9 o'clock church. They didn't come out for quite some time, which was abnormal. Finally, Maria Guadelupe rolled out of bed and came outside to tell us that they are most definitely never getting baptized. She said she felt uncomfortable and had doubts and sorry, but "no." We prayed so hard in this moment, Hermana Bravo and I, as we invited them to at least come to church with us. After a major struggled, they agreed and ran to get ready. We were already late to pick up our other investigators, Antonio and Ernesto (Ernesto is our 18-year-old who didn't believe in God when we started teaching him. He also had a baptismal date for yesterday, which was also a major miracle of the week. I'll have to explain more later.). So, we ran and got a taxi and squished all of us in and made it to church with a minute to spare. After testimony meeting, Maria Guadelupe still felt "nothing" and her daughter had a renewed desire to get baptized. The Assistants were at church with us, and wanted to talk to her. We had a 2-hour lesson in one of the rooms in the church, with her and the assistants. It was powerful, and so so sad. She was SO close to getting baptized, SO close. But she had more fear than faith, and with the Spirit testifying to her heart she continued with her millions of excuses. We left sad and frustrated, but the Elders told the daughter that she could be baptized that night, even if her mom wasn't. Honestly we were nervous about that, it's SO important that the family joins together, to support and motivate each other. We talked to the bishop, and he told us we could decide if she should be baptized. We decided that it was better to wait, and teach the family more. Still, the Elders went to talk to them a few hours AFTER church, and she was getting everything ready to be baptized, Maria Guadelupe was ready to come and watch. We went to pick them up, had to convince them again at least to come and feel the special spirit in the baptismal service, and then we went to pick up Ernesto. Well, guess what. HE had suddenly decided, in the hour that we hadn't been with him, that he didn't want to get baptized either. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but a few minutes later without explanation he got his things and came with us, apparently ready again to be baptized. We were walking with Maria Guadelupe and Esmeralda and Ernesto, looking for a taxi, and there wasn't any taxi to be found. We were all SO super stressed. Suddenly, the dad of one of our investigators, who has this sweet, HUGE restored car from the 1950s that I've always wanted to ride in rolled past with his wife. They asked where we were going, and Elder Bastian asked if we could have a ride to the church. Well, they said OF COURSE and we piled in their car, made it to the baptism just in time. I was playing the prelude when Hermana Bravo started talking to Maria Guadelupe, and suddenly Maria Guadelupe freaked out a little and said that she doesn't want Esmeralda to get baptized unless they do it together, and she doesn't want to do it. SO. She told Esmeralda that she would not be getting baptized. Esmeralda started to cry, and Maria said "We should just leave now." Someone convinced her to stay, though, and we started the baptism of Ernesto. The Spirit was strong. Our mission leader shared the same exact scripture I had read to her about three times in this week, the part BEFORE Joseph Smith's vision, when he wrestles with darkness and confusion and, in short, tons of opposition MOMENTS before he saw our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I had had the impression that I needed to share this with her during our lesson on Thursday, AND during our two-hour lesson earlier that day. Well, our mission leader shared it, too, with the same message that when we're about to do something GOOD, Satan will always swoop in to try to ruin it all at the last second. We just have to persevere a LITTLE more, and we will see the LIGHT. The light, the light Maria Guadelupe heard about in her dream. Well. Ernesto got baptized, all was well, he was visibly more happy and at peace right after he left the water. It was in THIS MOMENT that Maria Guadelupe and her daughter decided to get baptized. In THIS MOMENT. They told us, we told the mission leader, and he told everyone to stay in place because we're having two more baptisms. And so, Maria Guadelupe and Esmeralda were baptized. And right after, they saw the LIGHT. They felt it. They knew it was right, and it showed in their smiles. There are lots more little details, but it was a week of miracle after miracle after miracle. I can't even adequately explain what I felt, what I feel now as I think about it. I know that everything that happened this week happened for a reason, and that mental image I had of Maria Guadelupe in the baptismal font at the beginning of the week was placed there by our Heavenly Father to push us to the finish line. I love Him, I love how I've come to know Him so much better. I'm so sorry I don't have much more time, but I love you all so much as well. I'm staying in Palmas, my new companion is Hermana Nuñez from Mexico, Elder Demars from BYU is in my new district and Hermana Toone and Tameilau are in my zone. Wow, am I lucky! Have such a good week, all of ya!
Beeeeg Keeeees, Leeeeetle Keeeees,
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