|Sunset/Sunrise over Ana Nuevos|
Dear Family, January 20, 2014
This week I wasn´t changed. As well as in my first area, I will be staying in this area 4 changes, the equivalent of almost 6 months. I´ve been able to meditate a lot on what that means, me being somewhat of a long term missionary while others are changed every transfer or every other transfer, and I still haven’t arrived at what it means but I know that it´s not President who makes the changes, it´s Jesus Christ, so there’s obviously something more that is waiting for me this change. (He wrote that none of the 4 Elders in the ward were changed...they have all been there 6 months.)
As for the climate, well, we are in full summer right now, and that means that it’s humid, and hot and really not conducive to the missionary uniform, but "All things I can do in Christ Jesus" right? The first missionaries of the church had to go through a lot more than just heat in order to serve Him, and so it isn´t such a difficulty to serve him as I do here in Perú. This week we had Kevin, a 9 year old we are teaching that has a phobia of water didn’t go through with the baptism. His mom forgot the baptismal date and time because she was finishing the equivalent of elementary school and planning a trip to the beach to celebrate. She was baptized a month or so ago and now we are teaching her kids. The family hasn’t come to church for two weeks due to trips to the beach :/ but her older daughter, Jaclyn (11 anos) chose to have her baptism with her brother this Saturday, the day we had reset his baptism. That’s huge and happened in kind of a funny way. She came in at the end of a lesson about the law of chastity (adapted to a 9 year old) from the neighbor’s house, and her dad is kind of a jokester. He said Jaclyn, your baptism is this Saturday, are you ready? Well this time she didn’t just run out of the room at the thought, so we ran with it, and I said Ya, are you going to be baptized this Saturday, we are going to fill the font halfway for your brother. She gave me a half worried look, so we did a baptismal demonstration with her brother and kept telling her how simple it is, we even have permission from the mission to have her parents stand in the water at the edge of the font, within view the whole time. At the end of it all she said yes! She will have her interview the same day as her brother and we will complete the family this Saturday along with another part family we are finishing.
|Ana Nuevos Foursome|
Maybe my letters end up being a little shorter than other missionaries because we are given exactly an hour and fifteen minutes to write in this mission, and I strive to give exactly that amount of time, but when the letter to president (15 minutes) takes priority and grows beyond that time because its necessary as part of my duties, I can´t help but shorten this letter to you all, just know that I love you, that these two years are a witness of my dedication to the Lord and through Him to having an eternal family due to His atonement. I love Him, and I love serving Him. His atonement makes it possible to start again every single week, and when we value that gift as we should, we find joy in this life, we find a purpose to get up every morning, we find motivation to sacrifice ourselves as we have promised to do since before this world and look to do His will.
We are planning an activity in the zone that is starting to focus our efforts in each ward. It’s a White Afternoon, an afternoon at the end of February when we will baptize 45 people as a zone/stake. It will require a great effort seeing as the area in which I am is pretty dry. We are asking a great effort from the members to bring their family members to light and help us to find every person within the ward boundaries that has even the slightest desire to know the love of God better. It may seem a little strange at first, this kind of massive baptism, but when we think about it in terms of a desire to feel the spirit in greater power than we feel in a regular baptism, I feel good about it. It´s not about the number, it’s about creating a modern day waters of Mormon, or giving a modern day invitation to baptism as Pedro (Peter) did in Acts. We want this great quantity of people to be baptized in a quality manner (there’s a great quote from Elder Holland about missionary work and quantity/quality).
I think this is the quote from PMG that he is referring to:
““A convert’s new life is to be built upon faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice—a conviction that He really is the Son of God, that He lives this very moment, that He really is the door of the sheepfold, that He alone holds the key to our salvation and exaltation. That belief is to be followed by true repentance, repentance which shows our desire to be clean and renewed and whole, repentance that allows us to lay claim to the full blessings of the Atonement.
“Then comes baptism for the remission of sins. Yes, baptism is also for membership in the Church, but that isn’t what the Prophet Joseph Smith chose to stress in that article of faith. He stressed that it was baptism for the remission of sins—focusing you and me, the missionary and the investigator again on the Atonement, on salvation, on the gift Christ gives us. This points that new convert toward the blessings of the ‘good news.’” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 10–11).”
For that reason we are looking for this great quantity of people in the first two weeks of the transfer, then during the remaining 4 weeks we are creating a quality conversion by focusing all of our available time teaching them and preparing them for baptism. On the 22nd of February, three days before transfers, we will have a closed circuit camera beaming the baptismal font to the sacrament meeting screen and projector, where the entire stake will be able to watch and feel the power as the Nefites of old felt. We are excited to say the least.
I love you all, I am trying up the quality of the letters at the same time as the quantity of words in each letter. Know that I love you, know that I love this gospel and the atonement, know that Christ lives, and He loves us in a way that we will never fully understand, and for love of His family, He sacrificed His perfect life to save us.