Sunday, December 25, 2011
Everything is going great! Of course, Christmas was amazing! Talking to the family on Skype was a lot of fun (and surprisingly painless...I thought it would be a lot more trouble than it was). We had Arlín's baptism on Sunday night. It was definitely the best kind of "White Christmas." Her mom gave a sweet testimony about the power of prayer and about how the missionaries were able to find her family again because of a sincere prayer. They asked me to sing "O Holy Night" in Spanish, and then Nester (Arlín's older brother) was able to baptize her! It was such a powerful baptism, and they brought a lot of their non-member family!
This Friday will be the baptism of José's four sons, performed by none other than José Concepción! It is definitely going to be a great weekend. And Arlín will be getting confirmed this Sunday as well. Definitely an awesome way to start off 2012.
We had our yearly Christmas "Conference", which included an amazing dinner and a talent show, and a devotional by President Cook. He gave a really interesting presentation about the scientific/archaeological/linguistic evidences of the Book of Mormon (he said, "I don't want you to use any of this to bash, but I thought you might like to learn a little about this). He ended by inviting us to all read the Book of Mormon from start to finish before Easter. Definitely going to be a lot of fun.
Well, that is about all for now. Thanks for the Christmas cards and gifts! This was definitely my favorite Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we decided to stop by an older less-active family's house and found them alone. We read 3 Nefi 1 with them and they invited us to share their Christmas dinner. Before we left, they thanked us for making this Christmas their "best Christmas ever." It was such a humbling experience. We truly never know how much of an effect things that seem small to us will have on those around us. Being a missionary is the best.
Well, that is about all for now. Thanks for the cards and gifts again! Talk to you all in a week!
December 20, 2011
We tried our best to look Mexican (Mexicans never smile, ever. One of the elders in our district said that a couple days ago he got a Christmas card from a family he taught, and they were all dressed in Santa hats and festive clothing, but not a single one was smiling).
Feliz Navidad! Everything is going 100% amazing! So, to start off, José Concepción got baptized last Saturday! It was a great service (we combined the service with another set of elders in our ward, because their investigator had a baptismal date for the same day). It was such a spiritual service. A sister in our ward who was just sealed to her husband and kids gave a great talk about families, and then one of the other elders sang "I Know that my Redeemer lives". For the first time in my mission, I had a hard time getting José underwater. He is about an inch taller than me (usually Spanish speakers are a lot smaller), but that wouldn't have been a problem...except for the fact that during the service, the water was slowly draining and only reached a little past my knee. It was a struggle, but it only took one try.
The next day, he was confirmed and then sustained to receive the Aaronic Priesthood the same sacrament meeting, and then in priesthood he was given the Aaronic Priesthood. His four sons are all very excited to have their dad baptize them in two weeks, and we are finishing up their lessons. They are very smart and love Church. I can't wait for them to all go on missions. The oldest (21) wasn't planning on getting baptized with the rest of his brothers (he didn't seem too interested), but one day we felt impressed to go stop by their house when just he was there, and we sat down and read in the Book of Mormon with him. The Spirit was really strong! He said that he had been thinking a lot about getting baptized, and he is now getting baptized with his brothers!
As far as this week, we are all very excited for our annual mission-wide Christmas "conference" (one of the sisters who works in the office doesn't want any of us to call it a Christmas "party"). There is going to be a great dinner and a Christmas concert by various missionaries, and then the mission presidency will speak to us. Also, on Saturday Arlín passed her baptismal interview, so this weekend we are going to be having Arlín's baptism (the family from Oceanside), and (if everything goes right), her 16-year-old brother Nester should be able to baptize her. Just plain awesome. Arlín's dad accepted a baptismal date on Sunday night for the second week of January!
Everything is going great. The time is definitely passing me by. Three of my companions died (went home) today (Elders Carey, Kidd, and Thomas, who all went home early to be able to make it bake to BYU for winter semester). I remember a year ago, laying in my bunkbed in Oceanside, wondering how in the world 2010 had gone by so fast, and now I am faced with the awful realization that 2011 escaped me as well. The only thing to do is to make the best of it!
Well, that seems to be all for now. I will talk to you (hopefully see you) on Sunday!
Merry Christmas! Everything is going great here in Escondido. It's getting pretty cold here. Yesterday it was pouring rain. But we are having more fun than ever!
Joshua was baptized on Saturday! The Spirit was so strong--Joshua's dad, who said that he has only born his testimony once since his baptism four years ago, bore a powerful testimony after Joshua's baptism. He was in tears and he said that he really wanted Joshua to be a missionary when he is nineteen. Miracles are real.
José passed his baptismal interview on Sunday after Church, and he is very excited to be baptized this Saturday. We went to teach him and his sons last night, and they told us that they had talked to their mom and she had given them permission to get baptized! Originally they wanted to get baptized with their dad, but we explained to them that we had to teach them a little more, and we told them that if they got baptized in one or two weeks, their dad could baptize them. They loved that idea (especially José). So, we are going to work on getting them ready to get baptized as well. We are being very blessed right now.
As for Arlín (the 9-year-girl from the Oceanside less-active family), she is ready to get baptized, and we are now just waiting on her grandpa to visit from Mexico to arrange the service. Her dad is doing great as well. He came to Church in a tie on Sunday!
The Spanish missionary conference last Thursday was great. President Cook asked the San Clemente zone leaders and us to prepare to talk about the six most common Spanish errors for missionaries (as far as the language goes), and then President Cook gave us great training as well about extending baptismal commitments. All in all, it was a great meeting. Afterwards, we were sent on the mission-wide exchange--I ended up in Temecula with Elders Walker and Colby--which was great because I knew Elder Walker from before our missions, but we have never been able to serve around each other. We had a lot of fun and found a lot of great people. I thought I was going to be able to "rest from all my troubles and from all care, and sorrow" (Alma 40:12) as far as our area goes and be able to focus on just helping them in their area and helping them improve, but it turned out that I had to run our area over the phone while doing proselyting with them. It was pretty crazy, but a ton of fun (and I slept on the floor!). . . .
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
December 6, 2011
Buenos días from the surprisingly cold (even more so than last week) city of Escondido! This week at night it got down below 40. One morning we even found frozen water outside (I realize that Virginia has gotten way colder than here, and Provo for sure was much, much colder, but after being in California for x number of months, I have sort of turned into a Californian as far as 'cold-hardiness.') Good thing my apartment has a heater (a luxury in California--most apartments only have air conditioning).
Everything is going amazing. I wish I had enough time to write down how awesome being a missionary here is. My new companion is Elder Daniel Zarate, from New York. He was one of the Escondido English zone leaders last transfer, and his dad is from Peru. Oh, side note: he doesn't speak Spanish! He was called to be an English missionary and has been in English work his whole mission, and since his dad speaks English and Spanish, he never picked up a lot of Spanish (a little, though), so I get to teach my companion Spanish!