I swear, if missionaries just focused on baptizing little kids all the time, there would be baptisms every Saturday. Children love the missionaries here. But we need to focus on finding families, and not children without their parents. Speaking of children… we were supposed to have Gonzalo’s baptism on Saturday, but his Dad talked him out of it by making him feel like he needs to do a whole laundry list of things in addition to just attending church… like going to mutual, doing Home Teaching with his dad, and reading the Book of Mormon daily before he gets baptized. When I was 13, the only thing I was really dedicated to doing was going to church… which is the most important. We are hoping that after explaining to his dad this week that the reason why all those other items are not prerequisites to being baptized is because they are habits that one must start to form after they become more integrated in the Church, after being baptized. I think once we have that conversation, we will be able to keep the baptismal date this weekend. [Note from dad: It appears that the child he is speaking of here is 13 years old, and is the son of an active member of the Church, but for some reason isn’t baptized yet. We inquired further…hopefully we will learn more details next week].
I might have finally found my very own “Castillo family!” [Note: the Castillo family was one of dad’s golden converts back in the day]. The Espina family attended church with us yesterday, but they had a prior engagement at 12pm, which obligated them to leave after the second hour (at 11am)… However, they enjoyed the first 2 hours so much, that they decided to cancel their other plans so they could stay for the whole 3 hours! If you recall, the Espina family is the family we found after praying to God to help us find someone to teach at a time when we were very discouraged. Just in case I didn’t share that story with you, here it is again… After praying, we were guided by the Spirit to a neighborhood. Upon initially arriving at a particular street that we had been guided to by the Spirit, and not fully understanding why we were there at the time, we found a little kid the in the street whom we began to talk to. At first, the kid thought we were from the FBI or something, and after going along with it for a few minutes, we finally asked the kid where he lived, as we hoped to meet his parents. After convincing him that we were not going to take his parents to jail, he finally led us to his home where he introduced us to his parents. His parents had always favored the Catholic tradition, but nevertheless told us that they were interested in hearing what we had to say. Apparently they had once attended an evangelical church, but decided to stay with the Catholics, despite the fact that they were not in full agreement with many of the Catholic doctrines; but, in their minds, it was better than the doctrines of the evangelical church. Upon studying with us, they were so mesmerized by the story of the restoration, that they decided to attend church with us. They told us that before they made any “rash decisions,” they wanted to see how they felt at church, as that would be the determining factor in their decision to potentially leave the Catholic Church. For two weeks they tried to go to church with us, but were impeded from attending due to several obstacles that arose. In fact Estuardo told us that he began to question whether God even wanted them to investigate “the Mormon Church,” due to all the obstacles they faced… was God giving them a sign? After running into us several times over the next few days, and after asking God if it was something they should do, they ultimately decided to attend church with us the next Sunday, regardless of any obstacle that would arise. And they kept that promise. After the 3-hour block of meetings yesterday, they told us that they had a lot to talk to us about during our next appointment with them. So, let’s just pray that what they want to tell is that they are ready to take the next step in becoming Latter-day Saints!
We have another great family we are working with. They were so intrigued after hearing the message of the restoration, that they asked if we could come by the very next day to continue teaching them! Keep in mind that Elder Espina and I have a difficult time setting appointments with people, let alone preventing appointments from falling through! And here we have a family, who at the initial appointment told us that they could spare us 30 minutes, then turned around and became so enthralled in the first part of the restoration lesson, that they would not even let us leave until we finished teaching the whole thing! And get this!! We were knuckle heads because we had forgotten to bring a copy of the Book of Mormon to give them. So, the family decided to escort us back to our home at the end of the lesson just so they could obtain their copy, and start reading it!! How do you like them apples??
And that’s not all!! Through the Lord’s guidance, we were recently guided to Cesar, who has a brother who is LDS. Cesar had actually received an invitation from his brother to investigate how the Church might help turn his life around. Until we showed up at his door, he hadn’t given the invitation a second thought. After he began reading the Book of Mormon, he couldn’t even want to put it down! He told us that he felt a confirmation from God that he had to go to Church. Now he ended up not attending church yesterday because he had accidently over slept; but when we passed by to see him after church, he felt so bad (especially after having received a confirmation from the Holy Ghost), that he asked us to forgive him like 50 times; no exaggeration. He told us that this next Sunday he is going to set his alarm for earlier, so that he doesn’t miss out again.
I bet the mission work here this ward would hasten a lot more if our Ward Mission Leader was not such a stumbling block for us. On Sunday he made us change our entire plans, saying that he wanted to take us to the area where he lives, which is super far away. He felt there is a lot of potential there. Missionaries before us apparently stopped working that part of the area because they were not having success there. Knowing that the Mission Leader only wanted to help us out, we decided to change our plans, and walk all the way out there in the rain. Just before we arrived at his home, however, we received a message from him that he didn’t feel like going out in the rain, and suggested that we plan to get together another day, which is exactly what I expected to happen. And he had just confirmed with us that morning at church! Go figure!