Mi Querida Familia,
Bueno, this is has been a crazy week. A few things have happened that have stuck out to me.
One of our progressing investigator families unfortunately told us we were welcome to come back but that they weren't interested in our church. We asked the father if he had read the Book of Mormon. He said yes and that it was interesting. We asked him if he'd prayed about the Book of Mormon. And he said no. This is a common denominator. Every investigator that drops the missionaries is not reading or praying about the Book of Mormon or is not coming to church. When investigators fail to keep their commitments, their testimony wavers and they reason that they don't need the missionaries and that they are content in their own way of life.
In a way it's the same with members of the church. If we don't keep our commiments that we made at baptism or continually nourish ourselves with the word of God through the scriptures, church, and prayer we lose that spiritual strength and the spirit ceases to be with us.
Anyways, getting dropped by an investigator isn't the worse thing in the world. Honestly, we have our testimonies and nothing can waver them. And right after this family dropped us, we felt impressed to go try another family that we ran into earlier that week. We talked to the father, his name is Saul, and he was very gracious and wanted us to come back.
Let me back up for a second. a few days earlier, my companions and I were leaving our apartment complex. While I was locking our apartment door, Elder Vance saw a man sitting outside by his apartment complex looking kind of depressed. He promptly walked over and started a conversation. The man was definately high, or drunk or mentally ill, but he opened up to us about his life and the struggles he was going through. So the three of us missionaries sat down next to him and just listened. We didn't preach too much or offer the discussions (he honestly wasn't open to changing anything) but we testified of Christ's love for us. And after a while the man's grandmother came and picked him up, she thanked us for our kindness and then that was the end of it. We didn't think much of the experience for a while.
Back to this man Saul that we were talking to. Turns out, he actually drove by in his car at the exact moment he saw us ministering to this drunkard in our apartment complex and recognized us as the missionaires that came to his house a few days earlier.. Saul mentioned that this touched him and really wanted us to come back.
Elder Vance was definately prompted to talk to this man in our apartment complex. Even though nothing came of it initially, our companionship witnessed that the Lord works in infinate ways to soften the hearts of men and prepare them to hear the Gospel.
Then, after we finished talking with Saul, I felt prompted to visit this one house that we'd passed many times. It was poor house, but i knew that a hispanic family lived there. So we went and knocked on the door and met 4 adorable little hispanic children who could only speak Spanish. WE later met the single mother that was taking care of them. We shared a prayer with them, and we prayed for each child by name (they loved it:) I can't expalin everything that happened, but I felt really good about this family.
We then followed up with this family (the mother's name was Juana and the children were Helen, Juanito, Karla, Jose) yesterday and shared the Restoration with the mother. The kids were playing around a lot. I tried to entertain them with some of the pamphlets that had pictures of Christ , that only got them more excited and hyper. It was so adorable! At first the lesson didn't seem to spiritual, but we invited the mother to pray. At first she seemed a little aprehensive, but then elder Chapman lovingly assured her that a prayer was nothing more than expressing our heart to God and that we close in the name of Jesus Christ. She accepted to pray. After she finished her simple, yet heartfelt prayer, she started to cry. She mentioned that this was the first time she'd prayed before. It was touching and we are very excited to see this family progress. It'll be hard getting them to church, but I think the Spirit will work with this mother as she prays and reads the Book of Mormon.
Now.... I must tell you of the recent development in the story of our golden investigator Carlos: the guy I've been talking about for the past few weeks. Elder Vance and I went on splits with Hermano Fabela to go visit Carlos in a park. He specifically told us that he wanted to meet at this park so that he could be in a little more secluded place in order to say a prayer for his repentance. So we met him at the park... he brought us water bottles.
It was such a bizarre teaching experience but in a good way. He cried because of the guilt and shame he felt from accidentally hitting a teenager with his car and that he thirsted for God's forgiveness. He must have said a least prayers that evening. Hispanics often break down in the middle of lessons and offer prayers at random. It's a little wierd coming from a Mormon culture, but honestly it's what Carlos needed.
And then the sad part. Carlos told us that he couldn't be baptized in two weeks because he would be moving to Kansas the next morning. I was initially sad, but Carlos explained that it was because he needed the work in order to earn money to send to his family for his son's funeral. Honestly,we can accept that. He promised to return in 2 months and get baptized.
You'd think we'd be frustrated. and honestly, we were a little because we wanted to have baptism this transfer. But, we must take into account Carlos' situation with his poverty and family. And to be honest, I'm completely ok with Carlos leaving. This is the Lord's work not ours.
It's been a good week to finish off the south. I had the privilage of giving a recent convert of the other elders in our district the Gift of the Holy Ghost. This was the first time that I've ever given the Holy Ghost to someone, and I did it in Spanish!!! I felt the spirit so strong during that blessing. This kid is going to be a strong member of the Church. I was so thankful for the opprotunity to meet him and help asisit his growth.
And now I have to say good-by to this wonderful Spanish Branch here in the South. I truly have grown to love these people and I've met some very good friends. I remember at the beginning of my mission I could not connect to the members because of my Spanish. And now I have witnessed the power of the Atonement help me obtain the ability and the confidence and the love to be able to connect with the Hispanic culture. It's been such an incredible experience to spend my first 2 and a half transfers in such a wonderful Branch. I'm sending a few pictures of the people i've met.
I'm going to miss this place. Mostof all I'm going to miss my companions Elder Chapman and Elder Vance. We've had our tense moments talking to eachother about our problems, but ultimately I've come to love these guys. I think I'll look back on this companionship at the end of my mission and regard them as some of the best companions i've ever had.
Well I'm out of time for today. I'll be sending more pictures next week because today the three of us are going to take pictures at some of our memorable places. And thencome Wednesday morning, I'll be moving to the North OKC Spanish Branch and be serving with Eldeer Morrell, my old MTC companion. I'm both excited and nervous to be moving to a new area. It'll be my first time switching areas and I hope I can gain friends in this branch as well.
Have a great week and I love you all!