Week 56 - Clinton, Oklahoma - July 30, 2013

Mi querida familia, Armando got baptized! This is the biggest news of this week. We had a great service, tons of members came and supported. Armando's whole family and a few friends came. Funny story. One of his little sisters didn't quite grasp the whole reverent aspect of the service and apparently thought the baptismal font was a swimming pool. And she took my companion's suit coat swimming with her...hm. But the service was wonderful. I had the privilege of performing the ordinance and it was such a wonderful feeling to utter the baptismal prayer and exercise priesthood authority. Armando bore his testimony at the end. It took him a lot of courage to get up there and say "I think these things are true,, I think what this church teaches is true." It was simple but very sincere, and the spirit was very strong. His mom Cindy was very appreciative as well. She provided dinner for everyone afterwards and it was neat to see the ward really fellowship her and Armando. Now we pray that he will be able to endure to the end. The friends he has in Clinton aren't the best influence, but I trust things will work out. Also, Armando's father came to the baptism as well! We didn't get a chance to talk with him, but it was cool to see him there even though he'd been avoiding us during our past lessons. Hopefully we can start seeing some progress here. We met a really solid young couple this week: Caroline and Rudy. They are super nice and are very open to the gospel. Caroline felt the spirit super strongly when we told about Joseph Smith's experience in the Sacred Grove. She accepted the baptismal invitation when she receives an answer for herself. Rudy was a little more reluctant, but he agreed to read the Book of Mormon. I'm really excited for this family, they are in a great position to receive the Gospel. But they need member fellowshippers or they will start to lose interest really fast. Not that I lack faith, but it's just simply what happens. While on exchanges, I also had the chance to teach a full-out atheist lady. She was open to our message, but it was interesting to have to adapt our teaching style to teaching someone who doesn't quite believe in God. Her biggest argument was "Why would God allow evil people to live and inflict pain on righteous people?" This is where we pulled out the Book of Mormon and testified about agency and how God can't force us to make right decisions. This has really stuck with me. Because as much as agency applies to decisions between good and evil, it applies just as much to choices between Good Better and Best. We can make a lot of good decisions, but miss out on the blessings of making better decisions which maybe require a little more faith. The lesson was very interesting, the most powerful moments were where we taught about the Atonement and Jesus Christ and bore testimony about how God has answered our prayers. I am so grateful for my testimony that God exists and that Christ performed the Atonement. A testimony is a precious gift. You can lose it through careless time wasting, or you can perfect through making small diligent acts of faith every day. The Gospel is true! I love it so much. I'm finding myself in a routine sort of mode right now. There's a whole other level of missionary work that I want to attain right now, but I'm lacking in so many areas. This week we have a temple conference and I plan to ask Heavenly Father for revelation on small things I can do to improve. Have a great week! Con Amor, Elder Powley

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