From the Parent of a Missionary
I love that hymn. I absolutely love that hymn.
I am trying to use my remaining time here in Ipala as effectively as I possibly can, and boy did we get work done this week. It’s amazing when you’ve got the Spirit on your side!
Here’s a funny story. As part of my plan to leave Ipala as best as I can leave it, my companion and I started taking turns being senior companion. One day it’s his turn, and the next day it’s mine. And he is quickly realizing that it’s kind of hard to be senior companion and think of things to do. The first time we did it, on Tuesday, one of our appointments fell through and I made him think of a backup plan and follow through. For some reason he picked a really obscure contact we had done about a week ago, and I almost protested but decided to let him learn his own lesson and use his leadership. Of course, the contact wasn’t there, and we started walking away, and I said to myself, “Hah, told you so.” About three houses down, Elder Maldonado suddenly stopped and knocked the door of a less active member who had never let us in his house before named Efrain. To my complete surprise, he let us in and we ended up having a great talk about his good ole days when he was an active member, and we set an appointment to do a family home evening. When we went back later that we, we watched a movie with them and committed them to come to church. We went to pick him up Sunday morning and he came, for the first time in 13 years. Just like that! And all because the Spirit works in mysterious ways.
I also had my interviews with the mission president this week. President Stay never fails to humble me and help me to recognize the Lord’s hand in my life. He got my excited to work again and motivated me to really get Ipala moving. I told him I didn’t want to leave, but we’ll see what the Lord has to say next week!
The branch is really moving forward, thanks to a couple of ideas that’s we’ve put into play. We started going to all of the member’s home and doing in-house interviews with each one of them. A lot of the members are casual on the commandments, and we have been committing them to become more faithful members. The interviews are really helping us to see the needs of the members and how we can help them — I don’t know why we didn’t ever do it before. With the help of those interviews, we had an amazing Sunday this week. We got people to pay fast offerings, tithing, stay for Sunday School and priesthood, and do their home and visiting teaching. We also had a great branch council where we planned to start activities and prepare the branch for an upcoming visit from the mission president. We have a new less active member in church almost every week as well. We are steadily growing!
The investigators are moving forward as well. We continue forward with a baptismal date for Rolando Oritz, despite a lot of family problems. The devil is working as hard as he possibly can to break up that family, and I won’t let him. We are working hard to convince him to keep the commandments and he still has a lot of problems, but he is moving forward bit by bit. With patience, a bit of faith, and putting my trust completely in the Lord, I feel like he can get baptized this Saturday. Hopefully that will help his less active wife to come back to church as well, seeing as how she doesn’t even want to talk to us anymore.
Our other investigators are doing great. We have several who are reading the book of Mormon and who sincerely want to learn more. We should be having several more baptismal dates this week, including with Maria and Bartolo, Zoila and Wendy, Roberto, and Jorge and Alba. Too many to keep track!
Spiritual experience of the week: we had a great time with the Sparks, our fellow senior missionaries. We decided to go and visit several less active members with them, and we went to visit one, Cecilio, who hasn’t gone to church in years and recently lost one of his sons. As soon as we got there and started talking about the plan of salvation, the Spirit was there. We gave him the love that can only come from Christ. I was at the funeral of his son, and Cecilio didn’t shed a tear or even show sadness. He’s a tough guy. But in that lesson, after the closing prayer, he had tears in his eyes and promised, “This Sunday, I’m going to church!” Afterwards, his wife asked for a blessing, and Elder Maldonado, Elder Sparks, and I started to give it. But we cut it short and got Cecilio to join us, and he gave his first blessing in a veeery long time. I left with tears running down my face, and that was a moment I will never forget. NO ONE is beyond hope.
Well, I could go on all day about how awesome my week was. And I have no doubt that this one will be any better. The Church is true, and I know that Christ can bring true love and joy into our lives.
Love you all.