Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hola mis amados padres!

I really do love you so much. I feel the power of your prayers and the prayers of others in my daily life supporting me. Whenever I get a little discouraged, all I have to do is remember the love of My Savior and the love of my family for me. Really, really, this buoys me up so much every day. I love you :)

We have seen miracles almost every day this week. It is incredible to think that exact obedience and work allow Heavenly Father to work through you to help someone else. I just want to share two of the miraculous days that we had this week.

Wednesday started out extremely hard. One of the consequences of Spanish missionary work is that it can sometimes be hard to keep set appointments. The work schedules of many of the people we teach can be described as very transient at their best and often other commitments in their lives just cause them to forget about us. So on Wednesday we set out to work at noon as usual but one by one all of our appointments fell through. We called and knocked on virtually all of our investigator's houses but no one was home. Then we started just knocking neighborhoods to try and find someone to teach or contact, but no one was interested or didn't know any Spanish Speakers we could contact. This was also the occasion of one of my first "door slams" right in my face :) So in short, Elder Paiz and I went from noon to 4:30 without a single lesson. Sitting in our car at 4:30 and feeling pretty sorry for ourselves we decided to just pray and ask for God to put someone in our path to help. Then we got out of the car and tried to knock a few more doors before dinner. It was proceeding as usual but on the third door we meet a woman named Carmen. Carmen's husband had recently died and she was in a very depressed mood. She didn't want to listen to us either, but we just started testifying to her right on her doorstep about the Plan of Salvation and she listened. As we left that door contact, Elder Paiz and I both felt much buoyed up by the Spirit. It’s funny that what snapped us out of doldrums was not focusing on ourselves but trying to help other people. The only bad part of the encounter with Carmen was that we have to now turn her over to our English Teaching sisters to teach. But we know that Heavenly Father answers prayers and that he wants us to help his children :)

Wednesday night was also amazing. Elder Paiz was called away to do a last minute baptismal interview up north (because he is the District Leader) and so we had to do an emergency split to get to all of our appointments. As it happened, the Elder I ended up going with was not a Spanish speaker. So I was thrust into taking the lead in our appointments for that evening. Honestly, this was pretty terrifying, because Elder Paiz is such an amazing teacher and it is so easy to follow his lead, but the night built my confidence a lot. In one of our lessons that evening our investigator Francisco (who is getting baptized this Sunday!) asked for a blessing of comfort and safety as he traveled to visit his mom in El Salvador. So Elder Wood and I of course obliged, but this meant that I had to offer the blessing in Spanish. Interestingly, I have been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to act as voice in a Priesthood blessing. Even though I was ordained in July, I have only anointed, done temple ordinances, or stood in a circle. I have never actually given a blessing by the Spirit myself. So blessing Francisco was my first opportunity to do so and also to do so in Spanish. Thankfully the Spirit was there and his family appreciated our efforts. What I learned is that I can communicate with these people in a way that is comfortable for them, but I need so badly to lose this fear and get better. Especially because Elder Paiz and I have offered a blessing for almost every day I have been in the field. I have hope because Heavenly Father promises to fill our mouths if we are willing to open them. So really, Wednesday was a really incredible day for us.

But I think the highlight of this week came on Saturday for us. I am just getting the goose bumps thinking about it. On Saturday evening we were driving past a park and scoping out for Mexicans (which we do quite frequently, profiling to do the Lord's Work) and we spotted a Latina woman in the park with her daughter. Both Elder Paiz and I knew we had to stop and talk with her before getting to our next appointment. What follows is a miracle. This mom's name is Nely, and within a minute of talking to her we were testifying of how the Savior's power can help and support us in all of our difficulties and that the way to come unto Him is through Baptism. Nely committed to be baptized right there in the park. We just need to make sure we can keep meeting with her and keep her working towards this goal. It is truly amazing, the power of the Spirit. As we asked her "What do you want to do for YOU Nely, and your family" tears came down her face and she said "No one has ever asked me that before." This moment was really poignant to reflect on. I know the Savior's power can help lift and sustain all of the Children of God. He is the master healer, even for pains that human eyes cannot see. And that healing can come to people in any humble place and situation.

So the last story from Saturday is about a man named Hipolito. Elder Paiz and his last companion had tried to talk with him before about three months ago, but he had many problems in his life and wouldn't let them in. (heavy drug use, his wife was going to leave him, problems keeping work). In the intervening three months Hipolito thought seriously about his life, cleaned himself up, and is now an exemplary father for his little family. So when Elder Paiz and I met with him again on Saturday (after being with Nely) he was a changed and prepared person. Hipolito also accepted our baptismal invitation, and we have him on date for the 18th of March.

Seriously this work is incredible. It seems like every day it tries and tests the best of us, but the rewards come as we are able to talk with and help people come unto Christ. I know that this Church is true, that Christ lives, and that Joseph Smith was the prophet of the Restoration. Every time we share his story with ANYONE, the room is silent and the spirit is tan poderoso. I know Joseph saw God the Father and the Son in the grove, and ushered in the latter-day work. Just listen to his words. "… vi una columna de luz, más brillante que el sol, directamente arriba de mi cabeza; y esta luz gradualmente descendió hasta descansar sobre mí. … Al reposar sobre mí la luz, vi en el aire arriba de mí ados Personajes, cuyo fulgor y gloria no admiten descripción. Uno de ellos me habló, llamándome por mi nombre, y dijo, señalando al otro: Éste es mi Hijo Amado: ¡Escúchalo!” (Joseph Smith History extracts from v. 16-17)
 I know that this first vision was a reality. I know it, and I feel its truth stronger every time I share it and pray about it. This is just the best possible thing that I could share with anyone :)

So seriously, I love you so much Mom and Dad. Thank you for your example and support. Don't worry about me being taken care of; the members out here are amazing :) I love you, and I pray for you.

con todo mi corazon,
Elder Stewart

translation of extract “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. … When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. one of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other---This is My Beloved Son Hear Him!

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