Dearest Mother and Father!
First off the weather is PERFECT right now, 70 degrees on average and sunny with a breeze. Elder Paiz and I studied on the patio last Sunday so we could make good use of time enjoying this weather while it lasts. It’s perfect for proselyting. (P.S. mom, I already have to start wearing sunscreen...it will be great though!)
This week we taught a lot again. We effectively lost a couple of days of proselyting (I will explain more later) but we still managed to reach our goal of 21 lessons. I'm glad that I feel like I can participate in every way and add value to our daily activities; thanks to Elder Paiz's training and the Church's "12 Week" training program the work is going better in every way. The mission got transfer calls this Sunday from the assistants and so many brand new missionaries got leadership callings. Elder F. (who is from Mexico City) just completed the 12 week program with his trainer and is going to be a District Leader with another brand new missionary. Similarly, Elder R. has a really great story. He was called to be a district leader and a trainer after his first 12 weeks. And now he just finished another transfer, and he got called to be a zone leader at only four months out. The great elders all around me just make me think of what the Lord says in D&C 35: 13 where he calls "upon the weak things of the world, those who are unlearned and despised, to thrash the nations by the power of my Spirit." Because in the eyes of the world, all of these missionaries are just 19-24 year old young men, who haven't even completed much schooling. But because of the power of our calling and with the help of the Lord's Spirit, they can do and become amazing things very quickly. (Also as Dad would say, it is a good thing the Church is true, otherwise sending out boys to be missionaries we'd be proved false).
We had a Spanish Training meeting last week for all of the Elders and Sisters in our Zone with a Spanish calling. During the meeting we discussed and practiced dealing with concerns and problems common in Spanish work. The first one was something we encounter probably every day. Basically every Hispanic person will invite into their home and LISTEN to anyone who preaches the word of God, but when it comes to DOING anything about it, they are much slower. We practiced emphasizing the message of the Restoration in the first few minutes of a contact with a person, to highlight the uniqueness and importance of our message. The Spirit is always strong when we testify of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and we know these things will bring people closest to Christ. Elder Paiz and I have implemented talking about the Restoration right away when finding someone and it makes things very exciting.
The second common issue we discussed we also encounter quite frequently. Baptism is something that is culturally significant to the predominantly Catholic Hispanic culture. Often here upon inviting someone to be baptized they reply "Oh yes, my whole family and I were already baptized in the Catholic church." President guided us to again focus on the proper authority and the need for a restoration of the authority. These things sound really bold to say to real people, but as Elder Paiz and I have applied them, my testimony has really grown. I know that the authority God has given to man to teach the Gospel and to baptize is found only in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has once again in our day called a prophet and given us evidence (the Book of Mormon) that we can test for ourselves.
Wow, so sorry this email is so short! Thank you so much for your love and care. I especially appreciate the box of Easter goodies and the red Spanish book that recently arrived. I look forward to studying more Spanish while enjoying these sugary goodies (and Elder Paiz will be enjoying his fair share too).
Los amo much. Yo se que vive el Senor. Su Iglesia ahora esta en la tierra y se guia a travez de un profeta viviente. Tendremos la oportunidad la proxima semana a escuchar las palabras de este profeta durante conferencia. ¡Preparense para esta y recibiran inspracion!
(I love you very much. I know that the Lord lives. His church is on the earth today and we are guided by a living prophet. We will have the opportunity next week to hear the words of this prophet during conference. Prepare and receive revelation!)
Vaya con dios,
Elder Michael Stewart
Vaya con dios,
Elder Michael Stewart