Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yo se que vive mi Senor (I Know that My Redeemer Lives)

Hello to my dearest mother and father :)

Is it really preparation day already? This week flew by. I think it is because my feet are finally firmly planted and I know what the details of missionary work are like. Now things can only get better! But seriously, I feel so blessed to have this privilege to serve my Savior and other people. Truly there is a lowly place where we can all serve the Lord throughout this wide world. And this week was amazing. I look back at my planner and all the names that are there and I am only grateful that I have the opportunity to get to know so many incredible people. I pray that I might get much, much better as a missionary so that I can help people come unto Christ. Man, this is just the best!! So here is a brief synopsis of the highlights of this week. Actually this week is mostly about one man: Francisco.

Yesterday we had the baptism of Francisco. And wow, what an amazing man he is. He has got to be the most humble and kind man I have ever met. He was out of the country last week taking care of his family in El Salvador and he asked Elder Paiz and me to check up on his family while he was gone. That is amazing trust that I'm not sure we deserve. He also said to us over the phone once when we asked him "is there anything else we can to for you and your family?" and he said "No, only your presence in my home is enough Hermanos." That is incredible to me! How can a 20 year old and a 19 year old be treated like such, and yet I know it is the sacredness of the missionary office that makes him feel that way. We as missionaries do not have the right to destroy the trust that people like Francisco have in our office and in the church. As representatives of the Savior this is a duty.

Francisco's baptism was just beautiful. I really felt the Spirit strongly as Elder Paiz helped him down and up out of the water and he came up absolutely shining. Then during his confirmation the bishop who confirmed him said something amazing. He said that Francisco would have chances to serve in his branch and in his ward. This is something that I've felt pretty strongly too talking with the stake leadership in this area, that it won't be very long before Snow Canyon 12th Branch becomes a ward. Our little branch has so much potential to grow! Heavenly Father has prepared men like Francisco and others for this time and it really is just so exciting to see. The best part about this whole baptism though, is that Elder Paiz and I get to continue fellowshipping Francisco as he receives the new member lessons. Lessons with members are even better.

Saturday was also a really amazing day. The assistants to the president stopped by to join us for companionship study in the morning, and Elder Holtgrum (he is from Sweden) had an interview with me while Elder Brown (he is from the UK, isn't our mission the best?!) interviewed Elder Paiz. Really this interview was really encouraging to me. Even though trainee's are young in the mission and should definitely listen closely to the trainer's advice, they are every bit as much a missionary as the trainer.  We both have responsibility to contribute to lessons, planning, finding, and helping each other obey the rules. This was really encouraging to me, because I feel it is my responsibility to try my best RIGHT NOW to figure things out about being a missionary. I'm so grateful to have a trainer like Elder Paiz who has no problem throwing me into teaching situations and role plays.

Also on Saturday we took Francisco to the temple visitor's center with his family. Yeah and I pretty much cried watching the videos and talking with them about eternal families. In case you can't tell from the photos, Francisco and his family just have the purest love for each other. The Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way that families can be together forever, and I feel that strongly every time we drive past the temple here in St. George. Baptism by Jesus Christ's authority is the only way we can open the gates to the Celestial Kingdom: to some that sounds harsh and restrictive, but that is not the case. Heavenly Father is openly offering all of his children Eternal Life with Him and He has clearly showed us how to get there, all we must do is accept Him and His Son and do what They ask us.

So really, I think what has been most worthwhile this week is watching and reflecting on the growth of testimonies around me.  It has been so inspiring to see Francisco make and keep commitments to read the Book of Mormon, to pray, and to keep the commandments. We have watched him accept the gospel and grow to live and love it. So when he chose for the closing hymn for his baptism "Yo se que vive mi Señor" (I know that my Redeemer lives.) we knew it was true.

I know that Jesus Christ lives and loves us. Just as you two live and breathe, just as Elder Paiz and I live and breathe, I know He lives. He works in our lives constantly reaching out to us through others, the scriptures, and the Holy Spirit because He knows that coming unto Him will make us happiest. Missionaries who wear his name on their chests everyday live to serve Him. Our desires and wills we freely trade for His, so that He can make us instruments to help His people. It is so comforting to know that we are not out here for ourselves, because sometimes it is hard to see in what way getting up every day and trying to talk to everyone about religion would benefit us. But that attitude really misses the point. We have been called to serve Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, by declaring His word among this people. Elder Paiz and I feel a lot like Jacob from the Book of Mormon who said, "Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest" (Jacob 1:4).

When we do this and really lose ourselves for these people, THEN is when Christ can take and shape us. But the whole time we are focused outside of ourselves. What an amazing process sanctification is :)

Thank you so much for your prayers and support for me and Sister Stewart. I love you a lot and hope and pray that the Lord blesses you for your sacrifices for Him. I know he will. It is so amazing to come home after a long day to a letter from you or someone else. It just buoys me right up and makes me remember how much the Lord has blessed me through you. Some days are long, but always when I pray and remember my blessings and the opportunity in front of me, I feel the Lord come in and scrub my heart a little more and make me ready to go on to another day.

Take care of yourselves and remember to read and pray together! Also, send along pictures of baby Rhia when she comes. Apologize to people for my lack of correspondence with others, I am working on getting through my reply letters :)

Los amo con todo mi corazón. Vivan bien y recuerden el Señor en todo momento.
Vayan con Dios,
(I love you with all my heart. Live well and remember the Lord always. Go with God.)

Elder Stewart

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