Monday, April 9, 2012

Thirsty for a baptism!

Bueno! (This is how every Mexican ever will answer you on the phone...just a little side note)
This week has been full of sun, good lessons taught, and lessons learned. We have so many people to teach! Talking with ten new people a day really works to expand your teaching pool. The hard part comes in finding them at home again and helping them commit to living the gospel. If there is one characteristic that the Lord has been teaching me overtime this week (and since I entered the MTC in January) it is PATIENCE. Patience with people who don't have very much education, patience with companions, patience with the timing of the Lord, and patience with myself. Dad, how did you ever learn to be so patient without going on a mission?

Just a little vignette to illustrate this point, we pray a lot for our investigators by name and we try really hard to have the faith that they will accept the Savior in their lives and commit to be baptized. But you just have to be patient sometimes, because we are asking people to change their lives! So we have been teaching a Mexican grandma named A S since basically my first day in the field. She pretty much fits the stereotype of a Hispanic grandma when you see her interact with her grandkids (she takes care of them during the day) "¡C, vente paracca!" "¡G, sientate bien!" (Sit up straight)  "¡tienes que obedecerme!" (You must obey)   I have learned a lot about familiar imperative conjugations from her. But seriously she loves the gospel. She comes to church every week without fail, she reads out of the Book of Mormon stories book and prays with her grandkids every night. She is just so good! She has worked hard to change around her family situation and knows she will follow the example of Jesus Christ one day by being baptized. She just says "I am not yet ready. I want to be sure that I can keep my covenant after I have made it." And you know what....I kind of think she is right. It is so much better to be sure you are ready to live up to what the Lord expects of you that to play around with those things. All that leaves for us is to ever so patiently work with her, build her knowledge bit by bit, and prepare her to keep these covenants. (It is like teaching kids sometimes...but that’s okay!)

One of our other new investigators is really progressing nicely now. Her name is A (just like one of our "investigators" from the MTC) and she is so solid. After we taught her the plan of salvation she repeated the entire lesson to us almost perfectly! It is obvious to us that when she prays (Like most of the humble prayers of these Hispanics) she just wants to improve her family, grow closer to Heavenly Father, and follow Christ’s example. I had that feeling again that she was prepared to hear the gospel through Elder Paiz and myself. We just hope and pray we can help her get baptized! We are so thirsty for those waters of baptism again...but one other lesson that has been just drilled into me is that I need to seek the Lord and his will before any of my desires in this work. The faith to submit is sometimes greater than the faith to move a mountain, but really I can see everyday how the lord is molding and shaping me. It is the best :)

We have also been able to listen to conference in Spanish in the mornings during exercise and in the car (thanks to Aimee for the discs) and we heard an interesting story about the apostles and prophets that will put a lot of our beliefs into perspective for you. Elder Gomez in our district is from Riverton, UT. He had a stake fireside once with Elder Ballard present and at the end it turned into a Q&A meeting. One of the seminary teachers asked "We always tell our kids that apostles are special living witnesses of Jesus Christ and then they ask us if the apostles have seen Jesus Christ with their own eyes. And we don't know what to tell them. Can you answer this question for us?" Elder Ballard paused and said "I can. As an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is no longer room for faith in Him, only sure knowledge." This reminded me of when Elder Oaks told the Rolling Valley Ward "to some it is given to know...and I am one who knows" And my testimony like theirs is that He does live! I haven't seen him, but I know He lives and guides his church today through inspired apostles and prophets. And we get to listen to them and review their words from conference! What a blessing.

I have to tell you another funny story about the gift of tongues. Elder Paiz and I went to a Chinese buffet in St. George for lunch one day. The hostess looked at me for a while then started talking to me in Mandarin!  I was totally shocked, and could only respond with what little things I remember from Mandarin "I speak a little Chinese" "I am an American person" and "thank you". But it was crazy. She told me that she thought I knew Chinese/was Chinese when she saw me, and that what little Mandarin I know was extremely good. That is ridiculous! But I guess it is a good testimony for the Mandarin cd's that i gave Charles to use. I hope he is listening to them, because I could have been using that knowledge to preach the gospel in a Chinese restaurant! We are definitely going back so that those kind Chinese people can teach us more Mandarin. And the food isn't bad either :)

One of the Elders in our district had his second surgery of his mission last Friday. He is lucky that they aren't sending him home, but it is such a bummer that he has to take time recuperating and not proselyting. The older missionaries are such a blessing to have. They have learned the hard lessons of the mission well and are just so willing to help younger missionaries along. Elder W (the elder in surgery) has had some crazy trials on his mission. He always shows by example, what is most important is how we show our love to the Lord and to his people. Then we can handle trials come what may. It is funny, sometimes I have aha moments where I write down a little thing I need to try in our companionship or in teaching or a little area I can improve our obedience, and I get the feeling that some of the things we go through and change now we will only appreciate after the passage of time. It does make it so hard sometimes to face our daily weaknesses. Every day I cope with the fact that I can't teach with perfect understandability, I certainly can't say everything in Spanish I want to (but this is getting better daily), and I can't just make others do what I believe is true and right. But God asks us to have faith, focus on the good we CAN do and leave the rest to Him. Let me tell you, this has been a hard lesson for me to learn :)

Yo se que viven nuestro Padre Celestial y su hijo Jesu Cristo. Nos aman muchisimo y la unica via que tenemos para volver a su presencia es el evangelio de Jesus Cristo. Es menester que tengamos fe en Cristo; fe que el cumplira sus promesas, fe que el nos ayudara, y que nos guiara todos los dias. Los amo a ustedes bastante. Gracias por su apoyo y oraciones para mi. Les prometo que sere el siervo que ustedes y Dios quieren que yo sea, no hay nada de mas valor para mi ahora :)
(I know that our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ live. We love them very much and the only path back to their presence is via the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is necessary for us to have faith in Christ; faith that fulfills their promises, a faith that will help and guide us daily. I thank you for your support and prayers. I promise that I will be the servant that you and God want me to be, nothing is more important to me now.)

¡Los amo! Siempre vayan con Dios,

Elder Michael Stewart

One more note. The people here are amazing. Elder Paiz and I get free lunch, dinner, groceries, and other things frequently. A man gave me new cleats (for our exercise purposes) for ten dollars. And they were in my size! Please try to encourage people back home to take care of the missionaries. We are "bien cuidaditos" (well cared for) as the Mexicans would say out here. 

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