Hello mother and father! First of all...as we all know, yesterday was Memorial Day and so everything was closed. Thus, the missionaries are doing emails home today :) So fear not, the sun and spicy food hasn't killed me yet, and as we descend into more and more heat I'm sure I will be fine.
We are soooooo busy! I need to seriously repent and write in my journal again :) But we do spend basically every waking hour just lifting the district and working for our investigators. Really it is a blessing to be able to work in this area where there are so many people to meet and to teach. This week I learned a whole lot and had a lot of my prayers answered. I know Heavenly Father loves all of His children and I am increasingly aware of just how constantly He reaches out to bless all of His children.
We have been working with a lot of less active families lately with unbaptized children and/or spouses. It has made me so grateful for the blessing of having both of you as strong, active, calling holding members of the church. Seriously, thank you so much for putting your testimonies first and striving to do what Heavenly Father wants; I know our family has been blessed because of that. We are working with a family where everyone got baptized a year and a half ago except for the dad and the nine year old son. The mother just has a heart of gold. It is so hard for them (with work, with things to do around the house) to prioritize time for family study of the scriptures and family prayer and going to church...but I just know that it is those things that will strengthen and bless the L family. The adversary is real, but the power of God is also real. And He will bless and protect us from temptation as we dedicate time to Him.
One of the things I LOVED about this week was teaching so many people to pray...and being with them to pray for the first time :) We taught a 9 year old boy, a 14 year old boy, and a 50 year old woman how to pray this week. And the spirit was so strong! The 9 year old is J L (son of one of the less active families) and he offered a really simple prayer thanking Heavenly Father for his family and for all of the good things he has. I loved being there for that :) Thank you, mom and dad for taking the time to teach me how to pray. So that now I can turn and bless other kids and families with that important skill.
The 14 year old boy’s prayer was extremely special. His name is B, and again, he is the son of less active parents (for years). On our first meeting with his family this week, he decided he wanted to be baptized, and that he needed more of God's help in his life. He also told us that he wasn't totally sure if God was really there. Well, we followed Ammon’s and Aaron's examples from the Book of Mormon and invited him to pray asking God right there to "make himself known" unto B. That prayer was so powerful! In B’s first prayer he asked God to "show him a path to go down" and really simply thanked Him for the lesson that we had. After his prayer we all just stayed kneeling and feeling the spirit. B spoke first and said. "Wow. That felt great...like a backpack of rocks just got taken off of my back." Yes, God lives and loves His children. And the MOMENT that they want to get close to Him, He will come running to greet them. We love B :)
It was a very interesting experience teaching the older sister how to pray. She told us "I don't know how". "I can't do it like my daughter and granddaughter". But we don't let that stand in her way :) Basically what you do in that situation you ask them what things they are grateful for and what help they would like to receive from God. Then we do a fill in the blank prayer so she is comfortable :) And C did pray for us to end her lesson! Simple prayers are the best.
This week we also went on exchanges with our Zone Leaders (we have a new zone leader from Argentina...Elder Leguizamon. He is excellent). It was interesting being in my own area for a leadership exchange, but I really learned so much from Elder Leguzamon. In our closing interview he gave me a really good suggestion. "Be bold with everyone. Bold with you investigators, with your companion, you district, and be bold with the Lord." I've thought a lot of what that means. Alma counseled his son to "Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love; see that ye refrain from idleness." (Alma 38:12) And I think there are a lot of keys in there for missionaries. We are bold in following the Spirit to know what to say BUT we must be motivated by pure love to make sure we are not pushing people unnecessarily. Also, we must "bridle our passions" by staying obedient to have the spirit as strongly as we can. I have definitely made a goal of working on this. It is so funny though. Whenever I am being bold with someone, my voice just gets softer and I really focus in on their eyes. And it’s amazing the power the Spirit can have through us!
Our new families that we're working with are also doing really well! I totally agree with you and Uncle Larry (Elder Wilson) and mother about the power the Book of Mormon has in conversion. It’s the book that converted me! We have committed all of our families to read it every day and it is incredible the rate at which they are progressing! There is a power in the book that has flowed into their lives from this decision. For instance, we were with O the other day teaching about daily scripture study and he ASKED us "Can I read the Book of Mormon from the beginning?" =] He is exactly like the second friend that Elder Wilson helped (trouble reading) and thankfully his wife can sit with him and help him. But as a mission, and as a companionship, we are definitely pushing the Book of Mormon so hard right now. Kids can read the picture version, adults can read the real thing, but everyone can feel its truth!
The F family and C 's family are doing really well as well. We taught the "Principles of the Gospel" class this Sunday and the topic was....baptism. I think that is becoming one of the most used words in my vocabulary. But seriously, A F told us afterwards "That was a great class, and it definitely moved me closer to thinking about my own baptism." Step by step :)
I really know that the Lord guides this work. Sorry that this email was so scatter-brained. I will do better about WRITING IN MY JOURNAL and about making email notes beforehand. This week the mother of one of our new investigators (who also picked a baptismal date!) told us that we "fell like rain from the heavens" when we visited her. The Lord does guide us if we let Him.
Yo se que Cristo vive y que el dirige su obra y su Iglesia. Me alegro de que yo tenga una familia que me crió en el camino del evangelio y padres que me aman y me apoyan tanto. He sido mas feliz en esta semana que nunca antes en mi vida, todo porque es mi privilegio ahora para obrar junto con el Senor todos los dias. El vive! Nuestro Padre Celestial contesta nuestras oraciones, y nos quiere muchisimo.
(I know that Christ lives and directs this work and His church. I am glad to have a family that raised me in the way of the Gospel and parents that love and support me. I have been happier this week than any previous time in my life because it is now my privilege to work with the Lord every day. He lives! Our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and …)
I really love you so much. Thank you for you love and especially your prayers. This time is the best thing I could be doing with my life right now. I promise you all that I will take full advantage of it.
Los amo. Que siempre vayan con Dios, (I love you, Godspeed)
Elder Michael Stewart
P.S. Elder Barrales and I are best friends now :) It’s amazing what prayer can do.