Monday, June 4, 2012

Bringing on the HEAT!

¡Hola mis amados padres! ¡Esta semana fue espectacular! Whew...we were sooooo busy! But I love it like that. I am becoming more and more grateful for the work heavenly father lets me do in this humble part of his vineyard.

Elder Barrales and I went to the temple today, and I really needed it. I have been having trouble sleeping (no surprise there =]) and I called Sister Leonard about it. She is amazing! One Benadryl and one temple trip later and I will be sleeping like a baby. It’s hard to stop thinking about the work and the people when we come back home at night, but I've been figuring out how to get it done :) Another thing that makes it hard to sleep sometimes is the HEAT! ("Calor, Calor, Calor!" Elder Barrales always says when we get back in the car after an appointment) This week it was over 100 degrees....every day of the week :) The highest we got to was 110, but thankfully we were in a baptismal interview during that time. Our district is going to bring down the June and July heat with a lot of Baptismal water :) We are so clever, I know.

Heavenly Father taught me this week that I can receive revelation. It was actually really amazing. It was Elder Barrales' and my turn to provide training (this is so much easier to say in Spanish) in District Training Meeting and we prayed really hard to know what to do. The thought kept coming teach the "The Doctrine of Christ" and so we went ahead with it and planned out our training. Before DTM we had interviews with President Leonard (I love this man by the way, one of my children will be named Keith or Leo after him...maybe =] ) and President Leonard was a second witness to emphasizing the doctrine of Christ and that we CAN baptize in this mission and in our district. Right before DTM our Zone Leaders pulled me aside and said...the exact same thing :) So three witnesses later, we went forward with our DTM training and it was incredibly spiritual. "I give unto you apower that ye shall bbaptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven." 3 Nephi 11:21. We have that power from the Savior! Elders and Sisters can work together to get the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit's work done. Our district has a goal of 20 Baptisms for June, that’s one per companionship per week. And it looks like we are going to beat that goal. After one weekend in June, we are happy to say that we're leading the mission, and it will only get better :)

I'd say this whole experience has just taught me that when I really want to help and lift the district that Heavenly Father will guide me and let me know what to do. Often, calling a companionship at 10:20, reporting numbers, or sitting in meetings is the last thing that Elder Stewart wants to do...but I always remember (Like Sister Stewart) "not my will, but thine be done". The Savior found his work to do hard at that moment, and because of His sacrifice I can receive strength beyond my own. And I have noticed that. After every DTM, phone call, or interview, I feel like I stand just a little bit taller and I am thankful for these small chances to serve. And that makes it really easy to just do the little things.

The work is going so well now. We are baptizing 5 people this weekend. Whew :) I can honestly tell you that I have seen repentance and change in every one of them. I remember when we first met O R two months ago. He didn't even know how to pray or what the Book of Mormon was and he was very confused why his wife got baptized. His family now...if you could just see them! They read and pray every night! And they go to church every Sunday (thanks to P his wife being SUPER solid). In one of the lessons we had with him this week we definitely botched teaching about tithing and keeping the Sabbath day holy (we were super tired, and not really focused) BUT O read the pamphlet we left him and he and his wife are committed to paying tithing after his baptism. Honestly, we have seen them grow closer together too as O has progressed. They said when P first moved back up here they would fight and argue and were thinking about splitting up. They learned more, talked more about the gospel, set plans for the temple, and this week O bought her a commitment ring! We will see you in one year in the temple :) We had dinner with them yesterday in their apartment and was one of the humblest dinners we have been served: rice, tortillas, homemade salsa, homemade juice, and a small chicken, but there was an abundance of love for each other and for the Lord around that little table. I love it :)

This week we also got to teach G, R, and J more preparing them for this weekend. R had a really great experience that she counts as a miracle in her life. For the past year she has been doing bible study with the Jehovah's Witnesses (there are so many here in Utah!) and she has been worrying about what to tell them about her baptismal decision. Well they stopped by this week to see her again and she felt inspired to tell them that she was getting baptized, and she sounded so firm about it that they respected her! This family is great. R told us the other day "I have always loved the Bible, but now that we're reading the Book of Mormon we have even more of God's word to enjoy." We need to find more families just like them! G is going to send all of her sons on missions for crying out loud! We are going to give her a "Para la fortaleza de la Joventud” (“For the strength of youth”) today, and she will definitely love it.

One of the things I love about serving here in Utah is being able to see the Kingdom of God in action. Seriously, these stakes are machines. We were invited to the Zone Leaders' Stake Coordination meeting (we cover Spanish work in their stake) and it was incredible to see 8 ward mission leaders return and report to one High Counselor and two missionaries and to take new assignments away! One ward even brought a full sheet of less actives and nonmembers for the Elders to work with! These ward mission leaders know their callings and really magnify them. We are definitely going to be tapping more and more into these stake organizations to get help for the people that we are working with. Even if the branch doesn't have a huge stake machine behind it we will still have a lot of success, because the Lord is still on our side :)

¡Me encanta ser misionero en este tiempo y en este lugar! ¡Casi conozco a todos los hogares en nuestras estacas, y siempre me impresiona cuanto trabajo hay que hacer aun en Utah! El Senor nos ama y nos conozca individualmente. Se que El contesta nuestras oraciones, y todos los dias siento el poder de sus oraciones a favor de mi. Gracias por sus sacrificios y por proveer esta oportunidad bien sagrada para mi. ¡Los amo!

(I love being a missionary now and here! I know almost every home in our stakes and I am always amazed at how much work there is to do (even) in Utah! The Lord loves and knows each of us individually. I know he answers our prayers, and I feel the power of your prayers for me daily. Thank you for your sacrifices and for providing this opportunity that is most sacred to me. I love you!)

I really do love you. Thanks for the letters and the prayers.

¡Que vayan con dios! (Godspeed)

Elder Michael Stewart

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