I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! Thank you so much for all of your love and support and mail :)
This week, I really just want to start by bearing my testimony. We went to the temple today for our main Preparation Day activity and it was a really spiritual experience for me. I just kept thinking of the people I meet every day, the families and individuals we are preparing for baptism, and the varying attitudes that confront us every day. I really KNOW that the church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that his successors have held God's only priesthood authority on the Earth. I have a spiritual witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and that really is the basis of my testimony of everything. The Book of Mormon and the Bible have taught me of a real and living Savior, who wants to help us in every way in our individual lives. His tender mercies can be ours every day if we just ask! I look back on almost six months (yikes!) and all I see is a string of blessings that the Father has given me. I left on this mission to give back and to bless other people, but I feel like I have gotten the lion's share of the blessings. I know God lives. He loves us! And he sends missionaries to His children to call them home.
This week Elder Barrales and I had a ton of success. In every phase of the work, we got to find, teach, and baptize, all in one week! I will start with the amazing finding story :)
So Elder Barrales and I were in a new neighborhood that didn't look to have too many of the key indicators but we passed this one house on our way to an appointment and we both looked at it and decided to go there later. Well, the appointment cancelled, so we got to check out that house right away. The door had a "Este Hogar es Catolico" (We are Catholic.) sticker on it, but we fear no man :) We knock and a really nice hispanic mother answered the door cordially, but didn't look too interested in talking. Well it was 114 degrees outside, so we asked, "can we just grab a drink of water?" and next thing you know we were in the door. We met the husband and started teaching the two, and the dad kept telling us "you are nice, we respect you, but we are catholic." But for some reason we just kept on sharing the message of the Restoration with them. Normally, I am not so persistent in these situations but...the Spirit definitely told us to keep going. We were sharing the First Vision with them and we just got done saying "...hear Him!" (Escuchalo!) and the mom said "how can I know that is true?" That was really amazing! She asked our next question!! We shared with her a Book of Mormon, and got a return apt. We came back on Sunday, and found out that she has been curious for a long time because she works with an LDS couple in a Dr.'s Office (thank you, St. George) and was impressed by the quality of their family. After that lesson...we are super hopeful for future work with her! I am not sure if I will be able to see anything happen with this sister because she won't be able to have an appointment in the next few weeks, but what a great contact! I have a testimony that the Lord will guide us as missionaries, if we let him.
This week we kept teaching A. S. and her kids. This lady really wants to be baptized. It is to the point where she is asking us who she can invite, what she needs to bring, and all the other details weeks away from her baptism! We found this lady just at the right time, and, as we've seen a lot, she was really receptive to the Spirit that we've brought into her home. Thankfully, she has been coming to church too, so that she can actually progress! We taught her and her kids the plan of salvation this week, and she at first said "I don't understand. Why was it necessary to have the devil and opposition?" Thank you Scripture mastery for the answer :) 2 Ne 2 : 11 "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility." The Book of Mormon is the best!
We also had a great baptism this weekend! And her father got to baptize her as well (not sure why they didn't baptize her on time...but that is why we are here!) We found this family...3 weeks ago :) Thankfully, the father was worthy enough to baptize the daughter. Our next step is definitely getting them all to the temple. The best part of the baptism was that a lot of their family attended: the whole room was full! And very very few of them are members. My favorite thing to do at baptisms now is afterwards go up to the branch and stake leadership and say "Let’s do it again!" They get a really big smile, but it also shows them that we are working here with them. Elder Barrales and I have been really blessed with our success and great relationships in this area.
My last reflection this week also came in the temple. I know that as missionaries we are messagers from our Father. I was reflecting over Dad's conversion story this week (send that in to the Ensign!) I liked what he said about Heavenly Father not letting the fact that someone didn't get the gospel in this life stopping Him from helping them. Heavenly Father has a plan for each of His children, and I have really seen firsthand that missionaries are an important part of that plan. When people humble themselves by being obedient to the Lord and the invitations of His servants, then they follow the Gospel plan and make changes in their life. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints safeguards the priesthood of God on earth- which is the only power that can administer God's saving ordinances. I love the Gospel! Sharing this with everyone is the best!
I really do love you so much. Next week I will send you pictures from Zone Conference and from our baptism. As a last note, at Zone Conference I got a tie awarded to me for "The Best Baptismal Record in July" (DL's fill out the Baptismal Record forms).
I do love you so much! The Church is true! Families are meant to be sealed together forever! And right now I get the opportunity to share that blessing with other families who are just waiting for it! Keep us in your prayers!
Que vayan con Dios,
Elder Michael George Stewart