Dear Mother and Father!!
What a great week we had!! We are super productive as a trio here...and we are just loving working hard all day every day. The Lord really prepared this area and this companionship for this time and I am just grateful to be a part of it.
This week we went on an exchange with the Assistants so I got to go back to St. George for a day and work with Elder Pedersen from Argentina. They have soooooo many college apartments in their area...I was salivating just thinking about it. Right now the mission is closing up most of the campus areas for the holidays so it wasn't booming so much, but I can see how that area would do during late summer and the beginning of the school year. I also loved serving with Elder Pedersen...we are pretty similar in our goals and outlook, and he helped me a lot with questions I had and how to help out my missionaries better. It really is a blessing to have "leaders" to follow and guide us towards Christ.
We had three baptisms this week! D J and his son D along with J. They were all in the same ward (that just got a new bishopric) and so we had all the new leadership very busy this week. The baptisms and confirmations were very spiritual events, and little D said the prayer at his own baptism saying "I love my family and I'm glad I'm getting baptized". Those joyful moments are the whole reason I am on a mission.
I don't mean to just spit all of our Key Indicators at you this week...but just to give you an idea, we taught 53 lessons this week and we have 27 investigators with a baptismal date. We are working hard to rewrite the mission's record book =) But at the same time we always recognize that it is the Lord that is doing all of this work, and we are just the instruments.
I will tell you a little about these investigators :) A B is the adopted 18 year old we have been working with. Like I mentioned, she has had a really rough past and recognizes that heavenly Father has guided her up to this moment to accept the Gospel. She lives in a HUGE very LDS family...they have had us come by to do family home evenings with all of them.
The D family (T, L, D, J) grew up LDS but were never baptized! The live in a small town about 10 minutes north of Richfield and LOVE the Book of Mormon and really want to be baptized. The thing about their ward is that the town is so small and the people are so nice that they are all super supportive with food, help fellowshipping and getting to church.
T and S Y are our investigators from Jamaica :) They read their scriptures every day, have family home evening, and really love church. We might not get to see their baptism because they are going up to Salt Lake this weekend to do it with their whole family.
We are also teaching a number of youth that haven't had the opportunity to be baptized as well. D M, J R, H S, and L C have all come to church with us and love it. It’s kind of funny that when the stake leadership hear we are teaching an unbaptized youth they look at each other and say "why hasn't he/she been baptized yet?" It is way fun to work with great leaders to help out these kids that more often than not come from less active families. In some cases, like L, they know everything in the Gospel and like he told us "I want to get baptized and married in the temple and go to the highest heaven" It may be kind of sad, but he looked at his less active grandma and told her "Don't worry, I will come down to visit you sometimes" We are working on her too ;)
M W is one of my favorites. He is an avid hunter that has made us chips, jerky, bread...he is the one who chose his own baptismal date. It’s so fun going over to his house to teach him and his family; the kids come and take the pens out of our pockets to draw on the floor, but M and his wife A (who we reactivated!!) are so receptive to the scriptures.
T D works on an oil rig and wants to get married in the temple. It is hard to be consistent with him all of the time because he works 7 days on and 7 days off and comes home SUPER tired. His only hang up is not having church clothes to go to church.
The H Family (J, T, K, J) was a miracle find. J has a previous husband whom we tracted into and he mentioned that he has an ex and kids that are unbaptized. As soon as we contacted this family the ward just rejoiced that they want to come into the church is well. J is with a man named J that was ordained an Elder in the church and they just need to get married before they can become members of the church :)
V and S L- our Native American investigators are granddaughters of the Navajo "Matriarch of Richfield". She referred us to them and has helped us out to fellowship. It is so interesting to see how Native American beliefs mix and coincide with the Restored Gospel...they really love the Book of Mormon (see "“Come unto Me, O Ye House of Israel”)
A, B, and C V I guess are three other unbaptized youth that we are teaching. They live in the same town as the D family :) Pretty much mom apologized for not getting them baptized and asked us to help her out. When the kids picked out a date, mom flipped out her Iphone and wrote it down. Investigator families like this are really common for Utah missionaries it seems.
N S is the other YSA we are teaching. Like I said he wants to receive his patriarchal blessing, go to the temple, and possibly a mission. His date might not be as solid because he doesn't want to offend his parents while he is living at home. We have him reading Preach My Gospel though and he met Elder Halleck with us. He is a really good kid...he reminds me so much of a lot of my friends at Lake Braddock.
S and S C are amazing. They are a couple who moved here from California this week and they referred themselves to the missionaries through Mormon.org. They are soooooo humble...not much by way of furniture in their home and both of them have lost their families. They are pretty much golden. We found them on Wednesday, taught them on Friday and Saturday and they came to church for the first time in their lives on Sunday. And they have a daughter that looks exactly like those posters for the movie "Brave". This really is the Lord's work.
P E is soooooo great. She lost her husband three years ago and has a son that wants to go on a mission as well. She said she was "Catholic" but is living with her brother and sister in law who have been endowed and sealed. We taught her the Plan of Salvation first and she just opened up to us about her family members that have passed away and how she doesn't know if she will see them again. She has been to church a lot and when she read 2 Nephi 31 she said "I am a lost dove and I need to be baptized"-she has even picked out her dress! Thanks to teaching her I get to keep up with my Spanish as well.
So I hope you see from that glance at our teaching pool that we LOVE what we are doing. There are a lot of missionaries and investigators under our care but the Lord is able to do great things when we just put ourselves in his hands. But really, the principle I have learned this transfer is the principle of love. I honestly love all of these people I am working with more than myself...it is a long list and all of this doesn't leave much room to get into trouble!
Seriously though, the church is true. There is no way three young men could accomplish all of this on our own. I really know that God lives and that he has heard my prayers. There were a couple of days this week where I went to bed just absolutely wiped out and when I woke up I told Heavenly Father "Elder Stewart is done...he can't take another step. But if you let Jesus Christ work through my life right now, I will keep putting one foot in front of another." And we have seen miracles from all three of us sacrificing like this.
I love you so much!! You are great examples of love and consecration for your service to the Hurricane victims, to the ward, and to us!! I thank Heavenly Father every day for my amazing parents. I am working on Christmas letters/postcards this Pday...I should get them all done. Keep sending reminders if you want to.
Take care!! I love you!
Con un abraso, (with a hug!)
Elder Michael George Stewart