This week was great! We found a man named Rafael. We walked by the house once, but they looked really busy so we knocked the door next to his house. No one was there, so we started to walk the opposite way when I felt that we should go back to the house before. So, we went back. At first, no one answered and one of the men outside stood up and walked away, so we thought they wouldn´t answer. But, shortly after, the other man stood up and told us to come in. We met his wife and talked with them for a little while before we found out that they had a long history with the church. The wife and daughter had been baptized a long time ago, but hadn´t attended church in many years. The husband, Rafael, never was baptized. We talked a little more and invited him to be baptized. He then told us about how he had almost died twice. He was sure that God had him alive for something more, and that something he thinks is baptism! This guy is amazing! We have only had two lessons with him, but they have been two of the most spiritual lessons I´ve ever had. Times like those make it obvious to me that God is leading us by the hand in this work. We have a baptism this Saturday! His name is Pegro Betancourt. His wife and daughter are members, so this will complete there family and give their family to opportunity to have the Priesthood in their house! I know that will bless them beyond what they can possibly imagine right now. We went to a national park for Pday today. It was pretty amazing. I´ll have Micaela post some pictures from it. Have a great week, everyone! I love you, Micaela! I´d like to remind all the guys to stay away from her. Thanks!
This week was my first week with my new companion, Elder Hinckley. He´s a good guy. We get along well, but obviously there are always differences that you need to overcome. I´m sure I´ll end up learning a lot from him. We possibly have two baptisms this Saturday. Pedro Betancourt lives in Tijeral. His wife and oldest daughter are recent converts. The first time we asked him to be baptized he didn´t waste a second in telling us no haha. After a few weeks of sharing the gospel and of the Spirit doing its job, he has changed his mind. Now, he has the opportunity to be baptized, receive a remission of his sins, and, in the future, be sealed to his family forever. Mauricio is a 24-year-old who lives here in Renaico. I remember the first time I talked with him that he had no interest at all in being baptized. But, after making some changes in his life, he expressed to us his desire to be baptized. His girlfriend is also listening to us and progressing a lot. I had an experience yesterday that was really cool. We were waiting for a bus to Tijeral for about an hour. With about 10 minutes before church started, I prayed for a bus. Afterwards, I told Elder Marble that a bus would arrive in 30 seconds. 30 seconds later, a bus arrived. I love experiences like that that remind us that God exists, that through faith the Lord blesses us, and that God is still a God of miracles. I´m grateful for all that He has blessed me with, especially my family and for Micaela Morgan Wright. There is no greater happiness than that which comes from our families and this gospel. Everyone deserves that.
We had some miracles happen this week. First, we have been teaching a guy named Mauricio since I got here, but we stopped teaching him for a while because he lost his desires to read and pray and go to church. But, a couple of weeks ago, he called us in the morning to see what time church started and then showed up by himself. A few days later, he asked us to come by and visit him, so obviously we did. He now has a baptismal date for the 25th of this month! He is only 24 and now wants his girlfriend to listen to us and has been inviting her to listen. We also have been teaching a man named Pedro. His wife and one of his daughters were recently baptized. For weeks, he denied every baptismal invitation we extended. But yesterday, he finally accepted and has a date for the 25th, as well! God is really working miracles here in Renaico. I will be staying here for at least 6 more weeks. My companion is leaving and I will be getting a new companion tomorrow. His name is Elder Hinckley. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I had to serve with Elder Escalante. I really learned a lot from him. I know he will do great things in his next sector. I've officially been with Micaela Morgan Wright for over a year now! I love you, Micaela! Start making wedding invitations to everyone who tells you that we won't get married and I'll start making a list to send you. I love you! Have a wonderful week everyone!
Nothing terribly exciting happened this week. We are working with a man named Claudio and his pareja (the woman who lives with him who isn´t his wife), Evelyn. They are both progressing a lot. Claudio has a baptismal date for the 11th and Evelyn has a baptismal date for the 25th. All they need to do is get married or live in different houses, which isn´t easy. We have also been teaching Evelyn´s litte brother, Mauricio. He has gone to church two weeks in a row now by himself. I´m not sure what happened, because he never did that before, but we will see what happens there. There have been a lot of fires here lately due to the heat and the wind. The light yesterday was an eery yellow because the smoke was covering the sun. I had a really good experience with my companion yesterday. I´ve been feeling really weird in our lessons and I noticed that yesterday when I worked with another missionary and felt a lot more comfortable. I have been trying to figure out why I haven´t been feeling the Spirit in our lessons by looking for things outside of me. But, last night, my companion helped me look inside myself. When I was younger, I was obese and experienced a lot of bullying. I mean, a lot. It killed my self-esteem and it´s something I´ve always struggled with (even though Micaela thinks otherwise ;)). I noticed that I´ve been comparing myself to my companion. He has been in the mission for 19 months and is a great missionary. He´s a great teacher and great with the people. I´m his district leader and do not feel at all capable of being his leader because, frankly, I think he should be my district leader. Instead of focusing on what I can do to improve and being myself, I had been comparing myself to him. Obviously, I´m not going to have the Spirit if I´m doing that. I´m extremely grateful for what he said to me when I realized that and I know that´s why he´s my companion. Our Mission President is truly called of God and receives revelation to guide and direct his missionaries. The Lord puts us with those who are going to help us grow the most. Now that I acknowledge this weakness, I´m going to put Ether 12:27 into practice. I know that we all have weaknesses. Everyone struggles with something. I know that when we recognize it and go to The Lord to receive the strength we need to overcome them, he lifts us up and makes weak things become strong. There is nothing He can´t do and there´s nothing we can´t do when we humble ourselves and put our trust in Him. I have no doubt about that. On the 11th of January, Micaela Morgan Wright and I will have been dating for 1 year! I can easily say this has been the greatest year of my life and that I look forward to spending eternity by her side. I love you, Micaela! Have a great week, everyone!
I finally got to talk to my family, and my beautiful girlfriend, on Skype on Christmas Day. I couldn´t have asked for a better Christmas present. I only have to go through one more Christmas away from my family. It was great, however, to be able to spend Christmas and New Year´s with the families here. I´ll never have the chance to do that again after this year. It´s definitely a new experience. We ate dinner on Christmas Eve at the Elder´s Quorum President´s house on Christmas Eve with his family and at Luis´ (a recent convert now!) last night for New Year´s Eve. The people here are great. They make you feel like you´re at home, even though you´re thousands of miles away. This past Saturday, Luis was baptized! I´m pretty sure I already wrote about the miracle that happend with him so that he was able to be baptized. We had been teaching his dad, too. We were working really hard to help him get baptized with his son, but nothing seemed to be working. Elder Escalante and I decided to fast for him. The day we fasted, after having a rough day, we went by his house and he told us that he had decided to be baptized! It helped me realize how powerful fasting is and how little we can accomplish without the Lord. We can´t do anything without Him. This is His work, not ours. The only way that we can become instruments in His hands is by recognizing that we are nothing without Him. If you want to know how that experience made me feel, you can read Alma 26. We are currently working with Claudio. He is living with a woman named Evelyn, who is also investigating the church. Claudio is great. He has changed a ton since meeting the Elders for the first time. He is continuing to progress toward his baptism on the 11th of this month. Please keep him in your prayers. I love you, Micaela Morgan Wright. Have a great week, everyone!