Family and Friends,
To start off my letter I want to tell you a prank that we did on some members in a neighboring ward. Mom would be so proud of me. So we went in and I did my best southern accent and said that I was from Decatur Alabama. And......... THEY BOUGHT IT. I was even volunteered for the prayer and I didn't break. So it went on for awhile and then when we were finally leaving I just stopped with the accent and they were TICKED man. Especially since I was from Utah, because every missionary is from Utah. But that was funny, they said they were going to get me back. I am not worried about it at all.
Oh yeah and Happy Easter every one! I did get the packages from Mom and Dad. I love the shoes and love the candy you sent me! I also got a letter from Grandma. Which I was thankful for. The Easter season has been different being here at home. The #PrinceOfPeace video put out by the church has been such a great introduction tool for the gospel. People love it because it is so broad. It can give people an idea of where to turn for peace. I invite each of you reading this letter to go watch it and share it on social media. You can really help someone that is struggling.
We had a zone conference in Stockton! Haha. It went so well. I got called up in front of half of our mission to do a role-play with the assistants... It was great. We role-played on how we can help members feel comfortable enough to share a video on social media. It was actually pretty cool. During the zone conference we were spoken to by Brother Keel. He is in the LDS family services haha. He spoke about how we deal with stress. It was a good reminder that the Lord knows how stressful missionary work is and that we always have support. He was a great man.
We had exchanges again this week. I went with Elder Miller (from Lone Peak) again. It was a great exchange. He updated me on everything that had happened at Lone Peak after I left. It is crazy. I am disappointed that I did not get to meet him before I moved. He is pretty cool.
So some good news! Vera came to church this week. We have been teaching her for 7 months and she finally came to church. It was an Easter miracle. We will be extending a baptismal date this week. That will be interesting. Vera is a sweet lady please pray for her. She is definitely some one that is looking for peace in her life.
Yesterday was my second baptism on the mission. Lilliah, our 9 year old investigator was baptized! This baptism had it's ups and downs...haha. Lilliah's father forgot how to baptize and even forgot her name, but we took care of it. We have a very good Bishop here in the Brookside ward and we got her baptized. She will remember that day for the rest of her life. It was really spiritual when her siblings bore their testimonies. They remembered how they felt when they were baptized and that was something that was so special for every one there to hear. I love missionary work!
Andi and Larry are doing great. They are both progressing. Larry moved his date to April 29th. We are so excited for these baptisms coming up they both have such sweet testimonies. We were not able to meet with Andi this week, but she went to visit the Sacramento Temple grounds. She loved it and said that she is praying for you all back home. She is GREAT. haha.
The spiritual thought I have for this week is from 1 Peter 5:7. I have recently been studying Christ's Atonement A LOT. And this scripture was one that stuck out to me a lot. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. What a great scripture. Jesus Christ cares for us because he knows each and every one of us personally. I am so grateful for what he did. I love him. We will constantly struggle because we are not perfect. But cast your cares to Christ and we can be so happy and peaceful.
Family and Friends,
This week was definitely super good. We have been preparing a lot of investigators for baptism and it has been a good experience because I feel like I am finally seeing success baptism wise. I have felt like my whole mission has been successful work wise, because we have always been busy and always been teaching. I have loved every minute of it. But to actually see someone prepare for a life changing event has been indescribable. We are really working hard right now to get our ward more involved in missionary work. Our ward mission leader is doing a very good job at trying to get the ward more involved. Please continue in prayer that members will have a change of heart in the Brookside ward. If they do, I know that this ward could get so much bigger and eventually split again. Stockton has so much potential and I don't think these people realize it.
So some bad news from this week. Jonathan Payne our 16 year old investigator was out of town this weekend and we dropped by his house. His Mom came out and told us that we could no longer come over because, "Mormon's do not believe what is in the Bible." Well we tried to explain everything that we believe and that her concerns were not relevant because we actually did not believe what she was talking about. But she continued to talk about things in the Church's past that have been clouded and blurred by Satan. She had accessed some anti-mormon trash and I knew that we could've just argued with her all night, but she would not listen. I am so glad that I grew up in the Church and have felt the spirit. Because that is something that I can never deny. Satan is smart and knows people's weaknesses and he constantly attacks that in the media. Let us all press on in fighting back as we bring the lost sheep back to the fold. God loves all his children, but he cannot infringe on their agency. I love missionary work and love the people of Stockton California. I hope to serve here my whole mission.
Good news from this week. (A lot more than the bad). Andi who will be getting baptized on May 6th is progressing like crazy and is just awesome. She told us of a very personal experience and I feel like I can share it. Before she investigated the church and after her friend Gina had passed away from cancer she had a dream that was very vivid. She was in her bathroom and her deceased Mother and Gina were in her shower stall. The glass walls of it were completely shut and Gina and her Mother were "stuck". They pleaded that Andi would save them as they struggled to get out. Andi said in her dream she was banging on the glass and trying to break it, but she could not. She decided, in her dream, to pray. Once she had prayed she banged on the glass and it broke. Then she woke up. She said she made the connection with her dream to baptisms for the dead. Her friend Dave (Gina's husband) has been struggling investigating in another area and just has had a rough time understanding the gospel. Andi shared this dream with him and he asked if it correlated with anything that she had been learning from us. She told him about baptisms for the dead. He said he now wants to be involved. This was a testimony builder to me and I know that it is true. Baptisms for the dead are truly a sacred and very personal thing when we do it for our ancestors. Andi is a special spirit. I love teaching her.
Now, some more good news. Larry our other investigator that will be baptized on May 6th is progressing rapidly as well. He told us of another personal experience that he had this past week. He said that he was laying in bed and a voice had come to him to pray about Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon. He did so. He was told to do this five times. Well the fifth time, when he layed back down to go to bed he said his room filled with light and he saw someone and heard a voice that said, "Don't worry about anything, it's all going to be okay." I don't know this how this affected him personally, but he took that as a very specific answer to his prayer. We felt prompted to go to his house last night and ended up having a mini-testimony meeting with him. Larry was Muslim before we met him and we wanted to see what his testimony was like. He shared that he knew that we were sent to him to change his life. He expressed that he knows "The Mormon Book" has helped him out so much and teaches him to do good. I teared up as I listened to his testimony because I know how much he has had to humble himself to change and he is really listening to God. I am blessed to be here teaching him.
We have another recently picked up investigator that is named Frankie. He is also another man that is trying to change his life around. He is making good choices in leaning on Christ to do so. He came to church and saw Larry, our other investigator, and surprisingly they knew each other. So now we will be teaching both of them together. The Lord has definitely been present here in the Brookside ward. We weren't even supposed to meet Frankie because he lives outside of our area. But now he has found a ward that has people he knows so that he can be properly fellowshipped and eventually join the church.
I love missionary work and hope you all have a wonderful week. I will keep you all in my prayers and I hope you do the same for me!