Thursday, June 21, 2012

Letter from June 18th, 2012

Life is good here in the 'Dell. Life is real good. We are living under constant threat of a hurricane, and have to continually review the evacuation procedure just in case. Love it! This past week was really cool - I had my first baptism!! It was the first investigator I wrote home about, Joey. Exactly one month after we started working in our brand new area we were able to bring someone to the gate leading towards eternal life. What a blessing. I had the distinct honor of being the one to actually baptize him, and according to our Bishop, he's never seen someone smile so big in the font (reffering to me haha). He was confirmed and recieved the priesthood the next day, and we are working on getting the new member lessons in the coming weeks. So cool! It was scary because at first there was a mix up with the baptisimal interview, and so we thought that it wouldn't be able to go through, but we worked it out and everything went smoothly. I was very happy, and truly saw the scripture fulfilled: "And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (D&C 18:15)
Despite such success, this week was overshadowed by a lot of unfortunate events. Every single one of our investigators dropped us. Well, I guess there is one guy, but we haven't seen him in weeks because he's traveling, but still.... but we've worked hard and have a lot of potentials that we hope to meet with this week, so we just need to work and pray even harder! We will see the fruits of our labor, or at least I hope we do. Which reminds me of my brother's last letter home from Chile - this life is all about the fruits. Great thought bro.
Also, we've spent a lot of time visiting a certain member of our ward who is struggling as he is facing a diagnosis of cancer. It has been absolutely heartwrenching to see the sorrow in their eyes as we visit with them. One of the days he was looking into space and saying "I've lived a good life. Death won't be too bad. It's been a great adventure" to which I had no response. He even asked for another blessing from us, and his wife mis-heard that he would live for a long time, and it broke our hearts to tell her that that was not said when she excitedly talked to us about it. I've never seen shoulders drop that low. But, it is a great reminder of our Savior's Atonement and how his suffering was for all the bad that we experience in this life, and that we must run well the race of life, "looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith." (See Hebrews 12:1-2). They are finding strength in the thought that every trial is for a reason, and that God, the master potter, is continually shaping our lives through adversity and hardship. To quote Elder Holland, "salvation is not a cheap experience," and it is through our trials that we are bettered and our imperfections are made into strengths that benefit us in the economy of the heavens. I constantly find myself praying for this poor family, and the other people who I know are suffering from similar afflictions for the strength to continue running their race despite the trials. One of the things that differentiates the restored gospel from other teachings is the doctrine of enduring to the end. Rather than a singular experience where we "find Jesus," we believe in following the Doctrine of Christ in a cyclic pattern throughout life. The beautiful thing is the promise made in 1 Nephi 13:37, that those who endure to the end will be blessed with being lifted up unto eternal life through the grace of Christ. Anyways, that is a lot of what has been on my mind as I have gone throughout the week, sorry for the crazy long tangent.
That's all for this week folks, and I will try and send pictures from the baptism next week (camera problems this week)!! I love you all, and hope that you have a safe and wonderful week! The church is 100% true, no bones about it, I promise!!
Elder Thomas

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