Thank you for the pictures and the letter you sent to me this past week. I can't believe how much snow there is back East. I bet Matt is enjoying all of the time off from school that he's getting. The shoveling...probably not so much.
This past week has been really great as Elder Ralphs and I were able to find a lot of new people and get our area fired up. We are going to have a baptism this week for the nine-year-old boy, Stephen Moreno. You would think that a nine-year-old boy who has been going to church his whole life and has active family members would be easy to get into the waters of baptism, but it has been a very strenuous process that has required a lot of faith and especially patience. (By the way, I don't know if you know this, but if you are over 9 years old, you have to be taught by the missionaries if you want to be baptized.) I think I have told you about Steven before and if so, this will refresh your memory. He is a nine-year-old Hispanic boy plagued with diabetes, hearing problems, a speech impediment, and a slew of other health issues. It is actually very unfortunate. The first time we taught him, I thought it wasn't even necessary that he get baptized given his extenuating health and questionably mental circumstances. Nevertheless, our Branch President said he is eligible for baptism and we could teach him. Every time we would go over to do so, he would immediately roll his eyes, let out a sigh of air, and throw his hands up in disgust. The lessons went equally as bad, if not worse, as he would literally be unresponsive to any question or gesture we would make to him. Luckily, as Elder Ralphs and I prayed with faith that he would be receptive to our teaching and adapted our teaching style, with careful spiritual consideration, we were able to get Steven to open up to us and even talk. The best we were able to do was get him to answer all of the baptismal questions in the affirmative and even say the five fundamentals of the Gospel (faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, and endure). It was truly a miracle, especially that he passed the baptismal interview with our District Leader. Watching him progress towards baptism has been such a blessing and a testimony builder as we prayed with faith and our prayers were answered.
Another great blessing we have seen is that some of the investigators we were not able to get in contact with for awhile, have been reading their scriptures and progressing. One thing I have really been focusing on is faith and praying with faith because the Lord really does provide when you have faith that He will. One scripture I love a lot is in Ether 12:4 which talks about how the Lord provides an anchor for us to hold on to that leads us to be steadfast and firm. When we get discouraged or frustrated, we are showing the Lord that we don't have faith that he will help us. One thing that Jesus always told his disciples was to "be of good cheer" because the He is with them. Fear is of the devil and will only bring us down, and having faith is awesome because the Lord lifts us up.
Every Friday our District goes to the High Councilman's (in charge of missionary work) house for breakfast and to talk about the work. One thing I enjoy about going to his house are the motivating stories and letters that he tells us about the exploits and acclaims of his beastly son serving a mission in Sweden. To some, it kind of comes off as gloating but I really enjoy it because it is super humbling for me and it gives me great ideas on how to better the work in our area. His son, Elder Jorgenson, is supposedly in the Ensign (a Church magazine) on a regular basis and gets between 40 to 50 lessons a week IN SWEDEN. That is just so BOSS. He was born to be a missionary. Elder Ralphs and I got a lot of ideas from him on finding more opportunities to teach as we go about our daily work and it has really been paying off in the past couple of days. Yesterday we got 8 lessons, which was really great. We have definitely made it a point to not just to be searching for more lessons for the numbers, but to bring others closer to Christ and help them feel the Spirit. This method of finding and teaching people has helped us find a ton of new investigators and sift out who is going to progress towards baptism and who isn't.
Anyway that's what is going on in my life up to this point. It was great writing you and I hope all is well back home.