Today Elder Pierson and I went on a 20-mile bike ride to the mission home for a little bit of exercise and also to pick up a copy of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese for one of our investigators, Eddie. He is the one that lives on the horse ranch in Scottsdale who wants to be baptized but needs to wait until his wife gets her immigration papers and they can get married. He speaks and reads in Spanish and Portuguese but we offered to get him one in his native language. Hopefully, it will help him to read more often and have some powerful spiritual experiences. He is literally the coolest, most prepared investigator ever. He works so hard and is always happy no matter what happens. He and his wife are so grateful for us and the Book of Mormon. His wife, Antonia and his step-son Jose love the Book of Mormon and read it a ton. Jose is eligible for baptism and knows it is the right thing to do but feels like he is still unprepared to take that step.
I have noticed a lot of investigators have a problem with making that decision because they feel it is such a daunting and massive change. Many say that they need to know more to be able to take that step when they already know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know it definitely is a huge change but that it is also for the better. One thing the scriptures mention regarding baptism is that it is the door by which we enter the "straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life." If we enter a door to anything, we will never know entirely what is on the other side. Luckily, God has provided us with a way to know that this "door", baptism, which we are all required to enter, will lead to eternal happiness and that there are no risks involved. The way we can know this is the right path is through receiving a testimony of the Book of Mormon from the Holy Spirit. I am positive that even the living Prophet, who has definitely entered this door, is still learning and experiencing the never-ending abundance of blessings that lie on the other side. When Elder Ralphs and I set a baptismal date with Tania, we needed to help her understand she will never know everything in this life. God had answered her prayers and given her the answer that the Book of Mormon is true and that baptism is an essential step in her eternal progression.
Elder Pierson and I have prayerfully planned a lesson for Jose so that we can set a baptismal date with him. I really like what Alma said to those he challenged to be baptized in Chapter 18 of Mosiah*. I plan on using that to help Jose in the next lesson we have with him.
We haven't had as many baptisms as we would have liked, but I feel the month of April will be a month of success. We have found some great people this past week, including this woman named Ruth who was baptized when she was 12 but has been inactive ever since she moved to the United States over 15 years ago. She lives with her boyfriend and her four daughters. We invited her to come to church on Sunday and she loved it so much. She brought her 11-year-old daughter who loved it as well. Ruth has already told us she wants her daughters to be baptized, so there will be success there. Her boyfriend accepted our message generally well, but Elder Pierson and I both think he feels guilty about something. We plan on teaching him a powerful lesson on the Atonement. Once he feels the Spirit and the cleansing power of Jesus Christ's sacrifice, he will be more willing to make and keep commitments.
I had a question I wanted to ask Dad, he being a former member of the Catholic church. Did you worship idols or pray to the Virgin Mary? I assume that you probably did but I'm not sure to what extent, because I feel Hispanic Catholics take it to another level with all of their saints and virgins they pray too (especially the Virgin of Guadeloupe). Idol worship like that is seriously something that baffles me and is an issue that we constantly need to address with people. I am so surprised by it because the Bible couldn't be any clearer than what is written in Exodus 20:3-5**. It specifically says not to bow down or serve anything else but Him, the creator of everything.
This is one of the most obvious perversions of the true church of God which Christ established. We often explain to those who believe in and pray to saints that we believe they were all great people who were good examples to us, but the reason they were so great is because they got their power from God though obedience to his commandments. No one in the Bible worshiped or prayed to the Prophets that preceded them. It is very frustrating for me because there are people who just can't get over praying to the Virgin Mary. Even in the Bible, in Luke 11:27-28***, a woman in the crowd of people Jesus was teaching says that blessed be the womb of the woman that bore Jesus. Jesus says, "Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." I have used that numerous times and they literally can't refute it, but nevertheless continue to pray to Mary. I know it's definitely something that has to be done with love because that's how these people have been raised. You just need to always follow the Spirit and never try to bible-bash with people,
- because there is almost always another verse in the Bible that can be whipped out (one of the reasons why there are hundreds of different faiths based solely on the Bible), and
- because the spirit of contention is of the devil and the Spirit can't teach people when there is contention.
Anyway, thank you for all of you prayers in my behalf. I hope all is well back home.
PS - I will send pictures next week
*Mosiah Chapter 18
Alma preaches in private—He sets forth the covenant of baptism and baptizes at the waters of Mormon—He organizes the Church of Christ and ordains priests—They support themselves and teach the people—Alma and his people flee from King Noah into the wilderness. About 147–145 B.C.
3 Thou shalt have ano other bgods before me.
1 And now, it came to pass that Alma, who had fled from the servants of king Noah, arepented of his sins and iniquities, and went about privately among the people, and began to teach the words of Abinadi—
2 Yea, concerning that which was to come, and also concerning the resurrection of the dead, and the aredemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and bdeath of Christ, and his resurrection and ascension into heaven.
3 And as many as would hear his word he did teach. And he taught them privately, that it might not come to the knowledge of the king. And many did believe his words.
4 And it came to pass that as many as did believe him did go forth to a aplace which was called Mormon, having received its name from the king, being in the bborders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts.
5 Now, there was in Mormon a fountain of pure water, and Alma resorted thither, there being near the water a thicket of small trees, where he did hide himself in the daytime from the searches of the king.
7 And it came to pass after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did ateach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are adesirous to come into the bfold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are awilling to mourn with those that bmourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as cwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the dfirst resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being abaptized in the bname of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a ccovenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
11 And now when the people had heard these words, they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.
12 And now it came to pass that Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.
13 And when he had said these words, the aSpirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having bauthority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a ccovenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the dfoundation of the world.
14 And after Alma had said these words, both Alma and Helam were aburied in the water; and they arose and came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit.
15 And again, Alma took another, and went forth a second time into the water, and baptized him according to the first, only he did not bury ahimself again in the water.
16 And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were abaptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the bgrace of God.
17 And they were called the church of God, or the achurch of Christ, from that time forward. And it came to pass that whosoever was baptized by the power and authority of God was added to his church.
18 And it came to pass that Alma, having aauthority from God, bordained priests; even one priest to every fifty of their number did he ordain to preach unto them, and to cteach them concerning the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
19 And he commanded them that athey should bteach nothing save it were the things which he had taught, and which had been spoken by the mouth of the holy prophets.
20 Yea, even he commanded them that they should apreach nothing save it were repentance and faith on the Lord, who had redeemed his people.
21 And he commanded them that there should be no acontention one with another, but that they should look forward with bone eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts cknit together in unity and in love one towards another.
22 And thus he commanded them to preach. And thus they became the achildren of God.
23 And he commanded them that they should observe the asabbath day, and keep it holy, and also every day they should give thanks to the Lord their God.
24 And he also commanded them that the priests whom he had ordained ashould blabor with their own hands for their support.
25 And there was aone day in every week that was set apart that they should bgather themselves together to teach the people, and to worship the Lord their God, and also, as often as it was in their power, to cassemble themselves together.
26 And the priests were not to depend upon the people for their support; but for their labor they were to receive the agrace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the bknowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.
27 And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, aevery one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.
28 And thus they should impart of their asubstance of their own free will and good desires towards God, and to those priests that stood in need, yea, and to every needy, naked soul.
29 And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did awalk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.
30 And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the awaters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall bsing to his praise forever.
31 And these things were done in the aborders of the land, that they might not come to the knowledge of the king.
32 But behold, it came to pass that the king, having discovered a movement among the people, sent his servants to watch them. Therefore on the day that they were assembling themselves together to hear the word of the Lord they were discovered unto the king.
33 And now the king said that Alma was stirring up the people to rebellion against him; therefore he sent his aarmy to destroy them.
34 And it came to pass that Alma and the people of the Lord were aapprised of the coming of the king’s army; therefore they took their tents and their families and bdeparted into the wilderness.
35 And they were in number about afour hundred and fifty souls.
**Exodus Chapter 20
4 Thou shalt anot make unto thee any bgraven cimage, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
5 Thou shalt not abow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a bjealous God, cvisiting the diniquity of the efathers upon the fchildren unto the third and fourth generation of them that ghate me;
***Luke Chapter 11
27 And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, aBlessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.