Okay. Here we go. Buckle in. A TON of info and I only have 20 minutes to get it all in.
First, this week. Oh heavens. We had an investigator call (Araceli, the same one at the end of last email) and tell us that that message we had shared about the atonement really got to her. So this week we stopped by (Tuesday) and went over the baptismal questions. Turns out she had a problem with #4 (don't they always... sigh) but she was SO overcome with grief that she wanted to do whatever it was to overcome it. We talked to her about the steps of repentance and what she needed to do to overcome this sin, she didn't feel like she was ready to confess and wanted a little bit of time. We went through the rest of our day and in the middle of planning that night she calls. My companion answers and I'm quite literally praying right then and there that everything will work out. WELL, turn out she wanted to talk to someone NOW. So we get ahold of Pres. Gibbons (one of the mission presidency who speaks Spanish) who magically lives in our area. It's 10 pm by now and Araceli is dying to talk to someone and finally be rid of the guilt. So he gets in contact with her and sets an appointment for the interview for Thursday. Fast forward to Thursday--Pres. Gibbons not only helps her finish the repentance process but he goes ahead and does the baptismal interview! passed with flying colors! She came out of that room absolutely GLOWING. My companion and I were about to run around the gym like goobers cause we were so happy. So Araceli officially sets a baptismal date.... APRIL 23rd!! no manches! seriously??? I was so happy. She didn't want to wait until the weekend and the closest day she could because of work was the 23rd. SO COOL. Happy birthday to me. So another fast forward to Sunday: Araceli's husband wants to go fishing... but she says no, I have church (aaaahhh). But she was planning on leaving a little early cause she didn't want to cause an argument. Well, IT SNOWS/RAINS. Araceli shows up to church and it starts POURING. LIke I mean, like tsunami cause the wind was crazy. She calls her husband after sacrament meeting and tells him she's going to stay because they can't go fishing anyway. So she's able to stay to all the meetings (which she LOVED) AND talk to President Ward after church so he can sign her baptismal form... the moment she gets out of the interview I. KID. YOU. NOT. the sun comes out. I'm talking like 75 degree weather. Idaho's weather is crazy but it was a response to our prayers. Holy cow. Tell me this church isn't true. Araceli come out of church and is like " I knew God wanted me in church today, that's why it rained".... speechless.
Obviously Wednesday was the longest day ever waiting for Thursday to come. EXCEPT we were on exchanges and I got to go back to Malta! Naomi made me bread to take home--happiest day of my life! we taught some really good lessons (funny how the faith of the sisters always makes exchanges amazing). We knocked on this door and it turns out to be a "caballero de Calcutta"--which apparently means a guy that's in charge of all the Catholics in a particular area. Well, he opens up and lets us in. He said he's talked to missionaries before but they weren't able to answer any of his questions so he turned them down and told them to go study more.. but that we were more than welcome to give it a try..... sigh. So we came in and he began telling us everything that was "wrong" with the Mormon church (won't be the first time this week...). I have temper issues when it comes to this kind of stuff, as we all know, but I prayed that I would be able to see him as Christ would and would be able to answer in a non-confrontational way--basically I bore testimony A LOT. My wonderful [Malta] companion was amazing, she knows so much from the bible and how it relates to the Book of Mormon and was able to kind of stump him in his questioning--which reminds me of the promise in Doctrine and Covenants that when we teach by the spirit no one will be able to confound us. ANYWHO. He was kind of frustrated that everything he sent our way wasn't really working, so he left and came back with some book called "apologetica". He kept asking us questions from it and finally I promised him that if he really wanted to know and would listen with an open heart that all of his questions would be answered through our lessons. That we couldn't teach him all at once but if he allowed us to we could teach him little by little about what we REALLY believe. The spirit was strong and he didn't really say anything. After both my companion and I testified we were able to leave on good terms with a return appointment! On the way out I asked to see the book he had. It was basically a manual to "protect catholic values against attacks from Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses and other protestant religions"... NICE. I testified to him once again that the way to really know was through listening with a real desire to know the truth. He didn't say much but I could tell he knew that there was something there that interested him.
What a week. These two experiences have made it worth it. We contacted a lot of people this week and saw no results. We taught a lot of lessons on doorsteps and had a lot of doors slammed in our face. With all these doors there was one thing in common, "the traditions of their fathers". I spent so much time studying that this week... If Samuel the lamanite could do it, so can we. Our faith was tested a lot. We ran into a lot of anti people, they told us a lot of their opinions and thoughts and things they had heard. Some of it rattled me a little but with prayer and study, my testimony came out stronger than ever.
I love that with Easter coming up we have had a lot of time to reflect on the Savior, His life, His death, His resurrection. We have been encouraged to share this link with everyone we know so here goes!
I know my Savior lives. I know that my love and admiration for Him will never be enough to make up for a fraction of what He suffered for me. I will spend the rest of my life proving my love through my obedience.
I love what President Curtis told us in his email this week:
"As we ponder our Savior - and the atonement - each day this week, we will gain additional insights into His sacrifice and love for us. Perhaps we can grow our capacity to fulfill His new commandment given in the hours just prior to entering Gethsemane: that we love one another as He has loved us. When we forget ourselves - our own needs and pride - and love our companion, the members in our units, and the investigators we are teaching, we will find joy in doing His work."
I know this to be true. I love missionary work!
Have a wonderful week, take time to remember the Savior this Easter.