What goes around comes around, as they say. I didn’t write to you on time last week, and so now it is my turn not to get an email from you. Don’t worry. My mailbox may be empty, but my joy is still full. I don’t need to see an email to know that you are in the hands of the Lord (D&C 100).
This week my companion and I had several experiences in which my testimony was strengthened of the power of the priesthood. A few weeks ago, my companion and I were walking down the street when a less-active sister called to us. We went over to her and she told us that her children were sick and she asked us to give them blessings. We agreed. She explained us the situation, but as still happens every once in a while, I didn’t understand what she was saying. (In this case, I think it was the gift of un-tongues.) Because I didn’t understand what she had said, I felt perfectly fine, under the influence of the Spirit, blessing the oldest daughter with a full and speedy recovery. After the blessing, my companion explained to me that the mother had told us that the doctors had said that her daughter could very easily die within a week. At first, I worried about the blessing I had given, but I knew that it was the Spirit that told me what to say, so I didn’t worry too much. This past week we went back to see how the mother and her children were doing. She told us that her children had completely recovered within three days of our visit and were not home because they were playing with friends. What a miracle!
This week a recent convert, Miriam, the wife of Roberto Carlos, asked us to give a blessing to their 4-year-old daughter Emily. She had been having nightmares and wasn't sleeping well. During the blessing, having recently re-read Elder Holland’s conference talk, I felt inspiried to bless Emily with the protection and comfort of angels. Miriam told us that she slept like an angel that night.
Another member of the extended Montoya family (the family from the Ranchito), Lucy, is preparing to get baptized once she and her husband save enough money to get married (this week or the next). They have a six-year-old daughter with cancer, who will be starting chemotherapy again this week. She too asked us to give a blessing to her daughter this past Friday. Personally, before I give a priesthood blessing I like to say a prayer, thanking God for the priesthood I hold and asking for His guidance in the blessing. As I prayed before blessing Sonia, I felt strongly to bless her with a fully recovery and long life, according to the faith of her mother. I followed the prompting.
How blessed we are to live in a time when the Priesthood has been restored! Every day I am more grateful for the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
As I mentioned in our conversation at Christmas, there are a lot of Jehovah's Witnesses in our area. This past Saturday, when we left the house, there were 13 on our street (not an exaggeration) we saw approximately 10 more though out the day. It is crazy to think how many of them there are in an area where my companion and I are the only ones with power and authority to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. I view the Jehovah's Witnesses as an Elias, preparing the way for something better. I try to contact everyone, including Jehovah's Witnesses. Usually they are very friendly, but not very interested in our message. But they are always willing to trade pamphlets. (I don’t read them, however, because we are not allowed to.)
Time for a cultural moment. In many parts of Mexico, the people celebrate Reyes Magos, or the three wise men. On the seventh of January, the three wise men come in the night and leave gifts in the morning (it's like a second Christmas.) In the evening, the family all gathers together to cut Rosca, a long loaf of sweet bread. Hidden in the bread are little figures of the baby Jesus. If you take a piece with one of these figures, it means you have to make tamales for everyone on the 2nd of February. My companion and I were teaching in the Ranchito on the 7th, and when we went to visit the Montoyas, they were all together in the house of Doña Carmen, cutting Rosca. We were invited and decided to stay for a few minutes to participate. I was the second one to take a piece of bread, and the first one to have the figure hidden in my piece. Thankfully, Eddi, the father of the family who was baptized this past week, said that he would provide the tamales for me.
Yesterday, Miriam was called to be the secretary in the Young Women’s program. Roberto Carlos blessed the sacrament for the first time. He also ordained his brother, Eddi, to the Aaronic Priesthood in the office of priest. Juan Jesus was also ordained a Deacon. This Sunday, three more members of the Montoya extended family will be baptized. Doña Carmen, the matriarch of the family, is now active in the church agin, and has quit smoking and drinking coffee. This past Thursday there was a Montoya Family Home Evening with over 30 people present, including many children who will grow up in the gospel. I feel so blessed to be a part of the conversion of this family. In a year or so, they will all go to the temple and be sealed for time and all eternity. I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK! And I love the Montoya Family.