Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009 -- Christmas Baptisms

¡Feliz navidad!

Next Friday, my next preparation day, is Christmas! There could be changes, but the current plan is the following: as I am in the mission offices, and the missionaries talk with their families in chapels, [the family] can call me here. . . . As usual, we will have one hour to talk. I’m looking forward to it.

Before telling you about my week, I want to thank [those who] . . . help[ed] with the missionary Christmas gifts. . . .

This past week President Mendoza asked me to start preparing to receive the new mission president. He told me that I need to be like Mormon, observing everything so that I can explain it all to the new president. He also told me something that sobered and humbled me. He told me that from the moment I arrived in the mission, he knew that I would be the assistant who would receive the new mission president. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for helping me prepare.

President Mendoza is going to McAllen today (a day earlier than he had planned). But there shouldn't be any problem, the things you mailed Monday and Tuesday should be there. I sent with him the mission Christmas card. I didn't have time to label all my [former and present] companions and the missionaries I know, like I did last year, but I hope you enjoy looking for them. Elder Tovanche, Elder Zamudio, Elder Dominguez, Elder Chuc, Elder Samano, Elder Hernandez Pacheco, and Elder Olguin all appear.

I have written to you before about Ranulfo (Jose Ranulfo Villegas Zamudio.) He is the lawyer who appears more like a stake president than an investigator. I love teaching him because he understands, thinks, and applies everything we say. But he hasn't wanted to accept a baptismal date because he wants to “put his life in order” first.

This past Wednesday we had an appointment with him. Using the book True to the Faith, we talked with him about the Holy Ghost and how it will help him understand the gospel, resist temptations, and much more, after his baptism. As we were talking about the marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost, I felt Him give me a prompting. I asked Ranulfo what his plans were for the 25th. His reply was what I expected. As he lives alone, is divorced and all his children are grown up, he planned to spend Christmas day alone. So I said, “Brother Villegas, I can think of no better way to celebrate the birth of our Savior, than for you to experience your own personal re-birth. We are preparing your baptismal service for the 25 of December at 4:00 PM. Will you be baptized that day?” He smiled and said yes. This will be a memorable Christmas.

You will also remember Adriana, the woman who arrived miraculously at church and was progressing marvelously, but suddenly disappeared. Another miracle happened this week! We had called her, left notes on her door, and talked with her fellowshippers without results and were about to lose hope.

But one morning my companion decided to give it one more try. We called her earlier than we had tried before--at 9:00 AM--and she answered! She told us that because of the busy Christmas season, her work schedule has changed. For this month she is working seven days a week from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM, making it impossible for her to be found within the normal missionary schedule.

Fortunately, President Mendoza had recently taught us about the principle of “managing the exception,” which basically means changing the missionary schedule in order to see a person who otherwise would not be able to be taught. So we set an appointment for the next day at 8:30 AM.

Adriana is every bit as spiritually sensitive and prepared as she was two weeks ago. In fact, she is more so. One of her fellowshippers is the sister of the returned missionary who invited her to our ward, who works with Adriana. During the two weeks that we were not able to see her, she kept talking to her friend about the gospel, and helped her to live gospel principles, like praying over their food together at their lunch breaks.

This week we have seen Adriana three times in the morning. We have taught her the plan of salvation, the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom, and a lesson which we prepared especially for her in which we read the Christmas stories in Matthew, Luke, and 3 Nephi. After reading the stories, we read in Alma 7 where Alma prophesies about the birth of Jesus Christ, then talks about His Atonement, and invites his listeners to come to Christ and be baptized. We extended that same invitation to Adriana and she accepted. The first Sunday of January, when her work schedule returns to normal, she will be baptized.

Time is flying by faster than ever. It seems like just yesterday that I was in my first week in the offices preparing transfers with President Mendoza, Elder Rivera, and Elder Olguin. That was six weeks ago! This week we again carried out the sacred process of transfers. One of the great things I’ve learned from President Mendoza, which also comes from a quote in Preach My Gospel from Elder [Dallin H.] Oaks, is that not every decision requires revelation, that many can be made correctly with common sense. This round, many of his decisions about transfers were so obvious, that they were made by common sense, and then confirmed with the Lord through prayer.

This Monday we will say goodbye to four heroes. (One of them is my personal hero and past companion, Elder Samano.) Later that same day we will welcome eight valiants--three Mexican Elders, one Sister, and four Elders from the United States. It will be a great day.

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Merry Christmas, everyone! I love you all!

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