Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2009 -- Adriana Perez: The Continuing Story

Greetings from the Lord's vineyard.

You will remember Adriana Perez. The last time I told you about her, she was on date to be baptized January 3rd. As you probably noticed, she wasn’t baptized. In fact, we had lost contact with her for the second time. As I told you, she is one of God’s chosen children and is well prepared to receive the gospel and has great need of it, so we have been doing all we can to help her.

The last time we saw her before this week, we found her in her house at 8:30 AM. As always, it was an extremely spiritual lesson. She admitted to us that when she is with us, she feels sure and at peace, but when she is alone she is full of doubt and fear. So we talked to her about the Holy Ghost in His role as a constant comforter and a testifier of all truths. We also taught her that good feelings come from God and bad feelings from from Satan, as Mormon taught in Moroni 7:13. It was a great lesson, and her heart was touched.

Unfortunately, however, Adriana wasn’t there for the next appointment. So, for the next week, we tried often, at various hours of the day, but she never answered, even when her car was there. It seemed as if she was no longer interested.

This was hard to believe, because of how interested in and excited about the gospel she had been, but the signs were piling up. We didn’t lose hope, however. There was something we felt inside that didn’t allow us to do that.

We decided to let a week pass with out looking for her, hoping that maybe she would feel the loss. Although we stopped trying to find her, we never stopped praying for her. A week later, Saturday night, we decided it was time to try again. When we saw that her car was in her driveway and the lights were on in her house, we got excited. But she didn’t answer the door.

We were devastated. All sorts of ideas ran through our minds—maybe we scared her, maybe she has a doubt or a problem she doesn’t want to tell us about, maybe she really isn’t home.

As a last result, we decided to call her fellowshipper. You will remember that Adriana first came to church because she was invited by a returned-missionary brother of her co-worker, who lives in a different ward. We called and talked to his sister, Adriana’s co-worker. What she had to say surprised us greatly. She told us that Adriana was singing hymns, praying, reading from the Book of Mormon and was very excited about living the gospel!

We hadn’t been able to find her because she had been so busy, nothing else. Once again, we had hope.

Sunday we waited hopefully in church, but she never arrived. We drove by her house after church, but her car wasn’t there. After eating, we drove by again and her car was there, but she didn’t answer. Once again we were devastated. We felt Adriana’s great worth in the sight of God, her need for the gospel, and her potential to progress, but we had no idea how to contact her.

So we decided to fast -- starting that very moment. We pulled over and Elder Olguin began the fast with a beautiful prayer, pleading for divine assistance.

Later that evening, at 8:30 PM after a zone meeting and the CES Fireside, we were planning for the next day. We asked ourselves, When can we find Adriana? We both felt the answer: Right now! So we grabbed our scriptures and the car keys and were out the door.

When we saw that her car was in the driveway, we said another prayer, asking the Lord to bless our fast. He did. This time, she answered.

It looked as if she was expecting us. With a smile on her face, she ushered us in. It felt as if we had seen her just yesterday. The two weeks of worry and frustration completely disappeared.

Once again, it was a special lesson. Applying what we had recently learned from studying a Jeffery R. Holland talk entiled “Missionary Work and the Atonement,” we read the sacrament prayers with her and talked about the importance of attending church. She expressed her understanding and her desire to do so.

Then, without telling her what we were doing, we began to ask the questions from the baptismal interview. She answered each one perfectly. She testified of Jesus Christ, told of how she knew that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and expressed her desire to live the commandments.

The baptismal interview finishes with this question: “Are you ready to make this covenant with God?” (talking about baptism) . She answered with a secure “yes!” We didn’t want to pressure her, so we let her set the date. Without hesitation, she asked “Can it be this Sunday?” Of course it can, we answered with a smile.

At the end of the lesson, we knelt down and Adriana said the closing prayer. She spoke from her heart, thanking the Lord for making this message of happiness arrive to her life. “I know thy church is true,” she told Him, and expressed her desire to share the gospel with others.

Since then, we have seen her on a daily basis to help her prepare for her baptism this Sunday. Not that she needs much preparation. As I have said before, she is the most prepared investigator that I have had the privilege of teaching. Not prepared in terms of education or knowledge, but in terms of sensitivity to the Spirit.

I have learned a great deal from my experiences with Adriana. One is that the Lord is always preparing His children. Another is that we should never lose hope, and should follow spiritual promptings. My testimony of fasting has been strengthened. I have seen that there really are people searching for the gospel (and Adriana, although only 24 years old has great need of the gospel after a hard life.)

Also, I have seen once again the importance of members in missionary work. If it weren’t for Adriana’s coworker, who is constantly encouraging and supporting her, and who helped her a lot in our absence, I’m not sure she would have progressed so rapidly. In fact, we never would have met Adriana if it weren’t for the member who invited her to church.

Ranulfo is also doing very well. He finished the Book of Mormon this week! He read it cover to cover in three weeks. His goal is to read it a second time, as well as the gospel principles manual, before the first Sunday in February. We knocked on his door this week just as he was finishing the last verses of Moroni. There was a definite light in his countenance. He too is excited about home teaching and missionary work.

In our office work, this has been a tough week. As President Mendoza doesn’t speak English, I often have to translate when he talks to parents or bishops or stake presidents about a problem with a missionary. It is never fun, but it has provided me some powerful learning experiences. We have also been busy preparing for this next week when we will tour the mission and hold special zone conferences.

After his meeting with the area presidency, President Mendoza told us that we have to make a radical change in the way we teach, removing a habit that has been taught since I arrived. This next week my companion and I will teach the mission the more excellent way. It will be interesting.

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