[Editors' note: This is the first of two posts for May 15, 2010]
Yesterday I woke up thinking that it would be a normal preparation day, but at 9:00 I realized that it would not be the case. Things changed, and all day we were busy doing important and unforeseen things. . . .
Today we were also very busy. We left at 8:00 this morning for another Mother's Day Show Tour. Today we went to Linares, about two hours to the East, and then returned for one of the stakes here in Monterrey. My companion and I brought twelve other missionaries with us in the van.
As you know, last weekend we were also on tour. Last Friday, we hit Valle Hermoso and Matamoros. We all stayed the night in Matamoros (about ten missionaires in a small apartment), and left on Saturday to visit Rio Bravo, Reynosa, and Reynosa Este.
Both tours were great experiences, but my favorite was last weekend. First of all, I enjoyed the talents more there (which goes to disprove a common belief that Mexicans don't have talent, as all the missionaries in the border areas are Latinos right now, by suggestion of the Area Presidency). Also, as we drove from stake to stake (varying from 30 minutes to two hours between each one), the Elders in the back of the van (sitting on makeshift seats of boxes of Books of Mormon), played the guitar and tambourine as we all sang hymns.)
I loved seeing the talent that each missionary has. And I loved seeing how much they enjoyed giving of their talents to entertain, uplift, and honor the mothers of each stake. There is great power in music, as well as poetry, dance, and even juggling and magic tricks.
Spending so much time with the missionaries in these experiences, as well as thinking of all the experiences I have had to work with many missionaries throughout my mission, has made me think. I love working with missionaries. Each one has his own story, and many times I have been surprised to hear it. Each one has his own testimony and his own motivation to serve the Lord. Each one inspires me and blesses my life, as well as the lives of the people they teach, in a special way. I love missionaries. Even after 23 months of working with missionaries every day, it is still something special to see a companionship walking down the street or knocking on a door.
Last Saturday we stayed the night in Reynosa with the zone leaders. (It felt strange for me being in the house in Cumbres again, but this time as a guest, when so many times I was host there). In fact, I had a lot of similar feelings in Reynosa. In the talent show there I saw several members from Cumbres and Puerta del Sol, including one of my converts, Maria Luisa. Once again I thought of how greatly the Lord has blessed me with so many places, occurrences, and people who have touched my life for good.
Sunday morning we left Reynosa at 7:00 AM and went straight to our chapel [in Monterrey]. Elsa Gaytan was there waiting for us. We hadn't seen her since Thursday, when she had her baptismal interview, although we had kept in contact by phone. When we saw her, she told us that her husband had come home the night before somewhat drunk and very angry, and that it seemed as if she wouldn't be able to be baptized. She told us how she couldn't sleep that night until her six-year-old, Angel, who reminds me of [my little brother] Benson when I left, told her to say a prayer, which helped her feel a lot better. Her husband still isn't very happy about it, but he did accept her decision and give his permission.
It was a great baptismal service. She was well prepared. Her mom and a friend accompanied her, as well as a few of the Elders who had taught her previously. Her story is a great lesson for me of how God prepares his children over time, as well as of the principle of fasting.
This last week, we taught a person named Christina Torres. We found Christina and her 14-year-old daughter by knocking doors about two months ago. We visited her a few times, but then lost contact when she went on vacations to Veracruz. But last week we found her again. Christina is extremely active in her Pentecostal Christian church, but accepts us and listens sincerely.
In our visit last week, we asked her if she had read the Book of Mormon. She had! She read 3 Nephi 11 (the part we had left her), and then had started from the beginning (a very good place to start). As Elder Tenorio said when he visited us more than a year ago, the Book of Mormon is the best missionary. One of the reasons is that it can do the work even when we can't find the person for more than a month.
When we asked her what she had thought of what she read, her answer was very interesting. She said something along the lines of, "Well, everything I read sounds like what I read in the Bible. It teaches the same thing. And it talks a lot about Jesus Christ. From what I've seen so far, it seems true."
Our next step is to help her pray and receive a testimony of the Holy Ghost, and then to understand the implications of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon as to her religious life. She is well on the right path, because she has read and understood the Book of Mormon, and recognizes it as something that teaches the same principles as the Bible and testifies of Jesus Christ.
I am very excited about learning from Elder Bednar next Tuesday. I can't wait. We have planned everything, even where each zone will sit in the chapel. I'll tell you all about it next week.
I love you all, and my love and appreciation for you grow with each day spent in the Lord's service.