Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad,

¿Cuántos estrellas hay en los cielos? Sin cuenta.  (Editors note:  if you say the answer all together, it means 50.  How it is written, it means without number.)

I laughed at least. :D

So, fun and busy week this week, including a visit from an apostle and a baptism! But I´ll start off with the most important part. Dessert.

We had a ward activity this last week, a ¨Noche de Postre¨ (night of dessert) where all the different organizations made a dessert and everybody got to sample it. I got to taste a whole bunch of Chilean desserts, AND I learned how to play Chilean tag. The running around part is the same, but if you squat down and touch the floor, you are ¨safe,¨ and whenever you tag someone you shout ¨¡Pinta!¨ Had quite a fun time playing that with the primary kids and one of the other elders in the ward. Then an investigator showed up, I took my dignity back out of my back pocket, and we did my first church tour (I never used to really notice the paintings in the church, but they are really fantastic!) Good night.

That was Saturday--on Friday we had my first mission conference, but this conference was special. Usually to do conferences, the mission is split up into three different ¨zones,¨ (the coast, the interior, and the north) and each zone has it´s own conference. But this time was special. The whole entire mission, some 200 strong, gathered together in Viña del Mar, where we were visited by Elder Cook, Bishop MacMullen, and two other General Authorities. What a blessing! Bishop MacMullen talked about the first vision and what a powerful story it is, how the Holy Ghosty will always testify that it was true. Elder Cook talked about what it means to be a missionary. A missionary is a branch-builder (or ward builder), a missionary is bright and friendly, a missionary has the spirit. Then we took a mission-picture, possibly the only mission-picture to have been taken for 5 or more years, and I got to see all my district from the MTC again (Elder Lucero sends his love).

Yesterday was my very first baptism. Such an incredible experience! Guillermo Hughes, almost 70 years old. My second night here in Chile I had the privilege of asking him to be baptized, and yesterday it really happened. His faith is so incredible! Now he is getting ready to be confirmed, receive the priesthood, and go to the temple--all within three weeks.

While we were sitting there waiting for the baptismal service to start, I asked him how he was feeling. ¨Como un pez en el agua,¨ or ¨like a fish in the water.¨ I asked him if that was a good thing. ¨Si, si, un pez en el agua se siente muy bien.¨ ¨Yes, yes, a fish in the water feels really nice.¨

The baptism itself was quite interesting. Guillermo is tall, about 6´, and he has bad knees. He was baptized by my companion, Elder Paulsen, who is a good deal shorter and forgot that he had bad knees. But, after three failed tries, the ward mission leader suggesting that, after the prayer, he lay down as if he was getting in bed. It was the strangest way to be baptized I´ve ever seen, but it worked!

And, when he went under the water, I felt the spirit hit me like a brick, bearing testimony that this was an ordinance of salvation, that Guillermo had taken the first step to exaltation, to eternal life. When he came up out of the water and stood up, he didn´t move for about a minute. He stood there praying, crying a little bit as well.

I feel so privileged to be here, to be a part of this work--of bringing people to Christ! There is really nothing else like it in the world.

Elder Jason Ray

Editors Note: A couple of pictures that Jason sent this week. The first picture is of Guillermo, his companion, the ward mission leader, and Jason.  The next two are the view from his window where they study.

Elder Paulsen, ward misson leader, Guillermo, Elder Ray

View from his study window