Oh, the life of a missionary is fantastic. This week was pretty interesting, a training meeting that Elder Paulsen went to meant that I had interchanges with Elder Wardrop, who was in my district in the MTC--we worked one day in his area and one day in mine. It was amazing to see how far we have both come, that we could talk to people in Spanish on the street, teach people in their homes, help people come closer to Christ in a language we just started learning four months ago.
One of the coolest experiences from those two days was a part-member family we visited. The mother and two sons had been baptized five years ago, the husband no. The two sons, ages 13 and 15, were currently inactive. We started out teaching specifically to the husband, but the lesson kind of morphed to include the entire family. By the end of the lesson the two sons said they would give church another shot, and the husband said when he knew the Book of Mormon was true he would be baptized. The wife seemed pretty touched and said, "Having my whole family together in the church has been my dream for years. I can finally see it happening now." Something I´ve been wondering for the past few weeks is, why does God give 19 year old kids the amazing blessing of being his hands and his servants? It´s such an amazing privilege, I feel like the application process should involve jumping through hoops of fire and swimming the English channel.
Two characteristics I have developed as a missionary. Number one: I cry in movies. Elder Paulsen has quite the LDS film collection, from Joseph Smith--Prophet of the Restoration to The Testaments to On the Lord´s Errand. We like to watch these movies with recent converts, or to help build the faith of people who need a little extra push to help them come closer to Christ. And every single time we watch a movie, I end up sobbing. The first movie we watched was ok because I didn´t understand the words in Spanish, but now that I understand, I am always in tears by the end of the movie. Luckily for me, most of the time the investigators are too. But it still makes me laugh at myself :D
Number two: I hand out pass-along cards to kids. There are two groups of children who now ask me for pass-along cards any time we pass by where they are playing (one right by where we live, another on a path we walk a couple times a week). I started out by giving a few kids pass-along cards (and teaching them to say "baptize me") while Elder Paulsen was on the phone, and somehow it just spread. The kids love the pictures on the cards, and every time they come running up and asking for them I think, "Suffer the little children to come unto me."
Testimony of the power of the priesthood--all day Saturday I felt like I was starting to come down with something bad. My mind was scattered, I didn´t have much energy, and I couldn´t eat my usually seven and a half plates at lunch (chiste no más, so se preocupen). Saturday night I received a blessing, and yesterday I worked hard and felt wonderful. Such a blessing it is to have the power of God here on the earth, and in my apartment, to help everybody get to eternal life, and to help me keep working when I´m coming down with a fever.
And, final note of the week. On Saturday morning, Alberto was baptized. Alberto is the husband of one recent convert and the grandpa of another. About four weeks ago he looked at us across his table and said "Hermanos, prepárenme (Brothers, prepare me)." About forty eight hours ago, he made the choice to follow God forever. After he came up out of the water (and after I messed up the prayer once and almost smashed his head against the wall the second time,) he stood there in the font and cried a little bit. There´s a new light in his eyes now. There´s a new hope in his family, as three of them have now come to the gospel. This next week he will be confirmed and receive the priesthood. And then on to eternal salvation!
Viviendo el sueño :D
Elder Jason Ray
Picture Time from the baptism, Jason's note on the pictures
Baptism fotos! You should be able to recognize Gaston, the ward mission leader. Also in the family foto are Rosa, Alberto´s wife; Melany, a granddaughter; and María, who hasn´t started investigating the church yet (her son is, but he didn´t come to the baptism).