Dear Mom and Dad,
Great week. This week we saw the miracles after the trials from the last week, most importantly the baptisms of six incredible people.
First off--preparing everybody for baptism. Of the six people who were baptized, I want to tell three stories.
N is a 9 year old with attention deficit disorder. Ever since we started sharing and his family started going to church he has wanted to get baptized, but we didn´t think he was going to be able to do it because he didn´t really understand much of what we shared with his family. Because the baptismal service was delayed a week, we got to teach a couple lessons especially for him, really simplified and with objects, and this saturday he joined his family in baptism.
T, N´s aunt and legal guardian, gave up smoking completely within about 20 days to get baptized. She had smoked since she was 13 years old, for 33 years and 11 months, between 15 and 20 cigarettes every day. Within just a few days she gave that all up, basically reprogramming her entire body, and was baptized. On top of all that, several close members of her family--including her mother--told her in the week leading up to her baptism that she was making a mistake. She pushed through all of that, and this saturday she was baptized. What incredible courage, strength, and resolution.
R, a friend of a member whose 12 year old son A is as set on going on a mission as I was at his age. She gave a prayer on Friday night, the day before the baptism. She prayed like she had been talking to God all of her life, even though she only started praying out loud a few short weeks ago. She thanked God for helping her to find this path, for helping her to realize it was true, and for the joyous blessing that her baptism and confirmation would be for her. Every single thing that I had to give up to come on a mission was made worth it by that one, honest, sincere, beautiful prayer.
The baptismal service itself was fantastic. President Gillespie, our mission president, came with his wife to see the service, along with a couple ward and family members (note--for family, friends, and all who read. When there is a baptismal service in your ward, go to it. It makes such a huge difference to welcome these wonderful people personally and especially into God´s kingdom). Somebody forgot white underwear and had to run back to their house to get it, so we ended up starting pretty late, but that didn´t matter until we got to the baptismal font. The bath-water-temperature had completely changed because of the time we had to wait to start, and was at that time pretty frigid. The first five baptisms went off without a hitch--every one was incredible and I felt the spirit enter the room stronger and stronger each time. But then we got to the last baptism, N, who had just this week learned everything he needed to know to get baptized. He is about as skinny as a plastic straw and started shivering the moment his foot entered the water. After twenty minutes of talking, encouraging, and a whole lot of praying, he was baptized while sitting on the second step down into the font. What a trooper.
The confirmations were equally beautiful, the bishop and his first counselor each did half. I remember a few main themes from each one--from R and A, a lot about preparing to serve as a missionary. For the R family, a lot about being a light unto the world and to their family, and being able to bring the rest of their family into the gospel.
Such a beautiful, amazing, miraculous, blessed weekend. Just thinking about it makes me want to sing. Well, thinking about most things makes me want to sing, but this is a special sort of song that´s trying to get out--and the miracles didn´t stop there.
M, whose dog bit my leg last weekend, still didn´t make it to church, but we went by yesterday with her next door neighbor, who is an incredibly faithful and strong member. The two of them are now planning to go to church together next week, and to get there early.
Last thing of the week, we visited with the Bishop and his family and shared with him about how they can share the gospel with their friends. It was immediatly apparent that God has been getting this family ready for quite some time to share the gospel--within the last two weeks alone, they have had several crazy miraculous chance meetings with people who really needed help, who turned out to be less-active members, and who are now willing to come back to church and bring their families with them. I hope to write quite a few more letters about this family and their success in sharing the gospel with their friends.
To end the week, a thought that I had one night this week while I was feeling discouraged walking back home. I had been walking along looking at my feet, when all of a sudden I looked up, and saw the beautiful sight that is Quintero at night, with all the lights on and the sea around it. I had the thought, "Elder Ray. Stop looking at your feet." Sometimes I tend to get caught up on what is happening right next to me, which might be a hole in the road or dog droppings that I really want to avoid, and I miss seeing the miraculous, wonderful, inspiring long-term view, like six more people who are going to be able to receive Eternal Life, six more wonderful members of God´s kingdom. That is what I need to be focused on, not my feet.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray