Dear Mom and Dad,
Really a miraculous week. For about a month and a half we had been having trouble helping people come to church, but these last two weeks have been really incredible, and I´m sure that it´s all thanks to God´s power. Here are a few stories of people who came this week.
First off, the A family. They were baptized a little over a year ago, right when I got here to Chile. When I got here to the ward, they hadn´t been going to church for about 5-6 months. We started working with them and teaching them, and this week, for the first time in 8 months, J. A. came to church--and stayed all 3 hours! He also came with his son, J. I., who had been a little bit active, and with his daughter S. His wife was sick, but I´m sure she´ll come the next week.
I think two things really made the difference here. First off, in one lesson that we had several weeks ago, they talked about how they didn´t feel worthy to go to church because they weren´t perfect, because they messed up in this and that. We shared a passage from the Book of Mormon which says, basically, "God doesn´t ever kick anybody out of His church, all are welcome." Then this last week, we had a Family Home Evening with the S family, recent converts that live nearby. They shared their conversion story, and then talked about all the different ways that the gospel has helped them since they found the church. Hearing this message from other "normal people" who, like them, had jobs and kids and normal lives, really made a big impact. It was a cool moment when the two families said hi to each other at church.
Next, Y. We met her when she came to English classes with her friend A, who is friends with J. Last Sunday, we left her with a copy of the Book of Mormon and a chapter to read. By Tuesday, she had already read, prayed, and knew that it was true. On Thursday, she said that she wanted to be baptized. It was really an amazing experience, being able to be a part in her conversion. She is a very special person, and I am absolutely sure that her life is going to change and improve now that she has found the church.
Quick note about J (remember her? The one who knows that the church is true, does everything like she is supposed to, but just doesn´t want to get baptized). This week her mom came down from C, a city to the north, and took her three kids back up there with her. We had a nice moment with the family before they left, and J´s mom thanked us for watching out for her daughter, and away they went.
Now for E. He came to church for the second time this week and loved it just as much as he did the first time. Somebody asked him if he came with somebody or if he was there alone, and he said "for now I´m coming here alone, but pretty soon I´ll convince the rest of my family to come with me." We also had a really powerful (powerful=something that leaves Elder Ray in tears at least three times) experience watching "The Testaments," a movie that talks about when Christ came to the Americas. Really, the only thing that E is missing right now is a testimony of the Book of Mormon. As soon as he reads it and prays about it, he will be absolutely ready for baptism.
M, the 13 year old grandson of M, came to church again. He is so cool, he also received an answer for the Holy Ghost when he asked to know if the Book of Mormon is true and got really excited when we talked about baptism, and how we can be baptized by someone that holds God´s authority. Our next goal is to help him to get to know the youth here in the ward better.
We had a couple moments that made us think a lot about God´s power to soften people´s hearts, too. A few weeks ago we got to know the A family and had a fun Family Home Evening with all of them. The highlight of the whole night were the games that G (5) and AL (3) taught us to play. Sadly, their father didn´t really want to participate, and stayed in his bedroom the whole time we were there. This week we went by to say hi again, and it was a totally different story. He said that he wanted to go back to church and prepare himself to be sealed in the temple with his family, his two daughters and his newborn son (he still hasn´t been born yet, but it should be this week). He said that he realized what the important things in life are, and he is ready to do things right. 180 change! It was great.
I know that this work is true. I know that God and Jesus Christ really showed themselves to Joseph Smith, called him to be a prophet, and gave him the priesthood, the power to act in God´s name on the earth. And I have been called to be a part in this great work, too!
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray