Dear Mom and Dad,
What a great week. Yesterday could have been one of the best days of my life, it just all worked out so perfectly and so beautifully... I am about as happy as can be right now.
First off, a story. One night this week we were going through the street, and a homeless man came up and asked us for money. I said (and I was being completely honest), "I only have 10 pesos (about 2 cents), if you had some extra change I would really appreciate it." Would you believe it, he gave me 50 pesos!
I went to La Ligua again this week to do the second part of J´s baptismal interview (I think I´ve done as much for La Ligua now that I´m here in Quillota as I ever did when I was actually there!). He passed, I am really amazed by how much he has changed since I was there. He still has many of the same customs and habits, but his self, who he is, what he wants and what he does... he is hardly recognizable! He makes me think of a statement that really stuck out to me from President Monson in October´s General Conference. Looking straight at the camera, he said in a deep, powerful, serious voice, "Men Can Change."
We also went by to see C, an investigator I had taught when I was there and that hadn´t seen hide nor tail of the missionaries since I left. She was very excited to see us, said that she really enjoyed our visits while I was there and will keep listening to the missionaries now.
A little story about R--while teaching about the commandments, we discovered that she smoked. She gave it up in two days and hasn´t smoked for almost a week now. Next, we discovered that she was not married. She went to her husband (it is hard to say boyfriend when they have been living together for 21 years) and asked if they could get married. He said no. We taught her about fasting for special blessings, and we fasted this weekend with her. He reconsidered, and decided that they could get married, but only if it was in a Catholic ceremony (which is ironic, but I think it´s acceptable considering the situation). She has so much faith, it amazes me! I think if we said "the Prophet receive revelation and you need to emigrate to Utah," she would say, "where´s my handcart."
We had a beautiful experience teaching a sister named Ib this week. She has been a member almost 10 years. She lived for the first several years in the ward next door, where she made a lot of friends, and where she feels like her heart hasn´t ever left. For the past few years, she has been living here in the Quillota ward, but she said she never felt like she became part of the group, she always felt isolated. After a couple of really tragic experiences involving ward members, she stopped going to church. This week, we went by and taught her with V (15), L´s daughter, who recently moved here from the south. She shared a bit of her experience, and the things that helped her keep going even as she undertook a dramatic change from one part of the world, and one ward, to another. Ib recognized that she needed to go back to church, and even realized that a part of why she was here in this ward, could be to help the M family stay active in the church. She came to church this Sunday and is committed to keep coming forever.
Now, for the story of the M family. Last weekend, we had finished all of their teaching, and they were ready for their baptismal interview. We set it for Wednesday. Thursday night Yolanda called and said that she couldn´t make it, so we rescheduled. Thursday, that same day, she called again and said that something came up. We were close by, so we went over to see her and see if we could help. For some reason, she seemed really evasive, a little dodgy, and we left without having set up an interview. Al day long on Friday we agonized, wondering if we had misjudged, if they weren´t really ready, if something had happened, wondering what we could do. We prayed, and prayed some more, and Friday night, just before heading home, we went by to see what had happened. It turned out, Y had a similar experience--when she saw us she thought we were angry at her (I think our worry could have come out wrong on our faces) and worried that she had done something horribly wrong. She didn´t know how to react, and wondered if she would be able to be baptized. But, we got it all resolved, and set up the interview for Saturday morning.
Saturday morning arrived, and we were there in the chapel with the Elder from Quillota Centro who would do the interview. We waited... and waited... and as ten minutes turned into an hour, I started to question myself again. Had Y been completely honest? Did we miss something? Did we mess up? After an hour of waiting, we decided to call it quits and head home. Five minutes after closing the door she called: "Elders! I slept in! Can I still come for my interview?" Of course, we called the other Elders back, and the interview went off just great.
Yesterday, Sunday, Y, E, and C M were baptised. The baptismal service was beautiful, a lot of members were there supporting the family--including Ib, who was there at church for the first time in months. The spirit was strong, everybody was nervous, and then calm and filled with joy after coming up out of the water. It was one of the most beautiful baptisms I have ever seen. The entire family was filled up with light so strong that it just started bursting out of their eyes.
I really am grateful that God helped us get through the confusion and misunderstanding to be able to get to this beautiful work. I know He is the one who directs, and moves forward, this work, because there is no way we could possibly do it by ourselves.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray