Dear Mom and Dad,
I had another trip to La Ligua this last week--it is funny, every time I think that I´ve already finished up my work there, I get sent on another interchange and end up doing something else that was missing. This trip, I got to do two fun things--teach and invite M, who I found when I was there a year ago and who was baptized a few months back, to endure to the end; and teach A and R, a less active family that I taught once or twice, and commit them to read the scriptures, attend church, accept and fulfill callings. It was really a blast. Another great experience during interchanges--while we were planning out the days work, I grabbed a ward directory, and saw a name there (C) that I had heard when I was there, that I had even looked for, but who I had never met. Something about it bothered me, or caught my attention, so I wrote down the name and address. Later on, as we were walking through the street, we said hi to a man who replied, "hey, why don´t you come visit me?" I said, "because we haven´t met you yet. What´s your name?" "Hermano C." I think my jaw probably hit the ground. We set up a visit for later that week.
Several times this week, we have taught I and her daughter C, members who are recently returning to the church after a time of inactivity (10 months for IS, several years for C). It really is wonderful seeing them take back up the habits that they once had, including scripture study, Family Home Evening, and church attendance. Actually, this last Saturday we didn´t have anybody signed up for lunch, and on extremely short notice, IS volunteered and prepared us a delicious meal, assuring us that she would always be available if we didn´t have somebody to eat lunch with. This Sunday, IS stepped out of the bishops office with her eyes shining. "Elder Ray!" she said to me, "I´m not too far off from being able to enter into the temple again!"
Saturday night was the "religious recognition" of JC and L´s wedding. It was a beautiful, impromptu service (we didn´t have anything planned until about 15 minutes before the bride got there), including remarks from the bishop, L´s brother in law, and a special musical number of Families Can Be Together Forever. They were both in tears by the end, absolutely full of happiness.
After the "wedding" ended (it wasn´t really a wedding because they had already been married several weeks before), R, a young woman in the ward who is preparing to serve a mission in a few months more, came up and asked me for some advice. She said that her mom had taken her to a medium the day before to have her hand read and her future told. This medium told her that she shouldn´t serve a mission, and she was rather confused and distraught. I showed her in the Book of Mormon 1) that we should trust in God rather than in mediums or wizards, and 2) that anything that invites us to do good and follow Christ is of God, while anything that entices us not to serve Christ is not of God, but of the devil. She seemed a lot calmer after that.
Side note, one of the things I absolutely cherish about being a missionary is the God-given ability to answer people´s questions with the Book of Mormon. Helping people find the truth using the Book of Mormon is one of the most beautiful experiences I know of, and I am very glad that my parents and seminary teachers always invited me to read it, over and over again--I´m sure that is part of the reason why I can teach from it now.
Sunday night, with only a half hour left before we would have to return to our apartment, our last appointment fell through and we were deciding what to do. I had a really insistent impression that we should go visit R. When we got there, Elder R suggested that, after singing "I´ll Go Where You Want Me to Go," each one of us share a favorite missionary scripture. The spirit there was very strong and clear, and after we finished, R thanked us and said that, even though she had received a strong and clear answer that she had to serve a mission, she had doubted, but that now she was absolutely sure that that was the right choice. I´m sure she will be an excellent missionary, and I´m glad we could help her out a bit.
Another wonderful experience I had following the spirit this last week was the following. This last week, San Pedro was opened, and two sisters entered in to start their missionary labors (one of them is Hermana G, Elder G´s sister (Elder G was my companion for almost five months in El Mirador)). The first week was hard for them, and they didn´t find anybody who was willing to listen to their message. I remembered how hard the first week was in Quintero, with Elder S, and a passage of Doctrine and Covenants that helped us to recognize that we really did have to be there, in spite of how hard it was. It says something like, ´and thus it was convenient unto Me and ye have come here for the salvation of souls.´ I decided to call and share this passage with Hermana G. After I did so, she said, "thank you, I think you just answered my afternoon´s prayer."
I am so grateful for the guidance of the Holy Ghost. A life without the Holy Ghost would be like a life without sunlight. Now, I´m hoping and praying that this same Holy Ghost will help us to find people to teach. Your prayers are all appreciated as well!
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray