November 2nd, 2014
What a great week here in Trinidad! I had some super great and inspiring experiences this week. Before sharing, I will also let you know that I ate fried alligator this week. And it was yummmm, however I still prefer fried chicken.
First off, Jorge got baptized! I only got here for the last 3 weeks of his pre baptism teachings, but I already felt like we got to share so much learning with him and his wife (who is a member) that I just felt a part of his experience. And I am so happy to have the privilege of teaching him as a convert. They really need a lot of strengthening and have a long way to go in order to prepare this year for the temple. His baptism was an incredible experience, because of the Christlike examples of my bishop and the ward members. This bishop is by far my favorite so far. The majority of his family is less active, including his wife, but he is as strong as ever. He emanates humility and love, but his also firm and apropiately uses his leadership authority. He treats us equally as he treats the elders, and it is with great respect and love. He is truly a shining light for the whole ward. On the day of the baptism, there was no electricity in the chapel. We had to abruptly change the baptism from the night time to afternoon. We were super worried because it is already very difficult to get members to come to things, especially if it is in the hot, hot afternoon hours. Then we tried to fill the font, and there was no water in the chapel either. Our bishop, who lives in a stick hut with dirt floors, sacrificed time when he could have been working, to wait with us for hours in the chapel for water to arrive that we had delivered, which after a prayer, arrived 5 minutes before the baptism was supposed to begin. Then, the members started to come. I was so surprised! I never saw that happen in my other area, where people have cars and such. These members came in on motorbike taxis, in the middle of the afternoon to support an investigator that many of them did not know very well. It was very heartwarming, and we all enjoyed uplifting testimonies. I was so grateful Jorge could see the love those members have, this can make all the difference for a recent convert. The next day we visited Hermana Marina and her 3 children who will be baptized the . We found them as a referral right after I got here. It has been so amazing teaching them and watching them read their book of Mormon, and the other day they finally remembered to offer their first family prayer before they went to bed. Marina finally opened up to us and to our amazing relief society president. We knew she had been in danger a few weeks ago, she had told us she might not come to church because she wasn’t sure if she could go out in the open, but we weren’t sure why, and then she did actually end up coming! But the other day she explained. She had been living in the mountains in the jungle in a village with her children and their dad. However the dad had been involved in drug trade and crossed the wrong people, and so they were coming after his family to kill her and her children. They had to run, and she said they went undercover through the jungle for 15 days. Her daughters have scars from being eaten
alive by mosquitos, and she said they could barely sleep at night because they were also so scared of the jaguars and alligators. She told us they were blessed by God to get to her aunts house where they are living now, and then to be introduced to us. She feels they are safe here. I cant even imagine living the types of things people live here. And now they are accepting the gospel into their lives. What a light of hope it will bring into her life and those of her children if they can stay strong and faithful. We would appreciate prayers of protection in behalf of this family, the Souza family, and that they can keep progressing towards their baptism date. Yesterday was also a great day. In church, a young couple came to the front. They just got back from traveling to Cochabamba to be sealed in the temple. They both had difficulty speaking because they were emotional, but expressed gratitude for the blessing of becoming an eternal family. I was so moved as I watched the husband reach out and put his hand lovingly on his wifes shoulder and hold their baby girl. It was such a huge contrast in comparison with the men and women we encounter every day who have lost hope and live drunk, or without ever smiling, or the men who leer and shout things at us. The gospel transforms people. Then later when we lunched in a tiny stick hut with the Smith family, Hermana smith told us how her husband had been inactive and drunk after his younger brother died. After almost dying three times from alcohol poisoning, he said to her that they were going back to church. They then reactivated, and she said one day he came home and said, Would you like to get sealed with me in the temple? Hermana smith was crying when she related this. She said she thought she had fallen and hit her head because this had been her dream, and she had waited and suffered so much until her husband was ready to live this dream. They prepared and eventually went, and now he is in the bishopric and they are two of the strongest members of our ward. It is so amazing to see these things, to feel my testimony grow as I see the fruits of the gospel when it is sincerely applied. True love, true hope, true light.
I love you all, have a great week