|The Jamaica missionaries! Plus the Palmer couple|
Left to right standing: Elders Casper, Boden, Thelemaque, the Palmers, Sisters Lobo, Snow, Lesuma, Urizar
Bottom left to right: St Rose, Me, Lapointe
|Our lovely district|
It's been another great week! We are starting to see some results from various things we've changed and been figuring out in the last couple of weeks, and we had a more fruitful week. In fact, we have two baptismal dates in the district! The sisters have been teaching Edgar, and he is progressing incredibly and has plans to be baptized the very end of this month! His wife is a member.... in Mexico. So he actually won't be baptized here; he is planning on going to Mexico for two months, and will be baptized there.
The other is from our pool, his name is Mickey. We found Mickey a week or so ago during an elliptical event, which went really well. We had been having decent success with the free lemonade ellipticals as far as finding potentials went, but couldn't figure out how to get contacts that would turn into investigators. After counseling about it, the idea we received was to combine that concept with a church tour. So we set up on the corner of Jamaica Ave and the street our church is on and tried to get people inside the church. It was very effective. Once people went inside the church, you could visibly see the difference the Spirit brought. Several of us had full lessons - Elder Boden and I had a full Restoration lesson complete with a hymn inside the chapel! Anyways, one of the contacts was Mickey. It was the Zone Leaders who helped him, although Elder Boden and I met him.
Well several days later, we saw Mickey on the street and had a little chat with him - he was excited to see us! We asked him if he had been in contact with the Zone Leaders and he said no, so we took his number again and called the Zone Leaders and they said they just hadn't gotten around to it yet. Then just yesterday Elder Boden and I were on the street getting a good licking from some.... fellow... (sometimes in Jamaica when you're fearlessing you end up getting the fearlessing done to you) and Mickey walked right up and joined in the fun! We were finally able to peel off with Mickey and started walking toward the church as we talked. The Zone Leaders still hadn't contacted him so we decided to just teach him right then. We went into the chapel and sang "Nearer my God to Thee" and then had a really good lesson. We shared the Restoration and he committed to be baptized September 5. The Spirit was there so strong. Afterwards he said his favorite part was the hymn, and what a difference that made. Within a few minutes there was a feeling of mutual trust between us that was very special. He said he had never felt that way before, never felt so much like he could be himself and be understood. Nobody was emotional but God's presence was so obviously felt. We are a little sad that he doesn't speak Spanish - we have another lesson with him tonight but then we will need to pass him to the Zone Leaders. We feel really good about both Edgar and Mickey! They are both solid.
For the sake of the ward, I'm a little sad that neither of them will be baptized here. They need to taste the missionary work. The activities we have started have been successful. We are breaking the ice. But waking up a ward is difficult.... they need a little something. It's been a year and a half since there's been a baptism in Jamaica. But we are so excited to see some people that are wanting to change their lives and increase their commitment towards God. Besides those two, the district has four investigators who are progressing! On our part, we have been working with Miriam and Pedro. These two are such an unlikely story! Elder Vi and I met Pedro a few months ago on the street, he's younger, probably a teenagerish and though he is Hispanic, he's more comfortable with English. We had a pretty long conversation right there (he's very friendly), but, long story short, we felt like we were wasting our time. He was born Catholic but didn't agree with how they did things and thought they were too "lax", and so had wandered into a Muslim church one day and decided to be Muslim. Very interesting fellow. He gave us his information so we could come hang out sometime. We were sort of like, "yeah.... we'll see you sometime....". Never thought he'd actually become an investigator. Well a few weeks after that, we fearlessed a woman in the park and she didn't seem super interested in hearing the message herself, but she said she had a son who needed it. When she said her son's name was Pedro, we asked her where she lived and it turns out it was that Pedro. We've had some contact with Pedro, and he's reading the Book of Mormon a lot! He loves it. He's studied the Bible and the Koran, but he says he's never read a book with so many answers to questions of the soul. Then I wondered if he had ever read Preach my Gospel since he quoted chapter 5.... So we finally got a solid appointment with him and his mother. After some pondering and praying, we decided to call Clara, a member whom we don't really know, to see if she could come teach with us. Well we got there and it didn't take more than five minutes before Clara and Miriam figured out they somehow knew each other from their childhood! They were instant best friends, it was incredible. As of yet, they aren't thirsting after change, but they are on the path. I'm excited for them.
The other contact we have that really has desires to change is Santos. Unfortunately, we have not been able to see him in any sort of a sober state yet, but hopefully this week. Whenever we see him in the park he's too drunk to have a good lesson or remember the appointments we set up. But his father was a member, who died when he was eight years old. For some reason, Santos breaks my heart even more than the rest. It's as if I can feel his father there pleading for him. He loves his father so much, always talks about him. Looking into his eyes is what breaks my heart. They are so sad, and they are dull in a way I can't describe. In the last while I've worked with these people so much that I have come to feel something different about their eyes the more intoxicated they are, something beyond and more saddening than the obvious physical impairments. The only explanation I can come up with is that something of their spirit is clouded over. There is left a shell, something hollow. I can't describe it, but it's something that has surprised me as I have sat in deep conversation with the same people in two different states. Santos wants to quit drinking. He knows it's ruined his life. He speaks fondly of memories of sitting in church with his father. He wants to come back to his father. We sat with him a few days ago for a while just talking. As we finally walked away he called out and said, "bye papa..." That was just too much I about lost it.
Lessons learned this week? For me it was the power of revelation. I know it's real. I've experienced it. I believe that God still inspires men and women and that those who have to care for others receive inspiration to guide their responsibility. I love being a missionary and am grateful to be out here with my only purpose being feeding Christ's sheep; caring for them and sharing the gospel message. I know that this is a good message. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.