Found this lovely place wandering waaay down in south Jamaica (not our intended goal but we did eventually find the family we were looking for as well so that's good). For the most part I've lost any desires for putting effort into photography on the mission but I couldn't help snapping a pic of this one
I've just been realizing that I've been in Jamaica for a long time! Contemplating the upcoming transfer meeting I am realizing that my status of being in Jamaica is growing insecure..... and I don't want to leave. I remember at the end of three months in Staten Island I loved a lot of people I was working with, but I was excited to leave because I love change. The prospect of a WHOLE NEW TRANSFER (which to a new missionary can seem like one of the "days" of creation) in the same area was intimidating. But in the last few months I've grown to love not only the people, but the area. I feel like I'm a part of it, and that I have a work here that's not yet finished. We will see if the Lord agrees with me on that one....
Hey so we have some exciting news! Remember Chris? He's the investigator that has been investigating since the dawn of time, or more precisely said, for nearly two years. Well he has been on fire lately, progressing like mad. After two years of trial and error, we finally figured out how to get him to really take studying the Book of Mormon seriously, and it's changed him. He's a totally different person. For all those reading, please learn for yourselves the conversion (or changing) power of the Book of Mormon, but ONLY if done properly, and if there is anybody out there who is reading halfheartedly out of sense of duty or commandment..... please stop and do it right. Véase Moroni 6-10 y DC 58:26-29. Anyway, once Chris learned this principle, he changed. He called us on Friday and asked if we could come pick him up and walk to the ward activity with him. When he came out of his apartment building, his eyes were in tears and he asked us if he could get baptized that night. To be honest, I've never practiced how to respond to that particular situation in a tactful manner, so after attempting and failing to think of something good to say what came out was "umm.... no". It turned out to be quite the night. Well, long story short, he set a baptismal date for next Tuesday, so everybody be praying for him!
By the way for those curious about the promising baptism from the Sisters, he still is not baptized because he still is not in Mexico! He works construction and their project is taking much longer than anticipated and so he can't leave yet, but is still planning on it. And our other promising investigators, the Reyes family are doing great! Not sure if I've actually told you about these ones yet, but Jose is an inactive member that we met a long time ago, when I was first here. The sisters had mostly been working with them, but long story short, he just wants his kids to grow up in the church, but is not willing to find a job that permits him to come to church on Sunday's and his mom is the one who really takes care of the kids, and she's an evangelical Christian and always takes the kids to her church. Kids want to be baptized in this church, and one of them is nine so he can. They haven't gone anywhere over the last five months, but we switched and picked them up from the Sisters and they are just a miracle! The Lord has softened their hearts and now Jose's mom (Xiomara) wants to get baptized as well! She is going through a hard time with cancer right now which makes it difficult for her, and she is leaving to Nicaragua for a while so her progression will not be very consistent for the next while, but someday. That was another cool experience with the Book of Mormon. At first, she was willing to accept us in the house because we have a very insistent way of getting the whole family together and she likes that, but wasn't interested in the message. She had read the Book of Mormon, but not a lot. Well something in her heart had changed, and she had a true, humble desire to know. She expressed to us last week that she was hooked as soon as she started reading the introduction, and she continued to read through the testimonies of the three and eight witnesses and of Joseph Smith. She said she believed it. She said she believed that the Book of Mormon is true, and that what we said about Joseph Smith and his encounter with the Father and the Son was real. And it is. That happened. If you don't believe that or aren't sure how much you believe it, read the Book of Mormon.
On another note, we had an epic mission conference this week. I mean epic. Elder Bennet and his wife (from the Seventy) came and visited us, and for nearly seven hours we were rebuked, unified, and edified by the Spirit. Spending any amount of time attempting to describe the meeting or what happens during it would be in vain, so hopefully these few words will suffice: the leaders of this church are men and women of God. There is not one inkling of doubt in my mind that they are called of Him and are instruments that manifest his power. One the one hand, they are far more human than we get the impression from watching general conference. On the other, they are far more superhuman than one would or could imagine, and you can only know what I'm talking about if through being with them. In the MTC, my branch president told me that if you were to line up ten men, all clean cut and dressed in suits, and one were a general authority, he would be able to pick him out with no difficulty. I thought about that a great deal, because I didn't think I would be able to. There are many different aspects of one's appearance and person that could affect your perception of them. Well I've told you before of what an experience it's been to be a missionary and to enjoy visits from general authorities and observe them up close, but yesterday I really learned what my branch president was talking about. I realized that my spirit is not yet sensitive enough to be able to pick a servant of the Lord out among ten successful, clean and seemingly happy other men, but through really being with one, I learned why and how that is possible. For an entire day, I watched them, listened to them, observed him role playing with other missionaries, doing the same myself with him. After the meeting he approached me and we conversed privately. For the duration of the day, we were led by the Spirit in a conspicuous way. The revelation we all received didn't come because Elder Bennet and his wife were good teachers (which they were, though I know a lot of outstanding teachers), it wasn't because they were kind and personable (which they were.... they demonstrate true, godly love, which happens to be tough love a lot), and it wasn't because they were intense people that had developed many attributes of being successful and communicating with people. It was because they have lived their lives in a way (exact obedience, first principle of heaven) that allowed the Spirit of God to flow through them. Some day soon, all of us will meet our Savior in person, and He will thank us for accepting and sustaining his prophets, seers and revelators. He will point me to the host of leaders I had in this life, and among them will be Elder Bennet, a brother and fellow servant who accepted the responsibility to care for me and be a special conduit of the Spirit. We will hug again and talk about what happened that day in New York. I will not know any better then than I know now that he was called of God. God has not abandoned his biblically established pattern of calling prophets and organizing his church all the way from the prophets down to the parents and home teachers. I love being a missionary and I know that this is God's church! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.