I my goodness it is so good to hear from you and know that you´re all well!!! And actually having time to write you is really nice :) Oh goodness you are all having some adventures too!! Wow, that story about the Elder in our ward at home sounds about right, haha it really has been amazing me lately how much I have grown to love soooo many of these people here. My companion feels like my Ecuadorian sister, the Elders here feel like my brothers, members and investigators are so kind and caring...and none of these people in our areas were even part of our lives a few months or years ago. It is incredible to think about. It is crazy thinking about both worlds of people I love, both at home and in the mission and how hard it is to not be able to have them exist together and be all together at once. But that is what heaven is for. I think a lot lately about how it isn´t enough to just return to the presence of God and our older brother Jesus Christ, they want us to all return TOGETHER. The relationships and ties we create in this life are so important... every kind word said and service offered matters. I love you all so much. It still can be hard sometimes to be away from Mom, Dad, Amber, Aaron, Wade, and Nathan... but it truly is such a comfort to be to know that we can live in the eternities together. I feel a bit emotional just thinking about how blessed we are able to, and what a legacy our ancestors have left behind so that I can have such a beautiful family based upon the gospel. Mom, I received your letter with stories of our ancestors this week and your handwritten letter (thank you sooooo much! it was so nice to hear from you!!!) and I am filled with such gratitude for all of the sacrifices that were made for us to be where we are today, just because they felt the truth and recognized the Lord´s voice when the saints were called to gather in Utah. Wow, I really wasn't planning on writing any of that in my email today, but it came to mind how truly blessed we are and what we owe to our forefathers. What a blessing it will be to get to know Grandma and Grandpa Powell who I have never met, and other descendants and live with our immediate family because we have been sealed together with the Lord´s priesthood authority here on earth.
I AM SO HAPPY FOR AMBER! Yay, that will be so nice for her with others all around her with the same standards, I have always admired her natural spirituality and love for others. I can completely see her simply saying "let’s fast" or "why don´t we say a prayer?" Ah I just bet she´s having the time of her life out there. AHHHH I can´t believe her mission papers have been submitted! I’m just getting so excited thinking about it! When will her call be here?!? Thank you for sharing your testimony of prayer and fasting mama. Wow, we are witnesses of little miracles when simple things like that soften hearts and give us strength. The Lord is so willing to help us when we let Him in. I love hearing about how He works with our family. I love you guys :)
Oh YES! Last week was so fun!! We flew out Monday morning (I am going to see if I can send ya some pictures of us on the plane and all hehe) and arrived there to see the missionaries from all the other islands (5, I think) and President. Wow, when President got here 2 years ago ALL the sisters were in Madrid, there weren't any in the North [of Madrid] or in the islands. I feel so blessed to be here. It was a painful week of sore muscles after playing volleyball and ultimate Frisbee for hours, haha I could hardly walk and was very sun burnt. ALL worth it though! I cannot express how much I just love getting to know all of the missionaries, and be with people who are all here for the same purpose. We had a relaxing night (surprise!) and all the sisters stayed in what used to be the mission home there in Gran Canaria. It was a dream!!! We had time to shower and relax and have a devotional, eat some delicious American style chocolate chip cookies, French toast, bacon....we felt like we were on vacation. It was a different and strange but very nice feeling! Zone conference was incredible. Our leaders truly are inspired, I always walk away with a list of 1032434580 things that I can improve on and hope to be able to apply :) We talked a lot about DESIRES. I love that word...and how the Lord knows the desires of our hearts and we can change our desires, The Lord has called us and can magnify us. We all stood up together and recited D&C 4, memorized, and Elder Howard, Elder Muller, and I sang the Spanish version of Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (my favorite song!! It’s pretty in Spanish too). We always leave Zone conference edified and charged up to work hard again, I love it. I want to send you a few copies of some of the things President said to us.
It has been a week of unexpected events and running around like crazies with plans for another baptism! I am not sure if I have told you very much about Luis, but I wanted to share a little with you today. We met him late one night as we were in a bit of a hurry. It was dark and we needed to be home fairly soon, and we walked past Luis and his friend, but felt the need to turn around and talk to them. We shared the story of The Restoration with them that first night, and that’s where it all started!! Since he was 8 years old, he has read the Bible and been interested in religion, passed through some difficult times in his life with an abusive father, done some things he really regrets, etc., and his journey has been an interesting one. He studied with many religions, the latest being the Jehovah's Witnesses and always ended up feeling further away from God, and wanted to be baptized after many years. But after 5 weeks, it’s been interesting to see the transformation in him. In the beginning, he didn´t even believe that he had chosen to be here in this life full of suffering and pain. He had so many doubts about being able to keep some commandments specifically, but we continued to teach and he continued to soften his heart. The past Sunday, we wanted to announce the baptism without anyone´s name (because he wasn’t sure if we had received an answer for sure if he should be baptized the 6th of September) but they ended up announcing his name in sacrament meeting along with the baptismal announcement... ooops. We felt soooo bad! He felt awkward as he had to tell others that he wasn’t really sure about it. We apologized and he just looked me in the eyes and said: It’s okay, I know your hearts. Maybe you two know that I am more ready than I think I am. I am starting realize that I was prepared to accept The Gospel of Jesus Christ before I met you two, I just didn’t know it". WOW. I couldn’t believe it. I just didn’t have words! The Lord works in mysterious ways and takes our imperfections and brings His purposes to pass. He is very prepared and yet we have felt so much opposition this week. The Salvation of Souls is not a cheap experience!!! The first time we scheduled his baptismal interview it was 2 hours long, and needed to talk to President for 1 hour, clearing up some things that had happened in the past...he´d had a hard day and felt upset and offended. But the Lord also used this imperfection to teach us a lesson of patience and it was the Lord´s way to teach each of us humility hearkening to the words of those called of the Lord.
So, making this veeeryyyy long story short (maybe I will tell you the entire story someday! haha) after 3 phone calls with President, lots of waiting nervously, innumerable prayers, two interviews, announcing and postponing the baptism, LUIS WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY the 6th of September! Wow, I am so glad that this is the Lord’s work and not ours. Salvation is not easy! It’s been a journey. During the baptismal service I kept thinking about what a miracle it was that in 5 weeks the man we met on the side of the street who gave up hope on the whole world became the man dressed in white, humble and willing to make a promise with the Lord and be baptized. He bore his testimony about how all his life he wanted to be clean, but it was like his washing machine was just broken. the clothes kept coming out dirtier and dirtier, but he has finally found the solution to be on the right track and realizes it is a good thing to be humble and accept the Lord’s help in the process We consider Mosiah 5:1-6 his story.:) I will try and send pictures if I can find a memory card reader!
It was so good to hear from you! Thank you for your support and prayers :) they are well received and much needed.
PS. Before I forget, I just wanted to tell you about an incredible talk you should read: "The Best is Yet to Be" by Jeffery R. Holland. It’s so great!!! It is so applicable in so many different situations in life!
|Our yummy breakfast with the Sisters and senior couples and a bit of the Gran Canaria mission home!|
|Hermana Palomino, Elder Howard, Elder Muller, the Missionaries in Santa Cruz!|
|Boarding the plane!|
|The Hatches, Luis, Hermana Palomino, and I|
|Luis is baptized!!!!|