Thanks for all of your packages and emails and Dear Elders and everything. It's been awesome to get all of those.
It has been an amazing final week at the MTC and I hope your week was as great as mine was. I have been able to feel God's love for me, and for each of His children so much this week.
I still do not have my visa sadly, but thankfully, the Church has temporarily reassigned me to serve in the States! I have been assigned to serve in the California Roseville mission, until I receive clearance to go to Mexico. I am so grateful for this opportunity; I know that there is someone there that I need to help. I fly out early tomorrow morning from Salt Lake to Sacramento!
So Elder Arguelles left for Los Angeles to begin his service in the mission field on Monday morning, super early. Elders Lucero, Vinces, and I all got up at 3am to go to the Travel Office with him to say goodbye. It was really sad, but I was just so tired that I really wasn't feeling anything besides a desire to go back to bed. I got to say bye to a few other missionaries from my Zone and also got to see Elder Clark (a friend from BYU) one last time before he left for Mexico!
I got to go to the Provo Temple on Monday morning, and it was so nice to be there. It helped me appreciate God's love for all of us.
On Tuesday night, our Zone sang a bunch of hymns and stuff, and we sang "Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos" which is "God Be With You Till We Meet Again". It became such a classic for every night that missionaries were leaving the next morning. The next morning, Elders Vinces, Ducuara, and Lucero, all left...at different times. At 2:30, 4:30, and 6:00. So basically I didn't get much sleep. I was reassigned to be companions with Elders Moreno and Reyna.
We had an investigator lesson with a man named Vic. Vic is an amazing son of God. Within the first ten minutes of the lesson, I truly came to love him and hope that he would accept our message because I want for him so badly to believe that Christ is our Savior and that He died for us. Although I grew this love for him so quickly, we were not able to really get to any scriptural doctrine or anything, and so we really weren't able to increase his faith in Christ. I was kind of disappointed, because I know that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins, that He died for us on the cross, and that He is the Son of God. I know that without Him, we could not live with God again.
Later that day, I was just feeling kind of stressed out because of all the Elders and Sisters from my Zone are leaving, I was not getting much sleep, and still being here for another week. I was beginning to feel overwhelmed with things to do and just so many emotions, and then something amazing happened. We were learning in class about how powerful the Book of Mormon can be in changing people's lives, and it just hit me. I finally began to realize how much the Book of Mormon has affected my life, and brought me closer to Christ. For the last two weeks at the MTC, I don't think I realized that. I had been teaching lessons and testifying of the Church, without really feeling it. This experience made me realize just how important it is to be ME. I need to be willing to share what I know to be true; God has people waiting for me, specifically me, to share the Gospel with.
On Friday, we had another lesson with Vic, our investigator, and it was kind of tough to stay motivated to teach him, because he basically said, "I'll read the Book of Mormon, I'll pray, but I won't do it sincerely, because I don't think Christ is our Redeemer, or that God hears our prayers." During our preparation and prior to entering the room he was in, Elders Reyna, Moreno, and I said several prayers to be guided by the Spirit in knowing what to say. We went in with a plan to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ: faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end; but, that was quickly blown out of the water. We made a bigger focus on really trying to love him, and understand what is keeping him from increasing his faith in Christ. We asked a lot of questions to him, about why he invites us back each time. The lesson turned to focusing on the Atonement of Jesus Christ: how He suffered for our trials and sins, and died for us. We really were directed by the Spirit to testify of the importance of Jesus Christ in our lives, and why it was so significant that He came to earth. We were able to find scriptures that applied perfectly to what we were talking about, and I closed with my testimony that I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, that it truly is "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" and like it says at the end of the Book of Moroni (10:4), that we must pray sincerely to know if it is true, and if we truly have a desire to know, God will answer our prayers. After I said this, Vic just sat there for a bit, and then he said something along the lines of, "If all of this you're telling me is true, if I read the Book of Mormon, and pray to God, I can know that Jesus Christ is our Savior?" That made me so, so, so excited, I couldn't help but smile, and say YES! And then he said, "Then I will do it." It made me so happy, to know that he truly has a desire to find out for himself if the Book of Mormon is true. You can't know of its truth if you never read it! After we concluded, we were about to get up, and he said, "Antes de salir, yo quiero decir algo" and he told us how much he appreciated our faith in Christ, and the service that we are doing. It gave me so much strength to know God is proud of me.
Sorry this is such a long letter. I came into this week not excited about being here for another week, because I wanted to be out in the mission field instead of the MTC, but I know that this was part of God's plan for me, because I had so many life changing experiences here. We watched a video called "Missionary Work and the Atonement" from President Eyring and Elder Holland, and it was so amazing. It truly helped me understand the impact Christ's sacrifice for us has on my life. There was another video we watched from Elder Bednar, which helped me realize how incredible the Son of God, Jesus Christ is. Every time that he was spat upon, mocked, rejected, and crucified, he served others. Whenever we go through a hard time, we often expect people to help us, or we feel like we deserve a break; but if we are really trying to be like Christ, then we must continue to serve others.
Though I have been a missionary for only three weeks, I have felt God's love for me and for all of His children so so strongly. I have gained such a strong, personal witness, that God does indeed hear and answer our prayers. I know that He has a plan for each of us, and although we may experience trials, loss, and suffering in our life, that we can be strengthened through our Heavenly Father. He loves each of you so much. He knows everything you go through; He wants to help you, all you have to do is come to Him. He has so many blessings He wants to give you. If you have just an ounce of faith in Him, and His Son, Jesus Christ, you can be blessed. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, just like those of ancient times. I know that the Book of Mormon is additional scripture that God wants to give each of us. I know that the Book of Mormon can change lives, because I have seen it change my own. The Book of Mormon truly does testify of Christ. Please, please order a free copy, and take some time each day to read it with faith. If you truly desire to know if it's true, then read it and pray in faith. The Book of Mormon can give you answers to your prayers and give you strength when you need it most.
I love this Church so much, I love God, I love His Son, Jesus Christ, and I love all of you.
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All the Elders in my zone.
Trying to learn how to go cross-eyed.
My new companions, Elder Moreno & Elder Reyna