Last month, we were teaching a golden investigator named Eli who went to church every week by himself and had read up to Alma in the first week, who came to the lessons with good questions and was happy with our answers. I loved him a lot.
And then, one day, he disappeared. Wouldn't answer the phone, wasn't at home, nothing, nothing, nothing. We called him two or three times a week for several weeks, but nothing. Our other investigators hadn't worked out and it seemed like my dream of having one more baptism before I finished my mission was not likely to happen.
Then, on Friday, me and Hermana Chamorro had an extra hour after a meeting with the bishop and the name of a future investigator comes into my head. We started walking there and for some reason we turned on Eli's street and when we passed his house, it still looked empty, but the lights are on. Hermana Chamorro said, "We should knock on his door." So we did. And lo and behold, ELI answered the door, now without his mustache.
I won't go into detail for his confidentiality, but he had been warned by the police to not answer any telephone calls for the past two weeks, and had left for Chiapas. He had just come home and was still waiting for important results from the police. He was a nervous wreck.
We showed him the "Gracias a Que El Vive" video and read Alma 31 (which happened to be the next chapter he was about to read) and we asked the Hermano that was with us to call one of the high priests to give him a priesthood blessing. He still didn't feel very good and didn't want to come to General Conference because the Police were supposed to come the next day. But Hermana Chammoro said. "This is how you can show your faith to Heavenly Father," and he said, "Tiene razon." (You're right.)
The next day we fasted for him. Guess who came to all 5 sessions of General Conference?! Sunday morning, he called to tell us that the police had resolved everything and confirmed that the crisis was over and everything was okay. He was so happy. We set a baptismal date over the phone.
I just couldn't help feeling that Heavenly Father was not only blessing Eli, but that he would also do something so sweet for me. I would have been okay if there weren't any more baptisms before I went home, but when He answered my secret, silent prayers and fasts in such a miraculous way, I felt His love for me in a sweeter way than I ever had before.
If you could all pray that he can be baptized this Saturday, that would be great.
I feel like now, almost at the end of my mission, I'm finally living what Elder Holland was talking about with the phrase, "living in the realm of miracles." Hermana Chamorro helped me to live it. I have learned from her to pray for everything-- and Heavenly Father gives us everything! We work from one minute-miracle to the next, our success completely dependent upon Him answering our prayers. We pray to know where to go. We pray that the other person will know what to say. We pray that the person we're talking to will understand, that they'll feel it's true, that they'll change in heart, that they'll think of a reference (someone else who would like to hear our message), that the Spirit will be stronger. And it happens.
I have also realized that the mission should be a harvest, that the field should already be white-- the majority of the planting and nurturing should be done by the MEMBERS so that the missionaries, who don't have time to sit and grow people like the members do, can come and CHOP CHOP CHOP--teach and baptize, teach and baptize. Members should be the primary finders, and the primary preparers. THEY are the angels talked about in Alma 13:24 that are preparing the hearts of the people to receive the message.
It's going to take a big culture change for members to realize that they need to be constantly meeting new people, constantly assessing needs and teaching their neighbors and friends, preparing the hard-hearted people to be soft enough to hear the missionaries.
Last realization-- I was hoping at the beginning of my mission that the mission would be hard enough that it would push me to the break point and I would have a big Atonement-using experience and feel like I could finally say I had felt the Atonement in my life. In my mission, I have felt a couple of those moments, but more than anything, the Atonement is what I use in little bitty ways, all the time, in little experiences all day. It is much more of a day-to-day tool than a crisis tool.
I was hoping to make a list of Yucatecan-isms, but I'll have to do it in my next letter.
I love you all muchisimo.