Monday, December 26, 2011

Great things are cooking

Mom and Dad- & fam first off I just want to say Thank YOU, before anything else.  Thank you for all your prayers and faith that you have sent my way.  I know that they truly help and that they really are part of the many miracles that I have seen on my mission.  Mom you remember that email I sent you of that family of four I have been looking for with Sister Gray?  Well we found them and we've taught them, they've been married and they all got baptized yesterday as a family and are now on their journey towards an eternal family.  Remember how I told you big things were building up here in Brentwood?  Well you should have seen all the white suits that were used yesterday. It was pretty awesome.  I think God is just so clever in his grand scheme of things.  Both sets of sisters here in the ward had a baptism on the same day. I think I told you that president just put sister gray and I as the new companionship of sisters in the ward?  President was debating whether or not 6 missionaries was too much in one ward but Elder Carnahan told him it would be good for the area and that it is the gold of the mission.  So that is why we sisters ended up staying.  I think that God blessed both us sisters with baptisms to show that he approved and that it was indeed the inspired decision.  He is just the best you know that?  I love God.  Justo is an investigator that the sisters have been teaching since the beginning of the transfer.  He showed up to church one day and told them he was ready to get baptized.  He is pretty legit and the sisters have been teaching him over the last month.  Evidently he had worked for the church in construction in the past and every time he was doing the a job in one of his churches he always felt so good and so he became curious and has been investigating over the years.  Like always god gives us experiences that prepare our hearts and help us want to change and he decided to take it a little serious and introduced himself to the sisters when he decided to start coming to church.  He is so awesome.  Full of faith and hope for new and brighter future.  What better gift to give to Christ than to be baptized and promise him that you are going to follow him.

Now for the miracles of the week.  So, this is a short summary of what has happened over the last week.  There are so many miracles that happened and many that I'm not going to share over paper but I hope that we have time to talk about it on Christmas.  SOOOO COOL! So sister Gray and I have been teaching the Mendoza's for a little over a transfer.  It truly is amazing to see the miracles that take place as the atonement touches the lives of these people and you can see how the love of their savior softens their hearts to lead them to the desire to make changes. They are one of the greatest blessing of my mission and every other experience I have ever had on my mission was all worth it just to see this family enter into the waters of baptism fully understanding the importance of it and the great step it was in order help their family become unified and to return to live with our Heavenly father.  Wendy and Rey are from Honduras.  Rey does not have a strong religious background but believes and has a strong foundation in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He hasn't ever gone to a particular church regularly because he felt that all of them were lacking and that they were churches of men (which they were) until he heard the story of Joseph Smith.  Wendy on the other hand is unlike any other investigator I have ever had.  She is very strong and has the testimony of a giant.  She had been taught by the sisters 3 or 4 years ago but was also taking lessons from several other religions. After visiting many churches and listening to different missionaries of other religions she had become frustrated in her journey and had decided to close her door to all religions.  Any time any one knocked on her door she turned them away and told them never to come back.... until Sister Gray and I. It took us several tries to get in the door.  We knew that Wendy was a former from other other sisters that had left a record of her yet every time we went over and knocked, her 13 year old son Anderson answered the door and told us to come back another day.  One day as we were walking off the porch we noticed a man getting out of a car and decided to go and talk to him.  We were kind of bummed that Wendy had turned us away yet again so we neither one of us "felt like it" but we decided "talk to everyone" right?  Well its a good thing we did because honestly I think that was our ticket in.  After the fact we found out that this man was Wendy's marido (boyfriend) Rey.  And he is the cabeza of the family and that was our ticket in.  We talked to him and broke the ice.  He told us we could come back the following week.  We did and we came back but found that they had once again forgotten about us but Rey was out of the car so we approached him and he told us we could come back.  Yet we also saw Wendy inside the car.  She was "talking on the phone" - but really later she told us that was just to fake us out because she didn't want to talk to us. lol.  Rey dragged her out of the car and told her that she needed to meet us.  When she finally met us she saw how much more open Rey was and decided to give us a shot.  We went over the following day and taught their whole family and it was Awesome.  There are no words to describe that lesson. At first she told us she only had time to have us over once a week but pretty soon we were going over almost every day.  Wendy told us how now she wishes we could be in her home all the time. The big barrier that was keeping them from being baptized was the law of chastity.  yeah it’s a kicker.  She has never been married before and when she did get married she wanted her mom from Honduras to be here etc. etc. etc. but through the power of the spirit, testimony of members such as the Majano's that helped us teach them, and other spiritual experiences they decided there was nothing that was going to hold them back from being married.  We arranged that wedding in a little less than a week and a half.  I think Sister Gray and I (with the help and support of the ward leaders) planned a pretty good wedding.  It turned out pretty good. The relief society president got a hold of some really pretty decorations for us to set up the church gym.  She happens to be a professional cake decorator.  Hermana Majano went dress shopping with her.  I did her hair and Hermana Gray and I made the invitations and bought her a wedding bouquet. We went with the Mendoza’s to go and pick up their marriage license from the Town of Islip. Bishop did the actual marriage ceremony and everything was just really nice.  We had the big Christmas Party for the holidays right after the ceremony so all the ward members came and it just made it seem like a big reception with lots of cool people. It worked out really nicely.  Wendy told us while I was doing her hair for the wedding that Hermana Gray and I are the best thing that have happened for this year.  She talked about how she knew she was doing the right thing and that this was an important step that was going to bless her whole family.  She knew that through those steps the blessings of the gospel were going to change her family and help them on their journey together. After the wedding ceremony Wendy pulled us two sisters aside and told us that the wedding was better than she had ever imagined it. You should have seen Rey.  He was grinning from ear to ear.  I've never seen a happier man in all my life.  I thought the wedding was the best day of my mission but then Sunday it got like a 100 times better.

It was so cool to see their whole family walk into church Sunday afternoon.  All dressed up and you could just see the excitement on their face. they sat in front of us.  Anderson sat by Hermana Gray and I and he was even excited/nervous.  It was the best!  Hermana gray and I were in charge of teaching gospel principles and the class was packed with investigators.  The topic was the last chapter in gospel principles that just happens to be exaltation. Perfect topic for the Mendoza family that was just married the night before no? Anyway it was wonderful.  It was cool because we have a couple of permigators in the class that know a lot more than most of the members but are in the process of organizing their lives to get baptized.  their son is actually serving a mission in Brazil right now. The couple pointed out how The Mendoza's were on their way of being a celestial family and receiving the greatest gift that god had prepared for them. The baptism went well.  Each one of the Mendoza's picked a member of the ward that was special to them to baptize them.  I thought that was really special because that creates a bond between the ward member and the recent convert that will help them remain strong and fellow shipped.  All the missionaries of the ward sang the primary him when Jesus Christ was baptized.  I remembered how we sang that at my baptism and the spirit just touched me so strong I could barely get through the song.  Wendy's little girl Ashley who is 6 came and sat by me after because I was crying and she was worried about me.  "Hermana Lewis, don't cry it's okay." She is so sweet.  She has lost all her front teeth and has the cutest little dimples you can imagine.  She is super sensitive to the spirit.  All the other churches her mom visited and took her to in years past Ashley was the one that told her mom no mom this isn't the right church. “No mom I don't like the way I feel here, or no mom lets go someplace else.”  Until a few years later when we invited them to Christ’s church and Wendy told us that Ashley loved it and from then on out was begging her. Mom, when are we going back to the church?!  Anyway that's the summary of my day yesterday. Yesterday was the greatest day of my mission and the day I have been looking for the last year of my mission. The bishop got up and gave a welcome to the ward for the new converts. He talked about how they were la familia de oro or the gold family and how it has been a long time since a whole family had gotten baptized together in the Brentwood ward.  President came to support us and then had to run out but he told us how proud he was of us.  We are so lucky to have him as our mission president.  He is amazing. God not only blessed us to be a part of a family baptism but true converts; converts that will work to build up the Lord's kingdom on the earth.  I think it was a pretty good Christmas present. I love this work and this is Christ’s church.  There is nothing quite like it.  There is nothing in the whole wide world that could replace these types of feelings of gratitude, love, appreciation, and the power of conversion.  I love you all Merry Christmas. 


Hermana Lewis

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