Hey everyone! It is good to hear from all of you, especially my friends on missions. I want to be able to share a little bit of the craziness and joy we felt this week, and it might take a bit, but I’ll do my best. I have some news to share before we start thought. First, Sergio was baptized this last week! It was pretty amazing and I’ll explain more, but it was a whirlwind of figuring everything out and it ended well. Second, I am being transferred! I am sad to leave New Haven, especially since I expected to stay longer, but it’s the Lord’s will. I will be moving to Lynnfield, Massachusetts to be with Elder Peterson, who is from one of the missions in Russia and is ending his mission here in the US because his mission merged recently. Elder Clements said that we have very similar personalities, so I am excited to see where our companionship goes! Here is a map of the Lynnfield Ward, just for referencing purposes later on.
Tuesday was the big day. We went over to Sergio’s and he sat us down for a bit. He basically explained that God had been working in his life for a very long time, and had been planting seeds from the very beginning, starting about 5 years ago. At the Divinity School, he was even defending Mormon beliefs and he didn’t even know it. He was just tired with no church having his beliefs and actually gave up trying to find a church. One day, he was trying to write a paper and there was a ring at the door. The second time he decided to answer, and it was the missionaries. They had a usual first lesson, but Sergio didn’t think much of it. He did decide to look up mormon.org though, and one belief that stood out to him was the realization that we can become like God one day. No churches really have this belief, and so to see it with us, it peaked his interest. He had this thought as a young child, but hadn’t thought about it for years until that moment. Long story short, he was really busy with school for the next few months and he is dyslexic, which makes it even harder, but eventually, he decided to read the Book of Mormon. It was then when he really started to be interested and to feel the truthfulness of it. He LOVES the commandments and charity, since they are the root and foundation of us becoming like God. The root word of righteousness in Hebrew translates to charity, so if someone is righteous, the must be charitable. The Book of Mormon talks about the commandments over and over and over in 1 Nephi, and to hear that someone took the commandments seriously made him so happy! We came to a point where he had to humble himself and we had to humble ourselves, which left us at a weird stand still, but that is where the spirit started to work. From there on out, each lesson was lead by the Spirit and was personal and addressed concerns he was having. We would come in to teach something, and he would have been thinking about that topic that day. It was amazing to see. We connected so well, especially with our perfectionist personalities. We were all uplifted, but he had an issue to resolve with God before anything could happen. Our meeting on Tuesday was the culmination of everything that had happened. It was an emotional day and he helped us see the hand of God in what had happened. He had received revelation from the beginning that he had no idea what it meant, but over the course of time did, and there was only one way it could have happened. God was so involved in his conversion process, it was amazing. Honestly, he could talk for 5 hours and not cover even most of what happened, but he expressed the desire to be baptized and asked if I would baptize him and lay hands on him. It was a joyous baptism on Saturday! Very last minute, but it turned out well. A member who is on a work project out here became good friends with Sergio, and he gave a very thorough and meaningful talk on Baptism and the Holy Ghost. I played the piano while Elder Nagtalon sang, “Nearer My God to Thee”, and after the ordinance, Sergio bore his testimony. The next day, we gave him the Holy Ghost. He was so excited! I am grateful for the hand of God in his life and that he now has the constant companionship and gift of the Holy Ghost. Sergio has been chosen and has amazing potential in the Lord’s hands. There are some things you just cannot explain, and Sergio’s conversion is one of those. You just had to be there to see it, but maybe in heaven, we can all sit down and watch the film rolls with speech bubbles describing all of our feelings 🙂
In other news, Elder Bradley D. Foster came to our mission! He taught us many valuable things, and I fail to have my notebook, so maybe I’ll be able to write a little of it down later, but I can remember one thing that changed me. He explained the phases of missionary work. The first phase is the the “Missionaries” phase. The missionaries have to have skills and spirituality, and to progress to the next phase and to show the members that they really mean it, on a scale of 1-10, they need at least an 8 on both. The next phase is the “Missionaries helping the Members”. This is the hard one. The missionaries now have to help the members LEARN how to do missionary work. This can start as basically as building better friendships with others that eventually get stronger. That is what happened to us this week. We play soccer in Bridgeport and a guy our age has played with us for the past two weeks (I took a picture with him), and we gave him a Book of Mormon this week and he said he would read it! We just played soccer with him, he trusted us more, and THEN we were able to share this key to further happiness with him. After you get through this stage, it is easy. The third stage is where the “Members help the Missionaries”. This is where real success comes. This is where the members are actively feeling the joy of missionary work while finding and filling the missionaries’ schedule. I loved being part of Sergio’s baptism, and I hope that you can baptize one of your friends as well. I love you all!