Welp... it happened! Finally! Carolina and Gerardo were married and baptized this week!! The wedding was supposed to be on monday... and we ran around to get everything done... trying to make it special for them... so after the cake was ready, Carolina´s hair straightened and cut (did NOT expect to be doing some of things things I do here..)... they were so anxious and excited to be married on Valentines day...... the lawyer didn´t show up. Kind of a let down... but the ward made the best of out it! They turned it into a family home evening with the ward... and every married couple bore their testimonies of matrimony and a gospel centered family. It was really so sweet and perfect... and when Berta and Rigoberto got up.... so nervous... but so sincerely expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to have the gospel in their family and have the opportunity to spiritually progress together..... I was again SO filled with...bliss. Even though Carolina and Gerardo were a little bit dissapointed.... when we finally were able to do it on wedensday.... they were so so so happy... all was forgotten and forgiven! Their relationship and family has really changed. From on the verge of throwing away 10 years together... to being like newlywed 20 year olds... it´s really been such a beautiful miracle. Even though their marriage was a civil one (for now :) )... the Spirit was so strong and really bore witness that our Heavenly Father is so pleased with their decisions and desires to do what is right.
Their baptism was so wonderful... and they were just giddy all over again. They had wanted that day for so long... and they were so anxious to leave everything behind... and finally have that new start together with the Lord. Their sons were so giddy and happy... and it made me remember my first night in Candelaria when their 12 year old, Francisco, came up to me and so purely asked, ¨When are you going to visit my parents?¨.... and to be able to see the outcome... I feel SO blessed to be a witness to such clear manifestations of the Lord´s love here. - I can´t send pictures from this computer... but next week... I will send pictures of their wedding and baptism!
Jose Armando passed his interview and is going to be baptized this sunday! His brother, Eliar- the other Jehovah´s Witness, came to church yesterday too! Of course... he loved it... and he says that is going to be baptized!! We´re going to make a date with him this thursday. He says that he is reading the Book of Mormon and praying... and said so confidently, ¨I KNOW that Joseph Smith was a prophet!¨. WOOHOOO!!!!!! We´re expecting his whole family for Armando´s baptism... and I have great hopes for all of them.
We continue to run to contact our 61 contacts this week... and are finding some really wonderful people... and some of them are finding US. We were walking down the street in Pajonal... and this many yelled out, ¨Hey! Do you know about Joseph Smith¨.... and we stopped.. moderately dumbfounded and said, ¨DO WE EVER!¨. He continued to tell us that he had read about Joseph Smith and had seen some movie about him...but had never been able to find missionaries to find out more. He said that he had visited many different churches...but has always been curious about this prophet. He proceeded to anxiously quiz us about the Book of Mormon... and was VERY excited to know more. He worked this sunday.. so didn´t come... but seemed super stoked to learn more and more. He knows Juan Carlos and has seen the difference and change in him... and told us his KNOWS we´re on the Lord´s errand. He wants missionaries to visit his mom in Washington... and wants to read everything. ... it was a surprise dream lesson. Yet... right as I was about to invite him to be baptized... he looked at his watch and said, ¨Ah! I´m SO late for work! Gotta go!!¨. So.. the invitation will have to wait until we get to his house.
Have I mentioned how much I love the people of Pajonal?? The distance is an obstacle for them... but we know it´s not impossible!!! We had such high hopes for a number of people to come this sunday.... but as is the life... almost none of them came. Yet... my dissapointment turned into glee to see Rigoberto enter the chapel in a button up shirt and TIE with his family... and they just beamed and beamed. My glee turned into out of control and pure happiness (I can´t find a word strong enough for the emotion I´m trying to describe) to see across the chapel... Rigoberto and Berta paying their first tith. Oh... this is the life.
Yesterday we stayed and worked in Candelaria... and had some truly marvilous and humbling experiences. I felt like we should stop by a member´s house that we had never been to... and as were sitting in her house, not totally sure why were there... I saw someone pass by in the back of her house. I asked who it was, and it was her non member teenage son that had met with many missionaries in the past... and supposedly wanted nothing to do with the church. We asked to talk to him... and when she asked him.. he magically agreed to talk to us! As we talked to him... he totally opened up... and after we showed him the Restoration DVD... he said he believed in all... and when asked if he was happy... he paused... and said that he wasn´t. That he knew he needed a change.. and he wanted the gospel in his life. So... he has a date to be baptized on the 6th! WOAH! We left the house in awe and in gratitude for the guidance of the Spirit... and was such a clear reminder to me how helpless and USELESS we are without it.
As we were headed to our next appointment... we passed by a little house that I had seen many times.. and had always taken notice of. I thought that it had had my attention in the past because it was so clean and distinct... but this time as we passed.. we saw a man enter the house. When our eyes met and we smiled and said, ¨good afternoon!¨... like everyone does... the Spirit penetrated me... and the thought flooded into my head, ¨we should contact him!¨- yet... we were late to our appointment.. so silly me.. we continued on... but with that man still in my head. After our appointment (another cool story with that appointment- this man had seen his wife healed from a serious ailment from a priesthood blessing from Elders in the past... and asked that they come to bless his mom.. so cool. Priesthood is real)... we passed by the house talking about the next people we needed to visit. The Spirit basically stopped me in my tracks... and I nearly yelled to Hermana Fuentes, ¨WE NEED TO KNOCK THAT DOOR¨. She looked at me like, ¨Oh Hermana Clark and her tangents¨ (because..tangents I have.)... but when we knocked the door... Victor opened the door and BEAMED and greeted us like he had been waiting expectedly for us. As we talked... he told us that he had been studying to be a Catholic Priest... but just knew it wasn´t right. He had spent his life visiting different churches... but could never find one where he felt ¨like it was right and purely from God¨. We testified that the Lord knew of his spiritual hunger... and we had been sent with food. - he was ELATED. When we taught the Apostasy... he totally soaked it in. When he learned of Joseph Smith.. he rejoiced! When we invited him to be baptized... he said, ¨YES! When and where??¨. Woah. This is how it should be!!! In the end... he said, ¨Thank you SO much for coming back. When you passed by before... I felt something.... something that I can´t describe. Something SO strong and SO beautiful... and I can still feel it now. Thank you for coming back for me.¨ - He will also be baptized the 6th. .... I came back back to the house last night... so humbled and happy... knowing that I did nothing that day without the Spirit. It makes me wonder... how many times the Lord has tried to use me like that in the past... and I wasn´t listening.. or didn´t respond? I shudder to think... but look forward to the future knowing that the promises in D&CF 84:80,85,88 are SO tangible in my life right now... and as long as I keep the commandments.
Wow.. that was a really long letter. Years of typing at the office have really paid off, huh Dad? :)
Í love this gospel more than I could ever begin to express. I wake up every day... nearly in disbelief that this is my life... and I get to do what we do here every day. 18 months is not suffient.... but that´s what that Lord gives us.... and I am SO grateful for it.
Matt Martin- thank you so much for your letter! LOVED IT!
Josh- Ha. Got it. Thank you!! Always appreciated!!
Nana- I did get your hymnals... and they are using and loving them. They´re brilliant. Thank you. I love your letters!!