Have I ever told you how much I love my mission? Well, I love it! So there.
Yesterday we had a beautiful baptism. Our investigator Carlos was baptized along with three investigators of the other missionaries in our ward. It was so wonderful to see them all dressed in white, entering the waters of baptism and entering into a covenant with their Heavenly Father. I wasn't there to teach any of them. With Carlos, I taught him twice, but the lessons were just to take care of some baptismal interview and baptism business. Despite this, my heart reached out to them and I felt an overwhelming love for them. It is so lovely to see God's children finding their way home. One of the baptisms was especially moving. As the women came up out of the purifying waters, having been born again, she began to weep. She was touched by the joyfulness of the moment and understood what a wonderful step she had just made. It is such a privilege to take a part in this work and see the true beauty in life and in people.
The baptism was also wonderful because one of our other investigators, Francisca, attended. She is nineteen years old and she was found a couple days before I arrived, so I have had a large part in teaching her. She has a baptismal date for September 23. The baptism yesterday was directly after church and she stayed for all three hours of church and for the baptism. Not only did she attend the baptism, but she also took part in the service! The Young Women sang a song called "Hija de un Rey," ["Daughter of a King"] . . . and Francisca sang with them. The members here are excellent and have done a wonderful job of befriending her.
Members are so pivotal in missionary work. In every stage of the work, the members need to play a role: finding, teaching, and persevering. Finding can often be hard for the missionaries. But if the members invited all their friends to listen, the missionaries would be able to spend more time teaching. I invite you to think of anyone you know and talk to them about the gospel and invite them to listen to the missionaries. Although it may be difficult or scary to do so, the worst that could happen is that they say that they aren't interested. On the other hand, if they do listen, their lives will be changed for the better and will come back to their Heavenly Father. I also invite you to go to lessons with the missionaries. The testimony of a member can be extremely powerful and the role of a friend is irreplaceable. Remember, every member can and should be a missionary!
There was one house that we got into this week that I would like to talk about. The man who we taught is named Nelson. As we talked and invited him to be baptized, he told us that he could not because he is Catholic (here, almost everyone is Catholic, it's like a nationality--they are born into it, but most of them don't practice the religion). We invited him again to be baptized, but he said that he couldn't because it was a tradition in his family to be Catholic. His parents were Catholic, their parents were Catholic, so he is Catholic, although he does not practice the religion. When he said this, my mind turned to the scriptures and how people are lead away because of the ''traditions of their fathers.'' The only reason that Nelson would not accept our message was because of the tradition of his ''padres,'' which can be translated as parents or fathers.
As I have thought about that experience and others that I have had, I began to think about the way that the Adversary works. He leads men away "with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever." He does not try all at once to bind people, but rather slowly and gently leads them step by step with a soft flaxen cord. If he can get men to take one step away, off the path that is all he needs. I like the analogy they used in [general] conference [on October 2-3], of walking in a minefield. We have the way set out before us, the safe path through the danger, but if the devil can get us to take one step away from the path, it can be fatal. . . . This is why we must be strictly obedient. For if we let ourselves wander, if we are selectively obedient, we could stray from the safe path into the dangerous minefield.
The Spanish here is pretty crazy. The natives talk at a hundred miles an hour. They drop endings to words all the time, or even drop whole words from a sentence. My companion described it as ''lazy Spanish.'' However, I am starting to understand it more and more. I hope that I will be able to learn Spanish better so that I will be able to invite all the people to come unto Christ.
I love my mission!