This has been another incredible and blessed week here in Floresta, Villa El Salvador. The time has been going by so fast I can hardly believe it. Elder Gutierrez is an incredible companion and we´re really seeing the fruits of our labors. We have an incredible group of investigators who are excited to receive the blessings and be obedient in living the gospel.
I guess I should start off by saying that we had twelve investigators come to church yesterday! Which is basically unheard of, but the Lord has blessed us with five families! The best part is that all of our investigators are member references, which really goes to show the importance of the members in supporting the missionaries by sharing the gospel with friends, neighbors, and family. My companion and I have been seeing a lot of excitement and growth of faith in the ward leaders and their desire to work. Floresta is becoming a powerful little part of the kingdom of God.
Regina, literally the best Peruvian woman around, introduced us this week to her daughter, Maria. She has arms that could suffocate or crush my head! We had a visit with Regina while Maria was over at her house helping with Sebastian´s homework. Maria, with a big attitude, refused to sit down with us after we invited her to join us for the lesson, but she stayed at the table at the other end of the living room while we taught a simple lesson on the Word of Wisdom. As usual, Regina was totally prepared and once again, pretty much gave us the lesson on how much she loves the Prophet Joseph Smith and the revelations that he was able to recieve on maintaining healthy lifestyles as saints by inspiration of the Lord. Right in the middle of the lesson however, Maria piped in from across the room with a question, "can´t I drink coffee from time to time? Like once a week or so?" Elder Gutierrez and I were excited because we could tell she was quite interested in what her mom had to say. We began to explain the blessings that come as we keep away from alcohol, drugs, tea, coffee, and tobacco, and the Lord really began to touch Maria´s heart as she responded in her big booming voice, "When are you youngsters gonna visit me?!" We soon learned that everybody in her neighborhood knows her as the honorary "Senora Candela." Nothing like a good nickname in the ghettos of Lima, Peru. Images of a huge Peruvian woman crushing my head between her arms came flashing back into my mind.......
Later this past week we had two lessons with Senora Candela and her 14 year old son, Edwin, who came to church yesterday and absolutely loved it. Maria wasn´t able to come because of her job as a nurse, but she´s gearing up to clear up her schedule so she can come to church. After a powerfully spiritual lesson on the Restoration yesterday evening, we put a baptismal date for Edwin on May 18th. Her mom told him, with tears in her eyes, "Yo te sigo hijo." Translation, "I follow you son." Soon enough Maria will have a baptismal date once we know better her work schedule! Thank you Regina!
We also came across a sort of problem with our ivestigator, Aylin. Being only seventeen years old, her dad won´t give her permission to be baptized. So we´ve had to sort of hold back a little. This next week we´ll be praying hard for her dad so he can soften his heart and let his daughter be baptized.
We also have the parents of family Miranda getting in gear for thinking of a marriage date. Amy and Alexis, two of their five kids have a baptismal date for the 18th of May. Little by little we´re working with their dad, Jose Luis, to soften his heart and help his partner, Mary Lou, find a new job so they can all come to church as a family.
This past week we were introduced to some neighbors of the Elder´s Quorum President, Lucia and her son, Moises. Although only 22 years old, Moises has already been to jail twice. But despite his past, he has been prepared by the Lord to hear our message of the gospel and really wants to make a change. With tears in her eyes, Lucia expressed the joy she felt as her son sat by her side as we taught them in their humble home. They both wish to be baptized and find our for themselves if what we teach is true or not. This tuesday we´ll be placing a baptismal date for May!
Last of all, Family Urbina is really starting to make leaps and bounds in their spiritual progress. The dad, Jhon, was willing to close his store on Sunday to have the whole family come to church and has really put his faith and trust in the Lord to make a change in his home. This thursday we should have the birth certificate of his wife, Rosa, so we can start planning their marriage and baptism for the 17th and 18th of May.
Anyway, I feel so extremely blessed for all the incredible progress and blessings that we are receiving for our effort as a companionship. The mission is changing my life as I work as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I truly feel the power of the Holy Ghost every time we open our mouth and declare this gospel to our little piece of Zion in the middle of Peru.
I love you all and take care this week!