First of all, we had a surprise visit from Elder Bednar to our mission last Wednesday. Talk about how pumped I was to see an apostle! Elder Gutierrez and I woke up bright and early so we could meet up with the zone as we all headed for La Molina in Lima, which is where the temple, the CCM, and the main church office is for several countries in South America. First of all, we got caught in the middle of traffic while on the train where the bodies were so packed we couldn´t move and the doors couldn´t shut completely while in the stations. It was horrible! The same with the amount of crazy taxi drivers in the busy streets. Despite the commute, we made it in time to the stake center where all the missionaries were seated.
The whole meeting lasted about 3 hours. The way in which Elder Bednar was very different in comparison with General Conference, which is always incredible to see because you get to see more of their personality. He approached the whole meeting as a sort of question and answer type of reunion. Instead of us just taking copious and pointless notes for us to lose and forget on what he says, he challenged us to only write down what we learned by the Holy Ghost. He asked us questions, we responded, and he commented or testified. Later, we asked questions, he responded with more questions, we commented, then he commented and testified! It was pretty incredible. Much of what we talked about was how faith plus action is what brings answers to our prayers. Without acting for the desired blessings, we have "weak faith". One thing that really impressed me was the intelligence of Elder Bednar. He was like a stream of heavenly knowledge just pouring down on the congregation of elders and sisters. One thing he expressed was that he really doesn´t feel all that smart, but that he completely relies on the Spirit in anything that he asks, testifies, or says. More and more throughout the meeting the Spirit bore withness to me of the reality of Savior and the power of the restored gospel. Elder Bednar really made me do some internal reflecting as a missionary and member of the church. Any question that came to mind to ask Elder Bednar I was able to respond almost immediately for myself in my own head, which he said was what he hoped we were doing while together for a short time. At the very end, Elder Bednar bore a simple testimony as a personal witness of Jesus Christ. At that very moment the Spirt rushed in so strongly that I couldn´t hold back tears. I just simply knew he was an apostle of the Lord.
At the very end, one by one, each elder and sister had the opportunity to shake the hands of Elder Bednar, Elder Pino, and Elder Useda of the Seventy along with their incredible wives. The face of Elder Bednar was iluminated with the light of Christ as I looked into his face and shook his hand as he said, "Thank you Elder Lundberg!"
So yeah, that was definitely a highlight of the mission so far!
This past Saturday we had the baptism of our dear investigator and now member of the church, Hermana Regina! I had the privilege of baptizing her. As you can see in the photo I forgot to bring my sandals so I was barefoot during the session! But it was a special moment for Regina as she and I carefully entered the baptismal font together. She was a little shocked by the cold water and little by little dipped a bit further in. Some of the chapels here don´t have water heaters so be grateful back home! Anyway, Regina did absolutely fantastic! As she took her towel she said, "Tengo ganas de llorar!" and began to cry into the arms of one of the sisters to change in the bathroom. Her testimony was short and powerful afterwards as she witnessed her joy to a crowd of about 30 people.That was a sweet experience for us a her missionaries because we knew how seriously she had made a covenant with the Lord. Now, as a member of the church, we´re working with her daughter Maria (the bigger lady in the photo) and her grandson Edward who´s fifteen. The best part is that they´re both just like Regina, smart, faithful, and fully prepared to recieve the restored gospel! Like before, Edward has his baptismal date set for the 18th and Maria is looking for a new job so she can attend church on Sunday. Soon enough she will have a baptismal date end of May or in June! We might need two missionaries to baptize her haha....but for reals......
Also, Jhon and Rosa Urbina continue to progress nicely toward their baptism on the 18th as well. We received a lot of good news from the municipality this week as they will be having a "matrimonio masivo" or "massive marriage" ceremony in June. The best part is that starting on the sixth of Maythey can sign all the papers to become legally married right their on the spot and then have the fiesta in June. Plus it´s less than half the cost. Elder Gutierrez and I felt SO blessed by the news because getting couples married never happens to smoothly! We´re also working with two out of their four sons who aren´t baptized, Andres(18) and Luis(15), (David was baptized in March and Josue is only two years old ), and you can really start to see the conversion kick in as Jhon and Rosa began testifying of the gospel during a lesson last nigh with the whole family gathered together. It was a special experience and certainly a blessing to see two parents, after so much struggle and emotional pain, come together in love for their sons. Yet another powerful witness of the changing power of the gospel in the lives of such humble people.
Anyway, we also have Jhon Quintana set for May 11th. We had a bit of trouble contacting him this past week because his cellphone was robbed (something which seems to happen to everybody here haha), but he came to church yesterday and continues to be excited for the next two weeks we have to prepare him spiritually.
Anyway, I testify that God really moves within our hearts through the Holy Ghost. I know that Jesus Christ, with all the suffering he went through, understands our struggles and pains, but also our joys and successes. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints brings happiness if we choose to live according to the principles of the Gospel, which are correct and eternally true. As Jade always says, "Make good choices!" We are to act according to our faith, and God with make wonders in our lives, callings, and families! Especially all three of mine!
I love you all so much!