14 June 2010

Hey guys,

Well, right now all of Argentina is watching the world cup.  From what our laundry lady said, Argentina is winning.  But there is NOBODY in the street, in cars, NADA.  Haha the whole country has shut down.  And it´s raining.  Man, today was a good day to have my preparation day!  Anyway, I have some good news...

LIDIA´S BAPTISM WAS AMAZING!!!  It is an amazing story, so I´ll try to tell it all the best I can.

Well, Lidia came to church for the first time with a friend from San Fernando like 2 months ago.  The San Fernando missionaries taught her once before we found out that she lives 2 streets in our area.  so we did a swap haha.  Anyway, she came to church, read the book of mormon (and a lot of other things we gave to her to read), and listened to the lessons for a month in a half.  The crazy thing is she never missed a sunday, read everything we asked her to read, and was completely open the whole time.  She started reading the BOM from the beginning and is now in Alma!!  Anyway, you guys now how we wrestled to help her decide to get baptized.  Well, everything was perfect...until...saturday night. 

We were going to have one last lesson before the baptism to answer any last questions.  When we got to the church, we couldn´t believe what was happening.  There was a sweet 15 party (here it is sweet 15, not sweet 16) of one of the less active members of the church.  Apparently, they got permision to have a "dinner" for her birthday, following really strict guidelines for having it in the church.  Well, when we were about 3 blocks away from the church, we heard really loud music.  As we got closer to the church, we realized it was coming from inside!  We found something pretty close to a dance club with music not so holy and dancing even more not so holy.  There were some big miscommunications and some other factors that let this happen.  We couldn´t believe what was happening in the church.  And, guess who we found waiting for us in the church?  Lidia.  She was devestated.  After seeing (and hearing.  good thing the words were in english) that, almost all of her confidence to be baptized crashed.  After making some quick phone calls and talking to some people, we had to leave the church with Lidia.  As soon as we left the church (how sad, right?), the spirit kicked in and started helping us.  We went and sat down in a little park a few blocks from the church with Gabi and Marco, two way cool members, and had a charla with Lidia.  We talked about overcoming trials, what she had felt when she got her answer, etc.  We even told her it was a trial of our faith as well and explained what should and shouldn´t happen in the church.  Really, we just helped her feel the spirit.  And she left ready to get baptized the next day.  I honestly have never seen anything like that happen in a church and I´m positive it was a trial for Lidia.
Lidia’s baptism was so amazing.  It was one of the most precious experiences of my mission.  I’m so grateful to Heavenly Father for giving me such a powerful blessing.  We followed the steps Elder Aidukaitis taught us, and we had such a successful service.  Sometimes we asked ourselves if it was really worth it to do all the steps (for example, complete a full list of friends and invite them all and visit all the referrals), since it takes so much time and we only have a few precious hours to work each evening.  But, by doing the list and inviting all the investigators (including 2 that live just outside our area) we had 17 nonmembers at the service!  When we invited Lidia’s family, they declined, but they ended up coming anyway, and bring the dessert we asked them to bring!

Truthfully, the Spirit manifested itself so powerfully during the ordinance, thanks to Lidia’s spiritual preparation, and the preparation of others in the room. We truly felt the power of God (D&C 84:20).  Then, the assistants to the president taught lesson #1 in five minutes, adapted to Lidia’s family, and they did it boldly with power and authority.  After that, Lidia, with her family seated on the first pew, testified of three things:  The truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, living prophets, and the help she received from God to overcome pressure from her family!  While she spoke, another investigator told us “she spoke like an angel.”

Afterwards, while everyone enjoyed the delicious dessert that Lidia’s family brought, miracles began to happen.  One companionship set three baptismal dates.  We set one more.  The third companionship, there next to the font, committed a couple to be married and then baptized.  Then, of course, we enjoyed the dessert and took pictures.

I saw a lot of clear evidence of opposition from the adversary.  It was tangible.  Lidia had trials so strong and obvious that I realized two things. First, we are fighting in a very real battle.  Second, Lidia was so strong despite the opposition, that I know she is a very special and elect soul.  I feel so humbled and unworthy to have been able to teach her.  I want experiences like this every week.  I will do whatever the Lord asks of me each day so that it can happen again!

Well, that´s what happened.  A miracle, right?  Man, the mission is so cool.  Good thing I still have a lot of time left.  
Anyway, I love you guys, thanks for the letters. 

Elder Hales  

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