Monday, November 16, 2015

Guess what?...youre adopted!!

This week was a good one. Sorpresa. It was especially good because we had MLC (mission leadership conference) at the beach on Friday! I haven't been able to go to the beach since being in Tampa so that was fun being able to go.

- Everything's set for Maria and Jose's baptism tomorrow. Since I have a little bit more time today, I figured that I would just share with you their story today instead of next week. I love conversion stories, that's probably one of my favorite parts of being a missionary- is being able to listen to the stories of both investigators and members of how they got to be who and where they are. I've been keeping track of a few of them and have a list of the conversions stories I've heard on my ipad. Maria and Jose is a couple from Puerto Rico, they are in their early 50s. They have both been divorced but found each other and got married a few years ago here in Tampa. Maria grew up Catholic but never felt "filled" when she went to church there so she stopped going many many years ago. Since then, she has always prayed to find the church that God wanted her to be in and wanted her to serve. She has tried several and went to the church that Jose attended a few times but didn't feel good though so just stopped going in general and kept praying. That was about 7 years ago. Jose was brought up in a very Catholic family as well, but he left the Catholic church and went to several others throughout his life as well. He has always felt good in those churches, but not one of them ever gave him the desire to keep attending. He was always the type of person who would make up excuses not to go to church. He went through a really hard time in his life and didn't want to go back to church again after he didn't get even a call from anyone in his church because he had felt really alone and didn't receive  a hand of help when he needed one.  Then near the end of August,  Hermana Gibson and I rode our bikes to their neighborhood, locked them up, and said a specific prayer to be able to find someone in this area that we could set a baptismal date with. Haha the funny part is that there are a ton of security guards in this neighborhood that don't like it when we knock doors. Hermana Gibson was worried they were going to kick us out but I said "don't worry, if they ask us what we are doing we will just tell him we are going to visit our friend Maria and I guarantee that one of the first couple doors we knock someone will be named Maria" (its a really hispanic neighborhood). We go up to the first door, knock, and a lady named Maria opened up and let us in! She had been watching us through her window lock our bikes up and felt bad for us riding in the heat in skirts so had been planning on giving us some water. She was happy to let us pray with her  and because she liked us so much and the brief testimony we shared about the restoration she said we could visit them again and that she would make us dinner next time. So we came and ate with her and her husband Jose and taught them the restoration. They were really interested in what we had to share and wanted to learn more. Once we finally got on a fixed schedule to come by and teach them and they were finally able to get a car to come to church is when they really started progressing. Last night we had a lesson with them and they said that the first time they went to church, they went to please us because they liked us a lot. But now, they go to please God. They haven't missed a Sunday since their first attendance 5 weeks ago and said they can't imagine missing it now. We had a testimony meeting with them last night and with their fellowshippers. Jose talked about how he has never in his life had the desire to go to church on Sunday, but when he has gone to this one he feels something different. He feels a peace and described it like he felt his heart was being cleansed. He feels like he's part of a family when he goes there. He said one of the big converting factors for him is actually just the way we pray. He has learned by going to church that prayer is a simple, quiet, reverent thing. Not something loud and rushed. He now prays every day, something he had never done before. It has been neat to see "the evolution of Jose" in church. The first sunday he came in jeans and a shirt, the next with a button up shirt, the next with jeans and a white shirt, the next with jeans with a white shirt and tie, and then finally yesterday with the whole get up. We had  a member come up to us and whisper "el tiene la cara de un opisbo" He has the face, or look, of a bishop.  When Maria shared her testimony, she talked about how from our lessons, she really gained a desire to read the scriptures. She learned about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon and bible together. She was given a bible years ago that she has never opened. One day after one of our lessons, she decided to start reading the Book of Mormon, and was reminded of that bible. She went and got it and started reading in Revelations and was lead to that scripture I shared with you in Revelations 3:20 that talks about the savior knocking on the door, and how he will be with those that open the door and he will dine with them. She felt the spirit really strongly and knew in that instant that that scripture was talking about us- how we knocked on the door, came and ate with them, and brought Christ into their lives. It's a good thing I like to eat right? Who knew that would come in handy haha. So after she got that confirmation she had no doubt that this church is Christ's true church . She said last night that recently she has felt so happy. She said she has the same husband, the same problems, the same house-- and yet she is so happy and can't explain why. We testified to them that it is because they are living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yesterday Sister Gibson and I had to teach the gospel principle class in church because the teacher wasn't there. The lesson was on the gathering of the house of Israel. It talks about how first, Israel will be gathered spiritually. The way the gathering is brought about is through missionary work. Whenever someone is baptized and makes that special covenant with God, they become one of the children of the covenant and are adopted into the House of Israel. While I was teaching, the thought came to me of how to be baptized, there is a process to it and some paperwork to fill out. I said " those baptismal papers that you have had to fill out, those are really just your adoption papers. Your adoption papers into the house of Israel." It was really neat to think about. I feel so blessed to be able to play apart in the gathering of Israel, of God's children, and with the adoption process. God is hastening his work and He wants all of His children to have the chance to learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it's in this life or the next. He makes that opportunity possible for everyone, God wouldn't make salvation only possible for a few of his children. The atonement and mercy of Jesus Christ are available to all, it's just up to us to accept it and apply it in our lives daily. I know that the cleansing and purifying power of the atonement is real, and that it enables us to change. I know that because I've seen it in my life, and in the lives of the people around me. Keep praying for missionaries around the world, and for the missionaries in your home (YOU) to continue to find people who are waiting to hear that message.
Con mucho carino
Hermana Baugh

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