Tuesday, February 16, 2010

St. Petersburg Week 19

Todo esta bien in Sion!
What an amazing week we've had! Last week we had soooo many people on date for baptism! The most we've ever had! Sunday, we were reminded of the agency that they all have. When Sister Ross arrived at the church building Sunday morning, she seemed very concerned because a lot of our usual "attendees" for the Spanish group were not going to be able to make it. We were expecting very sparse attendance. I was really worried about it. We were supposed to have quite a few investigators coming and I was worried about the affect that would have. In the morning it just felt different, not like a normal Sunday.

None of our investigators were answering their phone. NONE! We started calls early to try and wake them all up, but none of them answered, except Heriberto. As the sacrament was starting, people trickled in. Definitely not our usual turn out. Heriberto was kind of sitting alone and didn't seem to understand it. There wasn't room for us to sit by him, so that really worried us. He hadn't been taught before coming, so he knew nothing about the church. I looked over at Sister Alva with a desperate look of, “we need to do something”. So we left the room and kept calling people. We were willing to do anything to get them there. We both decided we needed to have a mighty prayer for them. The only room that wasn't occupied was the kitchen. So we went in there and offered a very sincere prayer that our investigators would have a way provided to attend church according to their desires, and that Heriberto would be touched by the spirit and understand.

We both felt a lot better as we returned to sacrament meeting. There was a different feeling for us. The talks were of sound and simple doctrine of reading the scriptures and the priesthood! It was perfect. We glanced over Heriberto and he was more attentive. After sacrament meeting, we took him on a tour of the church building. As we were walking we came to a picture of the first vision hanging on the wall. I was overcome with the spirit. I was amazed of the power this experience has in our lives if we but let it in. I felt inadequate to be able to convey the importance of this experience. After sharing the first vision and explaining the history of Joseph Smith, he stood there and stared at the painting with amazement. For a long time nothing was said. I was praying like crazy that he would feel the spirit and know that it was true. We introduced him to the Book of Mormon and explained how it is a "fruit" from Joseph Smith and that is how we can know if Joseph Smith was a prophet. I asked him if I could share a scripture from the Book of Mormon. I turned to 2 Nephi 31:12-13. I felt so strongly that I needed to ask him if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized. So I did! It was so amazing! He said, "I want to be baptized by someone that has the same authority as John the Baptist!" Holy cow! I about let out a little scream and jumped when he said that. Talk about someone that is prepared. He is getting ready to be baptized on the 27th. We asked him when we could teach him again, and he said "tomorrow!" So amazing! All the worries about the lack of attendance at church that day were gone. We were having one of the most amazing lessons we've ever had. Heavenly Father knew that we needed to focus on Heriberto.

When we taught him the next day we shared the principles of the restoration. He loved it. As we talked about the great apostasy he just nodded his head up and down in agreement with us. It was so amazing! He is staying with his recently married son. His son has a little boy. When we got there, they said, "We're not all that interested, but we're going to participate to support our dad." Well, they are interested all right! The dad pretty much bore his testimony to them without knowing it! Well, we're excited to see what happens!
The theme for the last few weeks has definitely about building a spiritual foundation. It is so crucial, and is a way of helping people come to the waters of baptism. As I have studied spiritual foundations and the faith needed to fortify foundations, it has been amazing to see the fruits.
We have been teaching Susanna and her daughter off and on for awhile, without much success. She always liked us coming over, but never took the initiative to come to church. Her 10 year old daughter loves it when we come. as I looked over past investigators, I felt like Sister Alva and I should give her a call. So we did. She seemed so excited to get the call, and we set up a time. There was a different feeling about this lesson. We started with song and prayer, and reviewed the restoration. Her mom needed to attend to her 6 month old daughter, so we were in the living room with Miley. It was so amazing. Our zone is really trying to implement using a Holy Ghost dialogue to have them understand what it feels like, and what God is trying to communicate to them when they feel it. So as I sat next to Miley, we taught her the restoration. As I related the account of the first vision, the spirit was so strong. We asked her how she felt and she said, "good" which is the usual response. Then we went to Galatians in the New Testament where it talks about the feelings of the spirit. “Are these some of the feelings that you have?” She said yes. So she recognized she was feeling the Holy Ghost. "Why do you think you feel that way?" We then turned to John 14:26 and talked about the purpose of the Holy Ghost and why we feel it. I asked her what that scripture means. She said, "It talks about truth." Then we know from these scriptures that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth." She said, "Well, if I feel this, then what we're talking about must be true. It has to be true." EXACTLY! Sister Alva and I then both bore strong witness.

So many of the people we teach feel "good" as they so describe it, but they don't know how to discern those feelings and what Heavenly Father is trying to communicate to them. We have used this method, and it works. Every time they have come out and said, "Then it must be true." When Miley's mother returned, we did the same thing with her. The spirit touched her heart and let her know it was true, and she said those words, "I know it is true!" She readily accepted a commitment to be baptized. Learning the tender feelings of the Holy Ghost is an ongoing process and is different for every person. We must always keep a prayer in our heart, and continue in prayer "in our closets" that we may be able to discern and be lead. I pray that all will feel the tender guidance of Heavenly father in their lives through the tender promptings of the Holy Ghost.

One last thing that I really want to share with you all is my strong testimony of the sacredness of the temple and the temple grounds. I feel like I talk about the temple all of the time, but it is amazing to see the influence of the temple to people who are not members of the church. The Lima Peru temple is a prominant structure in a busy part of Lima. Its influence is far more reaching than the people there know. At least 10 people that we have talked to here in Florida that know of the Lima temple and have an interest in the church because of that. The people from Lima recognize it as a special place.

Even before I was baptized, I longed to enter the temple. I knew how important and special it was just by sitting on the temple grounds. The building is dedicated, and so are the temple grounds. One of the first times I went to the temple, I sat and watched as one person after another went inside. I knew I wanted to do everything I could to get inside. I would encourage everyone to go to the temple, even just to sit on the temple grounds.
Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

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