Monday, March 1, 2010

St. Petersburg Week 21

Heriberto is baptized!!!! Woohooooo! It was the happiest day ever! We're still on cloud 9. Finding someone that prepared to be baptized is what every missionary dreams of! A little about his story. He is from Puerto Rico, the cutest little old Puerto Rican grandpa I've ever met! He used to live in Jersey where he coached a youth baseball team and moved down here to live with his son. Just an amazing man! Well, we tracted into him at the second day of the transfer I think, but I called him that next Saturday (he gave us his info) and invited him to church. The day of his baptism we visited him and he said that when we called he felt the spirit and felt like he needed to come to church. That's when we had that amazing lesson with him and we committed him to baptism. It has been one amazing lesson after another with him.

Heriberto's family has some interest in the gospel. His grandson Tido is very interested. He is nine years old and the smartest nine year old I have ever met! We taught him the plan of salvation once, and the next time he taught it all back to us completely, with every detail! I couldn't even do that after 3 weeks in the MTC!!! The next day at school, he said he was sitting at lunch, and his friend was saying that he doesn't believe in God, so this 9 year old little boy said, "There is a God, and he has a plan for us..." He then TAUGHT HIM THE WHOLE PLAN OF SALVATION!!! probably better then we can! That is so amazing! Talk about a child's faith. Tido has a lot of physical handicaps. He has some chromosomal disorders and is legally blind, but he is the most faithful boy I've ever met. He says "I don't know what I would do or where I would be with out God and Jesus Christ in my life." Oh what this world would be like if everyone had the faith of this little boy.

The Latino society and culture has really been struck this last week. With the earthquakes in recent months, the most recent in Chile, there has been much conversation about whether there really is a God, and why would He allow this to happen. I dove into to scriptures in recent days trying to find an explanation of why these things happen. My mind was drawn to scriptures that I hold dearly as I have served the Lord, such as Mosiah 25:7-11.

7 And now, when Mosiah had made an end of reading the records, his people who tarried in the land were struck with wonder and amazement.
8 For they knew not what to think; for when they beheld those that had been delivered out of bondage they were filled with exceedingly great joy.
9 And again, when they thought of their brethren who had been slain by the Lamanites they were filled with sorrow, and even shed many tears of sorrow.
10 And again, when they thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of abondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God.
11 And again, when they thought upon the Lamanites, who were their brethren, of their sinful and polluted state, they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls.
As I ponder these scriptures, it doesn't necessarily answer the question, "Why does God allow these things to happen?" But it does address why we feel what we feel. In these four verses there is a very interesting pattern. The people that were persecuted so much, brought down to the depths of their faith had every reason to feel turmoil and anguish. But you will notice that as their thoughts changed to focus on the blessings they have received, they felt joy. We may never know why certain things happen in our lives. We will all have trials. Every one of us. But how we feel and what we do to overcome them solely relies on us. We too can feel joy and comfort as we are found, "wading in deep water.” We too can have the very burden lifted from our backs that we cannot feel them if we but turn to the Lord. If we always seek for the "why" we will miss the opportunity we have to grow closer to God and rely on him.

I have found these principles to be true, especially in the last week. One of the families that we are teaching, have a 16 year old daughter Rebecca who was in a car accident where her friend was killed. Yesterday, as we went to visit her and walked through the mobile home park, there was a sadness and heaviness there in the hearts of the people. They didn't have the "hope" of the gospel and understanding of the plan of redemption. We had just taught the plan of salvation to Rebecca and her sister the day before the accident. I'll explain more next week, but we can find joy through turmoil. push the fear aside and hold fast! Always! This is my testimony.

Hermana Vaughan-Schultz

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