Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Ft. Myers Week 9
Oh boy! This was an amazing week! We celebrated my birthday yesterday and it has to be my most favorite birthday ever! :-) The Roman’s (ward mission leader) and the Ramirez families (our recent convert family) threw a birthday party for me! It was so much fun! I felt so special and loved. As we all sat around the table eating, I couldn’t help but feel so much love and gratitude for the opportunity I have had to serve here, and truly become a part of so many wonderful families. After eating, they brought out a cake and sang to me. After the song they started yelling, “!Mordida! Mordida! Mordida!” which means, “BITE IT!” So I did! And yes, my face got pushed right into the cake! Illiana loved getting that opportunity! And they all laughed so hard. It was a very heart-warming experience feeling at home even though I am thousands of miles away from home. I love being a missionary, and I truly love the people here.
Now I have said many times before, that I love gas stations, but now I REALLY REALLY love gas stations. We were around the Pine Manor area and we had just finished visiting Juan. Well, it was my turn this time to really have to use the bathroom. Usually we use the Canteras family’s bathroom when we are in the area. (Let’s face it, gas station bathrooms are never a first pick) but I kept thinking, no, we should stop at 7/11… so we did. I kind of hurried into the bathroom and Sister Baum said, I’ll contact these two Spanish guys in the store. So she did. From the bathroom I could hear her yelling with excitement. When I came out Sister Baum had a big smile on her face and the first thing she said was, “Hermana, this is Wilson, and he has been studying with the sisters in Miami for 8 months!” Then after some conversation she said, “So were you baptized?” He said, “No.” “WHY NOT?!” He said, “Well, my girlfriend that I lived with would never marry me.” We asked, “Well, is she living with you now?” He said, “ No.” Then Sister Baum said, “So then problem is…” He said, “solved!”
We totally just found Wilson. He might as well have been an active member. He truly and sincerely is a future stake president. What is crazy is that he had just driven into Fort Myers 15 minutes before that. He came to the 7/11 to get deodorant and a tooth brush that he had forgotten. After talking a little bit more, we asked, “Well what are you doing right now?” He said, “Nothing.” We asked, “Do you want to walk to one of our members houses and we can have a lesson?” He said, “Sure!” So we did. While we were there we had a great lesson and just talked and got to hear more of his story. At one point he asked, “I’m not sure what God is trying to tell me right now.” And then Hermana Cantera said, “Duh, he is telling you that you need to be baptized!” It was really quite funny!
We have had about 5 lessons with Wilson. They have been the most spiritual lessons that I have had on the mission. I think it is a demonstration of the faith that he has. He is in a sticky situation… He has been with his girlfriend for 11 years. They might as well be married but she won’t marry him so now he is not living with her but it is still a very hard and difficult thing for him. It is a huge trial of his faith. He understands the commitment it is to be a member of the church, including the importance of keeping the law of chastity. As he has persevered through this I have never before seen someone more like Nephi. Ever. He has so much faith. I feel completely unworthy to even teach him. Just in the short week that we have known him, trial and test after test have been placed before him and he still keeps going. First, his girlfriend said that she wanted to move in with him here. So that was a problem. Then there was something else. We stopped by his house when he still was a little unsure about whether or not he should be baptized. We read with him Hebrews 11 and talked about faith, and the faith that was necessary for these amazing people to do what they did. He was very quiet and somber during the lesson. We just kept testifying to him. We invited him to say the prayer and to ask Heavenly Father if he should be baptized or not. We told him to pause after and wait a few minutes to listen… And we did that. The spirit was so strong. He said he felt really good. We made sure we left him when the spirit was the strongest. The next day we met him at the Canteras home. We watched the Restoration movie. He has seen it a million times before but we felt like he should watch it. His eyes were entranced on the TV. After it ended we just sat silently. Then he said, “Well, I know what I’m going to do and I got my answer.” He said, “ I know I need to be baptized. I will be baptized whenever you want me to. Tomorrow!” We were in pure shock! Two days ago he said that he wouldn’t even set a date or do anything to move in that direction. Sister Baum and I are so happy!
I love this work! Every day we are finding prepared people! There is no greater work or joy that someone can feel than to help our Heavenly Father in this great cause of building up His kingdom.