After a week of starting over, the blessings have accelerated and the work of the lord is unstoppable. In fact, we are like a train. An unstoppable train. We are a full steamed locomotive!
ALL ABOARD! We are headed to the Celestial Kingdom and all are invited! Get your tickets stamped at the baptismal gate and then it's a direct route to the temple.
Juan Castillo has his ticket stamped and is waiting to confirm his seat during his confirmation next Sunday. Wow. What a day. There couldn't have been a better Sunday.
|Juan and his wife, Adela|
|Juan's party after baptism. He made Mole for everyone!|
|La Familia Grande. Juan and his family before baptism.|
We stopped by Juan's job on Saturday night because we only had half of the baptism planned. There was supposed to be someone else getting baptized on the same day, so we let them plan the other half of the baptism, but it ended up not working out. Juan doesn't usually answer his phone while he's working, and after calling him 3 times, we decided it was best if we just dropped by to talk to him so that we could finish making the baptismal program. We stopped by, asked the person working at the desk to get Juan, and when he turned the corner out of the back room of the restaurant where he works he was all smiles. He saw us and invited us to sit down and talk with him. We figured out the remainder of his baptism and he invited us to eat there. We were already fasting for fast Sunday and so we decided to postpone the dinner until today.
The actual baptism was incredible! Sunday morning we woke up so excited for what lay ahead: a baptism and a chat with our mothers. We got ready, arrived a the church a little bit early to make the baptismal program, and enjoyed a wonderful sacrament meeting where JUAN BORE HIS TESTIMONY! He wasn't even a member yet! Now, you have to understand who Juan is. He is not a man of many words, nor is he a man who likes to have all of the attention, but the fact that he walked up to the pulpit without any encouragement (I know because I was sitting with his family) and bore his testimony was proof of how ready he really was. His testimony was simple and not very long, but the sincerity behind all of his words were so real. You could feel the spirit fill the room almost like even the spirit wanted to be there to listen to what Juan was saying. It was incredible.
After the classes were all over and we were preparing for the actual baptism, things were a little bit crazy. Juan's wife wanted the program changed. She had decided last minute that she wanted someone else to baptize Juan instead of Loren, who was already chosen. We were heartbroken and so was he when we told him that the plans were no longer the same. We tried to focus on the positive though.
Miraculously enough, after Juan had changed and the bienvenidas were being given, Juan was presented with two home teachers; Loren Romero and Miguel Chico. We were thrilled. We know that Loren will still have a very powerful effect on the Castillo Family.
Like all special occasions in the Hispanic culture, the baptism was followed by some WONDERFUL food. I love Hispanics ;) haha We all went to Juan's house for lunch. They had made Mole Poblano...and enough for the whole ward. It was awesome seeing all of the ward gather into this small apartment sitting or standing on whatever just to make more room for more people. It was a hot, humid, jersey summer day, and the apartment didn't have any air conditioning, but sweaty as we were, it was glorious.
Juan is incredible. I wish you could all meet him.
Stamp that ticket and send him to the temple! Arrival date, June 9, 2015.
Skype was the other best part of the day. It was awesome so see my family so happy. What accomplished little siblings I have! You all just seemed to glow! Courtney, confident as ever, radiated who she was and what she is about to accomplish. Derek, glows. Dillon is a little ball of sunshine, and Nathan is our little sunbeam. Mom was especially sparkly with the tears in her eyes, and Dad, being the spiritual giant that he is, filled the room. I love you all.
|My cute family on Mother's Day|
|Our Family Foto!|
I had a blast talking to each one of you. I wish the time was longer, but even though time is short, as it is here on earth, it can be deep. I'm looking forward to spending much more time with each of you when I get home!
But the time here on the mission is especially short. We don't have time to waste, and I can promise you, no time is wasted here in Elizabeth. Like I said earlier, we are no longer a huffing and puffing coal engine, but rather a steam engine running on the spirit of God.
Let me tell you of some other miracles that we have seen this week:
Monday night, we saw Carlos Pena. He's a Dominican part member family. He is much like Juan Castillo, not as outgoing as most Dominicans, tries to keep to himself, but we wont' let him ;) and he secretly likes what we teach him even though he doesn't want to admit it. Well, he just started to pray for us in the lessons. That was huge! He accepted the invitation to come to church this last Sunday. He didn't come, but he is doing all of his reading assignments and actually comes on time to all of the lessons. He's going to be baptized super soon! I can see it...just like with Juan!
Tuesday, we taught Marisol, Emilia, and Jerry. They are all from Puerto Rico. Great family. They are all a little bit older....50's or 60s'. Marisol and Jerry are cousins and Emilia is Marisol's mom. They all live together in the projects taking care of one another because they are either "too old to marry again" or widowed. Well, Marisol has told us from the beginning that she would NEVER pray for us. She said that it is something between her and God and that it doesn't need to be said in front of other people. Well, this Tuesday she prayed out loud. And she liked it! I was on an exchange with Hermana Bascom when this happened, but when we walked out of the appointment I just hugged her and told her why I was so happy. They don't have a baptismal date yet, but very soon!
Wednesday, we finally saw Danny in a formal appointment. Probably one of the first that we have done that since he got baptized in February. He's having a really rough time with his marriage. Please pray for him. He, as a recent convert, is being the example for his wife- a convert of many years.
Benita, well....she still tells me that she gets sweaty when I come over. haha I love her! :) She knows I do. She loves me too.
Carlos Castillo we visited on Thursday and had a GREAT lesson. We, by some small miracle, found him while walking on the street. He stopped answering our phone calls again, so we were about to drop him, but Heavenly Father doesn't want us to give up on him yet. We found him at 4 in the afternoon walking home from doing his shopping. We were on our way to an appointment, but he told us to come back later to have dinner with him. At 6 we arrived. He had made us papalajuancajina, a Peruvian dish. We dined fabulously. It was awesome. I still have hopes for his baptism!
Everything is wonderful. I love the mission. There is no place better, nor time better, nor work better, than to be serving the Lord right here in Elizabeth.
I love being a missionary. I love it, I love it, I love it!
Sending all my love,