Mom´s questions... Yes there are tall Guatemalan people but it is very rare. It´s about the equivalent of seeing a good looking do without rabies here, so you can know that it almost never happens. Yes I am a giant which means that I´m incredibly good looking to the girls here, once they see that you are tall and white the rest doesn´t matter. It´s been a good self confidence booster for me. One of the children in the picture was the daughter of Blanca Olivares´s son (doesn´t come from Marcos), and the other is their daughter Carla which they had together. He had a rough past, but the important thing is that they are now all together right? And yes Carla was already baptized. My companion has been in the area for 6 months and I think we´ll stay together, or I hope. Changes (as they are called in spanish so for that I apologize) are this Wednesday.
Okay so that is that. This was a great week of course because as a missionary, conference is like summer vacation. I didin´t mean that we don´t work but that we are as excited for conference as an 8 year old kid is for christmas. It´s a big deal. I just want to write about a few thoughts that I had during conference and what I liked. First off, Elder Bednar´s talk about revelation confirmed exactly what I had concluded in the weeks before as I had a lot of questions about the spirit, and if the occurences of strong impressions are rare. He confirmed everything for me and made my testimony grow about how these talks are extremely personal at times. Also I loved the story from Elder Christopherson (quickly becoming one of my favorite speakers) about the gardner and how it related to trials in our life. I liked when he said ¨Thank you for loving me enough, to cut me down.¨ Sometimes we have such limited perspective in things, and this always helps me to remember to think past what´s going on when things are rough. Finally, as Mom wrote about, I loved the talk about to be and to do, and how he talked about what we do is only a symptom of who we are. His comparison of to do and to be is so applicable for missionariesas there are some in both extremes and many good missionaries with the right balance who are the best missionaries. It was a good reminder of how we need bothalways.
Anyway it is always a great boost to hear the conference talks in your mission and it always makes me think of how lucky we are to have living prophets and apostles that literally guide us through divine inspiration. How many people can claim that?
After conference we had the baptism of Alba, which really reminded me of the situation of Josie Hoalcraft. She´s a widow and is alone. We have seen a complete change in her attitude and how she carries herself with everything that we have taught her and with her baptism yesterday. She always talks about how happy the church makes her. She has really sad stories about how a pastor took advantage of her by ripping her off to buy pieces of land that she owned, knowing that what he was doing was completely wrong and that she had very limited knowledge of the situation. It makes us happy to see the complete change in her, and how happy she is right now. She is such a nice lady and loves the fact that she will be able to see her husband again after this life.
Anyway, I have to go, I love you all and hope all is well. I will let you know what happens with changes obviously but I hope Elder Cruz stays.
Ben, Elder Cruz, and the Olivares family after Brother Olivares' baptism
Marcos Olivares....so happy after his baptism!
Sorry to the brothers and sisters that I didn´t have any time to write to you guys this week, this computer has something to send pictures and I thought you would like to see some pictures from the baptism instead. But, I will write you guys another week mkay? Brad and Michelle did you ever receive my SD card and letters? I will be so sad if that got lost in the mail. Also Brad, I really do feel super fortunate to able to be serving with a people that is so trusting in God. I really have respect for those who serve in a country where people have trouble believing in him. We don´t have to deal with that struggle we just have to deal with the fight of helping them to know what it is that God really has revealed and what it is that he really wants for them. I would imagine it is at least 23% harder when they don´t even believe in God.
Also Brad, I don´t why, but I was thinking this morning about how that one time at Chic-Fil-A (I´ve forgotten how to spell that sorry) we had on Michelle´s Glee CD blasting in front of the 20 year old girl that was serving us our food. I then started to think about how shocked she must have been to see two 20 or so year old boys listening to that music. I laughed, and then I got excited that today was email.
Anyways, I don´t think Mom had any questions, and if you did Mom I´m sorry but I have to get going. So yesterday we had the baptism of Marcos and we were able to complete the family, something that is amazing. He showed up smiling and joking around as usual 10 minutes before the baptism and everything went according to plan. So I don´t have to type it all again I´m going to copy and paste what I wrote in my weekly letter to President Baldwin. He has started to ask for reports on baptismal services so this is what I wrote, ¨I was extremely content with how the baptismal service went. We were able to call the assigned speakers, members of the bishopric, etc. a week or so before the baptismal service and to our relief they all showed up very well prepared. We went around the whole week committing members to go, but yet again we were disappointed with the attendance of members. Any advice on how we could get members to support us more in our baptismal services? Anyways, we were not able to have the first part in the chapel as you have counseled because they were cleaning it. We were able to however start on time and have everything run very smoothly making it one of the most powerful services I have been to. I give the credit to the members who told us they would do what we assigned them and then followed through. I had the honor to baptize him and there was a powerful spirit present after the baptism as I saw the impact that this saving ordinance had on him. I asked him as we were changing afterwards what he felt and he told me (as he was very choked up) that he was felt good and didn´t have words to describe what he was feeling. We asked him to give his testimony at the end, but with tears in his eyes he told us that he wanted to but he couldn´t find the words to say his testimony at that moment. This simple statement had the same impact on those who were present as anything else that could have been said. We had the Bishop say a few words and were able to end an extremely powerful service.¨
In other words, something in Marcos changed after he came out of the water. He was very thoughtful and overcome by something for the rest of the baptismal service, something very unusual for someone who likes to joke around and laugh a lot. He really felt the power of what had just happened. My district leader Elder Mckell told me that it was one of the best baptismal services that he had been to yet in his mission, and I agree, it was a really great service. It also helped that his wife was able to bear testimony before the baptism of the truthfulness of the church and the ordinance that he was about to take place. I hope that we can work very closely with them in the next weeks to make sure that they can be on a sure path to always be progressing in this gospel.
Anyways this weekend we have two more baptisms, one with Hermana Alba who has come to church all by herself for the last month which is impressive considering she is probably about 65 years old and has to walk, and one with a 9 year old who is part of a less active family that is now not so less active because their son just got back from their mission. I´m also extremely excited for conference.
I´m getting sad that this change is going to end. It is very probably that Elder Cruz is going to leave and that I´ll get a new companion. I´ve really enjoyed my time here and working this hard is extremely gratifying. Having these experiences just reminds me that this work may not be easy, but it is worth it. What we have is true, and that truth changes lives, what else matters? I love this Gospel and am so happy to be here sharing it. But I have to go, I love you guys!