A lot of you have asked for details about my investigators. I'm afraid I simply would never have the time to describe them to any semblance of adequacy. Each soul is so unique and needs something completely different. Furthermore, I cannot give you name by name details without their permission. To help you understand why I would not have the time, you should know that we are currently teaching about 45 different investigators, a few of which are in families. Each of their challenges are very unique, of which I will share a few.
María (I've changed all the names) would very much like to get baptized. She knows the church is true and has a rather strong testimony of that. She wanted to get baptized months ago, but her husband ran away when he found out. She called it off and went looking for him. Now, months later, she expressed the desire to get baptized again and had a date for , the 10th of July. She passed her baptismal interview with flying colors, however, as we began planning it, we asked her what time she wanted to get baptized so that her husband could be there and she told us by phone that she didn't think she could get baptized, that she didn't feel she knew enough, and needed to go. We were very confused as she was very, very excited to get baptized just two days before. We visited her house to try to talk it out with her, as she is always so happy in church and we knew she knew it was true and the right path for her. She has learned to trust in us because we've shown her how much we care about her and so told us the whole story she couldn't tell us on the phone. She talked with her husband. She had spent a lot of time trying to keep that marriage together for her two kids' sake. Her (abusive) husband apparently was not in a very accepting mood. He informed her that if she got baptized that he would kick her out of the house and keep the kids with him. He works 6-7 days a week and so the care of her five year old son would fall on the shoulders of her 15 year old daughter. She could not let that happen. She is certain that he would follow through with that threat. We fasted that day but have not been back due to other responsibilities. We should be going back tonight.
Rosa is a lawyer who's from an all-catholic family. She also knows it's true and passed her baptismal interview, but has not taken that step yet because she fears what her family will say. Apparently her family had a bad experience with someone in the church over 10 years ago and have blamed the church ever since. She also loves her Virgen de Guadalupe and is not sure she can stop praying to her.
Juan is the father of a full-member family, that is, except for himself. He also is certain it is true and had a baptismal date for yesterday. Unfortunately, however, he is not married to his wife and cannot be until the divorce papers finish going through, something that has already taken over 5 months.
These are three of the people that we are working with (of over 25 people that we feel could get baptized this month). They are unique people that I love dearly, but have unique challenges. As far as things that we have tried with them, the latest Liahona describes what we are doing rather well. We are "sharing the gospel with confidence." We are helping them understand doctrine, applying principles to their individual lives, focussing on the blessings they can have by following the gospel, and, more than anything else, we are bearing pure testimony of the truth of the gospel, the importance of it, and that they can find out for themselves if it is true or not. We teach them how to pray and how to recognize their answer. We teach them that God loves them and that we love them. I have not forgotten the lessons I learned before. I am always a friend to them, even if they don't want to know anything about the gospel. We always try to let them know that we love them and want the blessings of God in their lives.
Allow me to be clear, 24 baptisms is the number that we recieved by companionship revelation (kind of like personal revelation, but there are two of you ;) ). We have sought the will of God as far as this number is concerned. At the beginning of the month, when we made the goal, we didn't even have that many investigators. We have prayed a lot to know if it is God's will because we know that it is a high number and that what is more important than getting baptized is that you'll stay once you are baptized. We have felt the comfort of the Lord as far as it is concerned. We know that 24 new people with strong testimonies would change our wards completely. Furthermore, we know those 24 people are each that we love and care about and need the blessings of full membership in the church in their lives. There's a talk by Neil L. Anderson by the name of "You Know Enough." We don't know everything. If we were required to have a burning testimony about every last thing in the Lord's church, nobody would ever get baptized. We are required to know some things, that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, understand repentance, and that this is God's church, but not everything. We learn and grow more quickly in our testimonies once we are within the church and have the gift of the to guide us in our search for truth. Once one knows the church is true and is willing to follow it, he or she may not know everythinng, but he or she knows enough and should not delay baptism should the situation permit.
As for things I have learned this week, God has talked with me a lot. I've learned that, as I judge other people (as I need to), I should take whatever I think is happening and go to the Lord. God will judge righteously and tell me what I need to do. I have learned (by reading and pondering, fortunately, instead of by experience) to remember that I never have the full story. I do need to act, many times, but as directed by the Lord. If the Lord tells me to express my feelings, concerns, and encourage them to change, I will do so. If he tells me to not do so because I don't have the full story, I will learn to keep my mouth shut. I will "let God judge between me and thee and reward thee according to thy deeds."
I finally had the opportunity go to the President's house and listen to his instruction to all the new missionaries this last week. It was a fantastic experience. Even by mission president standards, my mission president is exceptional and I'm grateful for his example. He expressed the power of having a vision in your life and that God wants you to know what He would have you do. I have pondered a lot about what God wants my life to be and I certainly hope I can live up to His expectations. I know that, should I do everything I can, God will help me and make up the rest. I know I will fall, in life and in a mission, and have already fallen many times, but I know that Christ suffered for those sins and mistakes so that I can go on being better. Striving to live the Gospel, even if I fall and come short, brings me Joy. :)
I know Christ suffered for me. That is my testimony. It is centered on the atonement of my savior. There is nothing that can separate me from the love of God and His Son. I know that, no matter what, God will love me and accept me back into His fold whenever I desire to come back. He is my God. I know this is His church for I have felt His power working through me, power that has been restored to this church alone. I am grateful for everything I have, for I have everything. :) I have my God, I know it is true, I know enough.
All my love and prayers,