Thank you all SO MUCH for the packages and letters you have sent. I can't even express how much it means to me to have such a loving, supportive family.
So this was the best freakin' week of my whole mission. Its weeks like these that make everything worth it.
I decided last week that I wanted to become a more sanctified, purified, obedient missionary. President Hancock has really been stressing that the past couple of weeks. He always tells us that obedience brings blessings but EXACT obedience brings miracles. I discovered this week how true this really is.
I tried to live and breathe the white handbook this week. I made sure I was up by 6:30 and in bed by 10:30, I got out of the car every time Sister Bueno had to back up, and I tried not waste any proselyting time. Then on Sunday, Sister Bueno and I decided to fast for miracles. And we saw them!!
Miracle #1: We had ten investigators come to church. TEN!! It was amazing.
Miracle #2: We found a new investigator who is super prepared to hear the gospel. K has met with missionaries before and has read a lot of the Book of Mormon. She says she loves the Book of Mormon but doesn't like how Mormons in the past have treated her because she is a single lady with no kids. We explained that our religion is very family-centered but that doesn't mean there isn't a place for single people in the church (duh... Sheri Dew!!). Anyways we can definitely help her overcome those little issues :)
Miracle #3: Okay brace yourself for this one. Its pretty incredible. So one of our bishops has a friend from China named C. Bishop Hansen owns this international wellness company that opened in China a couple years ago. C worked for him over in China and about 5 years ago Bishop went on a business trip there and C showed him around some Buddhist temples. While they were on the tour, Bishop talked a little bit about our religion and promised that if C ever came to the U.S. he would take her on a tour of Temple Square in Salt Lake. A year passed and finally C and her mother, A, got to come here and go on the Temple Square tour. They felt the spirit so strongly and knew from that one experience that there was something special about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
A couple more years passed. C got married, moved to the U.S. and got pregnant with a little girl. She didn't have much interaction with the church during that time and said that she was in a dark place. Her husband didn't treat her very well and she ended up getting divorced and moving back to China where she gave birth to her daughter Victoria.
About a year ago, a lady named Joyce Teng (also an employee of Bishop Hansen), had a very strong prompting that she should call C. She had met C a couple times through work but didn't know her very well at all. At first Joyce was tempted to ignore the prompting, but she ultimately acted on it and called. This phone call eventually lead to weekly discussions about the gospel via Skype between Joyce and C and her mom A. C and A immediately felt the truthfulness of the message and knew they needed to get baptized.
Unfortunately, people living in China are not allowed by the government to get baptized there. If they want to get baptized they must travel outside the country,which presented a big problem. Vicki, Coco's daughter, did not have Chinese citizenship because she was conceived in the U.S., so she couldn't get a passport to travel. C knew she wanted to have Vicki there for her baptism and her mother wanted to come and get baptized too so she couldn't stay and watch Vicki. C didn't know what to do. They had tried to get Vicki citizenship several times but they couldn't.
Right after Joyce taught these two faithful women about fasting, they knew they had to fast for a miracle to happen. That same night Joyce, C, and A started their fast. The next day, after fasting, C and A felt prompted to try to get Vicki's citizenship one more time. Getting citizenship required a 5 day journey to C's birthplace at a very hectic time of year in China, when it is really hard to get train and plane tickets. Somehow everything fell into place and their trip went very smoothly. They asked once more for citizenship for little Vicki and they immediately were able to get it, because of some policy changes instituted by the new Chairman of China. It was that simple. She got her citizenship which meant she could get a passport and visa to travel outside the country. Moral of the story: fasting works!!
So... You are probably wondering where Sister Bueno and I fit into this story. Well, C and A decided to come here to Idaho to get baptized by Bishop Hansen. Since they had never met with official missionaries before we had to teach them all of the missionary lessons before they could get baptized. A doesn't speak any English so we had an interpreter for her. They arrived in Idaho on Friday and we taught all the lessons in 2 days. They were baptized last night.
I will never forget the faith and dedication of these two women. Their love and gratitude for the restored gospel strengthened my testimony so much. Watching them finally enter the waters of baptism after years of yearning for more in their lives was incredible. It made me really think about how much I take my membership in the church for granted. I am so lucky to have grown up with the knowledge of the gospel.
The most incredible moment of last night was the moments after A was baptized. She came up out of the water smiling from ear to ear and repeating something in Chinese. The translator turned to all of us and interpreted: "I am born again. I am born again."
The spirit hit me so hard. That moment describes perfectly what missionary work (and life in general) is all about.
I couldn't ask for a better Christmas present. This has been the best Christmas of my entire life.
I can't even explain how happy I am. This scripture really says it best: D&C 18:15-16
I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know he lives and loves me.
Until next time,