Well this was an exciting week! So remember how I said I would be working in an English ward now as well? We were assigned to the tri-valley YSA ward. Who's surprised that it's the same ward Matt Budge goes to? At this point I wasn't surprised. But of ALL the wards in the world how did we get put in the same ward?? So crazy. Anyway, president knows the situation so he said I'll probably be transferred next transfers. I've been begging him not to transfer me though because I love it here! I'm sure that's how I'll feel in every area that I serve though. I'll let you know in 5 weeks!
This weekend we went to three baptisms and they were all awesome. The first one was in Redwood (about an hour away) so that took up most of our afternoon on Saturday. It was for one of Sister Wallace's investigators before she came up here. The next one was later that night for a YSA and we brought Luis (one of our new investigators). He said he enjoyed it but he didn't understand most of it because he only speaks spanish. But our president talked to him afterwards and made him feel really welcome. It was so funny...during the service the YSA bishop asked all of the YSA to stand and Luis stood right up (he's like 60) and sister wallace kind of tugged him back down and said that it was for the "solteros" (singles) and he said "well I am single!" Even if he didn't understand the whole service...the spirit speaks the same language for everyone!!
After the baptism president took the two zones (pleasanton and livermore) out to dinner at chilli's. He's such a nice guy! But we stayed out until 11! I couldn't believe president let us stay out that long. I was getting so anxious too because we still hadn't planned. Sunday morning at 8 we had our third baptism and it was soooo special. The spanish elders have been teaching him and he's actually been investigating the church for 7 years. I'm not sure what condition he has, but he stopped breathing once for 2 hours and he's not supposed to be under water (because he's not supposed to hold his breath) so he was so scared to get baptized. He's also very old and can't really support his body weight. They had to let him sit on a chair in the water and he was really embarrassed so he only invited us and the person doing the baptism (somehow other people found out about it from the branch and showed up too though). Anyway, they had to re-do the baptism a couple times because he was too scared to go all the way under. Plus, the man doing the baptism is 4'11 and the man getting baptized is over 6 feet tall. Eventually one of the witnesses got in the water too to help. It was a very intimate and special and spiritual baptism.
Sunday was absolutely awesome! We had 6 investigators at church! Blanca hasn't missed a week but when we walked into Sunday school she wasn't there and I was so shocked/sad. So I called her to ask where she was and she said she was coming but they were going to be late because she was not leaving her house without her family this time. Sure enough, 15 minutes later Blanca showed up with just about her whole family. She is so awesome! I don't think any of them were very happy that they were there...but she was determined to bring them. She doesn't want to wait any longer for her baptism so she told us that if her husband comes to church she knows he'll want to get married in this church (not in the temple...blanca just wants the branch president to do it in the chapel). At the end of sacrament her husband was going around hugging everyone and saying "Hermano!" So I think he liked it?
Another neat thing about church this Sunday was one of the members that we have been working with paid his tithing for the first time! His 7 year old daughter has been setting a very good example for him with this and when he asked us for help to pay his tithing I just about cried. Hopefully he'll be ready to baptized his daughter in October.
As for the rest of our investigators they're all progressing at different rates. Ana and her family have pretty much reached a stand still but we're not giving up. We got a lot of new investigators (6) this week that we're excited about. We had an awesome member present with Poli Sosa (the short man that did the baptism on Sunday morning) and Luis. Poli bore his testimony about how to receive answers to prayers and said that the only place he could pray, when he was investigating the church, was in the bathroom. He said everytime he goes into the bathroom now he feels the spirit so strong. It took every muscle strength I had not to laugh at that. Luis keeps saying that he wants to be like the members of the church but that he can't because he drinks/smokes sometimes and Poli pointed out that just about every single member of the branch used to be alcoholics/addicted to drugs including the 2nd counselor.
I have so much admiration for the members of the branch! They've gone through so much not only to get here to America but to be members of this church. I've heard lots of stories that I wish I had time to share but I don't...so just know that they're amazing. And so are our investigators that are trying so hard to change.
I'm working on writing people back...I'm super behind I'm sorry! But I absolutely love hearing how everyone is doing and I hope to hear from you all again soon. Thanks for everyone's support and prayers...you're all in my prayers as well as the prayers of a lot of people here (they pray for our families all the time!) I hope everyone has a good week!
Love, Hermana Billings