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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013 - Redwood City

So remember how I said I would be emailing on Mondays now? I must have jinxed it because here I am on a Tuesday, emailing once again.
 The reason why we didn't have time to email yesterday is because we got asked to give a special presentation for a Theology class at a private school. They called the mission office and asked for two sisters and two elders to come and present about our beliefs and some church history. On Sunday, sister Bair and I set aside about an hour to put together a power point presentation with video clips and pictures that we would be using. After working on it for about an hour at the library, it somehow got deleted. It was like finals week of college all over again! Working on a project last minute just to have it be deleted. But this time it wasn't a grade in school that I was worried about. I called the elders to tell them what had happened (they were at the temple with an investigator so they weren't able to help us) and I said, "this is like finals week only worse because people's salvation is hanging on the line!" They thought that was pretty funny but at the time I was pretty stressed. We ended up using a member's computer (with president's permission) and everything worked out fine. Even though we had to take an extra hour to re-do the presentation.
So on Monday morning we went to the school to present. It's a small (275 students) private catholic school. We presented for 2 classes of seniors. They had already studied the history of the church in class so we focused mainly on the atonment. The teacher said that it was "good strategy" on our part so as to distract from the controversial church history topics. But we didn't do it to be strategic. We all prayed about what we should present and decided that focusing on the atonement was the best idea. Afterall, it is Christ's church and His atonment is central to the plan of salvation. I wish I could go into more detail about how the presentation went but I don't have time. After our presentation the students had about 20 minutes to ask questions. The usual questions came up but everyone (minus one) was very respectful and accepting of the answers we gave. One lady came to visit for the first class and was looking for a debate about prop 8. She was getting frustrated that we weren't debating with her but we just told her that as missionaries we can't represent the church in political issues but we can say that we believe marriage is between a man and a woman. She found us at lunch and had printed off an article about mormons involvment in prop 8 and handed it to each one of us. We smiled and took the article so hopefully she can feel at peace now. The teacher, who is openly gay, had invited her to come. But he wasn't looking for contention I don't think.
Anyway, it was an amazing experience. The students were very well educated and very open. I was nervous about teaching in front of so many people but I know the words that we should say were given to us. I hope that at least one student will remember the spirit that we brought and have the desire to learn more.
Okay, so about Jose Luis. His baptism was so amazing! I still can't believe how quickly he decided to be baptized. His brother-in-law who has been baptized for about a year was able to baptize him. It was his first time using his priesthood to baptize someone and he was so touched to be given such an opportunity. When Jose Luis came out of the water he had THE biggest smile on his face. Bigger than any I've seen after a baptism on my mission. He was also really brave and got up to bear his testimony after he changed his clothes. He was nervous but he did a good job. His non member wife, daughter, and granddaughters all came to the service so we're hoping to be able to start teaching them soon. As part of his testmiony he said that it's never too late to change (he's 65). he even got a little emotional during his testimony. It seriously was a miracle! I'll send pictures if I have time.
Speaking of miracles. We had a zone conference this last week and our mission president put up a whole bunch of numbers and charts of what we've accomplished so far this year. With the new flood of missionaries and missionaries just working harder we've really seen so many miracles. It was so interesting though because he pointed out that we're doing about double the work but seeing four times the results. You'd think it'd be double the work and double the results right? But when we're working extra hard the Lord blesses us. And it was easy to see that He really has been blessing this mission. We're all working extra hard to finish off 2013 strong..
Last story for the week....we went to a christian church that is putting on a live nativity program this december to volunteer. Similar to what I did in Livermore when I first got into the field if anyone remembers. Anyway, a few of us missionaries showed up at the same time and we asked the guy in charge how we could help. He explained our responsibilites for the day and then asked us if we could remove our name tags. He said it was a "non denominational" group and he didn't want anyone asking us questions. We told him that we wouldn't be able to remove our tags and then he said, quite angrily, "Well how are you going to help in people's salvation if you can't remove your tags?" I don't know what he meant by that but I was pretty defensive. I told him that we were just there to help and if he didn't want our help then we could leave. For how defensive I felt, i was pretty surprised how calm the words came out. His entire demeanor changed and he started telling us how grateful he was for our desire to help and let us stay.
I know that the tags we wear might just look like tags to someone else but I've learned that the tag I get to wear every single day shows that I don't represent myself but that I represent Christ. I've become very attached to my little black name tag with Christ's name on it. It really is such an honor to represent Him and His church.
Well on that note, I hope everyone is having a good week and I can't wait to hear from all of you soon. Cuidense y Dios les bendiga
Con amor,
Hermana Billings

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