Wow today is my 17th month mark! And it is also the first day of my last transfer as a full-time missionary. I am honestly hoping for the time to go by super slow. But either way, I've already commited to the Lord to not let a single moment go by.
This last week was great! FOUR people that I helped teach in Gilroy got baptized on Saturday! We weren't able to make it to the baptism because we had other appointments so I don't have any pictures. But Sister Champlin brought me back a program. The four baptisms were all from the Fuertes family. Do you remember them? Their daughter (who was a member) commited suicide in the summer and the ward really reached out to their family afterwards. Since her death, most of the family was in church every single Sunday. I'm so happy that they were able to turn such a tragedy into something so great. The same night as the Fuertes family baptism, the parents of Stacy Gaddis (12 yr old girl baptized in Del Rey Park Ward while I was there) were also baptized. I didn't teach Stacy or her parents so you probably don't know who I'm talking about but I saw them progress as the elders were teaching them and I'm so happy for them! It's so interesting that their 12 year old daughter was the one who brought them to the gospel. Hearing about all of these baptisms in Gilroy made me REALLY REALLY miss Gilroy. I love RWC too, but my heart definintely is still in Gilroy.
Other good news from Gilroy is that Margarita (who went to Mexico and then came back right before I left. Gave me the glass swan. Read Alma 29 for us. Had the troubled son named Francisco. hopefully those ring some bells) set a baptismal date for next Saturday! I'll definintely be going down to Gilroy for that one!
As far the investigators here in Redwood City.....We hadn't seen Lourdes for awhile so we decided to stop by her house last Monday night. She told us that she wants to be baptized next week! I swear it came out of nowhere! She said that she's ready for the change. She used to come to church every Sunday with her husband but now that he's in Mexico it's harder for her to be motivated to come. We told her that she can be baptized as soon as she starts coming to church more regularly. She said that her biggest fear of being a member of the church was that she'd have to give talks in front of people. I told her that she doesn't have to do anything that she doesn't want to and that my mom, who is the biggest example to me of how members of the church should act, has never given a talk (at least that I know of). She felt a lot better after hearing that and agreed to come to church so that she can prepare for baptism. I can see how it would be intimidating to think that after baptism you have to all of a sudden be a perfect member. We tried to explain to her that it's just a step by step process and it's a personal commitment between herself and God. It doesn't matter what everyone else expects of you. God's opinion is the only one that matters and he just expects progress. Not perfection. Anyway, our lesson with Lourdes went long so we were running late to our next appointment. We had walked to Lourdes' house expecting to leave in plenty of time for our next appointment. We ended up running (in skirts!) about 3/4 of a mile to our next appointment! I'll be honest....I enjoyed the run! Even though we showed up to our next appointment out of breath and sweaty it was definintely worth it! And it's a good thing that my companion is a runner :)
Speaking of running, it's been raining almost every single morning when we go running and I love it! The rain here must be warmer or something!
We also had some awesome (and one not so awesome) experiences with Enrique. We also hadn't seen him for awhile because our last set appointment had fallen through with him. We decided to stop by on Wednesday night and when he opened the door he got a huge smile on his face and said "I knew that you would come tonight". We asked him how he knew and he said that God told him. He had been having a hard time because his wife really wants to go through with the divorce. I don't know if the only reason for the divorce is him wanting to get baptized but I"m assuming that there are other issues. He said he just doesn't understand why he feels so good when he learns about our church and our beliefs but that his family and friends keep telling him that it's such a horrible thing. He told us that he knows he'll be getting baptized soon but he's scared to set another date because he feels so bad for not going through with his last date. He said that he thinks it'll be sooner rather than later because he had a dream about his dad who died when Enrique was 18. In the dream, his dad was waiting for Enrique to do his temple work. Well, he said "baptism in the temple". Enrique said that ever since we taught him about baptisms for the dead, he's known that he needs to be baptized for his dad.
Unfortunately, some more things came up with Enrique's family this weekend and he couldn't handle it. When he didn't show up to church we sent him a text asking where he was. He told us that he didn't want us to look for him anymore because God had forgotten about him. So we left in the middle of church to do exactly what he told us not to. We found him in a car with a friend outside of his apartment. He had been drinking but I don't think he was super drunk. As soon as he saw us he started crying. It broke my heart to see an old man cry like that. He told us that he's losing his family and everything that he's ever had and that he feels like God forgot about him. After talking for awhile, we finally helped him realize that he had asked God to help him change and make him become a new man. Just like a cottage needs to be torn down in order to build a mansion, God was allowing him to suffer so that he could become a new and better man. We convinced him to go home, take a shower and meet with us tomorrow (today!). He seemed a lot better once we left and he couldn't stop thanking us for coming. As we were leaving he said, "You're right, I know God didn't forget about me because he sent two of his angels to comfort me".
This week we had a lesson in McDonalds with a memeber and one of our investigators. (When there's not a woman in the house we can't go in so we teach a lot of lessons at the library and McDonalds). During our lesson a lady walked up to us and asked, in spanish, if she could meet with us another day. I'm not used to people being the one walking up to us and asking to learn more. The Lord really must be hastening His work!
Here's the funny story of the week....we were driving home from the despedida last night with a member and our investigator. I was sitting in the back with our investigator and he just kept asking questions about our missions, the church...everything! He asked if we could get dinner (cenar) but I thought he asked if we could heal (sanar). So I thought it was a perfect opportunity to explain the priesthood and how Jesus Christ healed the sick and raised the dead etc. Once I saw the confused look on his face I realized that he had said cenar. haha leave it to a missionary to jump to conclusions like that! We were even fasting so I'm surprised that the first thing that came to my mind wasn't food.
Well, that's about all for this week! I hope that everyone is doing well. Cuidensen mucho :)
Love, Hermana Billings