Monday, March 2, 2015
West Lake Reunions
This week has been pretty emotional haha big surprise there.
Friday during the day I got a phone call and found out that Jose Vallejo- one of the LARCs that I had worked with my entire time in West Lake Houston- had passed away. His health had been pretty bad, and one day he went into the hospital and passed away there. It was SO sad. During the time I was there, he had been improving, and doing super well- stopped drinking again, got healthy, got a job, was happy to be doing things with his life and be able to help out his daughter who is 8 months pregnant... but his body had been so destroyed from alcoholism since he was 14 years old. He kind of fell again back into drinking the last couple weeks I was there and I think it shook him up.. but I love Jose. He was SUCH a good person. He had a really genuine heart and always was looking out for other people. He had it really hard, but loved us and always treated us really well. I love Jose so much. I was super super sad when I heard about what had happened, but I know that now he is in a better place and isn't suffering anymore. Saturday was his funeral, and Paco came and picked me and Hermana Fonoimoana up and we went. It was sad but peaceful. A group of us missionaries sang at his funeral, and the Elders that had baptized him were there, and they shared their testimony after all the family had spoken. I am just so grateful for the knowledge we have of the Plan of Salvation- God loves us and of course He wants us to live with Him again! I'm so glad that death isn't the end and that we know and have hope in being resurrected and receiving perfected bodies. None of Jose's family were members, so I hope that they felt peace as we testified of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the plan that God has for us.
Then Sunday was TITO's BAPTISM!!!!! I was able to go back and be there and IT WAS AMAZING. :) My heart was SO full the whole time!! Tito was so excited to be baptized-- and said he was so happy afterwards! He has been through a lot to get to this point but he was willing to take that step of faith and be baptized :D He's awesome. And the baptism service was SO powerful--
GILBERTO BAPTIZED TITO!!! It made me so proud to see him progressing and having the courage to baptize Tito and use his Priesthood to help Tito be baptized :) He was so nervous ahead of time, but he did so good!!! :) Paco baptizing Marco and Gilberto baptizing Tito were 2 of the most incredible things to witness ever. I dont even know how to explain how much joy I felt to see that!!!! They are all such new members of the church but willing to help out each other to come unto Christ and progress in the gospel. My heart!
Also- while Gilberto and Tito were changing, Obispo asked Marco to come share his testimony!! Oh man I was SO HAPPY! He is so solid and has such a strong testimony of the gospel- he has so much faith and really has made SUCH HUGE CHANGES in his life!!! In his testimony he thanked the missionaries and Paco for always being there for him and being such good friends and helping him to know about the Book of Mormon and the church. THEN after Marco, Obispo asked PACO to go share his testimony!!! Paco is so shy so him standing up there to bear his testimony is a huge deal but he did SO awesome and the spirit was so strong during both of their testimonies. He has changed so much :) Ahhh I AM SO HAPPY!!! Then David Gutierrez (Yessika's husband, Paco's brother in law- also a recent convert) shared his testimony. These people honestly are so converted to the gospel- their faith is so strong and they know that the church is true and it has changed their lives. Listening to them strengthens my testimony so much and helps me feel the power of the work I am involved in. There is NOTHING that can stop this work from progressing-- Heavenly Father has prepared people to accept the gospel and they are changing their lives because of the Spirit they feel and the testimony they have gained through their faith in the Savior and willingness to follow Him. I hope all my thoughts are making sense. Basically I love being a missionary and watching these changes happen firsthand. I love to watch people progress and feel of their spirits as they come to know the gospel is true and act according to their knowledge. I was SO proud of Tito and Gilberto!! SO PROUD! and Marco and Paco for having the courage to share what they have felt and learned as they have come to learn more about the gospel and change their lives.
Also Hugo came to the baptism!! He told me that he felt the spirit when Williams, Hull and I were singing-- that made me so happy too! I really hope that Hugo is the next one to take that step of faith and make the decision to be baptized. I know he wants to but he keeps putting it off. But it was so good to see him and talk to him again yesterday too. :)
Marco wrote me the sweetest letter and made me a bracelet that says "ROGELS" haha it was SO awesome. :) He is doing so well and talked a ton about how happy he is and how many blessings he has received and seen in his life!
Obispo as he was about to walk out the door was saying bye and giving us spiritual hugs (haha we give each other air hugs all the time-- way funny) and then he turned back around and said, "I can't leave, I feel like I am walking away from my daughters!" AH i miss him so much! I love Obispo Morales!
To sum up this weekend in a nutshell- I got to see my family again, and I got to see Tito (one of my brothers) get baptized and watch the happiness in his life and in the life of other recent converts all at the same time and my heart is SO full! :)
University of Houston is doing awesome too :) This ward is so cool- I am looking forward to being able to get to know more people and let my family grow a little bit more-- I don't know how there is possibly going to be room in my heart for everyone but Heavenly Father is definitely expanding my capacity to love people purely. It is one of my favorite things about to mission for sure- coming to know these people and experience such overwhelming love for them and share the most important thing in my life with everyone I meet!!! I think that is what helps me love people most- is serving them with the greatest gift Heavenly Father has for us! His restored gospel and the path to Eternal Life in His presence! :)
This week I met Moises and Nyomi-- they are AMAZING people and so much fun! Nyomi is a member and Moises is an investigator with a baptismal date for March 29th! They have been dating for like...6 years and want to get married, and Nyomi really wants to get sealed in the temple, but Moises always tells her that he doesnt want to get baptized just for her... so we know that as he moves forward, he really is doing this for himself!!! :) I dont remember if I wrote about him last week, but he had come to church and said, "Well of course I will come to church- I have to come every week if I want to get baptized on the 29th!" He is awesome and teaching them is so much fun! This past week Nyomi and him read Ether 15 together and acted out the story of Shiz and Coriantumr for us... It was pretty priceless. :)
I also met Narciso! He has been investigating for 3 years or so now but he also has a date for the 29th! He has things in his life that he is working to change, but this man has some real desire!! We just hope we can help him turn that desire into action! :) He loves coming to church and reading the scriptures so we are working really hard with him to make sure he can be baptized at the end of this month! :) I love Narciso!
And probably the most exciting lesson we taught this last week was with JOSE AND GUADALUPE GUTIERREZ!! So quick refresher-- they were the couple that we prayed specifically to find during our Fear No Man time... and jose was the guy that walked out of his house to turn on the light at the perfect time, then saw us and asked if we wanted to preach to him right then-- Invited us in and had an incredible 1st lesson with them! Okay so that was my first week here--- Last week we went back to teach them and asked if they had read the pamphlet and Jose said, "Yeah I read all of it!" So we asked if they had prayed and they both said YES AND THEY KNOW IT IS TRUE!!!! Guadalupe had a few questions though so she started to ask us, and JOSE WAS ANSWERING THEM!! He would turn to the page in the pamphlet where it talked about it, explain it to her, then turn to us and ask if we had anything else to add... haha it was SO awesome. That like...never happens. Then we taught them about the Book of Mormon and Jose basically told us he already knew that was true too because he had prayed and asked about it after reading that part of the pamplet. We committed them to be baptized and they both said yes!
After the lesson, we told them that next time we were going to be talking about the Plan of Salvation and answering the question "Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going after this life?" Jose said, "Will you write those questions down so I can study them? I want to be ready for next time. So we gave him the pamphlet for lesson 2 and he said, "Okay I will read this for next time!" It was SO incredible and I know these 2 are so prepared :)
Okay that has pretty much been my week! plus plenty of other crazy stuff but this is already way too long! Hope you all have a great week! I love you! Thank you for everything!!! The church is SO true and brings happiness!!! :):)
Love, Hermana Rogers