How are you doing?! I hope you are doing well!
This is a boy named Alex and he is totally great! Ales is a menos activo and a recent convert. He struggles with an obsession to Marijuana. He is really smart and likes to write poetry. Most of his poetry is about Marijuana or it is about God. It's a strange combination, and you would really only get it in Alex.
We have some successes with Alex! He is not smoking anymore! I know this is really hard for him and we visit him basically everyday. Sometimes it is really short and just at the end of the night that we knock on his window and chat and laugh and share scriptures through the window.
For Mariano's baptism, his mom didn't have any preferences or absolutely anything, so I thought it would be a cool opportunity to ask Alex to share a poem about the Holy Ghost in place of a talk. When I asked him, I was surprised that he agreed so quickly. He wrote it that night and then shared it at the baptism. His mom, one of our investigators, drove him to the baptism and he got up and shared it!!!! Ahhh!!! I was glad that it was in English and most people there only understand Spanish, but I couldn't have been more proud of him. He wrote the poem that very night after we talked with him.
He has a poem about prayer that is my favorite. He said he'd write a copy for me. I'm amazed at its depth and I will share it with you when he gives me a copy.
And, Alex came to church yesterday!!! He got there early and he was wearing a nice shirt and sweater vest. He also wrote another poem about Jesus Christ and his atonement that he memorized and told us after church! He's just tearing it up and being so righteous. Alex looks different since he's stopped smoking too. He seems happier and there is a noticeable light. Forever he was in denial that Marijuana was actually a drug..don't ask me how that can be argued, but he was able to recognize (as he expressed in some lyrics in one of his poems) that whether he thinks marijuana hurts him physically is not really the question because it hurts him spiritually and takes him away from God.
It's hard to describe how much I love Alex, but I love him a lot. We look out for him like he is our little brother. This picture was taken right after the baptism where he shared the poem he'd written. I want him to go on a mission so badly because I want him to be so converted that he will never fall to the temptations of the devil. I feel like I learn so much about conversion by talking to Alex and studying for him. Alex is going to be my friend even after my mission. He's such a good boy.
You know who else I love:
Adrian has been investigating the church for quite a while. He dropped missionaries before because they were pushy and he just didn't believe it. His doubt has always been the Book of Mormon, which is always interesting because the Book of Mormon is the "convincing evidence" of the restoration. We had many lessons on the Book of Mormon and I've studied a lot for him. He accepted baptism about 2 weeks ago and he is going to be baptized on the 8th of December.
For the longest time we couldn't figure out what was the problem, and after digging around for a bit, we found out that he was praying more in his mind than anything else, which means that he wasn't actually praying. He was just thinking about things and counting that. We challenged him to pray actually kneeling and out loud everyday. It wasn't long after that that we asked him to get baptized and he said yes. Prayer is one of the crucial ingredients to gaining a testimony. Prayer has to be sincere and the pray-er has to be willing to act on an answer that they get. A good example of this is Joseph Smith. He was ready and wiling to act on any answer that he got and he got the most spectacular answer of all.
Here's a tender success: the other day with Adrian he told us, "No puedo negar que El Libro de Momon contiene las palabras de Dios" (I can't deny that the Book of Mormon is the word of God). And then he asked us if we would still come and visit him after his baptism. We assured him yes and were very much more touched when he asked if when we left if we could take his number with us so that we can talk with him after the mission. :) Adrian is so sweet and so humble. He has this cute little cat that he takes care of. He is quite a logical person, but nothing makes more sense to him than that there is a God. Now he knows the Book of Mormon is true. I love him very much.
He came to church yesterday. We took a picture of everyone after sacrament because yesterday was our first Sunday as a new little branch. We were a barrio (ward) before, but then split us into two ramas (branches). It is very good for the missionary efforts. Now the church is so much closer and hopefully we can get people to church easier. Also, they have combined the youth groups with the English speaking ward, so there are much more youth and the activities will be fun and attractive. We will have a larger pool to pull kids from to be friends with our young investigators. There weren't too many kids before. It's crazy that it's even possible to not have very many kids, but there weren't. Now there are kids of every age and a class even :)
Anayeli told us yesterday that she didn't think she could be baptized. This broke my heart. We went over to her house to figure things out and ended up teaching her mom who started crying to us. We'd already taught her mom, but I think we're going to start more consistently now. She told us that she was sad because she felt like her heart was hard. I've been putting great effort into learning scripture and their location and I was immediately able to open to Alma 5:13 that talks about how when the people were preached the word of God, a great change was wrought in their hearts and they humbled themselves before God and put their trust in him.
There is hope here. We have an apt on Tuesday at 6:00 to teach the Plan of Salvation, and we are going to take a member with us to lessons. We've been having a hard time having a member present at lessons because so many of our lessons fall through, but this is an effort that we will start making. I'm excited to see miracles because we are taking members with us. :)
I love you so much! Take care this week!