Second off, things are going great here in Isla. I love the area, the people, my companion, and my district, they're all great. This weekend we'll be having a baptism. She was someone that they were already teaching when I got here. We decided to leave her the commitment to read the Book of Mormon every day, one chapter a day, and this Sunday she informed us that she wants to be baptized this Friday. :) The Book of Mormon is true.
Now, I'd like to share a more serious story with you all. One that has deeply impacted me and made me so grateful to be here and to be a missionary. Elder Stanfield shared this update about this family with me this week by email. I'll share with you guys from the beginning. Be it known that this is a testament of the truth of this work, and of The Book of Mormon.
When I was with Elder Chamberlain about 3 months ago, one Sunday night all our plans fell through. So we just went out to the street corner near our house and started talking to all the people that passed by. As we were finishing, we saw a relatively older couple (in their early 60's) walking toward us. Elder Chamberlain felt impressed to contact them. They cordially invited us to come into their home that Tuesday and share with them our message on the family. We later found out that they were from Juarez, a city on the border of Mexico and the states. They had had a ton of contact with this church, but never had felt interested in talking to us. They started to progress from the first visit. They started reading the Book of Mormon every day.
We learned that the husband had had a stroke a few years ago and now had health problems. He never liked talking about religion with people. But when we first contacted him, he said that he felt pure peace and knew that he was supposed to listen to us. About 3 weeks later, their car broke down. Because of some weird complications, they had to go to Juarez to fix it, which is super far away. Elder Chamberlain left, and Elder Stanfield came, right before they left. Elder Stanfield got to meet with them once, I think, before they left for Juarez. Because of complications, they had to stay in Juarez for about 4-5 weeks. I called them regularly to see how they were. They ascertained that they were reading the Book of Mormon every day and had plenty of questions and were super excited to come back. Before they left for Juarez we had put a goal with them to be baptized on the 26th of September.
On the way back home, the husband got sick again and had to go to the hospital in Guadalajara. I called while he was there. They were planning on coming back the next week. (The week I came here to Isla). Then he died of a heart attack. He read the Book of Mormon faithfully until the end of his life. The last 2 chapters he read before he died were Alma 40 and 41. Anyone familiar with the Book of Mormon will know why this is significant. In these 2 chapters, the prophet Alma explains to his son what happens after this life, but before the resurrection, a time period that is known doctrinally in this church as the spirit world. Alma talks about what happens in the spirit world and how the resurrection will later be brought about by the power of Christ. Then he proceeds to talk about the restoration of all things after the resurrection, of how those who have done evil will have evil rewarded them, and those who have done good will have good rewarded them. He talks about why wickedness never was happiness (and how and why we repent and prepare to meet God).
These chapters are the perfect preparation for someone about to die. God prepared this man to know what was about to happen, and then permited him to pass on. He died on the 28th. He had been anxiously awaiting the date of his baptism on the 26th, before he went to the hospital. He was never able to leave the hospital again before he died. His wife has since returned home, and is preparing to be baptized. Their whole family is interested in hearing the message of the restored gospel. Part of that message is that we can be baptized vicariously in the holy temple of God for our loved ones who have died without having a chance to be baptized. If they accept that baptism in the spirit world, it will be the same as if they had been baptized during mortality.
I know that this is the work of God, I really do. Experiences like this just strengthen my faith in it. I'm so glad that I'm here on the mission. There's nothing better that I could be doing with my life right now. There's no better reward than the reward of being happy, like I am in this work. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that he knows us all personally, and that we all knew him personally before this life. He raised us, loved us, and sent us here so we could become like Him. Do what it takes to fulfill that purpose.