Monday, July 19, 2010

My first baptism!

Hola Familia y Amigos,
Well wow what an amazing week! I feel like such an idiot though first off because I forgot my Camera cord at our house and I have the most amazing baptism pictures and some pictures with the kids here in the ward...ugh I'm so mad at myself, I didn't realize it till we were sitting in the church here in Teguc. I'm sorry! Anyways the baptism of Hugo Jose Amador OrdoƱez went just perfect, there are so many things that I could say and I put all 4 of his names because they now mean more then just names to me. Just this last Saturday I actually performed my first baptism! I wish everyone of you could have been there because the baptisms here are not like they are in the states, there really is so much I could say and with out pictures it wouldn't make sense to all of you so next week I will for sure have some good pics for you. We have anther baptism of Jose Luis, who is the 13 year old brother of Hugo. I get all the ages mixed up and so I told you wrong last week. Hugo is 16 too but wow the past 2 weeks, since postponing the baptism of Hugo because he had drunk coffee, we have seen miracles. Let me first just explain what the atmosphere is like when we teach him, Gerson (member friend of Hugo), and Jose Luis (the little brother of Hugo). This house is almost literaly in a swampy area and there are a total of 10 people living in a house about the size of our upstairs living room and kitchen... their house is too far away to be able to get purified water so they just have barrels around the corners of the house to catch the rain for their drinking and bathing water... they have about 15 chickens that just run around the yard all the time. Hugo and Jose have never known their dad and their mom is just a sweet lady and was baptized about 20 years ago but doesn't seem to want anything now. His now stepdad you could say, we think is abusive because all the money that Hugo and the family makes from their little jobs goes to him and his grandpa, who is 60 and all he does is drink. There hasn't been a time yet that I have seen him when he is not drunk. He promises us every week that he will stop drinking so that he can come to church again with his grandsons because he was baptized about 30 years ago or so... he says. There are 3 women there too and we know one is the mom of Hugo and Jose but were not sure who the other two are whether they are aunts or what... I have pictures of this whole family so you will just have to wait but there are 2 little girls that live there too, and I just feel so bad, but they are sooo cute! Agh!! Anyways this is what we teach with and yeah having 2 drunks there when we are trying to teach is nearly impossible but this week we obviously found it and were able to get Hugo, Gerson, and Luis to keep up with the commitments to read and pray together because Jose cant read, but he has such a stong heart and testimony and I'm looking forward to his baptism... There is so much I could say and again I'm sorry I don't have pictures. Next week!
Other news of things that happened this week. The most amazing experience... outside of my first baptism of course, happened earlier this last week on Thursday when I met the Stake President of the stake center that we meet at every Thursday and Monday for our meetings. He felt like he needed to talk with us and began telling us a story. This stake presidents father was baptized about 30 years ago by and Elder Young and his companion. This Elder Young is the brother of Steve Young, and also the same Bro. Young that teaches and taught me in my Preach My Gospel class in Iggys stake center. This now stake president was only 3 years old when the missionaries were there and his dad was baptized and 17 years after that.. he went to serve his mission in Guatemala City. He went on to tell us of a story from the last 3 months of his mission where he started off working in the Mission Office but pleaded with the Mission President to put him in the toughest area with a missionary that is having a hard time and could use some help. Through inspiration he was put in an area that I relate as being like Sabanagrande more or less because they hadn't had baptisms in 6 months and no current investigators. The first month and a half (first change) they had no success at all and one day he got on his knees and plead with his father in heaven and in tears asked for help in this area. That same weekend when they started to get down on themselves once again he felt like he needed to go contact in this area about 5 miles away from their house and so they went and with Book of Mormons in their hands they went and ended up finding a man, with a family of 4 just in this puny little house, they sang, shared a message and the man asked a lot about the Book of Mormon. Elder Tores (this now stake president) borrowed him a book of mormon in exchange for a return appt and of course he was ok with it. That night this man read and read and read this Book of Mormon till 3 or 4 in the morning he said and then eventually fell asleep with the book of mormon open and on his chest and had a dream... He said that a man named moroni came to him in this dream and told him that this Book of Mormon is the words of god and that the things that Elder Tores had said were true! Simple enough but when that man woke up the next morning he told everyone in this area... family, friends and up to about 40 people all before Elder Torez came back for the return appointment. When they returned they had 40 or more new investigators and make a really long story short... they baptized all but 4 people that were there that day on that return appt and the Saturday before Elder Torez went home he and his companion had 16 people lined up to be baptized!!! Tell me that Miracles don't happen. We have all heard stories like this but I tried my best to hold back my tears as this story (that was told in all spanish believe it or not) truely touched my heart. Only because I look at this now and I know the man who converted his father. This is such a small world tied together by the good word and work of God! I know this church to be true and hope this story touched your heart as it did mine!
I don't know what else I can say, I didn't want to waste time telling of the boring and not important things and rather my testimony and story that has changed my mission for good. There will be more to come I'm sure but wow my heart is just so full right now again just writing this! Baptism really is the cleansing of sins and a rebirth for those who accept this gospel as Hugo did this week. I was able to say those sacred words of the baptismal prayer and watch him come up out of the water with a smile on his face and to give him a hug in front of the only 14 members that we had there at the service! But regardless... I know that it was that moment that I have been living for.. the motivation for leaving my family and friends for the 2 short years that I have and I know without a doubt that this is the church of Jesus Christ and is the only true church! There isn't anything else that I want to say but that I love you all and thank you for the prayers and support that I have been receiving. I know the power of the Gift of Tongues that I have been blessed with is REAL!
Love your servant... Elder Gardner