|President and Sister Richards|
|Group of Missionaries that arrived in the field with me!|
Well, I'm in an area about 45 minutes West of Baltimore called Frederick. Baltimore is pretty rare for Elders to be in and Sisters aren't even allowed! Frederick is an amazing place. Most of the people I talk to are from Guatemala or El Salvador. The branch is super small, maybe 50 or so people were there on Sunday! So there is definitely a lot of work to do. The language has been tough, they use slightly different words and language based on where they are from.
My companion is named Elder Pettersson. He is in his last 2 transfers! He is a great trainer, and has helped me a lot. He will be going home after he trains me, but luckily he hasn't stopped working hard, he told me he wants to work harder than he ever has on his mission, and believe me, we have!
My very first night, we were walking to an appointment when we noticed a Spanish channel on in one of the houses. Elder Pettersson had me knock on my first door, and somehow it opened. He told me to tell them that God sent us their that night and they let us in. Everything became so real and I realized I didn't have the Spanish to talk and teach a full lesson! But we taught the entire Restoration and I recited the First Vision and the Spirit was powerful. I don't know that anything will come out of that lesson, if the family will be willing to have us teach them more and to read what we gave them, but I will always remember that as my very first door I knocked on.
So we have 6 Spanish Elders in this branch. Elder Pettersson and I are in the North, Elder Orton and Elder Fischer are in the South, and Elder Reber and Elder Bradshaw are in a place called Demascus. Elder Fischer is on his first transfer also, and one of the very first few days his appendix burst!! So he has been recovering and Elder Orton has been joining us.
Just this past Friday, we attended the baptism of a couple from Demascus that Elder Bradshaw and Reber had found! They were living together and had to either split up or marry to get baptized. So...they decided to get married and baptized the very same day! It was such an incredible experience. Their names are Alex and Christina. Alex had to give up a lot of habits, like smoking and drinking, and worked hard for his baptism. They have 2 little kids, and I hope that in a year they will go into the temple and be sealed as a family, because they really deserve that!
As for our area, I will be witnessing my first Baptism of one of my Investigators in a week and a half! February 7th. His name is Axel, he is the greatest kid I've ever met. He is from Guatemala, and he is 19, just a little bit older than me. He was SO ready to hear the Gospel. Everytime we go and teach him he smiles and says "I can feel the Spirit so strongly." It makes me realize WHY I came on my mission! To spread this wonderful Gospel to all those that need it. I know that I knew Axel before this life. I do. We've become great friends and I know that Elder Pettersson and I were supposed to find him and teach him. I shared a verse from Joseph Smith History from him, where Joseph Smith talks about being an "annoyer" and "disturber" of Satan's Kingdom. I know that Axel is going to be a major annoyer and disturber to Satan's Kingdom, and that the next few weeks before February 7th, he is going to be tested and there are going to be hardships because Satan does not want him to get baptized!
This branch is really small, like I said, and a lot of the Members have problems with people in the presidency...which means we've had a lot of lessons where we had to teach about loving everyone even if they are rude. The Presidency has said some things that have made people fall away and so it is hard, we have so many people that are Less Active and that we are trying to bring back. This branch has had a hard time with baptisms, it has really only had 1 in the last year. But the Demascus Elders found Alex and Christina, we have Axel in 2 weeks, the South Elders have a lady named Anna Lucia, and then another one is getting baptized a few weeks later. So this Branch will have 5 baptisms in 5 weeks after such a long drought. The work is definitely progressing.
Sometimes, it is so hard. A lot of people are devout Catholics or Evangelicals and don't see a need for change. They are true to their family tradition of Church and laugh when we talk about the Mormons. But they have all been nice about it and we have tried to find Investigators to teach. Sometimes when you get rejected, you find someone else because of it and I can testify of that. We went to the house of a Potential named Juan, and he wasn't very interested and had to leave. But as we were walking out of the house, a man named David (they are from Honduras) walked up and we asked him if he wanted to learn more from God, and he said yes. The timing couldn't have been more perfect, and we have now taught him 2 or 3 lessons and he is an Investigator. If we had walked out the door 10 seconds earlier, we never would have met him. Even if it didn't work out with Juan, we found someone that needed to hear the Truth of the Gospel.
I truly love my mission. The members are so friendly, and they try to feed us all the time with their native foods. It honestly doesn't feel like I'm in America anymore, because so many people here are Hispanic and Spanish is heard everywhere. I've eaten foods from Peru, Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Mexico, and Argentina, and that's just 2 weeks in! Everyone has their own culture and it feels like I'm in some far away country that is so many countries combined!
I want to testify of this Gospel. Missionary Work can be hard at times, but I'm so glad that I decided to serve a mission. I can't think of any place I'd rather be. Spanish has been tough, but I'm learning and getting better and meeting so many people and learning so many things. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and I couldn't do this without him. I just couldn't. It'd be impossible. He not only died for us, he atoned for us and knows exactly how we feel. I pray for all of you and hope you have a great week! Thank you so much for the support.
|My Zone in Frederick|
|Volunteering at the Local Rescue|