"Well this week we have seen so many miracles in Elgin! I keep thinking that there's an expiration on how many miracles we see, but they just keep on coming! But of course, when so many good things happen you know that something is bound and determined to try to stop you. Well let's just say that Satan sure is fighting dirty this round. They good news is that Mark and Brandon were baptized on Saturday!!!!! The bad news is that I have bronchitis again. Yes, you read that correctly, I said again. I'm trying really hard not to complain, but this whole situation is really stinky! I got a fever, sore throat, aches, and then it developed into a deep, barking cough yesterday. So I went to the doctor, yet again, and am taking an antibiotic and have another inhaler. Look at the bright side, I get to use an inhaler! But it's also extremely frustrating because with only a few weeks left I want to work my very hardest and give my all to the Lord. But you know what the Doctor said? "Stay inside, get lots of rest, and don't stress yourself out." I'm pretty sure the life of a missionary is the exact opposite of all of that!!! So I'm pretty sad because I'm contagious and feel like a slug. We already had to cancel two of our exchanges this week and some appointments because of this sick sister. But all is well in Zion because this is the Lords work and I know he'll provide a way to bring about His great and eternal work.
On to happier topics.... So Mark and Brandon are pretty much the coolest 10 year olds ever! We were a little worried about their baptism interview but they passed. Although one of them walked out of the interview holding a piece of paper that had writing on it that he was trying to hide! Haha, our District leader is smart missionary though and he wouldn't have let him cheat. But it was still hilarious!! They arrived at their baptism on time, which was a miracle in and of itself. I learned that it's practically impossible to take pictures with 10 year old twins. Right after you take the picture they just run away and then you have to chase them down, and bring them back, and repeat after the next photo is taken. And their confirmation was beautiful! It's so exciting baptizing people so young. They have so much ahead of them and I hope they always stay on the gospel path. In their setting apart blessings it talked about missions and eternal families! It's so exciting to be involved in a work that has such great eternal consequences. The Lord really does change lives through us and many will benefit from the impact of it. Pretty much every Filipino in town was at their baptism so for refreshments we had a 3 course meal! I decided at that point we had been doing baptisms all wrong with only having desserts afterwards:) I'm so grateful that I have been able to teach such pure, and innocent investigators. I love those boys so much!
Well I feel like this was the week of good news! I got accepted to BYUI and got the fall/winter track. That's a huge relief! But the best news I have ever received in my life came in the form of a text from the sisters serving in Belvidere. It said "Bennie Rivera will be attending the temple November 15 at 10:00am to to receive his endowments." Happy Day!!!!!!! I was so over come with joy when I found out that I just burst into tears! Bennie is going through the temple 10 days before i return home. That means that I get to go! I don't think there would be any better way to end my mission. Bennie was the first person I ever handed out a Book of Mormon to. He was my first investigator to be baptized, receive the Melchezidek priesthood and now to enter into the sacred House of the Lord. Talk about tender mercies from the Lord! So no matter what happens between here and the end, I know that Bennie will help me to finish strong.
We are still teaching Joe, and he's still a character! We hope to put him on date this week for sometime in November. He is so prepared and so willing! And Tina, our deaf investigator, already knows that the Book of Mormon is true! But our interpreter went out of town this weekend so she was unable to attend church. We also met a family this week who wants to be taught! And yesterday a lady who has been less active wants to return to the church and her fiancé is interested in learning! Like I said, so many miracles! But our investigator Mercedes dropped us. We stopped by and she was acting really strange and then she said that she had something to tell us. She then said that she had been baptized in May by a member of our church but the baptism was a secret because this member is trying to start his own church! They believe in the Book of Mormon but not that it connects to us being the true church. When she told us this our jaws dropped to the floor!! I felt like someone hit me over the head with a fry pan! Just when you think you've seen it all, something like this hits you over the head! So she said she'll keep reading the Book of Mormon but not come to our church. It was just sad that she was so close, and yet soooo far.
We also met this guy named Frank. He was driving a remote control car around on his front lawn. He was probably in his mid 50's. We went and talked to him and got to know him a little bit. He lives a pretty simple and basic life and he said that he gets the most happiness out of driving around his expensive remote control cars. My brilliant companion asked him "Frank, what's the difference to you between being content, being happy, and having joy?" He believed that on the earh we mostly just feel content with moments of happiness and that joy is rare and may not even exist at all. He told us this all has he drove his car around and around in circles. I felt so much sadness for this poor fellow who instantly rejected our message. The only thing that could bring him joy in this life, and he rudely rejected it. I thought of 2 Nephi 2:25 "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy." If only he knew that we are supposed to have joy in this life! And that we can have joy and happiness in our lives even and in spite of challenging and trying times. Joy is everlasting. It comes from Christ's atonement. It comes through making and keeping sacred covenants with God and exact obedience to His commandments. Joy comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have come to find true joy on my mission and there is not anything sweeter to the taste! Happiness can be temporary. Like I may find happiness in brownies now, but I may not feel that same happiness from the brownie when I don't fit into my clothes. Frank thought he knew what happiness was, but there is so much more out there. And contentment. I feel like contentment goes hand in hand with complacency. People who are content with their sins will be content with inheriting the Telestial kingdom. We must do all we can in order to stay far away from becoming content. I know with all of my heart at joy does exist because I feel it right now. In no way is my life easy right now, but I know in whom I trust and I know that He loves me and that brings me all the joy in the world.
And the last story I'd like to share happened yesterday. We have this neighbor that we met quite a while ago when we helped her carry in groceries. We finally set up an appointment for yesterday and we went and taught her. Her name is Merline, she's from Cameroon and she's 33 years old. She told us that she was just diagnosed with cancer last week. She was clearly very distressed and she also told us that her husband died a year ago. We taught her the plan of salvation and about eternal families and the temple and the spirit was so overwhelming! She cried and told us how she knew that we were representatives of Jesus Christ and she could feel His presence when we walked in the door. It was a powerful and humbling experience. I will never forget the way it feels to be able to come into people's homes and represent Jesus Christ. It is truly incredible to see the atonement heal those in need. I am ashamed to admit it but I was complaining about my bronchitis before we entered Merline's house. I have since repented, but there are so many people out there who are hurting and who need this gospel.
I love being a missionary and I would labor for the rest of my life if I could. For now, I am going to pretend that I will be here for forever. This gospel is true. It really really is. And the atonement is so real. I watched people be healed right before my eyes this week! My testimony has been so strengthened and I am eternally grateful for each day. I love you with all my heart!"