R was baptized and confirmed! WOOHOO! We brought an Elder over from Orense to do R's baptism interview last Thursday. Before the interview we taught him about Temples. As we touched on baptism for the dead and Eternal Marriage he started to tear up! This guy has felt the spirit many times throughout his conversion process. I remember the first time we taught R. It was my companion's first day in the field! His first lesson! I remember leaving that lesson and not only being amazed by how strong the spirit was but also at how well my companion taught the lesson! He didn't think so but I felt the power as he spoke the language the best that he could. Over these past 2 months I've seen both of them grow in so many ways.
We had the service Saturday night. The members arrived a half hour before the service having recently returned from a temple trip to Madrid. R's family decided not to come but his girlfriend, who had previously introduced him to the Gospel (she had been baptized in January of this year), did.
It's an incredible feeling seeing someone that you have fought so hard for wearing the white clothing of baptism.
It was a great service. I even had the opportunity to play one of my favorite Primary songs on the piano: "I'm Trying to be like Jesus." The Spirit filled the room as my companion entered into the font with R. The look of spotlessness and pure joy made me smile as R came up out of the water. I gave him the biggest hug even though it soaked the front part of my suit! He told me that he felt clean.
After they changed, R bore his testimony and after, the Branch President did as well. The Spirit was so strong as he compared R to Hyrum Smith with the Prophet's words, saying, "...he possesses the mildness of a lamb, and the integrity of Job, and in short, the meekness and humility of Christ...." He truly is one of the calmest, most humble of a person.
The next day I had the opportunity to confirm him a member of the church and to give him the gift of the Holy Ghost. I felt the spirit as I gave the blessing, I was amazed at the words coming from my mouth. The Spirit promised him that if he stays faithful that one day his family will participate in the blessings that come from being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ. Also, that the angels of heaven were rejoicing at his decisions, especially those that are his ancestors. I know that he is going to do great things in God's kingdom, a lot of amazing things in store for him.
If there is anything I've learned in Galicia, it is that success comes from developing the habit of hard work. In the end it is always worth it.
I read a Proverb this week that I really liked. It's found in Proverbs 27:6, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." A true friend loves us enough to cut us down at times, only to then see us being built back up. An enemy would rather lie and manipulate to win our good favor. God is our best friend and he does exactly this!
Elder Christofferson gave a wonderful talk titled, "As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten" (Revelation 3:19). He shares a personal experience of President Hugh B. Brown: "President Hugh B. Brown, formerly a member of the Twelve and a counselor in the First Presidency, provided a personal experience. He told of purchasing a rundown farm in Canada many years ago. As he went about cleaning up and repairing his property, he came across a currant bush that had grown over six feet (1.8 m) high and was yielding no berries, so he pruned it back drastically, leaving only small stumps. Then he saw a drop like a tear on the top of each of these little stumps, as if the currant bush were crying, and thought he heard it say: “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth.… And now you have cut me down. Every plant in the garden will look down on me.… How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
President Brown replied, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’"
The Lord knows us perfectly. He knows who he wants each of us to be. He loves us enough to even cut us down. Our one day glorious triumph of spiritual death and inheritance of eternal exaltation is His Glory.
I've learned a huge lesson on my mission about the power of prayer. The things we ask for and say in our prayers are so important! Solomon gives the perfect example of in what way our prayers should be focused on: (Solomon Praying) "Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like." (2 Chronicles 1:10)
Pray for things that are truly important in our daily lives. God will add in time all things that bring true happiness. Like President Eyring said, "That will take more than a few minutes and more than a little thought. It will surprise you and change you." (The Priesthood Man, April 2014)
I'm excited to head down to Madrid on Wednesday! It was a sweet surprise when they told us that we'll be able to do a session in the temple. Should be my last time in the Madrid Temple on my mission. I'll let you all know how it goes next week!