How's it going? Is school out yet? These kids have been out for about 2 or 3 weeks, not fair huh? Are all the plays done yet? The tests? How'd everyone do? thank you very much for all the pictures and the package - that was really cool. I wish I could have seen the plays, Heidi, it looks like you did a great job! I hope you had a ton of fun, looks like you were up front and center, singing away! And I'm sure Jeffrey's play was amazing, as usual. You'll have to find a way to tape them for me so I can see them some day. Weird, watching a play seems like such a foreign concept... the printout of the Grandpa Murray story was way cool too, I feel really proud to be related, and I'm glad Dad got to go!
And you'll have to bury the Jupiter globe - it's just another sign of the times, I guess. We've been saying "By the power of Jupiter" a lot lately, lol. Who knows why.
Really glad Amy doesn't have lyme disease, that's a relief. Amy has to wear a bubble outside from now on... and I hope Grandma can start improving. I can't imagine. There's a reason for it all, but it's hard to see the end from the beginning. That's something I'm learning over and over again. We can't understand everything here. This life is our test, and the first thing we're tested on is our faith and trust in God. We have to step into the dark, even when we feel completely unsure - we have to trust Him. So, we're not going to understand what is in store, why this or that happens, but we can know that it is for our greatest joy and happiness, and He won't leave us. I keep thinking of Aunt Donna when I think about faith - the trials we have are given to strengthen us. If they lead us to the Savior, then they are worth it in the end. It's still very hard, but I think that's the perspective that will see us through.
We saw 2 more baptisms this Sunday - the mother of the 3 teenagers we baptized, Maria, and Pati Torres. Pati was baptized by her son Edson, who I baptized. It was way cool. He was so nervous, memorized the prayer all day. He did it perfectly. And a miracle happened (well, like 50 did, but...) A month ago only 15 people came to our first baptism here. The people in the branch didn't care much or something - they didn't know WHO we were baptizing at all, and then they never made friends with them. But we've been trying to concentrate on teaching the members, we passed by 15 of them this weekend to sing to them, give blessings, help out, teach how to do a family home evening, how to pray or run a young women's program... we call it Plan Buenaventura Overhaul. And it worked! At the baptism on Sunday, just one month after those 15 came, we had 70 people attend the service, supporting the people we were bringing into the kingdom of God. It was really cool to see that.
Things are changing, people are getting the Spirit more and being happier. In our zone conference yesterday President Joyce actually talked about Plan Buenaventura Overhaul, and how vital members are. Very cool. Sweet Zone Conference - I feel a renewed sense of why I am here. They said that there were 150 baptisms last month, that is just a number... yesterday they put up a slide show of pictures of all the people that got baptized last month - its very different to see the faces of those people. They look happy, light... that is 150 people that stepped into the fold of God, and are being led on the path back to Heavenly Father. They are learning how to have joy, who they really are, who Christ is. It helped reaffirm that this really is a sacred work, and it is true. I realized more then ever that Jesus Christ is real. He isn't a character in a book, isn't an ideal - He lives. In this moment. He is a real being, and He loves us. I think of Him more and more as an actual person I can know, that actually exists. Its true.
Well, I think that highlights my spiritual ponderings this week. Oh man, Jeffrey, I have a new phrase for you. Elder Rodriguez, our temporary 3rd companion left today for Guadalajara, Mexico. Miss him a lot, hilarious guy - he'd interpret the gang signs on all the buildings for us, and had some great lines he'd throw out - but when Elder Gurrola was talking too much on the phone, or to a member, and just chatting and stuff, Elder Rodriguez was like "Man, stop cupcakin' it" - it was the coolest thing ever. Cupcakin', cupcake it up, stop cupcakin'... take it or leave it, I can see you saying that. Other one liners would be
Well, I gots to go... thanks for everything, for writing, sending stuff (Mom, that license is hideous....), for being there and, well, everything! The gospel is true, hold to it, pray about it, rely on Christ - He is real, and He loves us - seek to know Him. It's awesome to see lives touched as they begin to feel in their hearts that He lives. You can see it in their faces, and feel it in the room. It's true.
Girls: Just then... Amy and Holly opened the windows and threw up some blankets - and made a parachute! and, well, it worked! The van floated carefully down to the sandy beach below on the island. Heidi almost had a heart attack, but they were safe. "Well, let's go out and look for Chris" Amy said. They opened the doors and stepped out. It was verrrrry quiet. They looked at the trees by the beach - something was in there. Many somethings. Sudden;y they were surrounded by little fuzzy looking creatures, kinda like ewoks. They looked a little angry. "YUB YUB YUBBB!" yelled one of them at Heidi. All she could think of was "Uh-oh...."
You are all the best! Good luck ending school, and take care! Love you!
-Elder Christopher Tay-leen tay-leen (now all the members just call me that, tayleen tayleen. Apparently it sounds like a little bell to them, they all pretend to shake bells when they see me sometimes... one actually has bells hanging from his ceiling fan, and shakes those... weird....)
PS Hey mom could you send the baptism pictures I've given you to Sister Joyce please? Thanks! (since you have extra time, lol.... sleep is necessary, sorry)
Edson Torres baptizing his mother, Patricia Torres (Pati)! And the rest of their family... and us...
The Velasquez/Baray family at Maria's baptism
Another quirk of Elder Rodriguez, he signs EVERYTHING
Posterity ties: your father (trainer) gives you a tie as a heritage, and signs it. In turn, you sign it and give it to one of YOUR sons (missionaries you train). At zone conferences, ties with the longest posterity are always admired. Some go about 10 years back, others cross over to missions across the world...
At zone conference in Riverdale