Dear Family and Friends,
Election day is tomorrow! 30% of Yuma missionaries voted. Tisk tisk. This big hurricane sounds like it could turn the election...
This letter is a tad late today since we have been lizard hunting all morning. We have a ward member who is a biologist and does a lot of research for some of the universities and so she took us out to the border to find stuff. She had these long poles that had a little noose on the end that you stick around the lizard's neck. Unfortunately, we didn't catch any since they're all hibernating. Psh. But we did see a fox and a jackrabbit and a real live Mexican bird! It flew across the border like it was a joke. Guess that wall needs to get a little taller. It was a good time and we walked about 2 miles into literally nothing. I now know what it's like for Mexicans to run across the border. We found cell phones, backpacks, water bottles. Basically everything BUT lizards and snakes. I almost expected to find a body.
This was a pretty awesome week. We had a baptism into the Spanish branch on Saturday morning and later that same day we baptized another one of our investigators into the Yuma Valley English speaking ward. Next Saturday we're going to get a baptism for our young single adults branch. That's 3 baptisms in 7 days and into every one of our units! We've worked for those. I'll see what I can write about each of their stories.
Ok, so our first baptism on Saturday was for someone we found on our fifth day out. We were still going around trying to figure the area out since we got white washed into Yuma. We prayed before we left the apartment that day and told God that we would talk to anyone he put into our path. Well, we were driving to meet one of the investigators the previous Elders had and when we got there, no one answered. We decided that we would walk past the car by one block. At the corner, we ran into a man and his family. We told him who we were and what we did and he invited us to walk with him to his house. They had been swimming in the awful dirty canal. Anyway, we're walking over to his house and he is talking about how none of his friends talk about God, he doesn't understand why people look at the cross so much, and he didn't understand why some people worshiped Mary. We were just walking and thinking, "yesssssss." Well, we sit down and teach him and things go well. We go by about three to five times a week depending on his schedule and get to the point where we have taught him almost everything. He accepted it all without question and we put him on date for the 13th of October. One night we went by to go see how he was doing. It was an unplanned visit. Walking up to his house we saw him and his friends sitting in front of his house smoking and drinking. When he saw us, he freaked out, threw the joint on the ground and came over to us very embarrassed. We talked a bit and ended up pushing his baptismal date back. The next Sunday he was at Church and LOVED it. Can't even emphasize it enough. We had to leave a little early and he waved us away without even looking up. Well, fast forward 3 weeks and there we were standing outside the baptismal font. He managed to get his family there (they never listened to us) and they got there at 10:45 for the scheduled baptism at 11. Whew, first hurdle passed, he made it. 10:55 came around and no one was there. At 11:00 the pianist showed up as well as the branch president. We were getting worried that no one would show up. One of the things he loved most about church was how everyone came and talked to him and how happy everyone was. Well now his support group wasn't even at the baptism. We decided to wait a couple more minutes out of faith. Man, I thought Mormon standard time was bad, Mexican standard time blows it away. At 10:15 about 25 people showed up but the person who was supposed to be conducting the program wasn't there. We went on without him. Fast forward to the time of the baptism. He asked me to baptize him and he and I walked back around to the baptismal font. What we saw was terrible. All but 1.5 feet of water had leaked out through the drain. Bah! Well, we walked down into the water and I gave the prayer but his legs were sticking out of the water when he was laid down flat so I did it again. This time I had to push his whole body under the water. His back was on the floor of the font. But it worked! During the time that we changed, I had Elder Sawyer do what we do back home - that is, pass around note cards to write your testimony on while someone plays prelude music. The Yuma stake had never done it before and loved it. The baptism was a success and he was confirmed in church the next day by Elder Sawyer. People there said it was the most amazing baptism they'd ever been to. We had a really bold lesson with him that I think saved his baptism.
The other baptism was equally amazing. This one was for the Yuma Valley ward. We found ____ at Church on our third Sunday. She had friends who were members who decided to take her to church on a whim and introduced her to use that day. She had been through a lot. We taught her twice a week for 1.5 months and helped her overcome an addiction to cigarettes. It was a humbling experience to be involved in it with her. The mission uses a program to help smokers quit that involves drinking unsweetened grapefruit juice after every meal because it puts a foreign taste in your mouth or something. Well, we invited a recent convert to our lessons with her and her two member friends and we all said we would drink grapefruit juice after every meal with her (but in different places, obviously.) We worked and worked and worked and sent her encouraging messages everyday until she could say she had quit. The baptism was performed by the husband of the woman who invited her to church. It was an amazing baptism and there were some incredible brownies to be eaten afterwards.
A good week indeed.
We stopped by the Young Single Adults (YSA) FHE activity last Monday with our YSA investigator. They played murder in the dark and did some activity where they put jellybeans in a plate and covered them up with whipped cream and you had to fish the jellybeans out with only your face. Everyone insisted that Elder Sawyer and I go first so, for member trust, we did. I won but ruined one of my $1.99 ties that I got recently. But that doesn't matter since I won. The person in charge felt bad so she bought me two ties and owes me an additional $6, all her idea. I'm not complaining. It was actually pretty degrading afterwards haha. They were all taking pictures of us with whipped cream all over our faces kneeling on the ground haha.
We did the New Testament read-a-thon this week. From 8am to 5pm we read at the chapel. All the missionaries were out of money for October. We told one of the Sisters in the Yuma Valley Ward (the same one who referred the baptism in the same ward) and she said she'd take care of food. She got on Facebook that night and put it as her status. She said 19 women commented all volunteering to take food. There was a lot of food during the read-a-thon... It was awesome to see their willingness to help us out in a time of need.
One of the things that stuck out to me during the read-a-thon was a new definition of faith for me. I read Matthew-halfway through Luke and had a cool insight. I think faith is more than just something that is hoped for and not seen. I think faith is also every Christlike attribute: patience, love, diligence, humility...the list goes on. With those attributes, our faith grows because we put others before ourselves. I could write more on it but for time purposes I'll leave it there. There is a part in Mark where it talks about Jesus "marveling at the faith" of someone. I want Christ to marvel at my faith.
This year the Yuma Stake is broadcasting stake conference. The stake is basically 2 hours across and people aren't going to drive that far. Never heard of somewhere doing that before!
The Yuma Zone is talentless. No one plays piano or can really sing. Don't stop playing piano if you're learning! In the Spanish branch there are two people who know how to play piano who taught themselves in the last year since no one else can play. We have to borrow people from other wards to play piano at our baptisms.
I've heard about a franken-storm hitting the east coast? Details?
Do Stake Presidents have keys?
Dad, what was your baby blessing pet peeve?
Can someone confirm all this I hear about tanic acid turning stomachs into acid? I'm pretty sure every missionary uses it and I'm not sure I believe it.
How far do ants walk in a lifetime?
Thanks Ian, Susie, Annie, Doug, Mom, Eric, and Will for writing this week. I'm not going to be able to write much since I'm all out of stamps and buying new ones means foregoing lunch but I'll see what I can do! Due to time constraints today, I'll probably not get back to most of you this week. Lo siento [I'm sorry]. But thank you all so much for writing! I really appreciate it and love you all