Hello everyone! What a week it's been.
First, I'll start off with the bad news. Unfortunately, Mario did not get off parole. :( But he is trying to be as optimistic as he can, and we were talking about how turning to the scriptures, prayer, and going to church help us in our trials. He completely agreed and he's taking it well.
Also, You remember Marva and Daniel Louiselle? They moved into the 2nd ward the DAY before they were going to get baptized. But they still did in the other ward, so it counts, right? :)
Jamie also dropped us this week. We knew that it was coming, but she told us that she was just comfortable with where she was. She knows a lot more than she did when we first found her, and we know that we planted seeds for future missionaries. She has some member friends as well, so she will come around.
This week has been pretty good. It's funny hearing about weather back home, having blizzards and cloud coverages. On Wednesday this past week, it hit 102 degrees and the 90's on other days this week. And guess who was going tracting in it?! Yep. This guy here. It was pretty exhausting, but we bought Gatorade's at the gas station so it was ok. :)
We had a really good lesson with Rachel on Saturday at the church with our ward mission leader. We really got to know Rachel a lot better. In all the lessons that we've had in the past with her, she's sort of been stone-faced and emotionless. When we talked with her on Saturday, she really opened up and she was even laughing at some points in the lesson. We got to know a little bit more about what her background was. We discovered something. She worked for a federal corrections facility for 25 years, and she told us that over time, she became calloused to things that we would find disturbing, so she said that her heart was hardened, but that things going on in her life had caused her heart to be softened. I asked her what sort of things those were, and she said that by allowing the Lord back into her life, going to church, and having missionary discussions had softened her heart.
I don't know if I've told you her main concern. She doesn't really feel worthy to pray to God, and she described it as a "mental block". We explained to her how the Spirit operates, and that that is God talking to us. She had a few experiences that she has felt the Spirit, and when she finished describing one, I stopped the lesson and told her that in order to feel the Spirit, one has to be worthy to do so, because the Spirit cannot dwell in unholy temples. I said, "Take confidence that God has forgiven you, Rachel. He is communicating to you through the Spirit, and that's how you know." It seemed like a light bulb went on in her head, and at the lesson, she said that she was glad she came. At the end of the lesson, we bore powerful testimony about the Book of Mormon, and we told her that the baptismal font is where God wants her, in own due time. She also came to church again for the 5th or 6th and she stayed all three hours. She has great fellowshippers that are answering questions she has. The Relief Society President, Primary President, and Young Women's President are all going to get together and invite her to go to lunch with them this week, so that will be awesome. Things are going great here in Santa Maria. We don't exactly have the biggest teaching pool, just Mario and Rachel, but we are continually asking God to place those people in our paths that are ready to receive the restored Gospel
Basically, Rachel will get baptized. It may not be in the time that I'm here, but that does not matter. She has come so far ever since I've gotten here, and I can't wait to see how much she will continue to progress. I love the Gospel so much, and little experiences I've had here and there are giving me a stronger and strong testimony of the truthfulness of this church. No matter what goes on in any of our lives, we always have Jesus Christ and His Gospel to fall back on because He is the Rock of our Redeemer (read Helaman 5:12). I love you all so much and I can't wait to talk to my family on Mother's Day. Love you all!