Last week we received a call from the assistants to the mission president letting us know that I would be transferred to a new area “where you will need to help lift and strengthen the missionaries there. We’ll be watching how you do and look forward to seeing what you can accomplish next.” I have been transferred to an area near San Antonio called Culebra Creek and I am working with a missionary from Guatemala named Elder Bala. I will miss Sunset Valley dearly but I am grateful for the chance to grow and hasten the work of salvation.
I determined that I would not be the sort of missionary who relaxes for the rest of his time in an area. Instead, I would strive “with unwearied diligence that [I] may bring the remainder of [my] brethren to the knowledge of the truth” (Helaman 15:6). As I did so, I saw the windows of heaven open and blessings poured out upon the area (3 Nephi 24:10) and I was able to see, as stated in the rest of Helaman 15:6, “there are many who do add to [our] numbers daily.” Elder Vazquez and I went out and put every effort forward to diligently teach the Gospel. On Monday we taught three lessons. Tuesday we taught six. Wednesday we taught seven. In three days we taught 16 lessons which is quite significant considering that the leaders of the Church are asking for the missionaries to be teaching 20-25 lessons per week.I know that the success we realized in Sunset Valley was due to divine assistance and aid; that the Lord went before us preparing the way (D&C 84:87-88). I also know that it was because of the prayers offered by all of you on behalf of my companion and I for the work to move forward.
However, numerous lessons were not the only awe-inspiring blessings we observed. Through these lessons four people accepted baptismal dates. After not having any baptisms in the Sunset Valley Ward for a year, there are four people now preparing to enter in by the gate of baptism (2 Nephi 31:17-18). I stand all amazed (Hymns No. 193) by the overwhelming love and power of God which has influenced the area and the lives of so many people.
Wednesday was my birthday. I am not someone who enjoys celebrations or even acknowledgments of my birthday because they make me uncomfortable. But this year was different. First of all, I appreciate all of the birthday wishes I received and I am grateful for the love which was expressed in them. I was also able to feel loved by members of the Sunset Valley Ward. The Obregon family insisted on celebrating my birthday with Elder Vazquez and I. Sister Obregon prepared a delicious meal and they made a German Chocolate cake just for me. Such a gesture helped me feel quite loved on my birthday. More than that, it helped me realize and understand the connection and truth that we are all brothers and sisters of a loving Heavenly Father. This family treated me as their own because they have an abiding love for the Gospel and through the Gospel they have a love for all.
The blessings of so many lessons and brothers and sisters choosing to be baptized by someone who holds the proper priesthood authority testified to me that God is mindful of every one of us specifically, individually, and by name. He has heard my pleadings and searches for guidance as well as success in the harvest. He understands, perfectly, the difficulties, challenges, struggles, and pains that these four brothers and sisters have endured. He desires for us all to return. Heavenly Father is working, personally, to ensure our safe passage back to Him (Moses 1:39; Jacob 5:61-62, 71).
Ahead of me lie tribulations, adversities, and trials through which I must pass. I know the Lord has prepared then to strengthen me and help me progress. He has prepared a way for me to overcome all things set before me. I will succeed as I seek for His support and guidance. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He is our Savior. He has redeemed us from all death. I know that the prophet Joseph Smith was called of God. Through him the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to purity, simplicity, and power. Through the revelations received by him we understand much more than ever before imagined. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. We are only saved by and through Jesus Christ but we cannot gain a fullness of understanding and faith in Him without the Boom of Mormon. By reading it, living by it, and teaching from it, we will come nearer to God and eventually reach our divine potential. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s Kingdom on the earth today. It has all of the restored keys of the priesthood power of God. It is the only Church which has every last piece of truth and the necessary power and authority to accomplish works of salvation. This is my testimony which I give in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.