So this week has been pretty good actually. We had 4 investigators at church, and one of the families that is progressing couldn´t come but they let us know beforehand so we wouldn´t think they were ditching us haha. We have prospects for baptism in these upcoming 3 weeks: Gloria (the most adorable 9 year old girl whose mother is a member), Alcides (a 15 year old kid who lives with his brother and sister-in-law who both are active members), and a couple named Pedro and Sonia Coronel. All 4 of them I suspect will be baptized in the month of June. They are all incredible people who have come to church already and who are progressing well in the gospel. Gloria will be baptized first, and then probably Pedro and Sonia (if the Spirit can convince her to get married), and then Alcides. It was so great to see the kindness and Christlike charity of the members here in Rama 1. Pedro and Sonia are a young couple (she´s 21, he´s 24). They had their first child less than a month ago: a sweet baby girl named Ashley. They were a reference from a member in another branch, so we went to visit them. Pedro had investigated the Church before, but it was years ago before he met Sonia, so she has never been exposed to the Church. We met with them on Thursday and Saturday the week before last, and they came to church that Sunday. They got there just after Sacrament started, so we were elated because wethought they weren´t going to show. After the meeting ended, every one of the members came up to them to greet them and google over little Ashley. This past week, we went to visit them on Tuesday, and 2 of the sisters here (Vanessa and Hermana Lorena) accepted to come with us having met them 2 days before at church. We went and had a great lesson, and they made friends. A few days later, we asked Vanessa if she wanted to go with us again to visit them, and she said she couldn´t, but she did give us something else. She had received a brand new stroller as a gift a while back, and her little girl has since outgrown strollers. She said "I don´t use this stroller, and it´s almost brand new, why don´t you take it and give it to Pedro and Sonia for little Ashley?" So we did. I have to tell you, there are very few emotions that can match those that came when I saw the look on that family´s face when they saw that brand new stroller and that it was a gift for them from one of the members here. Pedro is a security guard and Sonia stays home with the baby, so they are in very humble circumstances. Their eyes just lit up. That was a tender mercy from the Lord to be able to experience that, something that I´ll never forget.
This week I wanted to share an interesting thought I had the other day. It´s about repentance and a cold shower. The heating coil in our shower burned out a day or 2 ago, and we had no hot water in the shower. And with winter time approaching, it now gets cold, and the water in the tanks gets reeeally cold too. I really prefered not to shower in freezing cold water, but I don´t like being dirty and felt the need to tough it out and hop in the cold shower. Let me tell you, it bites. At first contact, that cold water stings you like needles. It´s hard to bear. But I was clean. As I got out, I was thankful for the warmth of the towel to dry me off and the new clean clothes I had to wear. I thought yenno, that is a lot like repentance. When in your daily labors you dirty yourself with sin, it is a marvellous blessing that our Lord and Savior has installed for all of us a shower of repentance. And the truth is, at first it stings. It´s not an easy thing, repentance, and you can put it off like a cold shower, but eventually the desire to be clean overcomes you and you bite the bullet. The dirtier you are - or the longer you´ve gone without a shower - the longer you have to stay in the shower to make sure you´re completely clean. If you jump in but back out because it´s too cold or too difficult, you´re still dirty and haven´t repented completely. You´ve got to stick it out to the end. Sometimes, you´ve even got enough grime built up that you need your bishop to help you out and toss you a brush or give you the tools that you don´t have yourself to make sure you´ve thoroughly cleaned yourself up. Then, finally clean and new, you are able to feel the warmth of the Spirit and the love of your Heavenly Father surround you like a warm towel. What is sometimes a painful but necessary experience, when done properly, always ends with a warm feeling of renewed vigor and peace that makes the price of the process worth it. Only a fool would put on the same dirty clothes he or she just removed, for that would nullify all of your efforts you just spent and sacrificed, making you filthy again. You put on new, clean clothes, re-energizing your strive and determination to keep yourself spotless and remain unstained from the filth the world has to offer. This shower of repentance - made available to us only through the great and infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ - when repeated daily, will allow you to obtain the "clean hands" and "pure heart" that the Lord requires to enter into His temple and ultimately into His presence.
Kind of cheesy, but it´s true, right? Silly or not as may be the analogy, we all need forgiveness. We all need to pass through the gauntlet of mortality in order to become like our Father and enjoy the blessings that He enjoys. There is no other way. Unfortunately, in this short period of life on earth, we all commit errors: errors which impede us from our goal of going back to where we came from better than we were when we left it. I am incredibly grateful to my Heavenly Father for providing us a plan by which we can experience moral life in its fullest without having to eternally suffer the consequences that are inevitably inherited along the way. I am inexpressably thankful for and eternally endebted to the Savior and Redeemer of the world, the great Mediator of all men, for carrying out that plan when He Himself did not need it and could have at any moment turned back without any effect on His eternal salvation. That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pure and beautifully simple. That is why I´m here in Paraguay. That is why my mission does not and will not end here, nor for the rest of my life, nor in the next. I love this Gospel. How could you not? May we all stive just a little harder to live this joyous gospel, the only complete and true Gospel of Jesus Christ that exists on earth or in heaven. It´s the only real way to real happiness.
I love and miss you all, and am praying for every one of you, that I might find the way to bring this eternal blessing into your lives.