waiting longer to receive the blessings of baptism.

July 19, 2010
On Thursday I did 8 baptismal interviews in Paraiso. The people getting baptized were Ana De La O, and her children Suyen (19), Merlyn (15), Rosa (13), Leo (10), Andriw (8), Tatiana (20), and Tatiana’s husband Jose. I interviewed Jose and Tatiana first at their house and then we went over to Ana’s house for the rest of the interviews. I tried to make sure that each interview was special even with the little kids. Each interview should be a spiritual experience where the investigator opens up and shows fruits of repentence, and thats exactly how they were. I spent about 6 hours doing the interviews. That’s counting travel time in between the two houses and including time to drink agua dulce and chit chat, but the interviewing did take awhile. It was an amazing experience because they really opened up to me and I could really tell that they sincerely wanted to follow Jesus Christ and change their lives.

Ana’s interview was over an hour long and very special. She is a very strong woman and although she’s had a tough past, she knows she has to change for her children. She has fears of failing her children after baptism, but understands that she has to do her best and Heavenly Father will give her the extra strength she needs. Jose told me in the interview that he’s never been so sure about anything, as he is about his decision to be baptized. He kept telling me that he couldn’t wait til Saturday for the baptism. Suyen’s interview was also very special and she has really come to understand her purpose in life and that she is a daughter of God. All the others were very happy and excited about the baptism, saying they can’t wait.

Saturday finally came and I went to the baptism because Ana asked me to baptize her. It was awesome to be able to go to their family’s baptism. Elder Whitlock baptized 3, Elder Urbina baptized 3, I baptized Ana, and a member baptized Suyen. My companion gave the talk about baptism and did a really good job. Not many members went but you couldn’t really tell because the family is so big. There were like 8 members and 8 members of the family, and four missionaries so it was cool. When the time came for the baptisms some of them got nervous and it took awhile to baptize them all but in the end it all worked out. To end the service Ana, Tatiana, Jose, Suyen, Merlyn, and Leo shared their testimonies and the spirit was super strong. They were all so happy. Even Merlyn, who seems to be less of a smiler, was smiling the whole time. My comp and I took the same bus as them on the way home, and when they got off they all waved goodbye. It was an awesome night.

It’s really fun training my new comp. He is so eager to learn. The first few days together something hilarious happened. After an appointment failed us, I was calling them from a pay phone but my comp really wanted to learn how to contact families, so when a family past by, I hung up the phone and contacted the family and we put an appointment with them to pass by later in the week. Then it was my comps turn. I began to call from the pay phone again while my comp waited for another family to pass. When a family came walking toward us I let him go contact and I observed while still at the pay phone. My comp walked up to the head of the family and used the same technique I had used to start talking to them (I asked for directions to a certain area to start talking to them, then made the contact). When the guy answered his question, my comp turned back and looked at me (I was behind his back, the family facing me) with an excited smile on his face. I don’t know why he looked back at me. I don’t know if it was to get my approval, or to give me a look saying, “Look at me. I’m doing it.”. All I know is that while he looked back at me, the family he was contacting walked into a nearby store, without even noticing he wasn’t finished talking with them. When my comp turned back around and saw them walking away, he just sagged his shoulders and looked down at the floor in disappointment. I couldn’t help but burst into laughter, and I0 left a message of laughter to the person I was calling on the payphone. It was so funny, straight out of a movie.
Yesterday in church Eladio (Recent Conver) gave a talk. He did a great job, and even though he had a tough topic (moral discipline) and was super nervous, I couldn’t tell because he gave a great talk. The less active family (of Hna Gretel and her two daughter and one son) we have been visiting has started coming back to church and they plan to stay strong from now on. There are also some Young Men that have been reactivated, which is critical for the ward because, up until now they didn't have any active YM
Brun and Jasmine came to church by themselves again yesterday. We also went to pick up an investigator young woman named Marianella or Nella for short. We went to pick her with the RC Marianella and it was awesome because she was with her all throughout church. This is good for the investigator but also for the RC Marianella because she feels left out with the other YW in the ward so maybe this could be good for her. If she got baptized we’d have three YW Marianella’s in the ward. I’m going to call the recent convert MARI, the long time member A, and the inverstigator NELLA. We tried to pick up Mari’s sister Maria Jose and take her to church as well, but she wouldn’t come even though she promised us the night before that she would.

After church we started divisions with the ZLs. Its the first and probably last time we do divisions on a Sunday. Elder Castillo came to meet Brun and Jasmine. We had a good lesson about the Sacrament and we challenged them to be baptized again. They said they know its true and they want to be baptized, but not yet. They are afraid of failing after baptism or finding out about something (like a commandment) they can’t keep after baptism so they want to wait longer. We told them we could tell them about all the commandments they wanted to know about, and explained that if they knew it was true they would change those things anyway, before or after baptism, so there was no point in waiting longer to receive the blessings of baptism. Like it says in the sacrament prayers, the Lord expects us to be willing to keep his commandments, and we won’t be perfect right away, but the spirit will help us, etc. In the end they are going to pray to know if they are ready for baptism. We talked to some members that live by Brun and Jasmine (Jorge y Silvia) and got them to invite Brun and Jasmine to dinner. I hope they went.

Last night us and the Hna’s had dinner at Obispo Ortiz’s house. It was a really funny dinner and we were all laughing the whole time. The bishop has one of those laughs that make you want to laugh as well. It was fun.

We’re trying to finally get to know where all of the members live. They all live far away from the church and only two really live in our area. The rest live in the Hnas area. That’s why we are trying to focus our efforts right now to finding people around the church. Cartago is huge and has unbelievable potential. Cartago is a city of pure houses. There are lots of people and area within the wards boundaries, and it should have like five wards here. There is only one. More people assist Paraiso’s ward when Paraiso is like a fifth of the size of Cartago or less. The church location is pretty lame. Its near the most dangerous part of Cartago, and really hidden away. The reason is that when they wanted to build the church back in the 80’s, the city wouldn’t let them because the catholics were opposed. Finally they let them build, basically in a trash pit, and even then people were getting signature to oppose the construction. Anyway thats where the church is still located, but Cartago has so much potential.
This ward is pretty awesome. The ward has its own culture. There are a lot of great people here. I really enjoy the "Principios del Evangelio" (Principles of the Gospel) class given by Hna Marielos and is attended by recent converts, investigators, a blind man named Santos that comes everyweek, and a special couple. A little girl named Daina, who is ten and not baptized, comes to church every week by herself. Her parents aren’t members but they let her come to church cause she likes it. She is really sweet and has no fear, talks to everyone. We’ve taught her and her parents, and we eat lunch at their house all the time, but they don’t want to go to church, and say Daina isn’t ready for baptism.

This week we had a district blitz in Cartago and in Turrialba. A blitz is when all the missionaries in the district go and work in one area for a few hours. Its a good way to help out the areas find new people and get an energy boost. It was good and i think it helped out the district.
Elder Tobler