I've been talking about Rafael Salvatierra and he is so close to baptism now. He almost got baptized this last Saturday, but we could never talk to his dad and get his permission to baptize him. So now we're going to be trying for this Saturday. We did, however, hit a snag in our plans. We went last night to talk to his dad and he wouldn't even talk to us; not even just to say, "I don't want to talk to you." We knew that he didn't want to be a pàrt of the church, but he doesn't even show us any respect whatsoever. So we talked with Rafael's mom, who is a less-active member, and she told us that the dad will not talk to us. So now we're trying to see what we can do if we only have the verbal approval of one parent. I can't imagine there would be problems because Rafael is already coming to church every Sunday and we talk to him three times a week.
On Thursday we were looking for a family that lived on the very edge of our map, but that didn't live where they had been marked; it was much, much farther. We were walking down the street and stopped to asked some people if they knew the family and they told us that all we had to do was just keep walking straight down the street until we got to a brick making place and that there would be a driveway on the left. Well we walked for ten minutes and there wasn't anything but fields and trees. After a few more minutes we found the brick making place and asked some people working there where we could find Epifanio, the grandpa of the family. They said that we had to go deeper in and even farther in the direction that we had been going.
Well eventually we got there and we talk to Epifanio, his daughter Noelia, and his grandkids Rafael and Candela. So we talked and found out that epifanio was previously the branch president, but hasn't been active for five years. But we had a great conversation with him and he said, "perhaps God is touching my heart right now." What was even better was that he came to church yesterday with one of his grandkids; or maybe it was one of his own kids, I'm not sure. The only reason I'm not sure if because when we first met him, there was a child of nine months sitting and playing next to him and I asked him if it was his grandson and he said that it was actually his son. So that was a little embarrassing and I don't really feel like asking him about if the person who came with him to church is his son or grandson.
I need to send the pictures of the brick making place; it's pretty incredible... and powered by horses still.
But we were having lunch with some members and they told me that Japan had declared war on the United States. So as we talked about all the things that could happen, I thought about two scriptures: "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God," in the book of Alma and "if you are prepared, thou shalt not fear," in the Doctrine and Covenants. The conversation, combined with those two verses, put a new perspective on those scriptures for me. Despite all the things that can and do happen here on earth, we don't really have any reason to fear what lies in the future if we are prepared to meet God again.
It also reminded me of this image of the youth of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis and the confidence that they had in their Savior and how that confidence inspired them to press forward in spite of the challenges that were before them.
So now we're preparing a baptism for Belqui and Hugo, but first we have to get their wedding taken care of. So we've been working really hard on getting everything we need so that we can get them married, but the record systems here are so complicated and inefficient that the process is just becoming slow and clumsy. We got their documents and birth certificates all gathered up and took them to the civil records and they said that they need a birth certificate that has been printed within the last six months. The only problem with that is that we have to request the forms from another city and we can't just pull the records from some computer data-base. So now we think that this wedding and baptism will be a three week process.
I sent a picture last week of me sitting on top of the baptismal font and two younger kids; the boy is the little brother of Karen and his name is Esteban, or "Steven" in English. So I started calling him "Steven" and a couple days ago his mom told me that he asks everyone to call him "Steven" now.
We also had a baptism for an eight year old named Elias on Saturday that went really great. The branch has been growing and we had thirty-eight people in church yesterday; up from the twenty-nine or thirty-twoish that we had last week. All in all, we've just been having some really great visits with the less active members and part member families.
President Heyman called me on Sunday morning to tell me about Conner, and after having had time to think about what had happened in church as well as having had time to study the scriptures I came back to one of the greatest sermons on hope ever delivered by the angel in front of Jesus´tomb, "Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!" I know that through the sacrifice of a loving Savior that we will all live again in eternity as a family forever.
un abrazo fuerte