Okay, so I just read through everyone's letters. Couldn't help it, but I'll still have time enough to write! The good news is, yes, I can print whatever I want - so I printed off the family letter for later perusal, and also Josh's (though I also just read them both). What I think I'll do is print off the letters from now on, to read later and respond the following week. I think that's the only way I'm going to be able to read and reply to everything. We'll see how it goes.
Okay, so this past week was amazing - primarily because we had Benjamin's baptism on Saturday! It was incredible. We set up the service, gave the talks, etc., and then I had the opportunity to baptize him. It went perfectly. Afterward he said he felt really happy - 'es como una luz apareció en mi corazon,' he said (as if a light appeared, blossomed, in my heart). Pretty awesome. He bore his testimony of the gospel and then all the members of the ward who were there (about 20 or so) had the chance to congratulate him and talk to him. It was great. Yesterday he was confirmed (I took part in that as well), and after church he received the Aaronic Priesthood and was ordained a priest (the bishop said, 'We might as well do it right away, since we know he's worthy!'). All of that was very, very cool. Missionary work is definitely very awesome. It's such a privilege just to be here in Mexico, studying and trying my best to become better. But to have the chance to share the gospel with others - and then to have them accept the message, and see the change in their lives - and then to actually baptize them and help them enter the road to eternal life and exaltation - wow! It's indescribable. Such a fulfilling work.
Other than that, this week has been about normal. We still do a lot of contacting, but the members are really helpful and give us people to teach. We have five or six investigators who are progressing really well, and we're hoping to set baptismal dates during their lessons this week. It's really cool when we return and talk to people after they've prayed about our message and received an answer - it almost surprises me sometimes. Growing up with the gospel makes it seem more commonplace - almost like I've taken it for granted, or at least not realized how powerful and amazing it is to have the Spirit in my life so much and to be surrounded by things of God. Hearing investigators talk about their testimonies is really, really cool.
A couple other things I wanted to mention. Our area covers the limits of the La Salle ward, so that's where we attend and those are the members we work with. The bishop is really helpful and so are lots of the members. They do have a ward mission leader, but he's inactive and has been for quite awhile. We going to try and visit him this week, hopefully get him back to church, but in the meantime we teach the gospel principles class. I taught yesterday. It was pretty fun - a simple lesson, since I can't teach the way I would in English, but that's okay since the class is intended to be simple. It was on faith, which is something I've been studying a lot lately, so that worked out. Miranda, I liked what you said about faith - everything you mentioned was exactly right. Faith without works doesn't actually help us at all. It's great if we know about repentance and service, but that knowledge won't help us unless we're actually doing those things, putting them into practice. Faith is a principle of power, but only if we actually DO things.
We have district meeting every week. It's pretty good - me and my comp, the district leader and his, and the zone leaders. Pretty basic, but always fun too. We also had zone conference this past Wednesday, and that was awesome. The President and the APs spoke and taught some great things. I learned a lot. They also passed out letters - so that answers the question about when the next one will come - six weeks, roughly, from this past Wednesday. I had two Dear Elder letters, both from Dennene and, from what I can tell, from sometime while I was still in the MTC. I guess sometimes it works like that. Dear Elder is pretty nice though, if anyone wants to check it out. Anyway, you have a couple weeks to get stuff sent, and hopefully it'll reach me by the next zone conference. As always, letters from anyone are greatly appreciated.
Thanks, everyone, for your emails. I'll keep reading through them and try to respond to what you said in more detail next week. But for now, a few comments.
Gabbie - Saturday sounds like lots of fun! I'm glad you're feeling better and I hope you're still having fun. Wii Sports Resort is very fun... maybe if you ask Santa nicely, you'll get it! Let's hope so. :) I hope things are going good and I love you!
Miranda - again, I liked everything you said about faith and works. To answer your questions, the mission is amazing. Yes, I miss things about home - but I'll be coming back to those things in less than two years. (In the meantime, I can always listen to the High School Musical soundtrack here in the cybercafe. Haha.) Those things will always be waiting for me. But for now, this is the best thing I could be doing. It's honestly a lot of fun. And I'm growing every day, learning more and more. That in itself is worth it. Seeing the change in other people's lives - wow, it's incredible. Amazing. I do think you would be a great missionary, and that you'd be fine in the mission field. I'll write more about that next week or in a letter or something though, give you some advice and talk more about school and everything as well. Thanks for writing, I really enjoyed reading it. I love you! :) ('It all comes down to right now, it's up to us...' something like that. Haha.)
Mom - yep, everything is all fine with me now, my sickness really wasn't too bad at all and down I'm back to normal. Yes, we fix breakfast and dinner for ourselves. Usually cereal or eggs for breakfast and hot dogs or fruit for dinner - basic but tasty. For laundry, we use the members' washing machines or a laundromat, it just depends. So far so good. :) As for Christmas - what I want the most, aside from things like letters and pictures, would be root beer. :) I've been missing it, and you can't find it down here. Other than that, I really can't think of anything... I'll give it some thought this week though. Going swimming with Reagan sounds like lots of fun! I'm glad he got to go. I'm sorry to hear that he got sick at the store and threw up! That sounds pretty terrible, and hard to handle with him and such a mess. At least Josh's mom was there - that's really lucky, since it sounds like no one was helping out at all. Give him a hug from me. :) And if you hear from Lisa and Laura or anything, tell them hi from me. I'm sure they're having lots of fun in Egypt. Thanks for all the encouragement and support, Mom. I love you very much too. :)
Dad - yeah, that really is too bad you weren't at the store with Mom and Reagan... (cough). I'm glad things are going well. Never heard of Arbol de Navidad, but I'll ask around. Sounds like things are great with you and Gabbie. That's so cool. Keep it up! I loved the joke about the Dog Star. It's gold, Jerry, gold! :) Legitimately funny though. Well done. As always, thanks for everything. I love reading your letters. I love you very much.
Everyone, thanks so much. I love the letters. I love you all very much, and I'm having a great time on my mission. Until next week --
PS: Do me a favor and thank Josh for his email. I wanted to write him, but I don't know if I'll have a chance today. Thank him for me. Love you.