After suffering through my longest period of time without baptisms in the mission, we had a great baptism this Saturday. Two girls that we've been teaching for a while named Allison and Amelia were both baptized together and at the end they both shared their testimonies. There was a lot of members there supporting them, lots of investigators there feeling the spirit :), and they both looked very happy and you could see a bright light in their eyes as they shared their simple sweet yet powerful testimonies of how the gospel has blessed their lives. It was a great moment for me and I was very happy that all our hard work payed off and the great thing is that we have a great program going here in Albonor with lots of progressing investigators, great support from the ward, and an awesome companionship that makes the work enjoyable, satisfying, and much more effective. Elder Ayala and I get along wonderfully :) He is super happy, always positive, has lots of experience and is teaching me a ton, knows how to give compliments and constructive advice in how I can improve, has a great sense of humor and we're always enjoying the day. He is very humble and knows how to receive suggestions or advice and apply that advice without getting offended, and he truly serves the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He's a great example to me and we are really learning and growing together and enjoying it too :) Very similar to the companionship that Elder Lopez and I had :) wooohooo! I truly believe that every single companionship is inspired of God and that you can always do your part to make a companionship work and you can enjoy being with every companion and learn something from every single companion.... that being said there are some people who make enjoying the mission and having success a whole lot easier than others :) and luckily Elder Ayala is one of them.
Everyone says that the mission helps you prepare for marriage because you learn how to live with someone and make relationships work through compromise and all that jazz. Very true. I also think that it is a great opportunity to find out what type of people you enjoy being around so that you can have a better idea of what qualities to look for in a future spouse when you are dating after the mission. I know that sounds a tad weird and I'm not meaning it in a gay way at all just give me chance here to explain haha. For example, due to my experiences with my companions I have come to the conclusion that I want to marry someone who is humble yet confident and knows how to receive both compliments and advice well. One of the biggest reasons that there is contention in companionships or relationships is that often we as human beings get offended and protective when someone tries to correct us or give us advice in how we can improve. The majority of my companions (especially Elder Lopez) have been humble yet confident, and thus I almost never fought with my companions because we both knew how to receive advice without getting offended and arguing. People who lack this trait are hard to live with... trust me. So as a missionary when you get back you can remember some of the qualities that were most important to you and then look for those qualities in a future spouse and you can remember certain qualities or characteristics that really bothered you and if you see that in a potential future spouse that can be a red flag for you.
Oh and I recently got this picture from Elder Lopez of the baptism of three girls that we taught together named Caterine, Angelina, and Marisela :) They were super sweet and very smart and fun to teach! I got transferred right before they were baptized but now I have the picture and I still get to write to them to give them encouragement. Also the guy in front of them sitting down in the polo shirt is named Johnathon and he got baptized the week after too but I still don't have the picture. But I wanted to share a neat experience we had with him when he was taking the discussions. After the first lesson we taught him how to pray and invited him to give the last prayer. He's way shy and he was really nervous and didn't want to do it. But then I said how about I say a prayer first for you and give an example and then you give one after me. He agreed to that so we got on our knees and then after my prayer he began to pray. Normally in their first prayer the investigator doesn't know what to say and feels uncomfortable so they just say some generic things and finish which is okay because its a good start but not Johnathon. This young man said one of the most sincere heartfelt prayers that I've ever heard. It was short and sweet but powerful and you could really feel that he wasn't just saying words but that he was truly communicating with his Heavenly Father. In one part he said simply, ¨God, thanks for sending these missionaries here to help me change my life¨ and the spirit filled the room :) The power of a simple heartfelt prayer is incredible :) Elder Lopez tells me he is active and doing great :)
I love you all and encourage you all to do your part to participate more in the Lord's work. Share the gospel with your friends and give the missionaries lots of referrals :) Don't be afraid its not awkward! It's the Lord's work and its true and this work progresses much better when the members support and help the missionaries :) Love you all!