|Jorge Luis's baptism from April 2013|
Family and Friends,
This Saturday we had the tremendous blessing of attending the sealing of three families from the Andres de Vera ward in Portoviejo where I served a over a year ago with Elder Carrillo and Elder Tibanlombo. A young couple, a family of less actives who were reactivated, and my great friend and convert Jorge Luis Briones and his wife Johana Solorzano were sealed together for all time and eternity. It truly was one of best days of my life and such a blessing to see old friends, converts, and hear about how well many converts are doing :) wow!
In February 2013 my first Sunday in Portoviejo, an active and wonderful member Johana Solorzano brought her nonmember boyfriend Jorge Luis Briones to church and we taught him with her and put a baptismal date. He didn't accept very well and said that he was Catholic and needed much more time to think about it. A week later he fell off the map and no matter how many times we called or tried to visit him he never answered and we didn't see him for over a month.
Fortunately, his girlfriend Johana was very strong in the gospel and very determined and insistent that he would be baptized and they would be married in the temple one day :) every time she saw us she asked how Jorge was doing and always tried to make things happen and bring him to church and never gave up no matter how uninterested or tough he was. She wasn't overbearing, rude, or pushy but she wasn't timid or lazy about it. She applied what Elder Scott and Elder Ballard taught in their excellent talks last conference. She was bold and persistent and gave a good follow up (Alma 38:12) in many ways. For example we told her that he never answered us, she asked him why, he said he never answers unknown numbers, she gave him our number and had him save it in his phone, then she told us to call him again. Finally at the end of March she brought him to an activity and we taught him again. I'll never forget the awesome lesson we had with Elder Tibanlombo when we read and analyzed Alma 32 together with him and he totally "got it" that he had to do his part with diligence and patience and faith to make the seed grow. He went to General Conference. The seed grew. And he was baptized on April 13th 2013. As they say the rest is history.
A good follow up, persistence, and never giving up really paid off for my dear friend Johana. At the end of the sealing she had tears of joy that poured down her cheeks as she stood by her eternal husband hugging and shaking hands with everyone who passed by to congratulate them. When it was our turn she gave me a huge smile and said "Thank you so much Elder Remington for teaching and baptizing him!" Truly, that was one of the tenderest and sweetest moments of my life.
It was also quite fun and entertaining to see all the members and converts. I don't have time to write all the details but literally 90% are strong and active especially the Gonzalez family, Michele, Cesar, Walter, and many many more. One of the members that is now the boyfriend of Michele thanked me sincerely for the work I had done there and told me the details of the lives of all the converts we had and the progress they're having in the church... he smiled and said you did a good job there! Few things make a missionary more happy than hearing about the progress and achievements of his converts in the church.
I am very grateful for the wonderful leadership that the Andres de Vera ward has. I know for a fact that 90% of the converts wouldn't still be active if it weren't for the fantastic Bishop they have there. He truly is a saint and a stud. He is loving, kind, patient, strong, and he never tolerates gossiping or criticizing others in his ward. He knows that gossip and getting offended are some of the biggest reasons that people leave the church or that a ward doesn't function well. I testify that such is the case. He is a wonderful example to me of what a leader and father should be and I plan to follow his example in my life. What a blessing to have served in such a strong, happy, and united ward :) there are many friends for life in that ward for me :)
There are many more things I would love to share but there isn't enough time...
I love you all with all my heart and hope you are happy and well.