Monday, January 23, 2012

El Evangelio en Acción

We're running super short on time this week, so I apologize, but I'll have to be very brief. I'm going to hit the obvious highlight.

This past Saturday was the baptism of María Andrea Palma Salas and her daughter María Fernanda Lizama Palma, as well as their confirmation yesterday. I had the tremendous blessing of being able to baptize both of them. The picture I sent with me in white holding my towel was right after the ordenance and depicts me happier than I have ever been in my life. I can honestly say that the joy and peace that I experienced that beautiful day surpasses anything I have ever felt.
Andrea said from the very beginning that she wanted her baptism to be very private, something very much between her and God, so we had just the bare necesities. The attendees consisted of the Branch President, the primary president, Andrea and Fernanda, Elder Salas and myself, as well as Orfelina, a delightful old lady who calls all the missionaries her sons, who was baptised herself last year. The service was very simple, but beautiful. Pdte. Budaleo directed, we sang Nearer, My God, to Thee. Hermana Evelin gave the opening prayer and Elder Salas gave a short message, after which the ordenance was performed. We returned to the chapel and Hermana Evelin and Pdte. Budaleo gave the bienvenidas, after which we sang I Stand All Amazed, and closed with a prayer given by me. Every turned out perfectly.
Andrea and Fernanda were both super nervous beforehand, mostly because I had never baptized before and they were afraid I would drop them or hold them under too long. Fernanda was a little embarrassed about her tunic, but enjoyed saying many times how she and her Mom looked like angels.

One day in the streets, knocking on one last door for the evening, we found Andrea Palma, a timid yet somewhat stern lady who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, had a daughter whose best interest was very important to her, and wanted to know what God expected of his children. A month later, she has quit smoking entirely, something she hasn't been able to do for over 15 years, has learned how the Gospel blesses families, and has developed a powerful yet humble testimony of the Restoration and the everlasting Atonement of Jesus Christ. Now she and her daughter are reborn as followers of the Savior, living his commandments and enjoying the blessings of truth revealed. When we asked Andrea and Fernanda how they felt after the baptismal service, they shyly hesitated a little bit, looked at each other, and then, unable to hold back the laughter and smiles said simply enough, "bien."

This is the Gospel in Action. That Jesus Christ, the very Son of the living God, gave his life for his friends, that we might overcome the obstacle of sin, and live in the presence of our God. I apologize that this letter is so short this week. But I give my testimony to all that read this letter that Christ lives, that He is the head of His Church, that the Gospel in its completeness has been restored through a prophet of God. I know these things are true because I have seen them change lives, including my own. I wouldn't be here, far from home, far from friends and family, learning Spanish, walking all day every day, talking with everyone, and struggling every moment to testify of the Gospel of Christ if it weren't true. I invite everyone, my family, and all my friends, to learn of the truths that have been restored to this earth. I invite you to read the Book of Mormon, and I invite you to put into practice the teachings of Christ and watch the Gospel in Action. I love you all very much. Talk to you soon.

-Elder Wilcox

Celebrating at the house of Andrea after the baptism.
A Typical uppermiddle class neighborhood/street (this was taken in Temuco in the suburbs). These houses are very nice compared to Carahue, but average compared to some places around the outskirts of Temuco. Note the German influence. There are a ton of Germans in Chile.
 A standard church building in Chile (Not ours in Carahue, but someday)
 Activity today in Padre Las Casas. Completos...mmm.

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