November 10, 2014

Week Forty-Seven: God is the Gardener

Constanza Carolina Alarcón Arbulu ... Presidente Ricardo Soto baptized her.
Area: Frutillares
Companion: Hermana Caseres

Familia,

A couple of weeks ago, I felt sooo distraught. I was looking back in my journal, and I actually wrote, "How could you do this to me, God?" Just like the little currant bush. I think that it was just after cambios and I was feeling a little bit like I couldn't do what the Lord had called me to do. This week was the craziest week in the history of the world ... Soooo many things happened. But after all that happened, I feel sooo grateful and so privileged to be working for the Lord.

I guess the biggest thing that happened is WE HAD A BAPTISM. Constanza got baptized!!! Ahhh, what a story. I am feeling a little bit stressed because we are writing late, but I hope that in this email I can convey just how grateful I am.

Did you know that Constanza was a direct answer to our prayers? A miracle? She was. She magically appeared in our little rama RIGHT AFTER our best investigator, Carlos dropped us. We had just made a solemn pact with Heavenly Father that we were going to do whatever it took to find new people that were going to progress ... and suddenly, Hermana Claudia approached us and said, "What do we have to do so that Constanza can get baptized?" It was like a hallelujah chorus moment from The Best Two Years.

From that moment, we have been sooo very blessed with this little girl. She has the sweetest testimony in the whole world. Her mom showed us a page of her diary that said the following (in English): "I am sooo excited because I am more than sure that the church where I am going to get baptized is the true church. I am anxious and nervous, but excited to finally be a Mormon." Ahhhh, soooo precious.
A page from Constanza's journal
The only obstacle with her is that she is only in Tomé during the weekends. It made it way hard to teach her and keep in contact with her to make sure that she was ready to be baptized. In fact, her baptism almost didn't happen this week because she wasn't able to come in for her last lesson with us during the week. Luckily, we were able to work everything out with our leaders and everything was good to go.

This was the most beautiful baptism -- seven months in the making. Hermana Caceres and I worked with every single detail. We made all of the refreshments, looked for a super pretty tunic, and decorated the chapel. We filled the font so that it was warm. I was soooo anxious because I wanted Constanza to have a great experience. Her whole family showed up and a lot of unexpected members showed up as well. I was soooo pleased with how it all turned out.

After the actual baptism, we watched a few Mormon Messages and right in that moment, we watched the message about the currant bush. Tears, tears, tears flowed. I thought about that moment just a few weeks ago when I said to Heavenly Father the very same words, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME? I WAS MAKING SO MUCH PROGRESS ... and now you've cut me down." I remembered feeling the same response (I am the Gardener here). And in that very moment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I suddenly saw a very clear picture of the reason that I needed to be in Frutillares for another cambio ... and that night, I went to pray in my little room ... and with more tears, I had the opportunity to say to Heavenly Father, "Thank you, Mr. Gardener. For loving me enough to hurt me ... for loving me enough to cut me down." It was a good, full-circle type of moment.

The talk "God is the Gardener" by Hugh B. Brown is referenced in this Mormon Message by D. Todd Christofferson that Laney is referring to:

video

I don't feel responsible for the baptism of Constanza. I know that we didn't really do anything. We taught her. We cut up little sandwiches. We brought in the Elders to interview her ... but really, Heavenly Father did all of the work with her. She has such a pure, pure heart and just wants to do what's right. I am so grateful that we had the chance to be a little part of her journey back to Heavenly Father. I guess waiting and waiting and working all of these months has been worth it.

A super cute letter the elders left at the baptism
Other things that happened ... Uhm, we had an activity in the ward that was super fun. I really, really, really have come to understand the importance of ACTIVITIES in the ward to promote activity. So, I said in our correlation that we should start trying to have them and suggested a pretty good activity to start. It was a Tropical Karaoke. We had a few investigators there and that was awesome. We also had a lot of people that showed up and helped. When we really put our mind to it, La Obra Misional can put on some pretty stellar activities. They actually want to keep running with a Karaoke night every couple of weeks in the chapel. Super fun!

The Karaoke Tropical ... Elder Castro (from the CCM) and Elder Flores (from Chile).
We get along really well!
Picture from the Karaoke Tropical posted on facebook this week.
With Hermana Caceres belting out the tunes.
We also have started to catch the vision of Family History down here in the southern hemisphere. I was soooo impressed by the idea of dad to spend ten hours working with the members to work on their family history. We are starting to put it into practice and are seeing results. The Spirit of Elijah is INCREDIBLE. I really feel like it is going to start working miracles for us. :)

Today, we went to Concepcion in the morning and went out with Hermana Solange and Presidente Navarro. It was sooo much fun! I have so many pictures to send ... but the internet here is way slow ... so I will try to send as many as I can.

I don't really have a lot to say this week. I love the Gospel and I know that it is true. The price that I have had to pay to become acquainted with Heavenly Father has been a PRIVILEGE TO PAY. I am so grateful to be here in Tomé and to be a missionary. It is sooo hard, but so worth it. I can feel myself stretching and growing to become better than I am. :)

La "U."
Hermana Caceres and I at the University of Concepcion.
I hope that you have a great week!! I love you sooo much and I am sooo proud of my family. HAPPY BIRTHDAY THIS WEEK TO HYRUM!! I love love love love you all and I pray for you often. I got a few letters last week from Minsy and Hyrum and my heart just melted. Thanks for that. Also, I will keep my eyes open for the packages for Christmas. Thank you so much for your support. I don't need the packages to know that you love me, but I am SOOOOO GRATEFUL for them! They make my life so much brighter. :) Love you all!!

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