Wow, I am without words this week...
Remember how I asked you all to pray for Hermana Cortes´ mom last week in my email? Unfortunately her health has taken a drastic change for the worst. Last Wednesday night I received a call from President Markham. My heart skipped a beat because the mission president doesn't usually call just to chat. He explained to me that he had been talking to Hermana Cortes´ family and that unfortunately this health complication drastically got worse and her mom went into the doctor. It was there that she was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal rectal cancer. She has been given less than a year to live. It was heartbreaking news to receive... And even worse was looking in the eyes of Hermana Cortes, my little hijita, and knowing that I had to pass the phone to her.
That night was filled with lots of tears, testimony and prayer. President explained to her that if she wanted to return to Nicaragua, it was okay. But after much prayer, fasting, and meditation, she has decided to stay here.
Sunday was fast Sunday, everyone bailed on us and we only ended up with one investigator in church. Hard, in a month were we are supposed to baptize 8 people. But, we keep fighting the good fight. When the meeting started, our bishop (with the very best of intentions) announced publically, and without permission, that Hermana Cortes´ mom has cancer. He pleaded that the ward include her in their thoughts and prayers. I froze having absolutely no idea how my companion would take this public call for help. But she graciously smiled at the bishop and kept her cool. Then, once testimonies started she looked at me and said:
¨Well, I don't want everyone feeling bad for me. I am going to get up there and bear my testimony.¨
I followed her to be emotional support. My champion of a companion got up there and bore the most powerful testimony of the plan of salvation and the atonement that I have ever heard... This is how she ended her testimony:
¨Well, I know that I likely will not see my mom again in this life... I know that she is going to die. But, I know that Jesus Christ lives and thanks to Him, families are forever.¨
I completely lost it. I, as well as the entire ward, was bawling. When it was my turn I stumbled through a short testimony and sat back down.
When we sat down she told me:
"Look, this is really hard, and it really hurts. But at the same time I just feel at peace. I know I am doing what God wants me to do, so it doesn't hurt as bad as it should.¨
It really reminded me of your experience, mom, when your father passed away. It has been so humbling to see the hand of God during this time of sadness.
But, yes. Please pray for the familia Cortes. Please keep them in your prayers. Please put them on every temple roll you can. We really need angels round about to bear her up.
Please also pray that we will be able to baptize this month. The goal is 8 but right now we really don't have anyone progressing. Satan is doing his very best to attack this little part of the vineyard. We need all the help we can get.
On a happier note, we went to the temple yesterday! It was just what we needed. Absolutely the very best way to spend a P day. Even better was that President and Hermana Markham were able to be there too. There isn't a temple in Nicaragua, so it was my companions second time going through. She loved it. Plus we got to eat at IHop. Who knew that the International House of Pancakes really is international?
Well, I would like to close with another conversion story...
D is a 16 year old convert who lives in our area. His parents are apostles of a crazy, gigantic evangelico church in our area. Their church members basically worship them and this church is very large and very established.
A year ago, a friend of D gave him a Book of Mormon and, without having any idea what it was, D began reading it.. He tells us that he just started reading 1 Nefi 1 and was SUPER confused because he had never heard of Nefi before when he read the Bible. Yet, something about the book called his attention and he kept reading and felt in his heart that the book was true. A few weeks later he thought that it may make more sense if he read the introduction first. It was there that he understood the nature of the Book of Mormon, where it comes from, and he also read the invitation to pray and know if it is true. That same night he got down on his knees to ask God if what he had been reading was true, if Christ really did visit the Americas, and if Joseph Smith truly was a prophet. To quote D
"I just felt all warm, like God loved me. I felt so at peace and I knew that I needed to learn more. I knew it was true... So I prayed that the missionaries would be able to find me."
The very next day they contacted him in the street.
After about 4 months of fighting, secretly attending church, and a lot of prayer, his mom finally signed the papers so he could get baptized. He has faithfully attended church ever since and last week contacted Salt Lake to send the missionaries to go visit his family in Canada. They came to church last Sunday and in 2 weeks the whole family is getting baptized.
This kid is incredible.
I know that the Gospel is true and it has the power to change us, strengthen us, and at times carry us through the difficulties of this life. I love my Savior, and it is my honor to represent Him for the 6 months I have left.
... A year ago I said goodbye to you guys. Wow, the mission goes so fast.
I love you all! Please keep praying. I am praying for you too.
All my love