A lot can happen in 7 days! If I were only allowed one word to describe this week it would be: Miracle. This week was full of miracles! For the month of November, the mission had a goal of 200 converts. And you know what? We reached it! 200 of our brothers and sisters here in Costa Rica made one of the most important decisions in their lives this month and were baptized and confirmed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am so proud to say that I am serving my Savior in this part of His vineyard with all of these wonderful missionaries and the amazing people in this country.
This weekend, we had a baptism. But instead of A, like we had planned, another investigator, J was baptized! A knows he has received an answer to be baptized, but does not want to commit to making the decision. It breaks my heart, but we are going to keep working hard with him before he leaves for Nicaragua.
But, J was truly a miracle. When we first met him, he was a very sad and very lost 17-year-old. I actually was not sure he would progress, but after meeting the youth in our ward, his whole countenance changed. The youth, especially one of our young women, C, accepted him right away. We noticed a complete change, even in the way he walked. When we first extended the invitation to be baptized, he said no. But, at mutual on Tuesday, he came smiling over to us and my companion asked him how he felt. "Good," he said, "and I know what you're thinking." My companion asked him what he meant and he replied, "Baptism. I know. I'm thinking of making myself a member, maybe for my birthday." This left me speechless! We placed his baptismal date for December 7th.
Later that week, we came to visit him and he told us that he couldn't be baptized on the 7th because he was going to leave for Nicaragua on the 3rd and wouldn't come back until January. And with a whole lot of faith in the power of the Savior, we moved his date to November 30th! He accepted gladly and we were able to teach him and extend all of the necessary commitments for baptism. The amazing thing is that the Lord really does place people in our path that are ready for the gospel. He was basically already keeping the commitments before they were extended. I am truly, truly grateful for J and his testimony. I nearly came to tears as he told us that when he came to church, for the first time in his life, he felt happy, comfortable, and secure in his beliefs.
On Saturday, we needed to meet his mother to ask permission for him to be baptized because he is still a minor. We had never met her before because she was always working, so we were a bit nervous as to what she would say. He told us to be at his house at 10AM to meet him and his mom before she left for work. We called a few hours before to make sure he would be there and as it would turn out, he wasn't home and had left his cell phone at his house. We weren't sure what to do, but we decided to go and meet his mom without him. I was able to talk to her over the phone before we came over and she related to me that since he started coming to the church, she noticed a change in him. She said he has been a lot happier and more calm and she thanked us for whatever we had done to help him do this. Yes, yes, I almost cried again as I bore my testimony of how wonderful her son is. We were able to meet with her and she had no problem giving permission. Later that day, J was able to be baptized. It was a beautiful, simple service and we were all happy to witness him make this covenant with his Savior.
On Sunday, J was confirmed an official member of the Lord's church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. He even brought a friend to church which was so cool! We were all praying that we would reach the goal of 200 converts. We were told that morning that we were short 2 confirmations. There were many, many prayers said that day. But the Lord always pulls through. That night we were informed that our mission had achieved 200 baptisms and confirmations. Yesterday, our District Leader went to a leadership meeting and later told us a few of the many miracles that happened to achieve this goal.
The Lord is truly smiling on this country. His Church is growing and advancing and it will not stop. I love this work and I love my Savior. It is only through the power of God that we were able to achieve these things. I KNOW with all of my heart that this Church is true and that it changes lives. I love you all!