Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas!

So for me, Christmas is a time of reflecting on all the growth that I have gone through as I have been here in Cape Verde. A mission is what is known as the refiners’ fire. For a gem to be a gem, it has to be refined by fire and high pressure. It comes out looking like the beautiful gem that it is. I feel that I have gone through the same. The Mission is the hardest, but the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. There are some days where I’m the happiest person in the world. There are some days that are quite challenging and stressful. There are those occasional days where I just need a blessing and a hug from my companion. And then there are days where miracles happen right before my eyes as the Lord puts his hand in the work. Christmas is the time where I reflect on the mercy and tender loving care of the Savior Jesus Christ. Christmas is where we were given the best gifts in the Universe. These are gifts of repentance, eternal families, and eternal life. I have come to realize that there is not much that I need in this world, but the ordinances and doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’ll not matter how much money I have or not have. It’ll not matter if my house is big or small, if my car is extravagant or simple, or if my job is of high rank or humble. What matters to me is how much service I’m going to be able to provide for the Church of the Lord.

Christmas is the time where we think about giving the best presents possible to those we love. These are the presents of baptism and confirmation into the kingdom of God. These are presents of living testimonies, which we help our investigators obtain for themselves, and the love of Christ we help them feel, sometimes for the first time in their lives. We call this month, White Month because it is the month of baptisms, repentance, and purity as we strive all we can to bring in as many souls as possible as a Christmas gift to the Savior. I love this Gospel. It has changed my life. It made me a person that I love, and a person that knows Christ, and the sacrifice that he went through for me.

This week we’re working with Melany, a 11-year-old girl. She is among one of the smartest
11-year-olds that I have ever met. She speaks and reads better than 90 percent of the population. As we were teaching her last week, we asked her how she felt about all this. She said that when she prayed, she felt that God told her that she should be baptized in the church and that he told her that these things were true. This is one of the most incredible responses that I have ever seen to the Holy Ghost, and it is a testimony to me that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be understood by anyone, from child to scholar. The Holy Ghost is the Universal Communicator, and it penetrated the heart of this pure child of 12 years old. This will be a baptism on Christmas Eve that my companion and I are very excited for. She is as stoked as we are.

This last weekend we had the baptisms of Estefaneo and Romario. Estefaneo is a military policeman. He works for the Cape Verde armed services and is currently on a vacation period of 6 months. It was hard to meet with him at first because we would mark appointments, and he would never be there. We were almost to the point of dropping him, as another appointment fell a few weeks ago, but the other day we saw that he was home and went to his house and talked to him. He said that he has done a good amount of reading on his own and had prayed about all this. This time we created a baptismal calendar with dates of our appointments and his baptismal interview. Everything went according to plan. His baptism went through, and I saw a huge smile on his face when he came out of the water. I knew that he felt the Holy Ghost. The baptism was incredible, and that day we made great friendships with the members that participated and with Estefaneo, as well.

We also went to Brava this past Wednesday. The boat ride was among the smoothest that were going to Brava, so I was very grateful for that. Brava has new missionaries, elder Reeser and Elder Abularach. This is the best spirit I have felt about the missionaries in Brava. They’re getting along, and the work is being executed very well. I’m grateful that they’re there.

Other than that, we and the missionaries from Fogo and Brava (The whole zone) are going to get together this Wednesday. We’ll be having a small Christmas celebration this day, so as to not impede baptisms on Saturday or Sunday. Everyone will be there in the morning, and we’ll play basketball. Then we’ll go home and shower and go to the chapel to meet with the sisters’ missionaries. President Oliveira paid for a high class catering service, so we can have lunch on that day, and we’re very grateful for him. We’ll have a marvelous lunch and then have like a family home evening where we’ll share testimonies and experiences of how much we have come to know our Savior.

Merry Christmas!
Elder Cuestas

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