Tuesday, December 3, 2013

1-Year Mark in California--An Unforgettable Week!

So tomorrow I hit my 1-year-in-Cali mark.  It's been a very, very good year.  2012 and 2013 were both the best and hardest years of my life.  2014 looks to be heading that way too.  I love all this so much!
So this week was incredible.  On Tuesday, we had Mission Leadership Council (ZLs + zone sisters).  We had a conference call with Brother Donaldson (Dad, do you know him?)  He was the Mission President in the District 2 videos.  Anyway, our mission is not baptizing very well right now and he was giving us suggestions.  We started putting it into place and it feels like everything is different.  The game has changed.  And it's nothing secret or special, just PMG principles that we weren't good at implementing.
A typical 1st lesson for us before would be about 50 minutes.  We would jump in, get to know them a bit, and work in some principles from How to Begin Teaching.  Then we jump into the Restoration and teach the whole thing.  Then at the end, we would invite them to pray about Joseph Smith, read the Book of Mormon, come to church with us, and most importantly, be baptized.  We have been so confused why it hasn't been working out.  And now, even as I'm typing this out, I can see how wrong that was.
We have been overwhelming our investigators way too much and have been having lessons that are way too long.  We have switched to 20 min lessons with 1 commitment per lesson.
A typical 1st lesson now looks like this:  We start out with the How to Begin Teaching principles and then we skim the Restoration up until the Joseph Smith story.  Then we pause and describe why this is so important for them to understand.  Then we ask them to pray right in front of us, and we tell them that we won't say anything until they do so they have time to feel the Spirit.  When they break the silence and describe what they are feeling, it's always the Spirit.  Then while the Spirit is super strong, we invite them to be baptized.
So now, what's happened this week....

Remember Hilario?  He's the guy that supposedly had 10 kids?  Well he only has 5, but we finally got in.  We tried this out on him, and he accepted baptism immediately.  Then in our next lesson, we talked about the BoM and asked him to pray about the date we extended, because he was a little shakey on accepting the date.  After sitting in silence for about a minute, he starts bawling because the Spirit hit him so strong.  He also told us that he is going to keep the BoM forever--that we will be able to come back to him in 20 years and he will still have it.  We asked him during a call what we could do for him, and he said, "Just don't forget about me."
Remember Oralia?  Her husband (well, long-time boyfriend), Delfino, has gotten his answer and is on board with everything.  Oralia doesn't want to get married right now and didn't really want to listen to us anymore because she knew that marriage would eventually be brought up.  We back tracked and taught this lesson again.  We specifically asked Oralia to say the prayer.  We sat in silence for about 3 or 4 minutes, then she starts bawling.  I almost lost it too since I understood how important that moment was.  We asked her how we can help them both be baptized, and her response was, "we just need to do more of our part."  It was incredible.
If none of that was enough, Leticia got baptized!  Sorry, I forgot to bring my camera to the library, but I'll probably be throwing pictures up on Facebook.  She then bore her testimony at the end and it was insane!  I was translating for an office sister that came to the baptism and she started crying. 
Because there is so much going on, I'm going to start doing a video recording of me telling the stories so that I have all the details down.  I feel like I never have time for it all.
Anyway, this week has been unforgettable.  Love you all so much, and thank you for all the prayers!
Elder Christensen

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