This week has been pretty crazy!
We spent the entire first half of the week preparing for Elder Bednar to come to Uruguay to speak to us. So we spent all our time getting bus schedules all figured out, transporting equipment, calling people and getting chapels ready for an apostle to come.
One of the Apostles made a joke once that every time he goes somewhere to visit like a mission or something and enters into the buildings that the mission uses he can always smell the new paint still drying because once we all find out that an apostle is coming we start to fix and renew everything before he gets here; his observation was completely correct.
We have had some pretty fun experiences this week, I was basically a taxi driver/delivery boy yesterday with all the driving people around and dropping things off that I did to get ready for the Conference with Elder Bednar. I will admit that I was pretty tired of driving by the time the day was over. But the Conference with Elder Bednar was awesome! I was impressed with the way that he does this sort of thing, he doesn´t give talks but just lets everyone ask him questions about whatever and he answers and gives advice. He is an incredibly intelligent and spiritual man to say the least.
Well the work as far as the area has been going pretty well too; which is really awesome! We actually had a day that was so busy that we had to do a choque de fuerza with one of the members that just barely got home from his mission. Elder Layton split and went with him while Elder Egito and I went and worked in another part of our area. It was awesome how much we got done. Elder Layton and I found a really awesome family earlier this week. The parents name´s are Alberto and Susanna, and they have three children- although we have only met the youngest one so far. We have been about 3 times so far and they have been pretty receptive, right now we are teaching them about the authority that we hold in the church and why it is important that they are received by baptism into la iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimas dias. They have both been baptized before in the Catholic church so it is a bit difficult for them to understand why it would be important to get baptized again- but we´re working with them.
Speaking of getting baptized again! We met a guy the other day when we were looking for a reference in our area. He called out to us from his porch and we went and talked to him for a minute and found out that his name is Luis, he is less active member and he has a pretty rare claim in the church. He has been baptized twice in the Mormon Church. I would bet a few people don´t understand how that happens. Well he was baptized when he was younger without a problem and went on living as a regular member, but as he became old enough to receive the higher priesthood power his ward realized that he had no baptismal record. So they asked the Mission that did his records at the time... and they didn´t have it either... so the Mission asked church headquarters and they couldn´t find it either.... so they had to do the ordinance again so that he could officially be recorded. The story is interesting in itself but for me it hits pretty close to home for me because this only happened because some Mission Secretary messed up the spelling on Luis´s baptismal record. This is the type of thing that we as secretaries have to be super careful with because if you don´t record the baptismal record then the baptism and the ordinances that you did essentially don´t count.
Well a lot of people have been asking me about the experience that I had with President Smith up in Argentina. Well it was a pretty eye opening experience. I wrote about 5 or 6 pages in my journal afterward and I feel like I could have written about 50 more.
Well I was working in Concepción del Uruguay (Which is a city in Argentina) with an Elder named Elder Sanchez. Well we worked just like normal until about 7:40´ish when we needed to pick up Presidents car and then go pick up President at his hotel to bring him to a lesson with a less active member. Well we went and entered the house and talked for a minute or two. It turns out that this guy is a return missionary of a few years and he has made a few bad decisions in his life. Well he was living with his girlfriend who is an investigator in the church and they have had a few kids together. Well this guy basically told President that he was glad that president came because he needed someone to confess his sins to. Well President thanked this man for his honesty and then told him that he was only there to listen to the Elders teach and that he was going to testify of what the Elders taught. Well we as the Elders taught for about 20 minutes or so and then it came time for President to testify and teach a little. I was amazed with the way he taught them, I could see that they honestly understood what they needed to do by the end. Well the both said that needed to repent and started talking about what they needed to do exactly to repent. Well after that the sister started voicing a few doubts to President Smith, she basically told him she was not sure whether or not the true was true and if Joseph Smith was a prophet. Well President Smith just looked at her and basically said: "You know what I think? I think that you already know that the church is true, I think that you feel and think that it is true. The only thing that you are missing, is you need a confirmation of the truth. So what we are going to do tonight is we are all going to get down on our knees and we are going to pray, and you are going to give the prayer." So we all got down on our knees and the sister started offering the prayer. Well it was all normal until at some point in the prayer she really started to show her faith and exert herself so that she could know if it was all true.
Well what happened next was nothing short of a miracle, at least from what I can tell. In mid sentence she stopped and gasped and fell to the floor. Well as soon as this happened I opened my eyes thinking. "This lady just had a heart attack" and I immediately started feeling her back for a pulse. Well I couldn´t feel anything so I looked at President who was also checking for a pulse on her wrist. He looked at me and shook his head and then reached over with his other hand and touched her shoulder. Right at this moment the Sister woke right up and got back on her knees and finished the prayer almost as if she had not missed a beat and thanked heavenly father for what she had just received.
Afterwards we all got back in our seats and talked. The Sister shared the feeling that she had while she was praying and said how it was like nothing she had ever felt before and that she had received the confirmation that she was looking for. We bore our testimonies and I invited her to write what had happened to her that night in a diary. (Classic Historical Secretary)
Well we left and that was the night, it was strange trying to sleep that night after seeing all of that. I feel as though I witnessed something that not many get to see. Well after I had been lying in bed for sometime I started to think about King Lamoni and Ammon and all the similarities between my experience that night with President Smith and Elder Sanchez and realized that the things that happened in the scriptures, still happen today, that Miracles are still being worked in the world today. We are only instruments in the hands of God. We have to do his will in this world to bring to pass this great work, to love our fellow man and work to bring to fruition this great work that Heavenly Father has given us all to be a part of. To this day I am still a bit speechless as to what happened that night. But I can´t deny what I saw and what I was a part of.
I bear my testimony to you all, of the truthfulness of the Gospel and for God´s love that he has for every single one of us. I invite you all to keep following in the path that he has set out for each of us. It may not be easy, but in the end it will be worth it.
I love you all and I hope that this letter has been special to you all because this experience is very very special to me in my heart. I hope and pray that you will all keep having a good week. I love you all again!
Elder Arthur Anderson