Hola! I hope you´re all doing well! I can´t believe September is almost here!
There´s not much news since I wrote last Thursday, except RENATO WAS BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY NIGHT! Hermana and I were really hopeful but a little apprehensive when he had his interview Thursday night. We asked Renato afterwards how it went and he didn´t say anything. When we called our district leader to pass our numbers, he asked if Renato had called us. He hadn´t. Our district leader told us to call him right then and ask him when he was going to be baptized! We did, and after making small talk with Renato for a few minutes, he asked if our district leader had told us what they´d decided together in the interview. No, we said. Renato replied, ¨So, you mean he didn´t tell you I´m going to be baptized on Saturday night?¨ There was a second of stunned silence on our part, then we both said something like, ¨Wow, that´s great! We can´t believe it!¨ It was crazy! He was so cool, calm, and collected about it. Saturday night at 6 it was. Very simple, but so beautiful! Sometimes the missionaries will bear their testimonies after the baptism, but sometimes they don´t. When we talked to Renato Saturday morning, he asked us if we would. We were a little surprised, but happy too. It´s hard to describe the happiness and joy that come from seeing another person be baptized, following the example of our Savior and choosing to be happier in his life. Hermana Sargent and I felt so content and fulfilled. Wow! Renato also bore his testimony, and the most impressive part was when he said that this is the most important contract he´ll ever sign in his life--this contract with his Father in Heaven. (Renato plays soccer, and is really good so a lot of teams want to sign him on). When he said that, I looked at his mom (who is also a member) and she was absolutely glowing! She must be so proud--her son did this all on his own! He read, studied, prayed, and was converted! The whole process is really incredible. I´m attaching two pictures from his baptism (Hermana and I had a goal to have pictures of Renato all in white and now we do!). One is with just us and Renato, and the other with the bishop, who baptized him.
Something I´ve realized these past few months is that ¨success¨ can be measured by missionaries in a lot of different ways. Yes, baptizing people is definitely success. But other successes are when our less-active families that we´re visiting come back to church, or when hard feelings in a family or between neighbors are mended. In my first interview with my mission president, he told me that his vision for every missionary in our mission is to leave with a deep and abiding testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ and a desire to serve him faithfully. I think the personal conversion of each missionary is the biggest success in the mission field. I can definitely tell that my personality is still the same--I´m still Meredith! But a lot of the desires I had before my mission seem very unimportant now, and some of those desires are now absolute essentials. I´m so grateful for the mission and the opportunity I have to see the hand of the Lord more clearly in my life and in others´ lives. Every day I think about how this is changing my perspective and shaping my future life. It´s amazing!
One more quick experience. Saturday morning we had a third lesson with a woman named Dora. She is Catholic, but is very open to listening about other religions and practices. Last week we gave her a Book of Mormon and marked 3 Nephi 11 for her to read. This chapter talks about when Jesus Christ came to the Americas after His resurrection and taught the people there. The minute she sat down, Dora started telling us how she´d read the chapter first once, then twice, then three times. She said she felt something so powerful and beautiful that she couldn´t explain and she wanted to read more. Wow! What a testimony of the Book of Mormon! It was a testimony to me that if someone reads with an open mind and real intent, the Spirit can definitely testify to them that these things are true! We´re going to work hard to get her to come to church this Sunday. She´s golden!
Well, that´s about it for now! A few shout-outs: Emily Parker (wow, can´t believe that´s your last name now! Crazy!)--I hope you and Adam are doing well! Have you found a job yet? Love you and think of you often! Ben, Marcie, and Melanie--Thought of you all the other day and hope all is well as your new little one arrives! Is it a girl or boy? I would love to see pictures! Jon and Megan--Have you gotten married yet? Hope all is well! Megan, I´m so excited to meet you after the mission! Miss--Hope your first week of married life was awesome! Can´t wait to hear all about it! Tahl--Love you tons! Hope all is going well with your job! How does it feel to be a bonified therapist now? I wish I had your skills because some days I could definitely use them!