"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." 2 Nephi 31:20

Monday, December 23, 2013

So Great Faith (Romero Contreras Family)

First read 3 Nephi 19:35-36

This one just may be a story you get at it's fullest. It is the story of the Romero Contreras Family; of Maribel and her three kids: Brando, Abril, and Lorenzo.

We first met them because 10 year old Lorenzo had grown curious of the church seeing as his uncle was the owner of the building the Church rented to have it's services. So, one day, he called up his uncle to pick him up so he could go. And so he showed up. Seeing as the congreagation here is so small, Lorenzo stuck with hsi uncle throughout almost all the services, even in the most boring of adult classes. And so we met Lorenzo.

As good missionaries to a new area, we quickly found out where he lived and got to know him a bit more. We even got to meet his mother. His father had passed away about 9 years earlier due to a sudden heart attack leaving Lorenzo fatherless at just one year of age. After talking a bit with Lorenzo and his mother a bit, we quickly realized we had our work cut out for us and Lorenzo's jitters often interrupted prayers and lessons. Haha. Let alone that the Lorenzo let us know very clearly every day we passed by that his mother was not going to let him be baptized. And he said it right in front of her face. 

So, we used something that Stake President Stock was very clear to me about as he set me apart as a missionary. He shared with me:

 41 No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood, only by cpersuasion, by dlong-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
 42 By akindness, and pure bknowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the csoul without dhypocrisy, and without eguile
 43 aReproving betimes with bsharpness, when cmoved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase ofdlove toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
 44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of adeath.

We really felt the power of the Spirit as we taught each lesson. We went a lot slower. We had a lot of patience. And just maybe for that, we have grown to love this family just a bit more. Slowly, Brando, the eldest of all the children, decided he would join in on our lessons. We invited them to pray to know that what we were teaching was really true. We left all we could for them to do so that they really could know it. So that they could feel it. 

Shortly thereafter, Brando had recieved his answer it was true, Lorenzo as well, and the Mom still skeptical. The secret is, is that she has not been doing the homework. We still didn't have permission to baptize Lorenzo even though he had a goal date set. So, we attcked that point. But not with harsh words, rather with the Spirit of God. We were able to share the scriptures in a way that they spoke to her personally. I think it may have also helped that we finished off the lesson with Christ's own words when he said:

 16 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little achildren to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. [Luke 18:16]

By teaching in this manner Maribel has been able to feel and recongize the Spirit often in our lessons. And for that reason, even though it has cost us just about a month of every day work, she came to church for the first time yesterday. Her daughter, Abril, just recently got back from college a week ago and has decided to be baptized as well with all the good things she is hearing from her brothers.

They've given up coffee altogether for about 3 weeks. A substance that they took in daily. They gave it up cold turkey. For reference of how we managed that one see Romans 14:20-23. "Whatsoever is not of faith, is sin."

If you would've asked Maribel's children -- who know her best -- if they would have ever seen their mother making these changes, they would have called you a liar. In fact they told us that it would happen, but in a very long time. 

So, what changed? Why did this family come this far, and how have they been able to do it? I say unto you, "so great faith have I never seen..." All that we have done is help them feel that it is right, and they do it. 

And that is why the three children will be baptized this January 11th. And we'll be working so that Maribel feels it by that day as well. 

I have never seen the Spirit work such great miracles in a family. All it takes is faith. 

May you have a great Christmas season and keep your faith in Christ always, that he might always work miracles in your life.

Con mucho amor,
Elder Andrews
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