Monday, November 16, 2015

A little Bit More of God's Love

Today I am writing you from outside the Alhambra, an ancient Islamic fortress in the mountains of Granada. We have had to get up really early to be able to get tickets to see the Alhambra as part of our p-day. Supposedly they run out very quickly. But I can't help but be excited. The Alhambra is one of the most famous castles in Spain. It was the key point in the siege of Granada during the Reconquista of Spain by the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella. Needless to say, I'm very excited to go inside today.

It has been quite the miraculous week. Granada is seeing a lot of miracles. Elder Black and I are also sympathizing with Timon and Pumba, as 'our trio's down to two'. Elder McConnaughey finished his mission this last week. He finished really strong and was a great example of how to finish a mission.

As I told you last week, Nelly and Gisel came to stake conference and to the baptism that night. They both loved it. Nelly especially. I told Nelly that if she wanted to get baptized this last week, we would need to have the decision made on Tuesday in order to get everything ready for the baptism. So on Tuesday morning, I am on the phone with Nelly. She told me that she could hardly sleep because of the decision that she had to make. She told us that she would tell us her decision at our appointment that night.

Nelly and Gisel live in a pueblo (small city) called Santa Fe. It's  about thirty minutes away from Granada by bus, but thankfully, we have a car. (A note on Santa Fe. It's called the Pure City, because it was built by the Catholic monarchs to lay siege to Granada during the Reconquista of Spain. Supposedly it has never had the Islamic influence in its structure or building. Completely created from the Catholic tradition.) Man. I love how much history is here. But anyway, back to the story. We went out to Santa Fe on Tuesday and met with Nelly and Gisel. We generally meet in a cafe in one of the main plazas of Santa Fe. This lesson was going to be the three major commandments that we teach before baptism (tithing, word of wisdom, and law of chastity) so we were all silently praying that neither Gisel or Nelly ordered a coffee. It was a huge miracle that they didn't and they ended up getting an warm infusion. (We ordered a cola cao, which is generally for children but it tastes good and reminds me of hot chocolate). Anyway, as the lesson progresses, Nelly began to get a little withdrawn. She finally told us that she had reached her decision. She told us about how she hadn't been able to sleep all night, when she had the thought to open the Book of Mormon and she opened randomly to Mosiah 18. There she read Alma's challenge to the people in that time to be baptized. She told us she felt that it was true. She was silent for a minute then told us she would be baptized on Saturday. Gisel was so happy, she told us she wanted to cry. We told her she should get baptized as well, but she told us she would need a little longer. Anyway, we taught the rest of the lesson, and Nelly, when she heard that she couldn't drink coffee anymore, she protested, "I can't give up coffee!" Then she stopped for a second and said "but if I need to, I will". Incredible. We met his lady my second week in this area and now she has been baptized. In just three short weeks she came to know the Gospel is true, and has desires to live it the rest of her life. We spent the rest of the day on cloud nine, but the rest of the week proved to have a lot more miracles waiting.

Gisel told us that she still was still waiting for an answer until we talked to her a couple of days before the baptism. She told us that she really wanted to get baptized, and then set a baptismal date for herself for the 20th of December! 

So the day of the baptism arrives, and we had everything well planned out. Gisel was going to give a talk about their conversion story. Pepe, the member that had helped fellowship them into the church, was going to talk about baptism, while Elder Black and I had the musical number. We were a little concerned because last week the font didn´t work, and we ended up having to boil water and take it manually to the font, but thankfully, this time it worked. When Nelly got there, it was incredible. Gisele had requested that we play ´We Thank Thee, O God for a Prophet´ as the special musical number, and although I had never thought of that as a baptismal hymn, it set the perfect spirit for the baptism. Everything went as planned. Gisele´s talk was amazing. She really is a great example of being converted. In fact, when she came to church the next day, a lot of the members thought that she was already a member of the church. She is incredible. Nelly gave her testimony at the end of the service which really sealed the deal with how strong her testimony is. I really love her story. She came to Spain only five weeks ago to work on some legal papers. Two weeks into her time here, we met her at the internet cafe. Three weeks from that date she was baptized. Amazing. Really, honestly, I feel so blessed to have been a part of her story. To be her ´Spiritual son´ (which is her nickname for me). She really is an incredible lady, and so prepared for the Gospel. The night before her baptism, she told us she had a doubt/question. She wanted to know what happens to people who have never had the chance to get to know the Gospel. It hit us right there that we had not taught her adequately about the temple. We had a great lesson, and amidst Cola Cao and warm infusions, we all really felt the Spirit.

So this week I just want to say thanks. To my family for all the support that they give me. To my companion for putting up with my horrible attempts at a Scottish accent. To Nelly and Gisele for really showing me what true conversion is, and for helping me see a little bit more of God´s love in my life.

I love this opportunity to serve as a missionary. I do feel it a pleasure to serve Him, and I really do love to obey His command to share this love with all my brothers and sisters. What a wondrous love. What a great day to be a missionary.

Elder Weenig
Elder Black, Nelly, and I
Nelly's Baptism


Detail inside Alhambra

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