CONGRATULATIONS Anthony and Kailey on the engagement. That was so neat to read a letter from you Anthony and sounds like the trip was great to Italy. There is a letter coming your way.
This week was a busy one. The new area has a ton of work to be done. There are only 2 Priesthood holders active in the Branch as of now. The Branch President and the Elder´s Quorum President. They are returned missionaries. I think I may be older than the Branch President, but I haven´t asked yet. The Elder Quorum President´s wife is the Relief Society President. They are a great family and have been an immeasurable help this first week. They have prepared many families and individuals to teach, and we haven´t met all of them yet. But there are many people who have already been to church a time or two and are waiting to learn more. The town of Vera Cruz has about 8,000 people in it. We have really one worked on 3 streets and have been very busy teaching and inviting others to pray about the message God sent us with. The members of the Branch were so excited to learn that they would be getting missionaries. They are very supportive and are helping us as much as they can.
I am enjoying my new companionship. Attached is a photo of myself and Elder Keesling. He is from Arizona. He has also lived in the Dominican Republic, Germany, Belgium - his dad works for theembassy. His last six months were spent in the mission office being the financial secretary. He only has a couple months left on his mission. He also worked in the Santa Cruz area where I was last transfer. From that time, he has wanted to open up the area of Vera Cruz and his prayers were answered. He is excited to work and anxious to finish his mission strong. I am learning from him daily through the way he invites other to find out if these things are true for themselves, among other things.
I received a bunch of mail at the conference with Elder Holland, I will do my best to respond quickly over the next couple weeks. Thanks to all for the support and thoughts. The conference was powerful. We were instructed about the wonderful plan of salvation that we have knowledge of. The possibilities of progression, knowledge, and family that were made available as a result of the Fall of Adam and Eve as well as the infinite blessings available as a result of the Atonement, including the chance to return to live with God and have eternal life in His presence. He explained in such simplicity and power which leaves no room to doubt about the reality of this plan and the need for modern day prophets to help us, God´s children, learn these things in clarity and without the doubt of ``which man do I want to pay to receive knowledge about my Creator?´´ Being able to shake his hand and learn from a modern day Apostle of Jesus Christ was a special moment and confirmed the reality of the calling he has.
Yesterday I didn´t email because it was a holiday - day of the worker. They have a lot of holidays here. There will be many more to write about I am sure, including the day of the children eventually.
As I continue to develop as a missionary, I am learning about the necessity of inviting others to change. We know that we all need to change in one way or another to be prepared to answer to our Heavenly Father for the way in which we acted during our mortal life on this earth. This process of changing, or repenting, is a process of love and hope. To me, one of the best explanations of the feeling of repentance is in Alma 36:21. There truly is no greater joy than to feel our physical actions come into alignment with the spiritual desires that not only we have, but that God has for us as well. I hope to develop this attribute more in myself as I learn to align my daily choices to be that of the will of God and not my own.
With love and charity,