This was week was so absolutely amazing! First of all, Ezra was baptized and confirmed! The baptismal service couldn't have been more perfect and the confirmation in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday was probably even better than the baptismal service. I've been waiting so long (about 6 months) for Ezra to finally be baptized and I'm so grateful for the chance that I've had to be here to actually see it happen. Ezra was so excited for this to finally happen and his family was probably more supportive than I've ever seen them before. During the baptismal service, our ward mission leader (who we had a few conflicts with on when Ezra should be baptized) said that Thursday was the exact right time that he should have been baptized and that the Lord was very happy with him. Hermana Shepherd and I were absolutely thrilled and touched especially all of the hard work, prayers, and tears that were involved in getting this boy baptized. When the bishop welcomed him into the ward, he talked a lot about how those who go through the most trials in life have the most in store for them. When Ezra was young, he had a lot of health problems that the doctors didn't think he was going to survive, but he was able to pull through them. He still has a few problems, but his faith and his desire to come closer to Heavenly Father are helping him to fight the adversary. Now that he's baptized and confirmed, I know that he'll be able to accomplish so many great things with even more help from our Heavenly Father. He's going to be such a great example to his friends, but most importantly to his family. Many of the comments that were made at the service revolved around the temple and how it's the next step for him and his family. When the bishop confirmed him and gave him the gift of the Holy Ghost, he mentioned also that he would serve and mission and get sealed in the temple someday. Being able to see the blessings of baptism in his life has strengthened my testimony of the power of it and of the Holy Ghost as well.
It was kind of funny because in Ezra's baptismal interview which was on Tuesday, when Elder Atkin (our district leader) asked him if he committed any serious crime, he answered no at first, but then was all like, "Wait! I killed a baby chicken!" We all got a pretty good laugh at that one!
Yesterday, at church in the Spanish branch, the boyfriend (Leo) of one of the young women (Nancy) came to church with her. We were so excited especially since we had no idea that he was planning on coming. We've been teaching him when we've been able to and when he's been available, but this is the first time he's ever come to church. It was even better because he stayed for all three hours AND for the baptism of Jose Tun (the other hermanas' investigator/recent convert) after church. When we talked to him afterwards, he said that most of the questions that he came with were answered and that everything made a lot more sense now that he had actually been to church and a baptism. It was such a miracle!
This week, we were also able to start teaching the daughter of one of the members (Sister Clonts) in the English ward. Her name is Charlotte and she's 12-years-old. She's been wanting to be baptized for a while, but her dad (her mom's ex-husband) didn't want her to be. About two weeks ago, he finally said that he didn't care if she did or not, so her mom came up to us and told us to come over and start teaching her. We had such a great lesson with her and the spirit was so strong. Sister Clonts bore her testimony many times throughout the lesson and I could tell that Charlotte could feel the spirit and really does want to be baptized. We haven't set her with a date yet because she wants her older brother to baptize her and she doesn't know when he'll be able to come and do it. Hopefully, we'll be able to find out tonight at our next lesson with her.
Hermana Shepherd and I had the chance to listen to a talk entitled "Teaching by the Spirit" by Elder Cook from the Seventy. It was really inspiring and it helped me realize not only how I could better invite the spirit when teaching, but also how I can be a much better teacher when I don't focus on what I'm actually saying. I need to let the Spirit guide me and try to be as worthy as I can to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.
I've been a little sick again this week, but this time only with a head cold. I've been really congested and had some pretty bad headaches, but they've been getting better. It's not nearly as bad as last time, but it's still be hard to working with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. As a zone, for the past two weeks, we've been able to study more about the enabling power of the Atonement and how it can aid us in the work. Over the past transfer and a half, I feel like the Atonement has been even more prevalent and has had a stronger influence in my life than it ever has before. I can definitely feel the hand in the Lord everyday helping me to get better and pushing me to keep working. I know, though, that with pain and suffering comes immense blessings (aka Ezra's baptism) and a lesson learned.
On a funnier note, yesterday, in the branch, the former President Parra (aka Hermano Parra) told me that while his wife was getting ready in the morning, she kept asking him if her outfit looked okay and he replied that she looked great! In his words, "forget looking good, you look great!" She then proceeded to ask their 9-year-old son, Josh, who happened to be in the room, what he thought. He said, "You look good mom. You look really good. You look like Sister Halliday!" When Hermano Parra told me this I busted up and he told me that he was shocked at what his son said, but it still cracked him up too! No big deal, I have a nine-year-old as my secret admirer! :)
I've been so grateful to be able to serve here in Moorpark these past five transfers and work with the amazing people here. Everything that has happened to me here has helped me to become a better missionary and more prepared servant of the Lord.
Thanks so much for all the love and support! Until next week!
Filling the Font!
Ezra with us at church!
Ezra, the cool kid!
Ezra gave us flowers!
Our new bracelets!
Ezra's Baptismal Program
Ezra's Baptismal Program