This week was just kind of brutal to be completely honest, but also so amazing. I am finding that the harder we push ourselves spiritually, the more the devil is allowed to beat us down using the wicked around us. He tempts us with all his power and I think the two things I learned this week are 1) the devil is a real being who is set on destroying me, 2) God is just as real and infinitely more powerful.
We had three other people accept baptismal dates and a few more people talked to us in the street out of nowhere asking to hear what we preach. We are so excited to be teaching these people and to work together with the members to help them understand what we teach. We have also helped to reactivate four families these past couple weeks and we had almost 65 people in sacrament meeting this week as opposed to the 30 we had when we first got here. We are changing this area slowly but surely.
As always, success comes with trials and tests of our faith and will power. Cristobal did not get baptized and it looks like it might be a while before he feels ready. We’ve had people reject us so hard-core, I almost could do nothing but laugh. We knocked on one door and the guy slammed it in our face after swearing at us and saying things about Joseph Smith I could barely understand. My hand happened to be in the door when he slammed it and it basically shredded my hand. It bled for so long and is now the color of a nice chocolate pudding pie. Another day we knocked on a door and a super nice old lady answered the door and was about to invite us in the house. Out of nowhere, some guy came up and started yelling at us and told us to leave and never come back. I said, “Very kind of you. Have a nice day you two.” This prompted him to throw stuff at us, and try to fight me.
Although I think my defining moment this week was when we were walking down a street in the ghettos on our way to the house when I noticed my shoe was untied. I knelt down to tie my shoe in front of a house where a guy was washing his super nice Audi. He had taken off one of the tires and it was still on the jack. I looked up and all I said was, “Hello sir,” and kept tying my shoe. He picked up his bucket and dumped all the water on me over the fence then slammed the bucket down on my head. I stood up slowly and looked at him through the fence. I noticed the hose had wrapped itself around the car jack and I was standing on the other end. All I had to do was slide my foot backwards and his expensive car would come crashing down. He noticed the same thing and his eyes got super big. I could almost literally feel Satan pushing my foot with all his might to get me to do it, and the thing that scares me most is I wanted to do it.
Dripping wet in my now ruined shirt and tie and with blood running down the side of my head from the bucket, I bent down and picked up the hose, and handed it to him. I told him, “You should be careful with that car jack, they are not always very stable.” Then I just walked away. If I had not walked away, Elder Frausto and I would not have received the spiritual prompting that we had immediately afterwards. It led us to visit a young woman that we hadn’t seen in like three weeks. We arrived and she opened the door then just cried when she saw us. She had just been about to commit suicide. She had the letters written and the noose was tied but then she said one last prayer. The moment she said amen, we knocked on the door and we were able to help her and get her the professional help she needs. She is now coming to church and is a happy, happy person.
I share these experiences not to scare you guys, but to show you that GOD IS REAL. He is protecting me. I never feel scared or unsafe. Things are going to happen but I invite them to happen because I KNOW without out a doubt that He loves me and has my back. He just needs someone brave enough and faithful enough to do what He asks. I will gladly be that person even though it requires experiences like these. They are hard and sometimes hurt. There was a night this week where I sobbed into my pillow for about two hours while I prayed and begged for strength and success. Elder Frausto just left me alone and let me get it of my chest. I felt so crappy when I finally laid down. I was about to close my eyes when I had a feeling that I cannot describe. It was the absolute love of God. Elder Frausto told me the next morning that he could hardly sleep because of the light that surrounded my bed the whole night.
God is so real. He loves you so much. Pray every night to be strengthened by Him and to feel that love. Be ready to do the things He asks of you. You do not have to be afraid because your are in His care. I bear my testimony that these things are true.
I love you all. Remember Christ in these weeks that come.
Elder Aidan Rich