Although my charge is to preach the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, and although I'm a teacher, I'm still learning, and my conversion will forever be occurring.
I want to tell you about one of our investigators, or someone that is interested in learning about the Gospel. His name is Jorge. This is a man, whose entire family are members of the Church, except for one son (who we are also teaching), but none of them go to Church. They have more or less abandoned the one thing that brings the most joy in this life. Really, its ironic. Even though I can't speak the language as well as I would like to, I can tell that my emotion and my excitement, the joy I find in the Gospel, is naturally manifested in the things I say and do, and I'm always trying to make others as excited as I am that they have the truth of Jesus Christ in their lives. Honestly, they're lucky to have it! But they forget. And so this man, Jorge Serrano, has an interesting situation. He was riding his motorcycle drunk one night in the beginning of this year, and he had an accident. Ironically, he is a police officer. But anyway, it's been months, but now, he is not in full health. His body is weak and skinny, he walks and talks VERY slowly, so slowly that even I can understand what he says haha (when he doesn't start to slur his words). He wasn't a respectable man before. But since his accident, he wants to change his life.
While he was in the hospital in La Paz, he talked with some missionaries. And he knew that his wife was a member of that Church. So he wanted to learn more. So we went to house to talk to him (we had already been teaching his son who isn't a member), and sat down. We were asking him some questions about himself just to learn about him, and he got REALLY mad, only with words, because he cant move very quickly. He told us that we aren't police and that we cant ask him so many questions. As missionaries, it is under our jurisdiction to discontinue talking with people about the Gospel if we feel they aren't progressing toward being baptized, or if we feel they are uninterested. So we did that with him. We thought, "Well he just doesn't want to hear this, so we need to stop meeting with him." Although we love all people and want every single soul we see to hear this message, we had to make a tough decision. So we put him in the Old Investigators category, to be sought out by other missionaries later. But we continued to teach his son. So we went to the house one day but his son wasn't there. He and his wife were, so we chatted with them for awhile. We ended up giving them a lesson, and he kept telling us that he wants to change his life and start making good decisions. After we talked for awhile and felt the Spirit strongly together, he agreed to be baptized. Yesterday we were talking with him again, and we said to him, "We know that these things are true. For this reason, we are here, because this joy needs to be shared with all of Gods children. And we want you to know that these things are true." And, that moment, what he said to us in that moment honestly changed my life. He said, "I already know that these things are true." I swear I heard angels cheering. There just isn't anything else, in the world or in the imagination, quite like hearing those words, or quite like knowing that you helped someone find the truth. I will send pictures of him at his baptism after October 26th.
My whole life I had a hard time believing in miracles. I knew that Christ had performed miracles. But I didn't ever see anything that made me believe it in my heart. But yesterday, I witnessed a miracle. And we see them every day. When you choose to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you see miracles every day. We are witnesses of miracles. I'll be honest, I am lousy at Spanish. But in lessons, I speak like I've been speaking for years. Only in lessons. Miracle. There is a promise in the Book of Mormon that says something like, "If you read this book, and you hear about this Gospel, you WILL know that it is true, by the power of the Holy Ghost. But, you must ask God, with true intention, actually wanting to know." I have done this. And I have received an answer. And really, I re-receive that answer every single day of my life, without fail. Miracle. Miracles surround us, they are in the tiny details of your everyday life. We need to choose to see them. The Lord answers prayers. Ask him any question you have, any question of the soul, and He will give you an answer.
I love you all!Elder Ryan Wilkinson
PS - Oh and quick victory story: this morning, I ate an empanada from a street vendor because I felt like doing something stupid, and it's been like three hours, and BOOM, no diarreah. I'm all good down here in the South, stay classy.