We of course had another delightful week! I have seen the hand of the Lord many times in His work and what a privilege it is to be here. It was the best week of my mission!! Last Monday we went to Raleigh's zone activity and we played laser tag together! It is always fun to spend time with all of the missionaries and try to inspire hope and find the one that needs a friend. This mission has been such a wonderful growing experience for me. My favorite part is trying to forget myself, my own stresses, my own trials and look for someone else that needs even more help! The gospel of Jesus Christ is beautiful. :) After that zone activity, we tracted the night away and loved every second of it! Such a blessing to testify of truth. :) Tuesday morning we visited Rich and he was as excited as always! He has a strong faith in Christ and is always wanting to learn more. We had a very spiritually powerful lesson with him as we talked about baptisms for the dead and the doctrines behind it. He had many great questions and we were grateful that the Holy Ghost did such a great job in answering them. Of course the fourth of July was on Tuesday so happy fourth everybody!! Happy Birthday America! We ate dinner with the Salgado family and had a delicious Mexican barbecue. We even ate flan for dessert and it was out of this world!! We ran to the mission office after dinner to finish planning for our zone conference instructions. After receiving more advice from President James, much prayer and thought and deep pondering and studying it out in our minds, we came away with what we felt to be what the mission needs to hear. Wednesday we had our first zone conference and this transfer we are doing our zone conferences in conjunction with our temple trips! That means we get to go to the temple five times! Woohoo!!! :) Our Zone Conference thankfully went very well and the Spirit was very present. Our theme of this zone conference is "The Great Awakening" and we made bookmarks for each missionary in the mission to be able to remember this special time in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission! We have been going through many physical changes in the mission and we are taking this opportunity to also go through many spiritual changes. We desire as a mission to develop a more profound sense of conviction and learn how to bury our pride for Christ. I was very grateful for the instructions given by President James and both of my companions. They are very inspirational speakers. Elder Barlow spoke on visualizing success, Elder Chiu instructed on pay the price and sacrificing to get there, and I instructed on relying on the Lord unconditionally. Many people commented that it was an exciting time in the mission! THIS MISSION IS ON FIRE!!! The Temple was marvelous and following our meetings we came back to Raleigh to preach the gospel! We visited a Taiwanese part member family which was neat because Elder Chiu is from Taiwan! They were very kind, despite the fact that the wife said over a hundred times. "Please come inside for ice cream, but don't share the Book of Mormon!" or "Don't talk about the Book of Mormon!" and even "We don't need to bring up the Book of Mormon, just eat your ice cream!" I of course left a copy for her on the table as we were walking out, but she caught me so I took it back. It was pretty funny, but she'll get baptized, we know she will! We have full faith that the gospel changes hearts! We were blessed to serve the missionaries by doing some office work on Thursday, but thankfully got out in time to go on an exchange with our zone leaders up in Durham. Elder Chiu and I brought Elder Jones to our area and we had a great night together. We did some tracting and taught a few good lessons together! One of which was with Michael! We walked in there knowing we needed to read the Book of Mormon with him, but not knowing which chapter. As Elder Chiu offered the opening prayer I said a silent prayer in my heart that we could receive revelation to know what would be best for Michael. As I prayed fervently, a chapter came into mind that I had previously read twice in that same day! I knew it was our answer and as the prayer ended, I opened the Book of Mormon to where I had my finger sticking in it. It was already on the exact chapter that came to my mind during the prayer! It is amazing to see those miracles in answer to prayers! We read the chapter together and Michael was in tears by the end. It really hit home to him. He thanked us after for the lesson and told us it was a good one. I've never heard him say that before! The Lord truly does provide when we forget ourselves, seek His will, and then act in faith! We had another zone conference on Friday and it went even better the second time. President James's instruction was very powerful, one of the best I think he's ever given! The Temple was beautiful and I learned many things! After the meeting we came back to Raleigh and visited the Rathavongsa boys to get them ready for their baptism! We got everything planned out and solidified and then the following morning, miracles happened! After years in the making, Ryan, Brandon, and Dylan Rathavongsa entered into a sacred covenant with their Heavenly Father to follow Jesus Christ. It was a breathtaking service. The Spirit there was so strong. Sister Rathavongsa was in tears the entire time. We love those boys and are excited for the great things they will do for the Lord! President James wasn't able to make it to the baptism, but we met with him for a few hours afterwards to go over some important things happening in the mission. At the end of the meeting, he lovingly told me that I need to polish my shoes. Haha I told him I am so busy spending all my time tracting that I don't ever have time for that! He laughed and I ran home to polish my shoes. I've repented and they're looking good now! :) We tracted the rest of the night and although it downpoured for three hours straight, we smiled the entire time and had true joy in the service of our God. :) Today was a wonderful day as Ryan, Brandon, and Dylan were not only confirmed members of the church, but also received the gift of the Holy Ghost! They couldn't stop smiling afterward! Their mom even told us that they changed since receiving it! Elder Chiu and I performed a special musical number at the baptism on Saturday and apparently the Bishop liked it so much, he asked us to perform it in Sacrament Meeting! Either that, or he just had an empty spot in the program. Probably the latter. But we performed it again and it went well! We tracted after church and were blessed to find an honest seeker of truth. We met a man named Matthew and he is a Messianic Jew. As we shared the First Vision and the Book of Mormon with him, the Spirit came into his home and he asked us many questions about the Book of Mormon. He wanted to know all about it! What it was, what it taught, where it came from, how we have it, why more people don't know about it, what truths has Joseph Smith restored, etc... We had a wonderful time answering his questions and committing him to read and pray. We believe he will be baptized very soon as he quickly comes to feel that these things are true. We ate dinner with a member in the Raleigh Spanish ward and it was great to see them again! We did some more tracting after dinner and met a man that tried to bash us so hard, it was laughable! We stated our purpose and after telling us that he would never ask God if the Book of Mormon is true, we told him we wished him the best, even loved him, but were going to take our message elsewhere. We ended the week by teaching Anthony and Nicole again. Anthony is amazing, he wants to get baptized so bad! As soon as the divorce gets figured out, he will be ready! He prays for his baptism to come soon and he is one of the most humble people I have ever met. I love my mission brothers and sisters. I never want it to end! I love my area, my companions, and I love the Lord my God! He lives and works miracles according to our faith. Let us be a believing people and show our faith by following Christ daily.
Being blessed with baptisms,