Monday, November 24, 2014

There is so much joy

I got to interview, and see baptized, two really inspiring hermanos this week. Rafael is a really simple guy, with a simple testimony and a humble drive to stay on the right path. He had to give up a lot of things and begin to live a lot of new commandments, and even leave different church, to follow Jesus Christ.

 Rolando is a single parent of six kids who really genuinely wants to turn his life over to God. He told me about what happened when the hermanas challenged him to ask Sundays off work. He and the hermanas began fasting and he went to work in the morning. His co-workers offered him bread and coffee and basically forced him to take it. Through his mind went the words "the hermanas will never know. It doesn't matter. God will never know" With prayer he was able to refuse, and went the whole day without it. That night, the hermanas said he could eat, but he sat down to read the Book of Mormon, then fell asleep, and ended up finishing the whole 24 hours on accident. He soon went from never having one Sunday off, to having every single one off. I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. Ever since that day Rolando has been certain of the truthfullness of the Gospel. He ended up actually asking me to baptize him, which was an awesome experience.

Last night Hno Caetano (de Uruguay!) promised to keep his talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost short, knowing how nervous Rolando was for his special moment. As he began to end his testimony, just seconds before the baptisms were to happen, we all heard a loud slurping sound come from behind the curtain. Yep, the font had been draining. Hna Shannon jumped in the water and replugged it, and we sang a few extra himnos and then the moment came. I just about had to push Rolando in. After a few deep breaths he stepped into the font, soon to come out beaming. It was a really great service, despite all sorts of mix-ups and problems. We felt the Spirit.

Well I'm glad I was able to see the other missionaries in our district succeed. We are planning on baptizing our own investigator, Cristina, on December 14. She is awesome. She is humble and thoughtful and wants to know. It's too bad I won't be able to teach her, because I'm getting moved out of the Harbor after just 6 weeks here. I guess we'll see what happens. I know that there's a lot of work to do, no matter where God sends me. I know there is so much joy we can feel, and so much good we can do if we will just put what we want on hold and listen to our Father's still, small voice: through the consequences of our actions, through His servants, and more than anything through the Holy Ghost. 

Elder Decker

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We've caught the Family History bug

November 17, 2014


Monday the zone leaders astounded us by shoving six Mexican bounce houses into our tiny carpeted gym and making us cotton candy for zone p-day. 

Tuesday we were able to help two (literal) sisters from the ward. [One woman] (who was just baptized this year) and [her sister], get to "el centro de la historia familiar." After the normal battle we all go through for about 30 minutes to get logged in (Satan's last line of defense), Elder Petersen helped them begin searching, and they soon found their father. He had died when they were young, and his sisters immediately disowned the fatherless family. Their whole life they thought he was from one Mexican state, when in reality he was from another. Not only were they shocked to see him come up so soon, but they found his parents attached to him, whom they never met, AND the temple work had already been completed in Mexico back in 2000! They just cried as they felt a big pressure lifted from their shoulders. It was powerful to see these two little hermanas have an significant, spiritual experience on their very first time using FamilySearch. In fact, one sister told me it was her first time in front of a computer in her life. It's not over yet. Their goal is to find and baptize their mother, then to get sealed to their parents. The Estrada family caught the Family History bug this last week as well, Saturday they invited us over for Guatemalan tamales which are amazing. 

We had a great member-filled day with meetings, church (lots of investigators!) eating with Bishop, a funeral, then Ramiro's baptism. I got to interview him on Wednesday and was really impressed by his testimony. He didn't know who President Monson was, but said he would believe he was a prophet based on faith, I gave him my Liahona so he could find out for himself.  

When I felt that blessings were being held back from me that I deserved this scriptures put me in place:

Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?

I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.

Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.

I realized I must do God's work His way, not mine. He will bless me for it, even if I don't understand all the reasons why:

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

love y'all

Elder Decker


God really does answer prayers

November 9, 2014


We went to the same Hispanic Health fair Saturday that we did last year. I helped with the 5K and spent about two hours just standing on the side of the Bayou watching downtown Houston's trash float gently by. Without my scriptures, the phone, or anyone to invite to come unto Christ I tried to recite just about everything I've ever memorized on my mission, and sang all the Spanish himnos I know and just relaxed. It was a good thing. I even got a free flu shot out of it. 

I had another baptismal interview again Wednesday. He was a repeat from two weeks ago. When I asked him if he believed Joseph Smith restored the Church and Gospel of Jesus Christ, he said firmly: "No. Jesus Christ restored His Gospel." This man has an incredibly strong faith, and is very dedicated to it. He never stops quoting the Bible, and wants badly to be baptized. He believes the Book of Mormon to be the word of God, and that Joseph Smith is a prophet, but also that there are many prophets, churches and books from God. He couldn't believe that God had one true Church. What he really lacked was revelation from the Holy Ghost, a testimony about the Book of Mormon that comes not because it teaches things compatible with the Bible, but because it stands alone as an evidence of God's love for us and proof that He communicates with us and because He can tell us if it is real or not. 

The sisters prayed and fasted and taught him again Friday with President. He called them the next day and said it had all come together for him. God really does answer prayers.

love you all!

Elder Decker

Monday, November 3, 2014

Family History is the answer


My companion and I are on a family history high. That's what we talk about with everyone, I'm sharing the "My Family" book that you helped me make (and that you are in...) with everybody! It's a lot of fun. I haven't found anyone to take to the temple, which is the challenge I've taken, but I've fixed a couple errors in our egregiously large tree. . .

Our ward, Galena Park, needs a whole lot of love. Every week 70 different members take turns coming. We were sad to talk to one hermano, who we thought was strong, who told us that "church is just a building," and that he'd leave the next time he was offended again. One thing we're doing now is contacting every "active" member who misses church every Sunday they miss. It's not about badgering, it's accountability and love. I had a great chat last night with hno Vargas last night about family history yesterday after he had to work on Sunday. He seems excited to do his own and we'll be with him at the family history center (which we are really blessed to have in our own chapel!) tomorrow. I think Family History is the answer. Who can't do it without naturally doing everything possible to get to the temple? Who can do temple work and deny the restoration? Who can serve and love the dead without serving and loving the living? The prophets and apostles have pointed us in this direction for a reason, so that's what we hope to do for these people.

On Saturday we found Jesus, a "lost sheep," and his wife Elena. We showed them "Mi Familia" and talked about family history, and they asked about a thousand questions about: if we ride bikes at night, why aren't we paid, when we talk to the family and a lot of stuff we get from people who actually care about us. We had the opportunity to share with them why we do missionary work AND why we do family history: So that everyone can have an eternal family made possible by Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel. It's pretty cool. I know it is real. And they gave us a big bag of Texas pecans. 

Halloween was pretty fun, the hermanas helped a lot with district mtg, we got some time to do family history, hna Concepcion fed us, we got to ride down Mendez street and take a video of the enormous dog, then we were in by 7.  

The new shed impresses. But if you lived in Houston you'd build an apartment building back there. 

Elder Decker