Dear friends and family,
Boy, this is it...
I don't have much to say, really. I'm just full of gratitude right now. It's been two years full of struggles and pain. My body is tired and ready for some rest. But my spirit has grown and developed more in the West Indies and wants to stay here. As it says in Helaman 6:3, "The people of the church did have great joy because of the conversion of the Lamanites, yea, because of the church of God, which had been established among them."
The fruit of my labors have brought me more happiness than I thought could be possible.
Yesterday as I was reading in the Book of Mormon, I was in Alma chapter 15 and I read in verse 15, "the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins." I thought to myself, "Why?.. Why did Alma chapters 8-15 consist of the preaching of Alma in this city?" In Alma 8, he got rejected in Ammonihah and left, but the Lord sent an angel and commanded him to go back. So he "returned speedily to the land." Why did he spend so much time, persecution, and efforts in writing about it all if the people remained so hard? He could have been in Sidom all along where people were humble and converted easily to the gospel! The answer I came up with is this...
It's not about the masses. It's about the individuals. He was able to convert two people during this time that ended up becoming some of his greatest friends and fellow-laborers: Amulek and Zeezrom. It took a lot of pain, a few visits from angels, the grace of the Lord, the influence of the Holy Ghost, and some serious repentance, but these men changed.
I'm so grateful to have been able to serve the last two years of my life in Louisiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and St. Maarten. I'm so grateful for all the people I've been able to meet and the lives that I have seen changed. I received wonderful news this morning as I was told that down in French Guiana, Maria (who was baptized a few months ago) was able to see her husband, Valdir, get baptized as well. And this Saturday in Martinique, Pierre-Louis and his wife Wilta are getting baptized. What a wonderful way to finish off my mission!
The baptism for Ronald this past Saturday was amazing. I had the privilege to baptize him, and Elder Broadbent got to confirm him a member of the Church. I wish you could have been there as he bore his testimony after the baptism. It was so simple, yet so sincere, and so special. He was glowing.
I speak for myself, Ronald, and all of my friends here in the West Indies when I say that WE know that Christ lives. WE know that He has restored his Church upon the Earth today through a prophet. WE know that through the Gospel we can find eternal happiness. There is no other way. The Spirit has touched us and WE know that God loves us. These things are true and "WE know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2).
I love you all so much. I can't wait to see you all and continue to tell you about the things I've learned and the testimony I have gained. I'm so excited to come home and tell you how much I love you, in person. Soon we will be as the people of Nephi, "gathered together... round about the temple... in the land of Bountiful; and they were marveling and wondering one with another, and were showing one to another the great and marvelous change which had taken place" (3 Nephi 11:1).
I love you all. See you soon!
Signing off in St. Maarten,
Hurrah for the West Indies,
Hurrah for the Gospel,