Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Email

Merry christmas everybody! Okay so here's some awesome news, on christmas we get to watch two movies and so we are all gonna watch the lakers versus the heat game hahah! And then we are gonna watch "despicable me" with our recent converts the Ramirez who are doing soo amazing. I will tell you about them later. But that wasn't actually the good news.....The news, is that on christmas we got permission from mission president to SKYPE you guys!!! so not onyl will we get to talk but we will get to see eachother haha how sweet is that!!! Ahh man i can't tell you how pumped all the missionaries were to here that haha. I'm pretty sure it will just be for an hour which is fine, but it'll be cool to see you guys so make sure you gyus have a skype account and get that business all set up nicely. maybe even do a few tests??? You can use the downstairs mac or my laptop if you want, it's up to youuu.

So yeah i am super excited for that. Our tree is looking awesome with lights and decorations and we have a few little packages under the tree. i can't wait for the two that are coming this week too. I was superr excited to hear you sent the young men christmas music. yesterday at church the choir did a chirstmas program and it just was soo awesome! There's a couple hear that majored in music something at BYU and they together run thechoir and play the piano they are so awesome. But it just made me want that music even more becausehose snogs are so awesome. That was one of my favorite things to do at church, sing that christmas program.

This past week was great!! We have been doing a lot more finding and just trying to open up our teaching pool for next transfer. It's hard for puertas too because he is leaving this area where he has been for 6 months and we have some awesome families here and so it's just like everytime we see one of our stud families, it's kind of sad but we really are staying focused and we feel really close to one another too. We have been teaching with more unity and i just feel more confident with him. Instead of feeling like he will judge my spanish and stuff, i feel like he will just have my back instead of critique me ya know? It's really good and i love the guy to death. It's gonna be sad to see him go next week. But we go on.

yesterday at church, Alejandro received the Holy Ghost, AND the priesthood. Which is huge because on Christmas three people and hopefully four are getting baptized. 2 of them are from the other spanish elders. A girl named stacey is getting baptized. She is Alejandros sister and we have been teaching her for a long time, (since i got here). She is gonna be baptized and even came to church yesterday for her 2nd time which is a requirement. So now Alejandro will get to baptize her after being baptized just 2 weeks before her!! how awesome is that! That is seriously how this work should be though. Alejandro even came out with us to a lesson and gave an awesome testimony. We actually are teaching the lady that lives right under us in our apartment complex hah, but he came with us and gave an awesome testimony and then after we left, he goes, "I think she will be baptized, i could just see it in her eyes when i was talking to her" HAHA the guy is so awesome!! He is down to share this gospel with his friends and family too, it is just great. Even his Dad came to his baptism, and to church yesterday and he has turned down missionaries before too. So this christmas will be aweseom to have a big baptism. That's a real "white christmas" :D and the way it should be.

This past week we had a cool little event at the stake center. It was a live nativity where volunteers got dressed up and just acted out different scenes from the time of the Savior's birth. They had a real camel and sheep and donkies and everything. Inside there was live music, creche displays and food and coloring. There was just a ton of stuff and it was really cool. for it was alright, we couldn't proselyte or anything but our ward mission leaders wife brought one of her friends and daughter, who i got to know pretty well and was kind of their tour guide throughout the event so things went well with them and who knows what else will happen from it. that was really cool though.

I want to tell you about the Ramirez really quick too so that there are no bad thoughts about them anymore. I will admit i was super frustrated with them a few weeks ago, but the turn aroudn has been maybe even more incredible than when they were baptized. The dad went and talked to president murray and straightened things out with what he did, and the parents are doing so well. They were having major marital problems but now they are so close and they just talk to eacho ther differently and it's awesome! i mean serious,ly, it is like night and day from before. We took jose out with us somewhere, and he's like wait i forgot omething, and he just goes and gives his wife a kiss and then we leave. It seriously is so cool to see this change. Jose has been reading too and last week Alma the mom was just having breakdowns because neither of them have a job and their kids were asking whythey didn't have any presents under the tree. She was just havinga hard time and so Jose would be like okay Alma let's just go read the Book of mormon for a little bit. And they would go read and feel better. It just makes me soo happy to see them happy. They even got a few little work opportunities and were blessed with a little christmas money from a mystery source that allowed them to get some presents for their kids. Jose last night showed us what he got them and you should have seen his face. He was soo happy to give each of his kids jsut one cool present. It was pretty humbling for me when i would think of our christmas' in the past. It was just another reminder that it's not about the presents but HIS presence. I love this time of year. Last night we were at their house too having a late dinner and Alma had one of her friends over (they are like 35 hahah) and she brought all her kids and we had a conversation about the gospel. Alma's friend Miriam, said she has been looking for a church that fits just for her. She even got emotional sharing different stories of why she believes in God and things, it was just a spiritually powerful night and then to hear alma and jose bearing little testimonies here and there was jstu amazing. It was such a blessing to be there last night and the true spirit of Christmas was there as we talked of the Savior.

Speaking of the true spirit of Christmas, we had an awesome zone conference this past week where we got a lot of instruction on how we can better ourselves and things, and then the 2nd half was all edifying ha. President had some missionaries stand up and bear their testimony of the savior Jesus Christ. A funny little story though real quick. President calls out a list of missionareis to go share their testimony, and i'm thinking he's gonna call me!!! and my heart started pounding hah. But at the end of his list, my name wasn't called. But while i'm sitting there my heart continues to pound, and i'm thinking man i have to get up and share it with all these missionaries. But i wouldn't dare get up in front of everyone haha, i just thought out in my head, my mission president standing up again and calling me to go up there as a last minute addition. My heart continued to pound and the last missionary that was asked to share, sat down. Then president stands up again and asks five more missionaries to go and he calls me LAST haha. I don't know why but it was a little miracle that i saw. It wasn't even that i needed to share my testimony soo badly, but i knew that my heart was pounding for a reason, and then when president called my name it was just kind of like hah, the holy ghost works in both of us :). it was just kind of funny. It was an awesome zone conference though.

Sorry this letter is so short. I don't know i feel like i just get so exited for this weekend that i can't even think of what else happened hah! A lot of good things are gonig on here in Salem though. I'm getting less and less nervous for Puertas to leave cause i know that Heavenly Father will prepare me and my companion to continue HIS work. If it was our work, then i would have need to be worried, but its not. The spirit has been so strong this season and this week. Yesterday was seriously sooo powerful. Just going to church and partaking of the Sacrament whic has taken on so much more meaning, and listening to the powerful music, andbeing able to use my priesthood and give alejandro the priesthood was just amazing. I'm serious yesterday was so powerful and witht he Ramirez too. What a day! That is the best feeling when you go to bed, knowing that you worked hard all day, and that things just went right!

It has been really cool for me to dive into the christmas story too. In luke and even 1 nephi 11, there are some cool things that as i read them over and over, you just pick out different things. There is so much to the story that we don't even think about. I like to just think of the Savior, born to be King. In essence, we are all born to be kings and queens. We must engage our selves in things that spiritual kings and queens would do. We must remain worthy of that title, because one day it will be given to each of us if we are prepared and worthy.

I also have been thinking a lot about the christmas songs. That's one of the reasons why i asked you mom to send me the priesthood program ones. But while i was reading the christmas story, in particular these 4 verses

For unto you is aborn this day in the city of David a bSaviour, which is Christ the cLord.
12And this shall be a asign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14aGlory to God in the highest, and on earth bpeace, good will toward men
I thought of the last verse (14) and it just hit me for some reason. I don't know why, but i invite you all, as you sing the christmas carols, really REEALLY think about the words taht you are singing. Think about what they mean and who you are singing about. Then i also invite you to go caroling. I know you guys will :) cause we always do.
I foudn another scripture in doctrine and covenants that was soo powerful. I know i had readit before but just thinking of the life of the Savior, we know that he was born into the world to become our Redeemer. And he literally has suffered for everything. This scripture is very discriptive but soo hopeful and powerful

6If thou art aaccused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to bprison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like cwolves for the blood of the lamb;
7And if thou shouldst be cast into the apit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the bdeep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to chedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of dhell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee eexperience, and shall be for thy good.

8The aSon of Man hath bdescended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
9Therefore, ahold on thy way, and the priesthood shall bremain with thee; for their cbounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy ddays are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, efear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever

I know that these things are true because i have experienced them myself. I know that Jesus Christ is always with us and is as close as we allow him to be. It is up to us. I am so happy to be here on my mission during christmas time. As hard as it is to be away from everyone, there is no other place i would rather be. I know that Christ lives and that this time of year is soo special. It really is because of Jesus Christ. i love you guys soo much and can't wait to talk to you in 5 days what??!?! That's gonna be great! I wish you a good week and continue to pray for each of you individually. Remember why this time is soo important :) I love you guys

MERRY CHRISTAS!!! Love Elder Edwards
oh and by the way, next week i get to give a talk in the english ward about how to keep the spirit of christmas ( i was super happy to get assigned.....) haha but it'll be great and i think i'm gonna see if i can sing one of the christmas songs you sent me mom in sacrament meeting too. love you!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Helloo everyone! oh man we had the best week ever this week! seriously it was so incredible. We saw so many blessings it just was amazing. It was really nice too after the crazy fiascos of last week. For an update though, the Ramirez family is doing wayyy better! The husand is gonna go meet with the branch president and he realized he was way out of line. They have been reading and praying more as a family this week and its cool too cause the little boy named juinior, always reminds everybody in their fam to pray before they eat or before they go to bed haha it's awesome! So they are doing way better. We saw them a lot this week just to make sure they are still good.

Everyone at home sounds great though. I'm so bummed i missed the christmas program man, i would've loved to see it or hear it or sing it! And i was actually wondering if it's not too much to ask, is there any way you could make a copy of some of the christmas songs and send them to me? I wanna sing one in sacrament meeting or something i think that would be awesome! Like the song about the man with m any names, or "a long time ago". There are others i think too but if you can't no big deal. GOod to hear about zach and tyler winning and daddy's crazy travels. I always loved christmas time when everyone even dad could just take break and it sousdn like it'll be a full house for christmas haha i can't wait to talk to you guys! Christmas is gonna be soo awesom ewe have some great plans that i'll tell you about when it's closer :). But i loved the christmas thoughts too mom, realyl inspiring and just uplifting that make me smile. I love this christmas time i have just felt soo good!

Okay so now for the events of this week. Ahh i'm so excited to tell you. So on tuesday, we go on splits. I'm with an english elder and we go to teach alejandro. He is the son of a recent convert family that has been way awesome. He is 25 and just really open to meeting with us and taking the lesons. He has shared that he really enjoys reading the book of mormon too. So this time we go and it had been a little while since we had seen him and so we caught up a little bit. Then we finally asked how his reading and praying had gone. He said taht since it had been a while since we had come by ( like 3 or 4 days), he hadn't done anymore reading and started to just feel super stressed cause he doesn't have a job, a girlfriend, and there was just a lot weighing on his mind. But he said he read on monday night (day before we came), and he said it was awesome the feeling he had after he had read and when he was praying. He said for the first time he really focused his prayer on whether or not the book of mormon was true and he said his feelings of stress and nerves just went away and it was like heavenly father was telling him, just don't worry about it. and he said he knew taht the book of mormon was true! WHAT THE!!!??? it was soo awesome just witnessing this true conversion! So we kind of walked him through saying well what does that mean about joseph smith and the church today, and he was just like, it's all true man i know it is. So we set the baptismal date for december 12th (yesterday), and he hesitantly took it cause it was really soon but said yes i will be baptized. Ahh man it was just incredible. And then when we went over the next day, he said he was feeling way better about his baptism and was jsut ready for it, what a blessing from heavenly father!!

Also on tuesday night, we had a meeting with mission president and the stake president in the stake over, and a few other guys concerning the future of another spanish branch. Basically it was just the future plans for the area but a lot of it was still up in the air so basically all that we know is that we're getting another branch in south salem (i'm in west salem). Which is great news obviously, and it's gonna happen in february now. We might get more spanish missionaries here too which would be great. BUT, what i did also find out, is that president macdonald just said that puertas is getting transferred! even though it's 3 weeks away, he was like yeah he's gone so don't even worry about him hahah. he's so down to business i love it. The thing is, we all kind of new he was leaving, but just having pres say it, made it sink in. So i was a little nervous but i'm feeling way better about it now. Daniel sent me a letter too that was pretty motivating that i just feel good now.

Then on wednesday we had presidents interviews. They went really well. Funny story too. We go over to Alejandros who lives with his family, and we have been teaching a lady named stacy (the picture i sent with the little grill that i won in the raffle). She is like 22 and is alejandros sister. She knows all this is true, but she just said, i want to make sure i can go to church and be committed if i'm going to be baptized cause she works on sundays :(. BUT we were at alejandro's going over the baptismal questions and ask him how he wants the service to go. we talked about who would talk and stuff and then we ask oh and did you think of who you want to do it? we explained it could be his step dad, or his cousin, or so on and so on... but when we ask him, he gets a smile on his face and says i want you to do it elder edwards. I was like what?? i thought i didn't understand him when he said it in spanish but i was so honored! It was just a really cool feeling and without being prideful it just felt soo cool to have him pick me. I know taht it has been the Lord that caused his conversion, that gave him the witness that these things are true but it jsut made me feel like all along, i did make an impression on him, and it was just really cool for me. I'm sorry if i sound into myself and stuff but it was just really cool. There's more though, we gather the family to say a prayer and have alejandro announce his baptism, and when he does they asked stacy when they could do it on sunday night. And she was like oh...i can go at like 7 ish. And then they were like "wait, are you getting baptized too?" and she was like SURE! hahahahah i just laugh thinking about it right now! The thing is, we foudn a church for her where she works in portland so she has actually gone to a few sacrament meetings and she was down to be baptized! Talk about the lord working in mysterious ways hahah, it took the family to ask once to solidify a date! That was so funny, but the only problem is that when we went over the next day before her interview, to prepare her, she said she had been feeling sick and went to the hospital. She had a FEW kidney stones inside her and they had to do 2 or 3 surgeries. So we'll wait on the baptism but she is still excited and ready too. That'll come in the next few weeks, i know it.

Ummm, we have been working a lot in independence this week. We met some awesome families and they are progressing nicely. And guess what Katie...we met 2 ladies taht are from the Dominican republic and one from mexico that lives with them!!! Clara and Rosanna are their names and they are soo awesome. The first lesson we taught with them they tell us that they never let [preachers in, they just noticed something different about us and knew we had to come. Then during the lesson the daughter rosanna who is like mid 20's says, i feel a peace right now that i havent felt in the longest time and i just wanted to thank you. And then the member that was with us (Juan Rodriguez the guy that called you mom :D), goes, that is the spirit testifying that these things are true. it was awesome!! They were all asking for their own copy of the book of mormon haha it was incredible. They called us "heroes" and just kept saying how they knew there was something special about us. It's crazy how those that are prepared really will feel of the spirit and know when they are finding the truth. It's just a tesimony to me that Heavenly Father really does prepare his children for the gospel. They are awesome and we went back again with some different members and taught the plan of salvation. It was cool cause i got to really take charge of the lesson, puertas didn't really teach as much as he normally does so not taht that's a good thing but it just gave me some confidence. And then we set baptismal dates with them. Unfortunatly Clara is leaving for newport and won't be back for a while but Rosanna will be here and she has a date for the 25th!! (CHRISTMAS PLANS!! :D).

So she came to church yesterday and seemed like she was doing pretty good. But their testimonies have already formed and they are just like, oh man we know this book is true! Literally they are just amazing and i have never seen someone so prepared! Clara and Kenia (the girl from mexico) will take a little bit longer but that's okay. We have to be patient too haha! Seriously though, they are so awesome.

Other things, we went and gave stacey a blessing at the hospital which was really cool and i got to give a lady in the branch a blessing too. These opportunites jsut remind me of how awesome it is that we have the preisthood on the earth today. It's such a blessing that it was restored through the prophet joseph smith.

On sunday, we had our big day! After church we just went and set up and tried to get as many spanish people to the service as possible (which is not easy!) But when alejandro finally came we got all dressed up and took a ton of pictures and what was cool was that he even took out his earrings. He just has little gauges, but he took them out and just looked soo good. The poor guy was super sick though, he had a runny nose and cough and sneeznig haha but he was a good sport. He took it all really seriously and jsut you could tell he was ready. It was cool when we were walking over to the font, we stopped in the bathroom and said a prayer together and then walked down into the water. I can't tell you how good i felt and just happy for this guy. We have had a lot of time to get to know each other and play soccer and hang out and i just can't tell you happy i felt in that moment for him. It was very powerful. HE MADE IT! ahh man it is just so rewarding when we work and work and work and then it all pays off. Heavenly Father has truly been guiding us to those that are prepared. I wish i could say it was us that has brought this about but really we justinvite people to do stuff, and He does the rest.
Well that was my amazing week. There is more good stuff coming too i can feel it. I feel like usually after really good stuff happens, we are all humbled but im hoping that these people with a date will follow through and we even have another family that has committed to being baptized but just don't have a date. They are hard to get to crhuch too. But i know that as we are obedient and humble we will continue to see the lord's blessings in our lives. This past week has been a really nice spiritual high for me. I know that it was with us as we testifed. Elder Puertas and i have been really close too. Since we found out that he is leaving, it just pushed us a little clsoer together and we are teaching with better unity and i just love the guy. He is seriously an increidble missionary and just loves the work too, he is such an awesome example to me. I have learned so much from him and know that these lessons will help me the rest of my mission.

Anyways, i love you guys so much. Thanks for the emails and the letters and the prayers. I can feel your love and excitement in my joys in the mission. What a wonderful time of year this is, i never want it to end hah! I'm excited to talk to you guys in a few weeks and i am so grateful for you efforts to share the gospel. I was so happy to hear that JP and Andrew made it to the christmas program. I have been feeling strongly that i need to get in touch with John Corcoran again cause it's been a while and i just want to share these experiences with him and give him what we have. thank you for your examples, i love you with all that i am. I know the church is true and i know without doubt, that Jesus Christ lives.
Love Elder Edwards

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ups and Downs

Okay family this week started LAME and then became AWESOME and then yesterday it fell down again but i'm in great spirits! I like hearing about the transition of thanksgiving to christmas at home because we can see it all around here in oregon. I love seeing all the lights and the trees and just how happy everyone is. Let us remember the Savior amidst all the crazy running around schedules that you all seem to have :). Seriously though eve3ryone sounds like they are doing well and mom i did get your stamps thankyou soo much for sednding all those! i never realized how much they costed. I liked your little date with dad in the city too. Some crazy stuff happened this week that i will talk about in a bit that just made me appreciate how close mom and dad are and even katie and jimmy, and daniel and emily. I'll get to that in a little though. The city date soudned awesoem i bet it was great to see all the lights and trees and stuff up on the buildings and stuff.

Oh and brother kinney sent me a letter this week with the conversion story of Chris Lynch. It honestly was the most touching letter and i don't know why but it was so emotional for me to read about Chris. I felt a special closeness to him as i read about the process by which he came to accept the church. This was a kid that i met back in 4th grade at south school and who i knew up until graduation. I have the fonddest memories of him and i and mike kinney hanging out after school at mike's house or even sleep overs we had together. I can't tell you much it meant to me to read about what happened to Chris and to know and hear about his growing testimony. I felt pure joy as i read about his choices as he decided to be baptized and take a huge step closer to returning to his father in heaven. I just love that kid and was soo happy for him. I can't explain it in any other words really. It just made me soo happy i got so emotional reading it during a personal study. And despite the time that i haven't seen him or even hung out with him really, i still know him and have a connection with him that goes way back. It just meant so much to me to know that he had foudn the truth. To know that he had been touched by the spirit of god and had gained his testimony through the efforts of mike and brother kinney and the hand of the lord. What a blessing that was.

Anyway this week like i said started off kind of crummy. I kn ow mom says we are always our own worst enemy but seriously early last week i was just down on myself. I felt like my spanish was really poor and that for some reason it was just so easy to take a back seat to puertas. Even in just talkking to people i found it hard to get the courage to go talk to them. It honestly was just odd the way i was feeling. Then we had a slow day on thursday cause we had weekly planning and basically everyone we had planned to see, just wasn't there. Ahh soo frustrating. but friday, everything turned aroudn on friday though.

On friday morning we have district meeting. I don't know what it was about this particular one, but it was so motivating and it was just exactly what i needed at that time. It boosted my spirits, motivated me, and just inspired me to be better than i was being and to stop beating myself up. There was also a great message that i wanted to share with you that i learned from the meeting. In Mathew 26 in the bible, The Savior after he sings a hymn with his disciples (thanks mom :)) goes to gethsemane with Peter, and two of his apostles. Jesus asks his disciples to stay and stand watch while he goes and essentially takes on the sins of the world. At the most important event and time in the history of man, his apostles fall asleep. When the savior comes back he finds them sleeping and asks, "What, bcould ye not watch with me one hour?" And goes back and prays again. He comes back and finds them asleep again, and then a third time too. But this time, after he has suffered and atoned for all of our sins and feelings and experiences, and pains, he comes and speaks to his disciples again, "Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest". Even though the Savior asks us to do things, like keep his commandments, sometimes we come up short. But here we see how merciful and sweet and compassionate the Savior is as he tells them to, "sleep on, and take your rest".

Anyway i really liked disrtict meeting and then Elder puertas had a meeting for an hour after so i went on splits with another missionary and although we didn't see anyone that we were hoping to see, we talked to everyone body that we ran in to and i even oym'd the manager at pizza hut while we ordered ourl unch there. HA it was awesome at pizzah ut cause we ended up talking for like 15 minutes while our "pzone's" were cooking, But it was just cool to see heavenly father working in me, giving me the courage to just talk to people. Then that night, we went on splits agian. I was with Elder Alderman and Elder puertas was with Elder Wilkes. We had to be in two places at once and they offered to help us out but we were nervous to ask for their help cause the appointment that alderman and i were going to, wasn't super solid. But we go to the apartment complexes and we get out of the car, and are like oh shoot we forgot to say a prayer. So we kind of "casually lean up against the trunk of the car" so we don't look funny praying in the middle of the street. And while we're praying we here people running. And slowly it gets louder and louder adn so finally we say amen and turn around and there are two little hispanic boys that had run up to us. They were super friendly and i'm thinking wow, i've never seen these kids before they must know elder Alderman haha ( i later foudn out that he thought the same thing but with me!). So we are playing with them showing them magic tricks and stuff and they are showing us their rubber bands and silly bands and things, and then i asked them if their mom was home and if they live in these apartment complexes. He says YES excitedly and takes us to his home where we talk to his whole family and set up a lesson for sunday night. While alderman played with the kids in the street, i gave them a quick overview of the restoration lesson and left a pamphlet for them to read and pray about. HA it worked out really well. Then we leave and the little boys follow us, to the apartment where we had an appointment. We knocked their and when he doesn't answer, we are kind of bummed cause he totally flaked on us. But then i'm like wait, there were two boys and we only saw one of their families, so we go back down to where they are hiding behind bushes to scare us and when they jump out we act all scared hah. But we asked the other boy if his mom was home and he went and took us to his home where we foudn his mom, older brother, and dad all there. We ended up sitting down and teaching the whole first lesson with them too! I can't tell you how much of a miracle that was! Not only that but both elder alderman and my spanish felt soo good and both of us have really felt like our spanish understanding has increased and we just felt awesome to have been blessed with increased understanding and speaking abilities. And beyond that, those two little kids that neither of us knew, just happened to get us two new families to teach! It was such a miracle and now i know why we were supposed to set up that appointment with that guy at that time. Even though he wasn't there, Heavenly Father knew that those boys would be playing out in the street, and would find us to bring us to their families. It was soo incredible and just boosted my spirits even more than before! I felt soo happy and just soo blessed to have been guided to those families.

Saturday had some cool things happen too. We went to independence which is like 20 minutes away and did a finding hour. We call it a window of heaven. We pick a street or an area the night before when we are planning and just pray and ask heavenly father to prepare someone in that area to be ready to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ. So on saturday when we went to indy, we got to the street that we had chosen and just started knocking. The first door was an english guy who quickly closed the door but luckily pointed us in the direction of the hispanics. So we knocked two more and then on the 4th, a man named jose luiz answers the door. He was such a nice guy and was telling us how much he wanted to come to chruch and stuff. We gave him an overview of the first lesson and gave him a pamphlet and asked him if he would read and pray about it. Because we don't go aroudn to convince, just to invite others to come unto christ and find out their own answers. Then after talking for about 10 minutes we knock two more doors with no luck and then come to the last door of the apartment complex. I knocked and a lady answers. She doesn't say anything other than "pasen" which means come in. HA so we look at each other smiling and are like SWEET! hah so we go in and teach her and her husband and little boy the first discussion! It was incredible and just such a blessing. I honestly don't know why she let us in. She didn't ask who we were or anything she just said come in. I think it goes to show that the lord really does prepare those who are ready to receive the gospel. Those who are ready will recognize when something comes from Him, and i truly think that in that moment, Maria (was her name), noticed or felt something good about us, and decided to let us in. She was so awesome too when we were teaching she was asking and answereing all the questions and stuff. Her husband was a little bit harder to get to, but he said just that som thigns were going wrong but didn't really tell us what was up. We have a return appointment though and are excited to go teach them again. That little series of events was such a miracle.

Okay now the hard part. Yesterday, church went great. We had some investigators at church and i wnt up with one of our recent converts in the spanish branch who is 12 and we both bore our testimony. The kid is such a stud! His whole family was baptized but right now, he is the only one that is coming. What an incredible testimony he has at only 12 years old. Unfortunatly we didn't see the Ramirez family at church and they said they needed a break from us visiting just for a few days while Jose finds a new job ( he got let go from his job en los pinos). So we hadn't seen them for like 5 days and their phones weren't working so we go there after lunch at like 3:30. We get there and it's just jose, the dad, sitting in the living room trying to fix his speakers, with a beer on the table, and he was trying to play wii. it felt eerie when we got there and the family wasn't any where to be seen. We asked him what was up and he would just say "nothin, what's up with you guys" he was friendly but acting off. Then i went back to say hi to the kids and the mom, alma, and they seemed to be doing okay but alma the mom, said they were all in trouble and had to be in their rooms. So we go back out and talk with Jose and he doesn't say much but he does say, "I need a new life, or a new wife. And if i want a new life, i need a new wife". So we are just like Oh great man, and it just felt sketchy to be there. We asked jose if he would take a walk with us but he refused over and over. We had been there for like an hour just trying to get him to talk with us and tell us what was going on. He was talking but not telling us the situation. And he jsut kept pounding beers too. So we are in the kitchen talking with the kids and he gets the keys and goes into the garage. I'm like no way man he is way buzzed so we run out there before he can leave and just ask "where are you going man". He says just around the corner but that's just waht you say when you are gonna leave and come back in a couple days. We tried to talk with him in there but didn't get much again. When we were running into the garage, alma says that he has been super abusive lately too. So we are now, just want to stay so that he doesn't hit any of his kids or Alma. He starts getting mad at us saying , "i feel like you guys are baby sitting me and i don't like it". We took the keys out of the car too and gave them to alma. So he goes back in his room and shaves his head and his facial hair off. He then asks us to come back to talk. So we go and don't find much out, but he is seriously just acting like a 6 year old and being so frustrating. He was trippy man. Finally we get him in the kitchen and he starts talking. He tells us that he did "something" and that alma just keeps yelling at him to do this and do that. He says she brings up stuf that happened in the past and rubs it in his face and that he can't take her anymore. We takled to him and were like well your first problem is the beer in your hand. There were beers everywhere and he wouldn't stop. He's like well it makes me happy! He tells us al ittle more of the story and then alma comes home with some groceries and more beer. I'm thinking what is she doing?? But they start talking and alma starts to tell a little bit of the story and then jose just starts swearing at her and cussing her out saying if you are gnona tell the story, " you better tell it right", with a few expletives in there. Then she just says no and stops talking. then jose leaves the room and we are like alma what is going on, she just says "i did something wrong by telling jose to do something and i regret it but he won't let it go and it's just all my fault". then jose swears at her again telling her to "shut her mouth". Then he asks her to give him the keys. She says no and he starts eylling at her again to do give him the keys. She just starts crying as she says no but he yells louder and louder until she finally goes into the other room and he just starts screaming at her and swearing and she is like "i'm sorry i'll go to my room i'm sorry" and just ahhh it was sooo aweful. finally we got up and said goodbye to alma and she said please leave or it'll get worse. and then we said goodbye to jose. We said some forceful words to him but i just wish i had stood up and said them when he was yelling. I felt like i should but i just didn't get up and say anything. I feel like it just didn't have the same effect and honsetly that was my biggest regret of the whole night that i didn't get up and stand up for alma. Man it was such an aweful night. We were there for like 3 horus too and jsut trying to help Jose not do anything stupid. It honestly was sooo sad, we got in the car and i just wanted to cry! This family was doing incredible and all of a sudden they start going down hill. It was soo sad i can't even describe it. We just said a prayer and prayed so hard that Heavenly Father would protect each person in that family. We couldn't do anything really. Luckily he didn't hit anybody but it was just super tense! I feel like we did eveything we could though, i just hope Jose quits his drinking cause that's what turns him into this crazy person. It was aweful.

We learned a lot though. the importance of marriage and living the commandments. it really was a learning experience, but i was still soo mad, puertas and i were just shaking we were so mad. Thankfully though we went to dinner with an old man who had taped the christmas fireside so we got to watch a President monson and presidnet Eyring. That was all we had time for but it really calmed our spirits and gave us a renewed hope which was such a blessing. We'll see what happens in the future with this.

Anyways i'm feeling way better today and it was nice to feel close to Heavenly father last night when we were watching teh christmas devotional and then when we had a sleep over with the other spanish missionaries. It was good to have a lot of company and just talk last night, i know everything will work out alright.

So taht was the really crazy stuff taht happened this week. This next week will be interesting to see what experiecnes come. I really am in good spirits though, and am more aware now than ever, that Heavenly Father is mindful of each us individually. Thankfully the Savior has suffered every pain and affliction that we might go through which allows to be healed through him. I know that he lives and that through Jesus Christ we will come to know our Heavenly Father better and return to his presence one day. In the words of President Eyring, "the most meaningful gift i have to give, is my testimony of Jesus Christ".

I love you all soo much and jsut can't wait to hear from you next week already. You mean the world to me and am so greatful for you at this time. Thankyou for you support and your love and your sacrifice for me and others. I love you so much!
love elder edwards