Monday, June 30, 2014

Week 47: Guide Me Momently

10 Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
 11 For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him.
 12 And he hath risen again from the dead, that he might bring all men unto him, on conditions of repentance.
 13 And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! [Doctrine and Covenants 18]
How great indeed.  Yes, after weeks through the mill and in the furnace, yesterday came great cause to rejoice.  We caught a break.  And it was the best Sunday ever.  Daresay, the best day of my mission, and Sister Dailey would say the same.  We spotted a rainbow driving between appointments (both of which went amazing) and knew there was Someone out there reminding us how well He keeps promises.
Mall Day!
It was much needed too, because last Monday we went to the mall and I was in Trunk City.  I tried on tons of Maurice, Wet Seal, and Rue 21 clothes (found out I went down a pants size heck yeah) to see what I would look like as a normal person, was pleased with the outcome, took maybe two hundred selfies in fitting room mirrors and secretly yearned for the day I'd get to wear this stuff in public.  Snapping back to missionary mode was difficult,  esp. with the luck we've been having so far, i.e. not much of it.  Our teaching pool has gone down significantly as we've shelfed everyone that's not progressing and not finding all that many, since we ran out of apartments to tract, all's left is richie neighborhoods now.  We were tracting one and Sister Dailey flipped open the Book of Mormon at random, twice, and read these aloud to the great and spacious homes before us.
11And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers.  [3 Nephi 1]
and then
17And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.  [Alma 51]
I mean, we're not like, condemning the opulent or anything.  But these verses gave us little hope for their receptiveness to restored truth.  Don't worry, we knocked anyway.
But then Tuesday came and we were blessed with a member referral.  Sister N's dad was in town, had come to church last Sunday, and Tuesday they texted us asking if we could come over for dinner and a lesson with him in their home.  In case you weren't sure, that's EXACTLY how missionary work is supposed to go.  Members doing the finding and scheduling - not because we missionaries don't want to, but because it's 100% more effective when members do.  This was also the FIRST time in my 11 months and Sister Dailey's 9 months that this has happened to either of us.  But the N family is just that stellar.  So we teach Bro J the Restoration, and it was clear that his life experiences had prepared him for this.  His mind's wide open and he said "I've seen how happy this church has made my daughter's family.  And I'm jealous.  I want that too."  He started reading the Book of Mormon, and I gave him my copy of Our Search for Happiness, which if you've never read it, is a sum up of our beliefs as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, very clearly explained to help nonmembers understand, and written by an apostle, Elder M. Russel Ballard.  If everyone read this book, they'd be converted. No question.  So good.  Bro J came to church again yesterday and the N fam invited us to teach another lesson;  he says something like "God's saved my life more than once, I feel like He has a purpose for me.  I just haven't figured it out yet."  Sister Dailey and I had to bite our tongues from screaming "WE HAVE IT" and instead calmly explained the Plan of Salvation (also known as, the purpose of life.)  He liked it.  He said the eternal family thing stood out to him and even asked about the sealing ordinance.  We explained that that comes after the first covenant: baptism.  He's now on date for August 2nd.  Just as soon as he moves from Virginia to here in Florence.  I am hoping so hard I get to stay here long enough to see it.
We have one other investigator on date for July 26, she's the one with the infant with myriad health problems.  I mean, the constant challenge keeps her helpful, but it also makes it super hard to catch her at home.  We tried a second time to bring priesthood over there for a scheduled blessing, but she was at the hospital with the baby, little guy got sick again.  Such a bummer when people don't have working cell phones so we can find out these things in advance.  Speaking of babies.  The daughter in law of one investigator, the one who was distraught over not having anything for the baby she was expecting, has since delivered and relocated.  Her mother in law had custody of the baby, because apparently taking adderall while pregnant makes your baby an addict and when people find out you also smoke and the baby's father drinks like a fish, they don't let you keep the child until you've cleaned up.  I know, right?  People out here face some heavy-duty problems that I've only read about in books, and even then thought were a dramatization.  But the poor woman gratefully accepted a Book of Mormon, and before we'd even asked, promised to come to church with her older kids as soon as she healed up.  Thing about the Book of Mormon: if she really does read from it every day as we've challenged her, the strength to overcome is a definite guarantee.  No matter how real your problem, that's a promise.  And I'm never happy about anyone having it so hard, but I can't help but recognize that these afflictions prepare people to receive the gospel.  And how great is my joy in the soul that repenteth.
A Golden Investigator!
Which brings us to our dear newlywed less active.  He didn't come to church like he said he would.  Said he'd woken up just not wanting to go.  "I'll be ready in a week," he said.  "You said that two weeks ago," we pointed out.  "I know, I know..."  Really, it's like dealing with a teenager, an unmotivated, hardheaded adolescent.  But ever since I met him five months ago, I've felt a personal responsibility for him, so we've kept going back and going back.  And last night something changed.  First of all, we were bold.  We called him to repentance with a handful of scripture verses and zero shame.  "If ye love me keep my commandments."  "Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance."  With a strong testimony already, he admitted that he knew what was right and that he had to do it now, for himself, for Christ, and for his family.  But then he spilled out his fears.  That the adversary will make him a personal target again.  That the trials will just keep coming and he'll never be able to rest or see the part where the blessings come.  That repentance will hurt and the battle will never end.  So we told him about Liberty Jail.  "My son, peace be unto thy soul.  Thine afflictions shall be but a small moment, and if thou endure it well, God will exalt thee on high."  And in Romans, "For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed."  And Alma, "My soul was filled with joy, as exceeding as were my pains!"  There is peace in and only in righteous living.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ will heal you, if you let it.  No, the challenges will never cease til we're safely dead, and yes the adversary works on us constantly especially the strong ones that he knows had great capacity to do good, but "cheer up your heart and remember that you are free to act for yourself" as Nephi said, because though either route comes with pain, you either serve God all your life and get an unimaginable reward at the end, or serve Satan, get pleasure in the beginning, and end up with nothing at all but torturous guilt.  With Satan, you're falling in holes, with Christ you're climbing mountains.  Both are hard.  But get you to very different places.  Furthermore, an apostle once said that if you could see the legions of angels surrounding and supporting you, you'd never be scared again.  Those include your ancestors, Sister Dailey pointed out.  He smiled at that.  And at one point said, "You feel that?  The Spirit is here.  After all this time, he's still pushing me."  It was there, and it was so strong and so tender, we just sat in silence a minute and reveled in that unearthly peaceful moment.  Then he told us that it had been long enough, that he had to come back now, but that he needed us to see him every day if we could, and call him when we can't, basically to carry him back to the path, moment by moment, until he's found the iron rod again, is reading every day again.  Challenge accepted.  When you get him feeling the Spirit, he's the most penitent person you've ever met.  And how great was our joy in this soul that repenteth.  It's true what they say about missions being both super hard and super worth it because of the immense love you come to have for the people you were sent here for.  He thanked us for caring so much, for putting up with him, and we told him the truth of it, "It's because we love your family and we want it to be eternal."  "So do I," he said.
Our Mission Leader
Sunday morning had me so stressed out, which is normal for Sundays, but while at church, I got this revelation:  "Be present.  Pray constantly, for the Spirit to guide me momently.  The morrow shall take thought for itself."  Whoosh.  What a relief.  Missionary service, and life in general, is overwhelming if you think too far ahead.  You have your goals of course, and you have your desired outcomes, and your plans that include all you have to do, but if you aren't here and now, just the thought is enough to make you want to crawl under a rock and sleep until the second coming.  However, if you take it one day at a time, like President McDonough always says, and think about what you can do now, pray about what you can do now, and then do it, then everything's fine!  Like that one time Friday night when we had 30 minutes left in the day and no one to see, and prayed for someone to minister to, drove into a trailer park, saw a lank youth walk by with a cig in his mouth, said "ok Heavenly Father, if this family isn't home, we'll go talk to him."  Guess what.  The family wasn't there.  So we pulled up next to him, apologized for how awkward this was, and asked if he'd met missionaries before.  He had.  We parked and got out to talk to him, found out he'd been turned off to religion when a girl dumped him for his lack of spirituality and he went institution-worthy near-suicidal over it, but he's since become agnostic of sorts and trusts God, just not religion, and by the way that happened when he was in 8th grade, he's currently sixteen and looks just like Duffin when he smiles.  We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he promised to read it, then said he'd actually recently been considering looking into our religion because his bro told him there was something different about it.  I am always skeptical about promptings I get.  But I have never yet regretted following one.  It's doubly reassuring when Sister Dailey tells me afterward, that she got a prompting at the same time about this kid.  Lesson learned, put off the "what ifs" and when a nudge from the Spirit comes, boldly follow.  Moment by moment, we're guided where we're needed.
Sister Valdez

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Week 46: Time in the Furnace

So you know how one of the big things that kept me from getting married (which I see now was so I would be unmarried at 21 and able to serve a mission) was that few of my suitors were of a suitable age?
Yeah, well, yesterday a fifteen year old boy with shaggy hair asked for my number and last Tuesday the investigator that had come to church twice but still hasn't read the Book of Mormon told us we were brainwashed and then when he heard we get transferred asked how he was supposed to find a wife if we leave.  Both sufficiently insulted and sufficiently grossed out because he's like my dad's age, we got outta there real quick and will not be going back.  Fun stuff, huh?

Bike week proved to be another major test of our faith, as we somehow got way fewer lessons that usual and only one new investigator, despite the total of 25+ miles that we ended up biking this week.  15 of those miles were all in one day.  Sister Dailey is such a trooper.  I don't really know how we did it, except that Healthy habits + Enabling power of the Atonement = Strength and endurance like I've never seen in myself.  When we tracted, only two people accepted Books of Mormon and guess what.  Both had friends that were members of the church.  People with member connections are literally THE ONLY ONES who will speak to us/be nice to us 80% of the time.  YOU DON'T REALIZE HOW MUCH INFLUENCE YOU HAVE.  Speaking of which, do ya'll recall that Elder Ballard in his last talk committed us all to invite one person every quarter to take the missionary lessons?  That's only one per season.  Only four per year.  Easy.  So ah, who do ya'll have lined up for summer?  Can't wait to hear.  Cause I know ya'll are just dying to jump on this, ahem, commandment from a prophet of God.

A tracting miracle, we went back to recontact a man we'd found two days previous who was elderly and probably didn't even know who we were or what we're about, and when we get there, he's not available.  However, we began talking with the woman who answered the door, as we've been counseled to do when a potential is not available, and we eventually discover that she was baptized several years ago, removed herself from church records when she married a man who wanted her to study his faith, has since separated from him, and wants to come back to the church that she knows is true.  i.e. the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  That's us!  Holla!  It hasn't been easy, but we're determined to help.

In M-Hall, we finally made contact with the woman that had a baptism date for May 24 (obviously didn't make it, and then we didn't see her for three weeks) and I breathed an enormous inner sigh of relief when I saw her.  She looked different.  She was busy so we couldn't stay, but she spoke with us a minute and we learned why creased scowl was gone from her eyes, why the dark circles were gone, replaced by a glow of health and color in her cheeks.  She'd been reading the scriptures, she told us.  And then pondering them.  Sitting outside and meditating and allowing Heavenly Father to reach her understanding and fill her with good thoughts - and take away the stress and worry.  Incredible what such a thing can do to your physical appearance.  I've waited my whole life to be able to discern that "light in your countenance" that people talk about and now I've been able to witness it twice.  Let's all pray her progression continues.

Fun fact: Mormons and Pentecostals are the world's last advocates for the dignity of women.  A Pentecostal minister, one of the nicest people we've ever encountered tracting, thanked us for being modestly dressed, and he was like super sincere about it.  And while we as Latter Day Saint girls don't wear long sleeves and skirts in public 24/7 or refuse to cut our hair, that's still one value we have in common.  So someone go tell the ward's Young Women, Aaronic priesthood and your parents aren't the only ones grateful for your virtuous dress and appearance!  The Pentecostals' teenage sons dig it too!

Father's day yesterday was a strange mix of great and terrible.  It being Fathers day, both sister companionships got Father's day cards for our district leader Elder Webb.  He's also training, which makes him undeniably a dad now.  Church was great, two powerful talks about member missionary work (do you yet grasp the importance of this?) and the elders' investigator (on and off for the last ten years) asked in sunday school if we could talk about forgiveness.  It being a small gathering of six missionaries and him, we said yeah of course!  and jumped into charity and forgiveness in the manual and scriptures.  By the end, he had a peaceful look about him and told us he resolved to call a family member that day to tell her he's forgiven her.  In the priesthood meeting following, the visiting stake president committed him to a date to be baptized.  Woohoo!  I mean, after that the day went downhill.  Worst was we were texting a recent convert who got mad at us for telling him shopping on the Sabbath isn't keeping it holy and doesn't connect that when prophets speak it's the same as God speaking and thinks we put our trust in men because we heed the prophets.  He got really indignant and I got super depressed because this happens a lot with this guy and Sister Dailey ate away her pain with a large bag of M&Ms while I laid on the carpet and gave up on life.  We eventually got up, the day went on, and we taught no one, and both the investigator and returning member who'd asked for priesthood blessings either were not home or didn't answer the door, I felt like a failure and apologized to the priesthood holders we'd pulled away from their families on Father's day for nothing, our most reliable investigator waved at us as she walked by the door but did not return to answer it and we spent fifteen awkward minutes standing at the door and occasionally knocking until we gave up and left in confusion and defeat.  I had to rattle off every encouraging scripture I could think of as we drove to keep myself from throwing myself into a ditch.

"Peace be unto thy soul, for thine afflictions will be but a small moment.  And if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high.  He shall consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain.  I have refined thee - I have chosen thee out of the furnace of affliction.  I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed.  Let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.  Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not.  Thou hast with unwearyingness declared repentance unto this people.  I will bless thee forever." <-- or something along those lines.

Finally found a less active at home, an elderly friend who was happy to see us.  Her husband with Alzheimers/dementia called Sister Dailey a boy, asked what time we clock out, and if the man over there was a foreman.  He thinks we're construction workers, it's cool.  At the end of our emotionally rough day, we said to heck with fruit and salad dinners, and made pancakes and chicken strips, no regrets.

Miracle moment: We got a call one morning from a man who sounded like someone who'd hit rock bottom.  After further explanation, he revealed he really had.  Started telling me, a perfect stranger, how everyone close to him was deceased or disappeared, how he'd lost the use of his legs and felt as if he'd lost everything at once.  I asked how he got our contact information.  You left a card at my door, he said.  I've been praying with that card next to me every day and I knew that if I called the number, there would be someone who would listen.  Well, I about fell over.  He was right.  I assured him that His Savior would get him through this, and that the message we missionaries share would show him exactly what he needed to do to find peace and joy again.  The bummer part is, he'd since moved to Ridgeland so the assistants to the mission president get to teach and baptize him now.  But still.  A card we left at a door.  What are the chances?  The gospel finds the penitent.

 12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
 13 Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice? [Alma 26]
Yeah.  So maybe the AP's will get to finished what we started with this guy.  And maybe none of my investigators will ever show up to church even when we have four or five of them committed to come the same day.  But our elders may get to baptize the gentlemen that came this week!  And we're helping two formerly active members of the church remember what that redeeming love feels like.  So we'll take both as our reason to rejoice.  Eternal life, here we come.
Don't forget to be a missionary this week!  Did I mention your exaltation depends on it? :]
Sister Valdez


Week 45: Exalted Highways

I'm not gonna say this week was like my own mission-scale Liberty Jail, but it warn't no walk-in-the-grove either.  And my ceiling might have received a few cries of "Where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?!"  As Sister Dailey said halfway through the first trying day, "This is so character building.  We are going to be such great people."
I have a lot to love about Sister Dailey.  We have much in common: we were both homeschooled, used to be terribly shy, eat primarily fruits and vegetables now, are hooked on Jillian workouts, play piano, don't play sports at all if we can help it, are one of five children, and love our quiet reading/writing time at night.  The apartment is like 89% quieter than it used to be and I am diggin it.  She's also super focused when we're in lessons and that helps me and our investigators a LOT.

Oh, quick highlight.  I finished the 30 day workout program.  And lived.  And I totally made my goal weight! i.e. the weight I was in the MTC.  It took four solid weeks of Jillian Michaels in the morning and many green smoothies but I finally shed that pesky last five pounds.  Now to retain.  Picture included.  If I step off the plane next February looking like a beast, I'm not sorry.  I feel great.

On the flipside, this week was adversity-central.  When it was over, Sister Dailey asked, "On a scale of one to ten, ten being normal... how normal was this week for this area?"  "Like a two," I answered.  "This was a very strange week."

I mean, our first day was great.  After all the transfers craziness, we went out to work, stopped in on a young family that we've taught once, they had two friends over, one was a member of the church from Jackson and one was his nonmember friend who'd read a bit of the Book of Mormon and was interested in learning more about it.  We taught her and it was the best thing.  Then the next day, nothing went right.
Our appointment with them, and everyone else, fell through.  No one else we tried was home.  It was hot as cajun gumbo outside, humidity so thick you had to swim through it, every day.  We tracted our full seven hours, found no one.  To cap it all, I got bit by a dog.  Yes, you read right.  We walk up to this house, see this big black ferocious dog, chained up, barking like it wants to tear us limb from limb, so we try to walk around it cause we're smart, when suddenly it lunges, BREAKS THE CHAIN, I scream, it bites my ankle, Sister Dailey whacks it in the face with her scriptures and we both run for the car.  The owner comes out all mad at us, Sister Dailey's like "Why does it feel like we're in a movie?!" and I just cry.  There was nothing else to do at that point.  But don't worry, no rabies, not even blood.  Just trauma.

But it got better.  We met with the newlyweds, and she (the nonmember) told us she wants to get baptized!  I guess all we had to do was ask.  She said now that they're married, nothing's holding her back.  She's just waiting for her husband to get clearance to baptize her.  And they're going to start coming to church again.  The crazy thing, is that I feel like I did very little.  It was all between them and Heavenly Father that they were able to get to this point.  I was just fortunate enough to be thrown into the mix at this point in the game.  And so it will be with many of the people I've taught, I figure.  I just did the initial work, a small portion of it.  Many others will come in to continue where I left off, and when the time is right, they'll choose to enter into the covenant of baptism.
We heard both their testimonies last night, she told us how she's a lot happier since she started reading the Book of Mormon, how it calms her down.  He told us how he found the church through a girl who he noticed was "weird" and he asked her why she was weird and she told him she was Mormon, so then he was interested in the church and the more he learned the more he liked it because it all began to make sense, more sense than anything else had before.  It is my dream that someone someday asks me why I'm so weird so I can tell them about the restored gospel.

In the meantime, I'm doing it the hard way.  I don't think you normal non-missionary members of the church realize how much easier missionary work is for you than for me.  You can do it at your convenience, with people you already know and love, who won't stand you up or break your heart (probably) and you don't have to spend time and energy gaining their trust.  Ideally, we missionaries shouldn't even have to endure tracting, because our schedules would be full of people who want to meet us at their LDS friends houses to learn what it is that makes their friends so happy.  We came up with this in our studies this morning:

So let's say, that you have this cure-all medicine.  It fixes everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, from cancer to the common cold.  Now that you have it, do you lock it up in your medicine cabinet and never speak of it to anyone?  (Because you don't want to seem 'pushy'?)  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is the cure-all.  And no matter how good your good Christian friends are, they DO NOT have full access to all the blessings of the Atonement without the ordinances performed by the proper priesthood authority.  <-- And that's from the mouth of an apostle.  Hastening the work is serious business.

As the area seventy pointed out in our sacrament meeting yesterday, missionary work is also one of the most joyful and rewarding things you could ever take part in.  How great will be your joy if you should bring just ONE soul to Christ?  (never mind that it's also like, indicative of true conversion and necessary for your salvation)  And if it seems hard, just think about your friend over here in Mississippi dying daily of heatstroke and getting bit by Rottweilers.

Or remember these comforting promises from the Lord:

 Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith youhave been afflicted shall work together for your goodand to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.  [D&C 98]

 And now, saith the Lord—that formed me from the womb that should be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him—though Israel be not gathered, yet shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord, and my God shall be my strength...
Go forth; to them that sit in darknessShow yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.
 10 They shall not hunger nor thirst, neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.
 11 And will make all my mountains way, and my highways shall be exalted.
Like Elder Bednar said, the hard things, the loads in our lives are what give us spiritual traction and bring us closer to the Savior.  Our mountains are made a way to salvation, and our highways exalted, no matter how rough the roads, if we're serving the Lord, seeking His will, relying on His merciful arm.  Though Israel be not gathered (yet), we shall be glorious.  God shall be our strength.  His way IS the highway.  The highest way.  Take it.
Sister Valdez

Friday, June 13, 2014

Week 44: Storms, Waves and Bridesmaids

Today was transfers, and after four adventurous months, I said goodbye to Sister Creager for the second time.  I got Sister Dailey now, and I'm stoked.  I also am the designated driver now, so I'm terrified.  We'll be fine.

It was the rainiest week ever.  Tuesday we were tracting and looked up like "Hum, those clouds are moving awfully fast.  They're real gray too.  Whoa where'd this wind come from?  It's pretty strong.  If it rains it means no tornado right?  Or does the tornado come afterward?  So if this rain stops suddenly, we're supposed to jump in the nearest ditch, correct?"  
Good news is, no tornado came and we did not have to fling ourselves into a ditch.  The bad news is, the rain came down in torrents and we didn't have coats.  Just one feeble umbrella a member had lent us when they dropped us off.  Within seconds, we looked like we'd just jumped into a swimming pool.
 But we walked to the nearest house and a very kind older couple let us come in and sit on their plastic-covered couch.  By the time our ride got there to pick us up, we'd small talked our way into a friendship with the couple and they said come back anytime.  We went back the next day and taught her the first lesson.  Don't know how much she absorbed, but she loved our company.

A couple of hilarious old ladies took us to visit a less active who was in desperate need of fellowship, one of them a sassy black woman with a French name, and then they took us to a seafood buffet afterward where I got "full as a tick" on fried catfish, gumbo, etouffe, stuffed shrimp, hush puppies, FROG LEGS, and banana pudding.  Frog legs.  All I could think while eating them was that scene from Princess and the Frog.  Those hunters in the movie, by the way: 100% no joke completely accurate representation.

Remember my dream to be a waitress?  I contemplated how Californians would take it if I was the kind of waitress that calls everyone "baby," old and young, male and female.  Still have not reached a decision.

We taught an older woman who'd spent many years working in a place that made airplanes and was so deaf we had to yell 3 Nephi chapter 11 at her, my voice shot by the end and she told us she enjoyed it very much.  Bless her heart.  We taught a second lesson to one of our ghetto friends, the one that just got out of jail, and then met his mom, who had a single gold grill on her front tooth with a star cut out of it.  I don't know where I am sometimes.  Another of our ghetto friends, the young one, found us on the street and said "I'm glad I caught ya'll!  I read a page in that pamphlet every night til I finished it.  And I would like a copy of the Book of Mormon."  Made our day.

A recent convert that we've been visiting frequently since I got here finally gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon.  All it took was regular study and earnest prayer, which he had to choose to do on his own.  He's very in tune, and very humble.  Said he was reading in the Doctrine and Covenants and in his prayer said "Lord, this sounds just like you!"  and the Lord answered, "It IS me."  This shook him a little bit, because of his many years believing the Bible was complete, infallible, all there was.  So he poured out his soul, "I don't know what's true anymore!"  And his answer, "You know who you sound like?  Joseph Smith."  And it clicked.  We rejoiced so much at this news. 

Bestest news of all:  the couple that were set to get married, TOTALLY GOT MARRIED!  Me and Sister C bought matching tops at walmart, wore them with our matching skirts, picked wildflowers while tracting Friday afternoon, and were makeshift bridesmaids Friday night at the church, our new bishop performing his first wedding ever.  It was short, sweet, dignified, and meaningful, just like everything else in the church.  They covenanted to be faithful to each other "until the end of [their] mortal journeys" and now our money's on a temple sealing in a year.  Or however long it takes.  We were soooo happy.
He said after the wedding, driving home, he felt a great weight lifted and knew he'd been forgiven.  He told his new wife, and at that moment there was a three-second rainfall, which she took to be a sign that she had too.  There is peace in righteous doing.
And he, the less active, figured it all out on his own!  After our countless nights of trying to read scriptures and teach principles and extend commitments without getting knocked over by the Doberman, they must have somehow felt the Spirit during our visits and he figured out that living the gospel was what he had to do, the best thing for himself and his family, and the only way to be at peace.

15 Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.
 16 You know, brethren, that very large ship is benefited very much by very small helm in the time of storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.  [D&C 123]
Keep up the small things, friends.  The world's in a storm, and very large ships are counting on us.  Love you all.

Sister Valdez