Week 94 – Happy 4th of July!

4th of July with the Castiblanco family!
July 4, 2016
Hello everyone!!

Happy Independence Day!!! What a great blessing it is that we live here in the United States  with such great freedom. I was actually reading a talk this past week titled "Why 1820" (great talk by the way) and it explained why the gospel really wasn't able to be restored until the year 1820, but a large part of that was before that time there was no religious freedom! I am so grateful that we have the opportunity to worship and celebrate in any way we want to. 

So many miracles - Reno is going to burn down!
This week has been super hot and smoky here in Reno. (Fires in California.)  Upper 90s all week, but the miracles have kept coming!! The Lord has really blessed us this past week with lots of new investigators, fun times, and crazy miracles!

First of all, the Luciano family recovered finally from their whole ordeal. Hermano Luciano was released from the hospital on Saturday, after a whole week! They found out that his heart wasn't getting enough oxygen to the body, and so at times it would start to beat really fast and then slow way down. But he now sleeps with oxygen and hopefully that will help. As crazy as their whole experience was, I truly believe that it was for their benefit. The branch came and supported them big time while he was in the hospital.  They provided meals every night the whole week, and many branch members came and visited them while he was in the hospital.

The Luciano Family had never seen so much love in their life. They were really shocked. They told us that they had never felt like they had been part of a family like this until they started coming to church. We went and had a few lessons with them at the hospital, and during one of them Sister Luciano asked, "Can the branch president's wife baptize me?" We taught her about the priesthood and how all that works, and then she said, "Ok well then I want the branch president to baptize me." So they want to be baptized…now the question is when! It has been so cool to see their faith grow as a result of all of this. I know that the Lord knows exactly what everyone needs and blesses them according to their needs.

Other miracle of the week:  we found a guy last weekend named Jesus (pronounced "Hey-sus") and set up an appointment to teach him. We went back on Saturday and found him sleeping at home…we woke him up when we knocked on the door and had a good first lesson, but nothing too special. He committed to come to church yesterday, but almost everyone we meet tells us they will come to church. But on Sunday morning we called him an hour before church and he said he would be there!! So we waited for him and he showed up! It was a fast and testimony meeting and in the middle of the meeting, our branch president got up and said, "I have never done this, but the Holy Ghost has told me that I need to speak to Jesus over the pulpit," and looked right at our investigator!! He was sitting right next to me and he was really taken back. President then just told him that he knows the church is true and that Jesus is a child of God. (Keep in mind that President just briefly met him and shook his hand before the meeting, but that was it!) He spoke to him for about 5 minutes and then sat down. Then the 2nd counselor got up and said that right before President got up, he noticed a bright light above Jesus and was going to say something, but then right then President got up. Jesus was really taken back and didn't say a whole lot. He stayed for the next two hours and said he loved church, and would definitely be back next week. We didn't really get a chance to ask him how he felt or anything, but when we go back this week we will see what he was thinking. I have heard about things like that happening, but I never witnessed it until yesterday. 

Eating watermelon at a church member's house
A few weeks ago, Elder Torres and I had a special fast that we could find a new family to teach that had two parents, and two children. We fasted and prayed and since then we have continued to work hard and talk with everyone to find them. Yesterday, about a month later, our prayers were answered. We found a family with two parents, Ricardo and Carla, and two daughters who are young teenagers. They don't attend any church right now, but want to help their daughters stay on the right path. Last night we had a BOMB lesson with them and they had lots of good questions and want to learn more. After the lesson, we invited the Dad, Ricardo, to offer a kneeling prayer and he did. Carla was crying and the Spirit was super strong. We are excited to teach them more.

I have gained a testimony about so many gospel principles on my mission. One of them is the power that comes from fasting. I know that fasting works. The Lord has taught us that we can fast for really just about anything, and it can be like a "SUPER" prayer. Whether it be looking for a job, or getting into a school, or ANYTHING! Fasting shows our humility that we can't do things without Heavenly Father, and in return he blesses us. An interesting verse in the Doctrine and Covenants says: "Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer." So even though at times, fasting is hard and we are hungry and thirsty, we have reason to rejoice because we know that the Lord will bless us. I know that anyone can fast at anytime for any reason. 

I love you guys! Have a great holiday!!


Elder Todd

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