Sunday, September 3, 2017

Week 104 - “Another Miracle Week” Aug 27 — Sep 2 - Primavera

Well it has been an amazing time! 2 years, 104 weeks, 730 days, 17,520 hours - whatever way you look at it - Jonah has had the chance to serve as an ambassador of  God and has become a better man because of it. In his final remarks you see that he has had an incredible finish to his mission. But Is this the final chapter? Is there a prologue? We may have a few more posts upcoming as Jonah will be getting two new companions! - Leslie and David are on a plane right now traveling to Peru to meet Jonah and spend some time visiting his mission, meeting some families he has grown to love and visiting a few other areas in Peru!

This week has been so wonderful!! We started with Gianluca's baptism at 8am before the sacrament meeting, and in the photos you can see that his whole family went!! President Marble and Sister Marble were also present in the service, and it was so great!! Everything turned out great in the baptismal service, and then right after, we had the confirmation. Only his parents were able to stay, but they absolutely loved the sacrament meeting. There were wonderful talks given that seemed to be written for the family. The dad whispered to us in the middle, "I think next month I need to get baptized too". So awesome!!!! They still aren't married, but after witnessing the baptism of their son, they now want to get married in order to be baptized. So great! Seriously, it's been so miraculous that all of this is happening. It's so incredible to be there watching it all happen in front of our eyes. Just today, they invited us over for lunch, and because it's our Pday, we were able to take a time after lunch (delicious by the way), to chat and talk about their family. They brought out their photo albums and told us their stories of how they met and their children's births, and other stories. It was a really great opportunity to get to know them, and now when we return to teach them, I know it will be much easier to relate to them, love them, and even exhort them. Anyway, I love the Familia Juárez. They are fantastic people.

On Wednesday, we had an interchange with Elder Klossner and Elder Rios (Primavera/Porvenir zone), and I got to be with Elder Rios again!!! Yayyyy!! It was so great to talk to him again and see how he is doing personally and also with leading the zone. He's such an incredible person, and I, as I do with Elder Melendrez, respect him so much for choosing to serve a mission at an older age. He is 26 right now, and could be doing a lot of different things. But he's here, sacrificing 2 years in order to serve the Lord. Para los valientes no más. Anyway, we had a great day together and found wonderful people to teach. That same day, we found somebody that we hadn't taught for a long time (I might've talked about her before), named María Paz. She is so chosen! And will be baptized very soon, and will help her family to be baptized as well. She is finally free of some different commitments and will be able to attend church and receive us more frequently. Such a faithful person! Anyway, the area is doing really great right now.

I have a lot of mixed feelings right now, and I'm very excited to see my parents on Monday, but I'm also very sad to not be a full-time missionary anymore. It has been THE GREATEST experience of my entire life. I have never experienced so many faith-building moments in my life until I got to Perú, and thanks to the mission, I know, without doubt, that this is the Lord's work. I have received far too many testimonies to deny the presence of a Supreme Being's hand in my life for the past 2 years. I know it, and I know that God knows it. I have grown to love people and to desire their salvation. It fills me with joy to know that for our efforts, God's children can come back to His presence. I know that God lives and I know that we are His children with divine potential. I love you all so much, and I hope to see many of you soon!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Week 103 - "Miracle Week" - August 20 - August 26 (Primavera)

Well - here we are, coming to a close.  The next post will be the final of Elder Babbel's amazing journey in the Peru Trujillo North Mission. Next week we will be meeting Jonah, after two years, in the wonderful country of Peru.  There have been some amazing stories and events,  great eternal friendships have been made and he has grown spiritually and physically (I'm going to feel short standing next to him!)  Please enjoy his latest letter.

So this week has just been so wonderful!! We had such an amazing miracle happen with the Familia Juárez that we are teaching! Gianluca, the 14 year old son, is getting baptized tomorrow at 8am right before church, and how it happened was just incredible. Here's a little excerpt of my letter to President Marble:
We knocked their door around 4 months ago, and it has been a slow process, but in the past week, we have taken leaps and bounds. On Sunday, we visited them with our bishop and his wife...during that lesson, we bore testimony of the importance of the family and how the Restored Church can bless their's. After sharing our own experiences of how the Restored Gospel has changed our lives, the mom of the family, Hermana Sandra, completely opened up. She has a very strong character, very demanding, and is very cold with people she doesn't know. She is, although, a great person that always tries to help other people and be very fair, but in her own manner. In that moment, she explained to us that her character and manera de ser was like that because she used it to cover up the guilt that she feels from her past mistakes, but she's become tired and can't keep covering it. She started crying, almost uncontrollably, and said, "Quiero ser feliz, pero de verdad". We testified of the Atoning sacrifice, and she realized the only way she could be happy was through true repentance. She and her husband are now committed to getting married in preparation for their own baptisms, and their true goal is to be sealed as a family. Hermano Gianluca, one of the 3 sons, now has the full and complete support from his family for his baptism this Sunday, and has a great testimony. He is pushing for the baptisms of his family, and we will see them in a near future, after their marriage. We have seen the Lord's hand in everything that has happened with the Familia Juárez. I know that God has prepared them, and that we have been used as instruments in His hands since the first day that we knocked their door.

It's been such a great experience with their family, and after many lessons, testimonies, and visits from members, they are finally gaining their own testimonies. So many people could gain a testimony if they just gave it the chance, and after, they would see so many blessings in their lives. So many past mistakes that aren't just covered up and half-forgotten, but rather, wounds that can become completely healed, without marks or scars. Repentance is real, and I know because I have lived it, and continue using it every day. It really works!

Anyway, it's been great working with them and we are excited for their future. During the week, we also had 2 interchanges, with Elder Garrison and Elder Latimer (Casa Grande) and Elder Guerra and Elder Schwan (Esperanza), and we were able to work hard, find new people, and have some great lessons. We are working really hard and having a great time. I love being a missionary! Hope you all have a wonderful week! Love you bunches!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Week 102 - "Great Week" - August 13 - August 19 (Primavera)

A quick post from Jonah. Glad he was able to go back and visit his first area - Cajamarca. We are getting so excited to see him - just a couple of weeks now!

So this week has been a blast!! We've been working very diligently and have been extremely busy.. We're writing so late because our Pday got pushed back a little later in the day due to some mission conferences. It's been so wonderful!! Elder Montoya, from the Area Presidency, came to visit our mission and it was so poweful!!

On Thursday, it was planned to have two separate conferences with him, each with 3 zones, and then on Friday night, we would be traveling up to Cajamarca for the last conference with just the one zone. Sooooo, what ended up happening, is Elder Montoya´s flight got delayed and he ended up getting to Trujillo early Thursday morning instead of Wednesday night, so we pushed the two first conferences together and had a mass meeting of 6 zones!! It was so great!! There were about 130ish missionaries all together! And, man, does Elder Montoya know how to bear testimony. I had NEVER heard such a powerful testimony of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon in my entire life, and I still remember clearly the strength of the Spirit that entered into me when he bore his testimony. It was undeniable, and made my own testimony grow ten-fold. I'm so glad that I was there, and that I got to hear his testimonies, and I feel excited to continue growing in my own and sharing it with everyone.

Directly after the conference, we had an interchange with Elder Wynn and Elder Angulo de León. It was soo cool! After almost 2 years, Elder Wynn and I proselyted again together and it was so cool to see how we had changed and how we have grown. Super fun. Friday night, we got on the 10pm bus up to Cajamarca, had another wonderful conference, got to see some sights (not sure if I'll get the pictures up...ojalá) Now we're getting ready to head back down on another night bus to be back for Sacrament meeting in our ward tomorrow. Busy, busy, busy jajaja, I love it.

Anyway, not a ton of time to write, but I love you all so very much and want you to know that I am here in Perú because I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. A prophet of God in these days promised us that if we read the Book of Mormon every day, we will be more apt to hear the Spirit, more willing to resist temptation, more prepared to deal with our daily challenges, and more worthy to receive the blessings of heaven. I know personally that this is true, because for the past
4 months, I have read the Book of Mormon every day, and I feel those blessings fully in my own life. I love the Book of Mormon because it helps me to be more sensitive to the Spirit and to those in my surroundings. It helps me be more like Christ, and that's why I HAVE to read it every day, because I want to be more like Him. I would invite you that if you're not reading it every day, do it. If you've never read it, or even heard of it, try it, and experience the difference. I love you and share this with you because I love you. Have an excellent week and keep getting up after falling down!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Week 101 - "Busy Week" - August 6 - August 12 (Primavera)

As he draws closer to the end of his mission, I find it amazing that he continues to work like he just started. This week he in an email he said, "I think I might ease up a little bit too if I actually felt like I was finishing...but I don't feel that at all hahaha. I always joke around about it, but I don't think it's actually hit me yet. Maybe when I see you two it'll hit me."

This week has been pretty fantastic, and as usual, very busy. We were able to have 2 interchanges with some different Elders which always changes things up a bit, and we got to end our week with a visit to the temple today which was wonderful! We got to attend a sealing of a family that the Bentley's (the couple missionaries) had helped out while they were in Pacasmayo. It was the first time that I had attended a temple sealing since we were sealed together as a family with Gabriel...16 years ago. So that was a really special experience......and you can call me crazy..but when we were there, a memory of that day came and hit me like a truck full of onions jaja. Something special, done during the ordinance, made me remember when I did the same thing with my family. <==== Super cool.

So during the week, we had some ups and downs, but that's usually how life is jaja. We had been preparing a few people to be baptized for this week and the next, but it looks like a few personal problems have gotten in the way and will have to be postponed, but that's okay, we're still excited for them to get baptized later on. We have been able to find several people this week that are really excited to learn more about the restored gospel and are willing to make changes in their lives in order to live what God wants us to live. It's kind of amazing how many people we come into contact with during a week, and how different everyone is from one another. It's even cooler to see how the same gospel can relate and connect to everyone's problems and needs as well. Most people don't realize it because they have never given it the chance nor the idea. But when people start to actively use their faith, they quickly realize that a hole they never knew they had, begins to be filled. It's so great to be a part of that process, and it's why I love being a missionary!

On Wednesday, we were with Elder Bejarano and Elder Turner, and then on Thursday, we were with Elder Spencer and Elder Espinoza. Both of the interchanges were great and we were able to work hard and find great people. Just today was Elder Melendrez's birthday! We got to go to the temple and eat Chili's for lunch so I'd say it has been pretty great!

I love you all so much and I hope you have a wonderful week! I know that the power of God exists and that in the holy temples we can make promises with Him to have eternal families. I know that my family is forever, and that's why I do all in my power to be obedient and follow Christ. Because I want to live with my family after this life. Love you all!!

Elder Moncada, Elder Babbel, Elder Anchiraico and Elder Melendrez (front)

Birthday Lunch for Elder Melendrez

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 100 - "Week 100!" - July 30 - August 5 (Primavera)

The final few emails are coming in and it looks like Jonah will stay busy as the Assistant to the President.    Last week he mentioned that they spent almost the entire day cleaning their apartment so in this weeks letter he explains that they are getting a visit from a General Authority (a higher up leader in the Church). Just a few photos this week.

The week has been super crazy!! But great! Haha, that's what I always say, but yeah whatever. We had the leadership council on Tuesday, and it was great! We really felt the Spirit the whole time, and all of us left the meeting feeling really inspired to work harder and more efficiently. That's always the point of these meetings, but there was something special about it this time. I'll miss those meetings a lot; a lot of great ideas get tossed around by some excellent missionaries. Right after the meeting, we had an interchange with the Cajamarca Zone Leaders, Elder Cuellar and Elder Olsen. Elder Olsen was trained by Elder Rios, so we got to talk about how great of a companion he was for us...we had some pretty funny stories about him.

Oh yeah! So last Sunday, we found a super awesome family! Gino, Patricia, and Franco. They are a married couple with their one 17 year old son. The Lord has been preparing them for some time now..especially Patricia, the mom. After teaching the first lesson about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, they both told us that they knew what we were saying was true. The only hold-up is that they work a lot and they feel like they won't be prepared to be baptized too soon. We assured them that they will be able to be ready if they do their part, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know that it's true. We're praying a lot for them and we hope that they will be baptized the 2nd of September. Also, Adriana, the less active from last week, went to church with her two daughters and Mikaela, the one that is not a member yet, will be baptized next Saturday. The Primary is planning out all of the details, and we're excited to see her prepared so quickly. we are going to be having a mission visit by one of the General Authorities of our Area and his wife will be checking the rooms...and we're pretty certain that they will come to ours, because it's close to the office. By the way...because of the General Authority visit (Elder Montoya), Elder Melendrez and I will be going to Cajamarca here in 2 weeks, so that'll be fun! It's been a while since I've been there, it'll be nice to breathe some fresh air. We got a nurse, but still a little scary. The package came!! Thank you so much for the chewy sprees and the letters! By far the best part haha, but thank the YW group for me for doing that. It was really nice of them. Good to hear about the family. I love you so much!! More than room checks and kittens! xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Week 99 - "Hello!" - July 23 - July 29 (Primavera)

Week 99 and he is still making mistakes.  Ok - just keep reading and you will find out that it might not be such a bad thing to make mistakes every once in a while.  So excited for Jonah to have a great new companion who is ready to work hard.  

Hey, not a lot of time to write, we were busy cleaning our room basically the whole day, which was good because now our room is so dang clean! Uhh! That's a big blessing there haha. Anyway, this week has been fantastic, and bitter-sweet. I'll get down to the nitty gritty.

On Sunday, Hermana Yemely was baptized and it was such a great experience. All her family are members and they live where Elder Nuñez is now at, in El Milagro, so they came to the baptism. When her mom, younger brother, and younger sister saw her, they all ran to each other and embraced and cried. It was such a happy day for them, and you could see the love in their eyes. It was a very moving experience. The baptism went great; we had a single return missionary baptize her, hoping to maybe set the two of them up together hahahaha, we'll see how that goes haha! That would help her a ton to maintain active in the Church haha. Anyway, it's a tactic.

On Monday, Elder Nuñez left and Elder Melendrez came. I love Elder Nuñez so much, he's been such an incredible companion and we've seen some pretty amazing miracles together. Recently, we have found several chosen people that Elder Melendrez and I will hopefully be able to baptize in these next few months. I'm so grateful for Elder Nuñez and all that he has done for me as my companion. Now it's time for a new era in my mission. Elder Melendrez is so incredible! He is so focused and diligent and hardworking! We are going to have a blast together and I'm so excited for the results that we will have together. I feel like his is training me more than I'm training him haha, he's such a wonderful missionary.

One quick experience from this last week. The secretaries had a baptism on Friday at 9:30am, and it was rescheduled at last minute, so we were not able to invite anybody to it, so in a last minute effort to get people to go, we sent off a text invitation the morning of to every single investigator in our phone contacts. Seconds later, someone responded and said that they were excited for the invitation and would definitely be there. When I looked at who it was...I didn't recognize the name. Taking a better look at it....I still didn't know, so we called, and it turned out to be a less active that I had accidentally marked as an investigator. She said that she was wanting to return to the Church, but felt embarrassed, and didn't know how, and was so grateful for the invitation and knew that it would be the way back. I was dumbfounded....and grateful as well that I had messed up and marked her as an investigator. We scheduled a appointment with her as well for that same afternoon. She arrived early to the baptism and told us that she wants to bring all of her kids to church on Sunday, two of which are non-members. That afternoon, we came to the house, taught a lesson about the blessings of the Restored Gospel and invited her daughter to baptized for the 12th of August, which she eagerly accepted. It was sucha powerful experience, and marking it wrong in the phone was definitely the best mistake I have ever made haha!

I love you all so much! I gained a strong testimony of a scripture in the Book of Mormon in Ether 12:27 this week:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.'' 

Even our mistakes are planned. Trust in God, and everything will work out. Love you all!!!
Jonah and Elder Melendrez

Hermana Yemely and family