March 16, 2015

Dear Mom and Dad (and the army of other people who happen to read my emails),
There are not words in the Spanish or English language to describe the immense amount of happniess and joy your love and support give me. I know I never said it too much at all back home but you guys mean the world to me, and I look forward to every P Day just for the oppurtunity to read your words through a computer screen.
Something totally awesome happened this week! On March 15th, I had my very first baptism! I feel so incredibly grateful to have been given such a grand blessing so very early in my mission. To be quiet honest, my first week out here I pleaded with the Lord to just give me something, anything, to keep me going and to help me move forward because honestly I was struggling. The shock of being out in a new and confusing world all on my own with people that I could not even fully communicate with was and still is overwhelming. I needed some form of guidance, something that would tell me that what I was doing was indeed worth it, and Heavenly Father sent it to me, in the form of my first convert, named Juan.
I met Juan my very first day here in Catacaos. His wife is a member, as are others in his family, but he himself was not. At first glance, he did not exactly scream Golden Investigator, but he was open, receptive, and willing to put up with my grammatically incorrect Spanish. For the next three weeks I saw his testimony grow, his knowledge increase, and the Holy Ghost ever so gently pushing him in the right direction. I am not a perfect teacher, but every time I opened my mouth in my lessons with him, everything just came to me, and the look in his eyes served as the confirmation in my heart that true conversion was taking place, not through me, but by something larger and much more special. Eventually he said yes to being baptized, and might I say now I have never been more humbled and proud at the same time to be decked out in all white. When I took a look at myself in the mirror wearing my baptismal clothes, I just smiled the dumbest smile you could possible think of, but I didnt mind. I felt so at peace, so happy for my friend Juan, and after the service concluded, I think I almost saw a tear go down his face and that just about did it for me.
Mom and Dad, I am not a perfect missionary. My attitude at times isnt always in the right place, my teaching skills could use a whole load of improvement, and at times I give in to fear and nervousness and opt out of sharing my message. But I know I have a purpose here. Heavenly Father showed that to my the moment I put my arm to the square and for the first time in my life, I managed to help someone find their way to the path that leads back to the Celestial Kingdom. I pleaded with God for something to keep me going, and wouldnt you know it, he gave it to me through the feelings and emotions I felt in that baptism. When I left the CCM, they told me to remember always that within my calling therein lies the power to change lives. I believe this Gospel does change lives, and as I have said many times over, I have never been more proud to have a black nametag pinned to my shirt pocket.
Thanks for listening. I am going to try to send some pictures in a bit. Take care family, I am always praying for you, in the same way I felt in my heart that you are always praying for me. Until next week.
Your son,
Elder Justin Cruz

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