Lisa and Christian came to church on Sunday! Lisa found it a bit weird because she was raised Catholic - I think she was expecting church to be a bit like a Catholic Mass - but she enjoyed it, and Christian seemed to have a great time. His Primary lesson was all about priesthood authority and the laying on of hands, which was a great follow-up on the Restoration. On Sunday evening, we brought Brother Grounsell from the bishopric over and taught them the Plan of Salvation. We talked a lot about baptism and why it's so important. Lisa had explained to us before that when one of her children was born and she'd brought him to church to get him baptized, the priest had told Lisa her child was a sin (since he was born out of wedlock) and had refused to baptize him. On Sunday she opened up a bit and told us that although the experience had destroyed her belief in Catholicism and that she will never set foot in a Catholic church again, she still feels some guilt from it. She explained that what she looks forward to most about baptism is knowing that she will be completely free of that guilt. It was wonderful to be able to testify to her that baptism will indeed free of her those feelings. Preach My Gospel (p. 1) talks about how people out in the world want and need the peace that comes from being forgiven of their sins. When I go street contacting, I get the sense that many people don't really care about being forgiven of their sins, but this lesson with Lisa showed me the truth of that Preach My Gospel promise - even people who don't seem outwardly to be seeking forgiveness may inwardly be carrying a burden of guilt. It makes missionary work seem a lot more important.
Anyway, Lisa and Christian accepted a baptismal date of March 28! They seem pretty committed to that. During the lesson, even before we presented the date, Lisa said something like, "If I get baptized - no, when I get baptized, I'll say that," and in our last lesson Christian reminded us about the date, asking which day of the week it was, whether he would be confirmed on the same day, etc. We think Lisa may struggle with one of the commandments that we haven't taught yet, though, so we and they are both going to have to exercise some serious faith to make that baptism happen. In the meantime, though, I think they will be very willing to attend church, and Christian's younger sister Cara seems to be getting interested too. She didn't accept a commitment to be baptized when we first dated Lisa and Christian, but in the next lesson when Christian suggested that she could be baptized too she said, "Maybe." We've only taught the father, Alan, once, but we're hoping to help him move forward too. He seems like a really agreeable person and was quite open when we taught him, although he doesn't really believe in God yet. Great family, though! We don't often get to teach families like this one.
We had another truly amazing teaching experience last Thursday with a Portuguese family. The mother, Maria, has a good friend in Stoke-on-Trent ward, and she started asking him a lot of questions in the church and expressed interest in being taught and baptized. We set up an appointment and invited a really wonderful member named Brother Wiles (he's the ward seminary teacher and one of the most spiritual people I've met on my mission) to come teaching with us. Then, about fifteen minutes before the appointment, Maria's son rang us and said she wouldn't be able to see us. : ( Elder Garcia felt like we should go to the house anyway, though, and at least drop off a Portuguese pamphlet for Maria to read, so we had Brother Wiles drive us up there. We spoke to Maria's son at the door, but he was too busy to meet with us and Maria wasn't available. As we were about to leave, Maria's daughter came down the stairs and started talking with us. When she found out we'd made a special trip to the house, she invited us in to teach her so the journey wouldn't be wasted. Yes! We taught a great lesson on the Restoration. The daughter, who is probably in her mid-twenties and is named Gisela, told us that she has never been baptized in any church in part because she can't decide which church is right. She felt the Spirit when we described the First Vision, and even more when Brother Wiles introduced the Book of Mormon and read out of 3 Nephi 11 with her. When we read from the Book of Mormon, the uninterested son, who had been in the corner of the room playing Grand Theft Auto, actually stopped playing for a while and listened! Wow! The gospel is amazing! Gisela committed to be baptized when she knows the Book of Mormon is true and all but asked if we could mark 3 Nephi 11 for her so she can read it before we come back. We're scheduled to go back tomorrow and teach her again - I'm looking forward to it.
Looks like there may be some problems with the library computers, so I'll send this as it is. Hopefully I@ll be able to send some more later on!