While seeing some snow covered mountains would have been nice, I found myself wishing a lot harder to see the brilliant white of a baptismal robe this Christmas!!! We had been working a lot with Luis lately, and were hoping that everything would go well with his baptism the 19th.
It was really miraculous to see how much of a change could take place in his life in such a short time. His habits, thoughts, and even personality have changed (not like he wasn't great before....now he's just better).
We had a really cool experience with him just before his baptism...
He was nervous, as most people are, and he told us that he wasn't sure about the whole baptism thing....He told us he wasn't ready to forgive some people, and that repentance was a little too difficult for him to handle. After a few questions he told us his problem,
When he was very young, Luis had been abandoned by his parents....Just left on his Aunt's doorstep. All his life he had harbored a great animosity towards them, blaming them for all the resultant problems and inconveniences in his life. He had always felt unloved as a child. He said it was something he had taken very personally and internalized. His Mother lived not too far away.....and every time she tried to visit to explain her actions, he wouldn't hear it.
He would never forgive his parents. EVER.
My companion used an arsenal of scriptures, talks, exhortations....but they fell on deaf ears....We began to worry a bit....and then the spirit whispered "You were in a similar position....the gospel helped"....
How had I forgotten? How had that not struck a chord before?
I immediately told Luis that I knew he could forgive. I told him that I was adopted, but due to the love my parents had shown me, and to the gospel of Jesus Christ that I had in my life.....I had never once harbored those feelings with which he was so familiar....
"You mean....you don't hate your birth-parents for what they did"? He asked.
"On the contrary" I said.
"I owe them a lot.....Thanks to one good decision they made, I have parents who love me, who provided for me. I have a Mom and Dad, who gave me the life I otherwise wouldn't have had"...
"Think about it Luis.....your mother was young when she had you....she wasn't married I bet....she couldn't have provided for you....She did the best she could. She knew your Aunt loved you and so she left you with her"......
Luis thought for a long moment...........He looked at me and said
"Wow.....I never looked at it that way......I.....I need to call her".
I was happier for him than I think I have been for anyone else in a long....long time.
That was truly a beautiful moment.
So.....I hope that all of you know that I have never once felt out of place in my family. I know that we were sealed together in a House of The Lord, and that nothing can ever sever that bond. I knew that growing up. That's a knowledge I've had in my heart since I was 8 years old. I've doubted in a lot of things over the years, but I have never, ever doubted in that knowledge.
......So Luis got baptized and it was great.
Hahahahaha, Christmas Eve we got to stay up until 12:30 and watch the fireworks. It was amazing. It's better than any fireworks show in the US. The Entire city of Lima (like 8 million people) all shoot fireworks into the air at midnight. For like a solid 30 minutes there's fireworks in every direction......I'll miss that a lot.....
But New Year is even better!!! They burn effigies in the street!!! It's so cool!!!!
So....that's what we've got to look forward to next week!!!!
Love you guys!!!!!!!
Elder WinnRooftop Christmas Eve 2015