When we asked Cesar who he wanted to baptize him he pointed right at me and said "YOU!" Well, unfortunately that couldn't happen. But his baptism was real tender and we have a new man on our hands. The story of Cesar:
One night we were leaving an appointment and heading out to our car. We passed Cesar and I came up with some dumb excuse to talk to him. Somehow I ended up inviting him to church. He handed me his iphone and I typed in the address and found a map and then pulled up some of the church websites. We talked to him for probably 4 minutes tops.
Sunday: He is at church. Jeans, leather jacket. He stays all 3 hours! During Sacrament meeting he leans over to me and says he feels something good but weird that he's never felt before. I told him "That's the Spirit!" He told me he subscribed to the mormon channel on youtube. Ha. Too good. That night we invite him to a baptism in North Hollywood. He comes. Afterwards there's a fireside in Van Nuys. He comes. I have NEVER brought an investigator to 3 church buildings in one day. It was a sign.
Next Sunday he shows up looking so sharp. New white shirt. Tie with the tags still on. He didn't even know how to tie it. We started teaching him a couple times a week. He gave up his coffee and alcohol. Didn't even blink an eye. He starts keeping the Sabbath day holy. Ain't no thang. Every single thing we taught he was immediately ready to accept. On fast Sunday he asked me where the tithing slips were because he wanted to pay his... not even a member yet. What a guy.
From the day we first met him to the day of his baptism was just over a month. So golden I don't even know what to say. We felt the Spirit so strongly with him. Before his baptism yesterday Hna Blackburn asked him, "Cesar, what actually made you come to church that first time we invited you?" He said that he just felt something telling him to go, something he'd never felt before. I love it. I love missionary work. I love seeing people's lives change.
After his baptism we had a stake Christmas musical fireside. It was wonderful and when we were all leaving he stopped me and looked at me really seriously and said, so sincerely, "Hermana, Thank you." That little phrase held so much meaning in that moment. It was not just a thank you for inviting me to this activity. It was a thank you for finding me. Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for teaching me and encouraging me and not giving up on me and for knowing that I was going to be this happy even though I couldn't comprehend it myself.
I wish you could all meet Cesar. I wish you could see how he has changed. How HAPPY he is. And how HAPPY I am. I didn't know what happiness was before my mission. And I'm sure I'll continue to say that at times in my life. I didn't know what happiness was before... I got married... or ...I had kids... or grand kids... and just think of all the experiences we are going to have after this life. I am gonna keep saying "I didn't know what happiness was before this!"
I love my life. I love this work. I love the Lord.