Monday, October 12, 2009

Sister Martina: A Powerful Member-Missionary

This week has been just great! Thanks for sending me pictures. Christie, my nephew is beautiful.
It's hard to believe I'm coming up to 16 months. It feels like I was just at home hanging out with everyone before they had to go off and get married.

I thought I'd share something that I wrote a few days back in my journal with all of you. It's about Martina:

The Peruvian members of the church here are humble, sincere, and for many of them you could say that there could not be a happier people among all the people who [have] been created by the hand of God (see 4 Nephi 1:16). That`s true for one happy sister that has come to be one of my closet friends Sister Martina Castro.

In 1991, Sister Martina was baptized with her husband in Suyana, Peru. 5 Years later, after the baptism her husband passed away, leaving a widowed mother with hungry children to feed. Tears began to soak her eyes from the memories as she told me, "When my husband died, we lost everything. I had to sell the house. We built a small brick home four meters wide. We sold rice, and didn`t have enough to go on but I kept enthusiastic and my Heavenly Father does His part. Thanks to Him, we had enough to keep going."

Finally sister Martina and her family were able to leave Suyana. They moved into a house here in Ventanilla, Peru (Where I`m currently serving). For several years, she lost in touch with the church and became inactive. She learned how to bake cakes and cook tamales to help her family. She sells to all the neighbors here and it seems like she knows everybody. Several months ago she returned to the church, and has been a member firm in the faith ever since.

"I knew I needed to be part of the Lord`s church, and I always felt the Lord was calling me back", Sister Martina told me.

Now sister Martina Castro is making up for lost time, talking with literally everyone about the gospel. It seems like every time we visit, there's somebody else sister Martina knows that wants to make covenants with their Heavenly Father. Thanks to Sister Martina's love for the gospel, in two months my companions and I have baptized eight members of her family. Even her mother Elva who just turned 80 (I think I told you the wrong age before) years old! The blessings don't stop there, because she didn`t stop. She continues sharing the gospel and now four more family members have baptism dates.

The Lord is so powerful, Sister Martina says. "When I give more, God gives me more."

I give thanks to the Lord, and I give thanks to Sister Martina Castro for simply sharing the gospel with others. As a missionary, I have experienced first-hand through all this that the members are so incredibly important to the missionary work. The prophecy of Joseph Smith is being fulfilled as these modern day lamanites flourish as the rose. But Peru or not, the blessings from the Gospel of Jesus Christ will come to ALL Saints as they share it.

Before I left in my last visit she added, I want my family and grandchildren to grow and be happy and put faith in Jesus Christ. I tell them that this Church is true.

This week was a good one too. We baptized Rosalbina, the mother of Paula and Martin, and also Beatriz, the mother of John, Dalma, and Angel. It was a really special baptism. The husband of Rosalbina even came to the baptism even though he usually doesn't want to know anything. We have so many families to help complete. We have eleven baptism dates, partly thanks to a reference yesterday in Church. We always go around to every organization and ask references and sister Nelly said she knew of a familily that want to learn about the gospel. We went in the night with sister Nelly and they all accepted baptism dates. The only problem is that the parents aren't married. He has to go in for surgery any day too, but the good part is that he accepted to get married. Hopefully before this Halloween so he can get baptized with the kids.

That's about it. I love you so very much.

Elder Layton

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