Monday, December 21, 2015

A Christmas Miracle

We had to travel to Encarnación this week, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because we got to go to visit the branch activity with the sisters of Rama 1 where I ran into a few old friends from my first area in the mission, including this crazy fellow:
His name is Alberto.

Flashback to early February. My companion is Hermana Sorenson, and my area is Encarnación Rama 3. It's Monday, so it's time to write our families! Usually we go to the cyber first thing in the morning, but today a lot of stuff was going on and we couldn't get to the cyber until the afternoon. But it turns out to be a blessing because while we're in the cyber, we run into this super cool less-active member named Alberto. He wants to meet with us! We set up an appointment for that very night, even though we already have other appointments to get to and we might not have very much time. And then our other appointments fall through! So we have plenty of time to chat with Alberto, who is going through a lot of trials in his life and desperately needs help. We offer what little advice we can. And then we learn that his birthday is on Thursday! And he doesn't have anyone to celebrate with. So of course we plan to make a cake and celebrate a little with him in the church. Maybe we can invite some members too.

On Thursday we make the cake and wait in the church, but Alberto never shows up.

On Friday, we get a call from Presidente LaPierre. It's interview season, and we were scheduled to have interviews on Saturday, but Presidente finished early today with his interviews so he has time to squeeze us in and get a head start on tomorrow's interviews and can we meet him in our church in half an hour?

While my companion is in her interview with Pte. LaPierre, I chat with Hermana LaPierre in the chapel. Suddenly, a strange man appears in the doorway. It's dark and I can't see who it is. "Hello?" I say. The man steps into the light and - it's Alberto! He apologizes for not showing up last night. He was walking by tonight and saw that the gate was open and thought he would poke his head in and see if someone was here. He learns that Presidente is here and asks, "Is it difficult to get an interview with Pte. LaPierre?" As a matter of fact, once President finishes my interview, he has time to interview Alberto right then and there.

After the interview, we never saw Alberto again. He kind of just vanished. We tried to call him, but the calls didn't go through. So I forgot about him, until I ran into Hermana Marvian six months later. Hermana Marvian followed me to Encarnación, and she found Alberto and his wife and kid and worked to reactivate all of them. "Do you remember Alberto?" she asked me when I asked her about all of the people in Rama 3.

Not only did Alberto return to church, he also became a great support for the church in Encarnación. After some time he moved to Rama 1, where he worked with the missionaries to find and activate all the less active members. The missionaries told me how church assistance (attendance) skyrocketed when Alberto was working with them. And then he moved again, this time to Posadas, and their assistance dropped.

"But, Hermana Watts," you ask, "if Alberto moved to Posadas, how did you find him in Encarnación?"

This is very good question. All I can say is that God's timing is impeccable. It just so happened that the one day I was in Encarnación was the day that Alberto popped in for a visit. One coincidence after another...but so many coincidences cannot be anything but divine planning.

Hermana Watts

p.s. Ha Nacido Un Salvador!! A Savior Is Born! check out the video: (for Spanish visit

Rosi and her daughter Magalí, very dear friends from Rama 3
Our district Christmas Party/White Elephant gift exchange
Isn't my area breathtaking?
There are members in the branch who have a pet monkey!  His name is Enrique.

Monday, December 7, 2015

What Shall We Give to the Babe in the Manger?

​"​In our day the spirit of giving gifts plays a large role in commemorating the Christmas season. I wonder if we might profit by asking ourselves, What gifts would the Lord have me give to Him or to others at this precious season of the year?  

May I suggest that our Heavenly Father would want each of us to render to Him and to His Son the gift of obedience. I also feel that He would ask us to give of ourselves and not be selfish or greedy or quarrelsome​."​ (Thomas S. Monson)

​What shall we give to the Babe in the manger?​ This Christmas season, I would like to give the gift of faith.

I got to do divisions with Hermana Hartley last week and I feel like one of the prominent principles I learned was that of faith. We had the opportunity to visit Celeste, who is going to be baptized on Saturday, and our visit with her gave me a new perspective on faith. Hna Hartley explained to me that Celeste was supposed to be baptized last Saturday, but she missed one church attendance so they had to postpone it a week. This last week, Celeste began to have a lot of doubts about her baptism and felt that she was rushing things, that maybe she should wait a little longer. (I guess one of the members talked in church about how he had to wait two years to be baptized.) I began to agree with her - why the rush? But Hna Hartley wanted her to be baptized this week, and we talked about how we could help her. I began to think about it, and the thought that came to my mind was the principle of faith. Some people need to try their faith by waiting a long time before they can be baptized. But sometimes the trial of faith comes in making the decision to follow the Lord even when (or perhaps especially when) we're full of doubt. Celeste had received her spiritual confirmation that this was the right path, her faith was proven in overcoming her doubts and deciding to go through with the baptism. I'll try to take a lesson from Celeste and keep exercising my faith even when doubts arise.

What shall you give?

Hermana Watts