Monday, May 27, 2013

Searching for Souls

This week was a pretty good week. Our key indicators were very low, but I still feel like we had a good week. Elder Barraclough and I have been out talking with everyone. It has become so easy for me to talk to people. I feel like I could strike up a conversation with anyone. I have come to really understand my role as a representative for Jesus Christ. I really feel like that when I go knock on people's doors, it is not me knocking, but Jesus Christ giving that person an opportunity to come close to him. It now brings me sorrow rather than anger when someone rejects us on their front doorstep. I know that they don't fully understand who they just slammed the door on, but I do. 
     We had a great lesson the other night with Kita. Kita is the lady that I tracted into with Elder Greene. She is the coolest person that I have ever knocked into. She and I get along so well. She loves to laugh, and I love people that think I am funny. So she is kind and laughs at all my jokes. We went over there with Brother Beaver last night and had a great lesson and had a good time. It was very spiritual though. It was amazing how one minute we could be laughing and the next we could be talking so seriously about Joseph Smith. She says that she will be at Church next week and I am so excited to see her there. It could be my last week in the Dunwoody Ward, so having Kita at church would really be a good way to end my time here. 
     I don't know what God has in store for me next transfer. You never know, he might keep me here. I wouldn't be surprised. I know that whatever happens is what is supposed to happen. I am really going to miss this District if I go. I love each Elder in this District so much and it has been such a privileged to be their leader. This transfer has been so great. As a District we will have 7 baptisms by the end of the transfer. This is very good for the Georgia Atlanta mission. I know that it is because of our increased faith and love for Jesus Christ that has brought these amazing miracles. I am going to miss Elder Armenta so much, he has truly become one of my best friends I've ever had. The time that I have had to get to know him has been some of the best times of my life. We have this little inside joke that he has to name his first child "Ryan Junior" Originally it was just "Ryan" due to his loss of a bet. One day when we were driving he said, "If you can name what Disney movie this song is from, I'll name my first child Ryan." I said, "Alright, you're on." He then says, "Raw Raw Raw Boom Bea, Raw Raw Raw Boom Bea." And I yell, "Aristocats!" He started laughing so hard, and said, "How'd you get that, no one watches that movie!" The "Junior" was added on due to his loss of another bet. He said that if he could get 45 blessings in one week that he didn't have to name his child "Ryan" and I said, "Alright, but if you don't get 45 blessings you have to name him Ryan Junior." Unfortunately for Elder Armenta he got 43 blessings. So close. Haha. We always joke about how I am going to start laughing while he is giving his first child's baby blessing and I am in the circle and he says, "And the name that you will be known by in the records of the Church is Ryan Junior." Haha. I am going to miss all the good times that I have had with the Elders in the District. 

     I have got to get going. I love you all so much and hope to hear from some of you that read this letter. I miss you all so much. 

-Elder Ryan Romero

Monday, May 20, 2013

An Eternal Family

Fernando Roldan, Darlis Silva, Gerardo Romero, and Daniela Roldan baptized May 18, 2013. Already Baptized not in white, Sarahy Roldan and too young to be baptized is Fabinna.

 This is the Roldan's with Elder Romero and Elder Barraclough. Showing that the family plans to go to the temple in one year.

Future missionary Gerardo Romero

Fernando Roldan, Darlis Silva, Gerardo Romero, and Daniela Roldan are now members of Jesus Christ's Church. This past week has been one of the most amazing weeks that I have had on my mission. The spirit I have felt has been so strong I can't begin to describe it in words. I am so happy for this family. I am so thankful to have been part of their conversion and to be here for their baptism. I am so thankful to God for keeping me here in Dunwoody long enough to witness it. 
     Saturday was the day. We had to have the baptismal service is the Chapel because there were too many people there to hold it in any other room. The Roldan Family has been the most active non-members in the Church for two years, so they had quite a few people that wanted to come to their baptism. The front pew was full of white clothing. Each member of the family had a different individual baptize them. I had the honor of baptizing Gerardo. Brother Bahr baptized Fernando, Brother Stoddard baptized Darlis, and Brother Asper baptized Daniela. The spirit was so strong throughout the whole meeting. 
     When it came time to go to the baptismal font from the chapel Gerardo and I walked over together. Gerardo was going to be baptized last so I asked him if he'd like to watch his family be baptized rather than waiting in the bathroom for his turn. He said that he'd like to watch his family be baptized. Fernando was the first to be baptized. Watching his baptism was almost surreal for me. When he went under and came up it seemed as if time just stood still. Fernando just stood there for awhile and didn't move when he came up. He then turned to Brother Bahr who baptized him and gave him a hug. Immediately after Darlis was next. Brother Stoddard led her into the font baptized her. Fernando was waiting on the steps of the baptismal font to wait for his wife to return. When she came up the steps they embraced and kissed each other. Next was Daniela. Her and Brother Asper walked down the steps together and Daniela looks up to Brother Asper and says in a very audible voice, "Brother Asper, have you done this before?" Many people laughed. And Brother Asper replied with a smile, "Yes Daniela, you're in safe hands." While I witnessed baptisms these the spirit was so strong it was palpable.  It brought tears to my eyes. I was scared that Gerardo was next because I didn't think that I would be able to utter the baptismal prayer. This is what I have been waiting for. This is what I came here to do. Change people's lives, and it was happening before my eyes. After Daniela was baptized Gerardo and headed straight for the font. I led him down in the baptism font and baptized him. I will never forget being in the font with Gerardo and seeing all the people that loved and cared for him around that font waiting for him enter into God's fold. I have only waited six months for this day, they have waited two years. When we returned from the font into the bathroom it was a joyous moment. His father came up to him and gave him a big hug with tears in his eyes. 
      After the baptism Sarahy, their daughter who's been a member for three years, spoke about the Holy Ghost. It was so nice hearing her feelings. She said with tears in her eyes, "This is the best day of my life." and she shared an experience that she had while she was in Romania. While her parents were busy doing taxes, she was on a study abroad in Romania. When it was the end of the tax season, and it was time her to return home from her study abroad she opportunity to stay in Romania a couple more months. She prayed and asked God what she would do. She said that she got a clear prompting that told her that she needed to go home because her family is ready to be baptized, and when she got home there were ready. She talked about how God has his own time table, and it isn't always what we want, but it is always perfect. When she was speaking I realized how true that is. I wanted the Roldans baptized in December when I was with Elder Armenta, but God wanted them baptized in May. Now that I looked back on my time in Dunwoody I realize that God's hand has been molding me into a better person. The period time when we weren't able to meet with the Roldans due to taxes must have been some of the most trying times of my life, but because of the trials I faced, I am a better person and a better missionary. The Baptism of the Roldan family seems so much sweeter due to the difficulties I've faced. I truly feel that Ether 12: 6 is so true. Dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. My faith is so much stronger because they were baptized when God wanted them to be baptized rather than when I wanted them to be. I had my trial, and I received my witness. 
      This is going to be a long email, because the story just keeps getting better. The following day the Roldans were confirmed. I confirmed Daniela, Brother Stoddard confirmed Fernando, Brother Davidson confirmed Gerardo, and Bishop Abamonte confirmed Darlis. The best part of the day was when Fernando and Gerardo received the Priesthood. Originally Gerardo asked me if I would give him the Priesthood, he didn't know who actually gave him the Priesthood could give him the Priesthood. We realized that if Fernando, his father, could be given the Priesthood first, he could then ordain Gerardo to the Priesthood. And that is exactly what happened. We were a bit nervous at first because we didn't know if Fernando would be comfortable doing that in front of all the Priesthood of our ward. Fernando is a pretty reserved guy. To our surprise her agreed to do it, and did an amazing job. The blessing he gave was so inspired and guided by the spirit. Fernando was getting very emotional during the ordination and in turn made everyone else get emotional. It was definitely the cherry on top of my experience with the Roldan family. The true "cherry on top" will be in one year when they are sealed in the temple, which they do plan to do in exactly one year. 
     After Church I was walking down the hall and Brother Stoddard stopped me and asked me if he could talk to me for a minute in the clerk's office. Brother Stoddard and the Stoddard family have been the main reason this amazing miracle happened. Brother Stoddard's daughter was the one who asked Sarahy to play church ball and that is what got this whole thing started. When he pulled me into the clerks office he handed me a stack of papers with my name on the top. He told me that he was so grateful for me and my patience with the Roldan family. He handed me the papers and said that it was the story about the Roldan family's baptism and told me to put it in my journal. He continued to tell me about a conversation that he had with our  old Ward Mission Leader named Brother Maycock. Brother Maycock knew a lot about the Roldan family because he was over the past missionaries that taught them. Brother Maycock was actually my first WML in this area. Before my first lesson with the Roldan's Brother Maycock and I had a discussion, and he told me, "Just go in there and find out what they want, be patient with them." That is exactly what I did in the first lesson with the Roldans and they told me that they wanted to start from ground one, Joseph Smith and the Restoration. After the lesson I talked with Brother Maycock and told him what happened. I told him, "They want me to start from the beginning. I don't understand why. They could probably know The Restoration better than I do because they've heard it so many times." Brother Maycock is very wise and said, "Elder Romero, be patient. They may have heard the discussions before, but they need to hear them from YOU." I completely forgot about this conversation I had with Brother Maycock six months ago until Brother Stoddard brought it up again. Brother Stoddard asked Brother Maycock, "What do you feel like happened differently this time with the Roldans?" and Brother Maycock said, "Because Elder Romero was patient with them, and did exactly what they wanted. Start from ground one, and help them along the path no matter how long it took. Like I told him, they needed to hear the discussions from him." 
     I was really touched by this conversation, and I don't tell this story to toot my own horn. I know that I am not the only missionary that played a role in the baptism of this family, and I am not the only missionary that was patient with them. I know that every missionary that has ever taught them has played a role in their conversion. I tell this story because I know that it was no coincidence that I am in Georgia. I tell it because I know it is no coincidence that I was placed in the Dunwoody area. And I tell it because I know I was supposed to stay in this area for 6 months. I know that God is in control of this work, and he puts people where they need to be. 

    I have got to end this email. I love my mission and I am so grateful for every second of it. Even the hard times, because they make days like these seem so much better. I love you all and miss you all so much. 

-Elder Ryan Romero 
This picture is brother Beaver, a member of the Dunwoody Ward. Ryan thinks he is terrific and very funny!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Things are looking UP!

The Roldan family had their baptismal interviews last night. They all passed with flying colors and are so excited for this Saturday. I can't tell you how lucky I feel. I feel like the luckiest missionary in the world. God has blessed me with the chance to teach this amazing family and allowed me to stay here in Dunwoody long enough to be here for their baptism. I know that the Roldan's baptism is going to be a baptism that is going to affect future generations. They are all so converted. Gerardo promised me, pinky promised me, that he would serve a mission. I almost have no doubts that Daniella will also do the same. Even Brother and Sister Roldan want to serve missions once all their children move out of the house. Little Fabiana (their youngest one) is going to grow up in a home where the gospel is so strong and she will be baptized when she turns eight. I may even be lucky enough to be there for when they get sealed in the temple in one year. I will never forget Brother Roldan's excitement when he finished his interview. He had the largest smile on his face! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to be one of the many missionaries that played a role in bringing this family into the Church of Jesus Christ. There are few times in my life where I can recall having as much joy as I had last night after all the family passed their baptismal interviews. I can't wait to bless the sacrament with Gerardo next Sunday, that will be a great moment too. 
       I really don't have much more to say as of right now. Beth didn't get baptized this weekend. She got into some anti-mormon literature and stopped talking to us. We handed her teaching record over to the Sister missionaries because we feel that they may be able to work better with her. 
       Things are going so well right now. I am just so happy, and so content. I know that rough waters are ahead, but I'll tackle those when I get to them. I am so blessed. I love my family. I love my friends. I love God, he is so good. I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that his Church was restored to the Earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know without a shadow of a doubt that Joseph Smith was an actual prophet. I love this gospel. I was so happy to have talked to my loved ones back home. I truly love you all so much. I miss you. I can't wait to be with you all again. 

     -Elder Ryan Romero 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So Far So Good

  This has been a wild week. I'll start off with great news. Got in touch with the Roldans again. They are preparing for baptism sometime soon. We asked them to pray about May the 18th tonight for their family home evening. They brought up the idea about baptizing Gerardo this Saturday and having him baptize the rest of the family the following weekend. I can't tell you how amazing this will be if this happens. The Roldans have been being taught for the last three years by the missionaries, and they are so close to the waters of baptism. I love this family so much. I can't stop envisioning their baptism and the joy that each one of them will feel. Teaching the Roldans has been one of the greatest experiences I have had so far on my mission. I am so excited to see what happens. 

      Our area is really moving. We have been talking with everyone and teaching everyone. I have really become a lot more out going and a lot less fearful of talking to random people. Talking about religion isn't a weird thing down here. One of my favorite questions to ask people is, "Are you going to Church?" and they'll usually say, "Yeah, I attend so-and-so's Baptist Church." and I'll say, well "You should come check out our church sometime. We've got an amazing message about Jesus Christ that will change your life." And that usually strikes up a casual conversation about religion. I love asking people right off the bat what they know about The Book of Mormon. In reality it is the greatest news that you could ever tell anyone especially a Christian, "We have another record of Jesus Christ on the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD. Don't you understand that this proves Christianity?" Of course people don't understand that point at first, but The Book of Mormon DOES prove Christianity. The Book of Mormon shouldn't be the greatest news to Mormon's but it should be the greatest news to Baptists, Lutherans, Methodists, and every other Christian religion. It proves that Jesus is the Christ, and that we have a Prophet here on Earth today. I think members of the Church, and even most missionaries don't understand how amazing the message is that they posses. If we truly did understand it then we would be talking to everyone about it as the Apostle's did, we would be dedicating our lives to the make sure that this message. I have noticed that as I have studied and as my testimony has grown and the magnitude of this message has sunk into my heart my faith has cast all my fear of talking to people. 
      I am very happy to stay in the Dunwoody Ward another transfer. I love the members here and I feel that they really love me too. I am so glad that I got to stay another transfer and hopefully be here for Beth and the Roldan's baptisms. Please pray for both of them.

      Last week I mentioned Basketball and how we've been playing every P-day. Last P-day a member of our ward named Brother Beaver came and played with us. He is pretty good. The last game we played Brother Beaver and I decided to play the rest of the district. So It was 2 on 6. And we won! Haha. I love basketball. I can't wait to play with my friends again and show them how much better I've gotten. 

      My Parents sent Brother Asper an awesome leather bound copy of The Teachings of The Prophet Lorenzo Snow. He was so touched by their gift. We called him to see if he'd come on a team up and he said that he would then he said, "I have something to show you." He pulled out the book and showed it to me. I had no idea that my parents sent him that book. He handed me the book with tears in his eyes and said, read the letter. I then found out who sent him the book, it was my amazing parents. He then asked my if I would sign his book for him. Brother Asper has given me a couple amazing books as presents and has wrote very kind things in the front of them and has this way cool paper press stamp that says "RJA's Library." Each of the books that he has given me has a note and that stamp. So he asked me to do something similar for him in his new book. It was such a great opportunity for me to really tell Brother Asper how much he means to me and what he has done for me in my life. I am so thankful to have met him. 

     Well I have got to wrap this up. I love you all.