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!

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