Letter from Tuesday, August 31, 2010
1. Well my area is directly east of San Diego. The earthquake happened at night and Elder Mendoza woke up and freaked a little bit. I just kept sleeping. I woke up for a second because I thought I hit my alarm clock off, but it was the shaking that knocked it off.
2. I am back to 1 o'clock church. They do the wierd stuff here. Sacrament meeting is last. Also, I work at the MCRD (Marine Corps Recruiting Depot) in the mornings from 730-11. I will tell you more about that later in the letter but just know, it is the most spiritually intense situation I have ever been in.
3. We have dinner appointments but not many. Elder mendoza doesnt like them because they take too much time. I kind of like it that way..I'm gaining weight, but without appointments, I don't eat as much.
Well I just can't keep it in any longer. I had another baptism this week. This is probably the most special one because it is mine. No I am not being prideful or anything like that, but I solo taught this guy, so it means more to me. It was just me and the Spirit.
You are probably wondering what that is all about. At the MCRD there is an LDS branch where we work and go to church on Sundays. There are a lot of members who are in the marine boot camp, and they love to bring their non-member platoon members. These guys are amazing. Really, when it comes down to it, the recruits are looking for something to hold on to, some solace, a break from a man yelling in their face every minute of every day breaking them down. So as missionaries, that's what we give them. Now I want to tell you about this special recruit, Marc Mandel.
I met Marc my second week at the MCRD. Right away I knew he was special. He came up to me and asked if he could talk to me. We sat down and he told he wanted to get baptized and wanted me to help him do that. So I was like, "Well Marc, I can definitely help you do that." We talked more and it turns out that Marc is married to a member and he grew up in St George. He knows pretty much everything about the church. So we set a date to be baptized the following week. The recruits go up north cali to do training, but they have a branch up there to so he was going to be baptized there. I went the next week not expecting to see Marc, but I was walking aroung looking for someone to talk to when I saw him sitting down reading his Book of Mormon. I went and said, "Marc, what are you doing here bro?" He told me that his DI(Drill instructor) didn't see him pass part of his physical test, so he got dropped and had to stay another week. He told me that it was the hardest thing he ever has gone through. He couldn't even talk to his wife when he called and told her he had to stay another week because he was in tears. This guy really loves his family and wants to get back to them, but because he didn't pass his test, he has to stay another week. He said he felt like going home. So I was sitting there listening and then asked, "So why didn't you Marc, what turned things around?" He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "I did like you told me. I prayed." Mom and dad, this kid prayed for a straight hour and he said," I just opened up my heart and told everything to the Lord. I just pleaded with him to help me. And the next day when I woke up, everything made sense. I knew everything was true. I wasn't mad or sad, I was determined. Determined to do everything I could to get back to my wife." When he was telling me this, I almost started crying. So I talked to him about getting baptized before church, and he said he wanted to wait for his friend to do it up north next week, because he had already passed his test and everything was good to go. So I talked with him some more after church, gave him a hug and told him I would see him in 3 weeks. So this past Sunday(8/29) we went to the MCRD like usual. When I got out of the car, another elder came running up to me and said, "Mandel is here! He wants to get baptized right now!" I ran inside and found him. He had the biggest smile on his face. I asked him again, "What the heck Mandel, what are you doing here." He got an ear infection so he got dropped again. He said after that happened he was sitting, taking the last fire watch on top of one of the buildings and he was praying and told God, "God, if that spotlight out in the distance that is spinning around stops on me, I will get baptized tommorrow and do everything you want me to do." He said he looked up and saw it spinning and then it stopped. It stopped right on him and then he knew, he had to get baptized. So we got it done that day. He was baptized, confirmed and recieved the preisthood all in one day.
Mom and Dad, this story is evidence of just how much the church is true. These marines are the most humble people I have ever met. They just are looking for something to hold on to and the Lord gives them the gospel for comfort. I will always have a bond with Mandel and he told me he wants to hang out once we BOTH get done with our missions. He wants to go on a couples mission with his wife when he is older.
I love yall so much and I can hear your prayers every day. They truly mean a lot to me and they leep me going. Thanks for everything that you do. I sent a package to dad the other day with some stuff, I hope he got it. Thanks for everything and I LOVE YALL!!