We met Alberto one day when we went to buy some juice and were sitting down to take a rest on a warm afternoon about two weeks ago. He was with his daughter who is a very active member of the church from a different ward, and when she saw us she got all excited and stopped to talk with us. Her daughter, Alberto's granddaughter is serving a mission in Rosario. We met Alberto, wrote down his address and went to visit him a few days later. From that moment on, we loved Alberto with all our hearts. We had lesson after lesson, always with the same question, "So Alberto, why haven't you gotten baptized?" He showed us all his books, including his Book of Mormon from 1975 that his daughter gave him when she got baptized. It had the most beautiful dedication inside, the daughter pleading with her father to read the book and pray to know if it's true.
We came to lessons with different members, all of whom loved Alberto just as much but all left just as befuddled as us. From the very start, we were very bold with Alberto, teaching him the doctrine of baptism and the importance, and inviting him over and over again to stop playing around and make this decision once and for all to get baptized! Finally, we discovered that Alberto was just being lazy and was waiting for his daughter to baptize him when he had passed away! But we all know that someone who KNOWS the truth in this life and chooses not to act upon it is going to have a rough time repenting in the next life.
About a week ago, we were thinking and praying alot about Alberto. We studied and thought some more, and decided that we needed to stop beating him over the head with baptism, and focus instead on the only One who could really help Alberto have a change of heart, Jesus Christ. We felt very strongly that we needed to have a lesson on the Atonement. We went to Alberto's house on Friday without a member and had a lesson outside in the warm sun (spring is here!) In the very first moment of that lesson, there was a different spirit. It had changed from pressure and frustration with Alberto to complete love for this man and concern for his salvation.
We had one of the most beautiful lessons I think I've ever had, and at the end, invited Alberto to be baptized. But this time it was different. This time it was an invitation to show his love for his Savior and faithfully follow His example. It was the essence of everything we do and work for as missionaries. It was inviting others to come unto Christ.
Alberto's eyes filled with tears and he smiled and said, "I know I need to be baptized." Alberto is going to be baptized this Saturday. After the lesson, we were eating apple pie and he said, "You two have managed to do what my daughter has been trying to do for 30 years." I believe that every person has their moment when Jesus Christ reaches out in infinite, patient love and calls out to them to follow Him. And it was one of the most sacred experiences of my life being able to participate in that moment with Alberto. In that moment, I felt a tiny portion of the love that Jesus feels for Alberto, and even that tiny portion was almost overwhelming.
I love this work so very much and I love seeing the power of Jesus Christ's love and Atonement work miracles in so many lives here!