This week has been absolutely fantastic! It's been anything but a normal week though. Let me explain...
On Wednesday the mission went to the temple again! Or at least the zones in and around the capital. It was a great experience, one because we only get to go a couple of times a year, and two, because while I was there I was able to do a vicarious baptism for my grandfather.
Now, for those of you who don't know what vicarious baptism (or baptism for the dead) is, let me explain. We believe in the words of Jesus Christ recorded in John 3:5, that is "He that is not born of water and of the spirit cannot enter in to the kingdom of God." We also believe that for a baptism to be valid, it must be performed by someone who holds the Priesthood, or in other words is authorized by God to perform said baptism. We also believe that said authority is only found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Taking all of that into account, it means that there are a whole lot of people who don't have their ticket to enter the Kingdom of God. That's why we do missionary work, so that as many people as possible can be baptized by someone authorized to do so, and be able to enter the Kingdom. But what happens to all of those folks who die without being baptized, or even hearing about the gospel in this life?
The answer can be found in Doctrine & Covenants 138. Yes, I'm going to make you read it. You all can regañar me for giving you homework when I get home.
The point is, these people still need baptisms. And that's part of what we do in the temple: we perform vicarious, or proxy baptisms for those who have died without being baptized by the authorized servants of God on this earth. If they choose to accept it, it counts as if they had been baptized in this life. They can enter the Kingdom of God after the resurrection.
Temple baptisms are something that can only be done with permission of the next-of-kin of the deceased. For that reason we are just now starting the vicarious work for my family members, because we recently received permission from the next of kin, my aunt Melanie.
Getting to perform a temple baptism for one of my family members was an extremely special experience for me. It was my first opportunity to do so in my entire life. What makes it even more special for me is that I know that my grandfather accepted that ordinance. The Holy Spirit confirmed it to me shortly after performing the ordinance. I was sitting on a metal folding chair, freezing cold because of the air conditioning and the wet baptismal clothing I had on. One of the temple workers and one of the other missionaries there with me placed their hands on my head to perform the confirmation. And when they said the words "Recibe el Espíritu Santo" (receive the Holy Ghost), I felt it. Those fruits of the spirit that are listed in Galatians 5:22-23 were all in my heart, and I knew.
Well, my time in the cybercafe is up. Next week I'll tell you about our Mission Conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson. For now, just a highlight from his discourse. "The Lord uses the unlikely to accomplish the impossible."
Love you all! Have an awesome week!
Elder Colton West
El Salvador, San Salvador East Mission
Editor's Note: We did not receive any pictures this week :( hoping for some next week along with his report about the Multi-Mission Conference with Elder Nelson!!!
For more on temple baptisms for the dead and why we do them, please visit