This week has been so frustrating, beautiful, painful, and spiritual. Have I mentioned how much I dig my mission??
I think the main theme of my recent experiences can be better stated by the words of Alma in Alma 13:27 when he says that he wishes from the innermost part of his heart with great anxiety unto pain that they would repent. Sometimes when I leave homes hurting, or return to the house and hold it together just long enough to pray with my companion before bursting into tears... I question if I'm doing this right. Of course the mission isn't supposed to be easy... but I just hope and pray that the daily soul stretching is making me stronger. Yet, it's usually just a lot easier to see how much I lack... how far I have to go... than to see the personal progress that I may have made in these last 10 months.
I am SO grateful for this special blessing of being able to really specialize in the inactive members here. I've learned during my mission that seeing someone come back to church, remember the truth, repent, and be able to receive the blessings of the gospel all over again after hard years of spiritual darkness and starvation....... feels so much like having a baptism. I've realized that I really have such a passion for new converts and inactive members... and I am seeing so many prophecies and promises from my blessing coming to fold even in these last few weeks.
I am humbled for the weekly, daily, hourly, moment to moment guidance and help that the Lord has given us in this calling. We wander out to find streets and houses of people that we have never met before.... just with the list of members and a map (how come THE MOST directionally impaired one keeps opening areas? What is this?)... and with the best compass- the Spirit. We have been so blessed to find them. More than that... the planning is different because we've never met almost everyone on our schedule... and so we're never totally sure what exactly they're going to need, what language they're going to speak, and so planning and making lesson plans for the day is totally impossible without the Spirit. It's such a humbling and edifying experience to sit and listen to these people that have just met... and to recieve revelation to know what their problems and needs are... and to suddenly be filled with scriptures and/or things that I had heard years ago... drift into my head and flow out my mouth. I love love love knowing that it is not me that is speaking... that I have so little to do with anything that has happened in a lesson... but that it was the Spirit guiding it all. We have had so many sweet experiences with people that have had hurt or SUPER HOSTILE feelings for the church... and seeing them soften and change as the Spirit enters the room and touches them. I guess I'm just realizing more and more how little the conversion of these brothers and sisters has to do with me.
Yesterday... we found a house that we had been looking for. A random family on our list that we knew nothing about... and wanted to know. So.. as we were parking and locking our bikes outside... an angry woman came out and asked what we were doing. "oh... just.. umm... are you Sister Smith?" ...."Who wants to know?" ... yikes. " umm... Sister, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ----" " NOT interested. You can leave now. I want NOTHING to do with you." - in that moment... my heart suddenly swelled with love and compassion for this big angry woman.... and I don't remember what I said, or what really happened after that... but just that I opened my mouth, and as the Lord had promised... it was filled... and we found ourselves in her house... as she was yelling and ranting about offenses that she had experienced and that she was just a big angry woman that could never forgive them.. that she knew for these feelings that she had that she would be going to hell... but that she couldn't care less now....... all I could hear was, " I'm hurt." ... and as we talked... she shared that she was once the relief society president, one of the first members in Belize in 1982, and that her husband had recently died and she wanted to do his work, and wanted an eternal family... but with the anger and hurt in her heart... she didn't feel worthy to go back to church. .... we had such a beautiful lesson with her... and by the end she gave us juice and tried to get us to hold her grandchildren... and you could cut the love in that room with a spoon it was so tangible. - it was truly a miracle.
The other day... we went to visit another name on the list... not knowing what we would find. We wandered through a sketchy neighborhood... and my heart grew heavier and heavier. Belize is beautiful... and there are wonderful people here... but it's hard. There are hard hard hard people here. I think they're just like eggs. I'm trying to figure them out... and I'm thinking that they just have cement shells... and once you've chiveled your way in... they're goo inside.. and it's all good. So.. sometimes it's hard to feel super good with the comments yelled at us (it's way worse in english I think), the things we see and hear...... so this day.. I was feeling a little bit heavy of heart. We found the apartment of this sweet Sister Vernon... and she met us with such joy and tears in her eyes... and told us her story of how the Lord sent angels to her house 3 years ago, and though she struggles that her husband isn't a member.. and getting her 5 kids on the same path... and reading the scriptures and praying every day... and having family home evenings... is so hard doing it alone.... that she has seen so many miracles. She sobbed as she told us that "I have new eyes. I see things I never saw before... and I see and feel the spiritual things. I can never forget what I have been given." ... We just... sobbed together. The immediate bond and love that we had... was so incredible. I can't explain exactly what happened in that house... but it was so powerful and continually impacted me every time I reflect of what she said and what I felt during that lesson.
We are meeting so many people that gotten caught up and dragged down by the worldly temptations... and have taken their families with them. I was kind of bummed at first to be leaving El Salvador... knowing that I would miss the temple dedication. What a sweet opportunity it is to take your investigators... families... to the open house and let them get a taste of what the Lord wants to give them. Yet... my disappointment has been replaced with the joy of visiting families and trying to help them make those "celestial traditions" again... and trying to help parents establish a "Christ-Centered Home". It's the best. I'm a family addict. I'll admit it. My perspective and appreciation of the family is blossoming.. and I love it. I look forward to my own future with excitement and definite goals... because I know so much better now what exactly I want... and what I can have if I do my part.
Mom, you asked about the weather. It's hurricane season... so the rain is coming. I guess Belize City used to be the capitol until it kept getting washed out every season... so they moved it. So.. we'll see what happens. It's "cooling down" they say... so I feel great about that. Culture note- there is a big colony of omish people that speak german that come into town in their horse and buggy. I found a lebanese restaurant. They speak arabic and have divine hummus. I was so happy.
Ok! love you!