I can't believe it's writing time again. This mission is going way too fast. My heart broke a lot yesterday as my companion notified me it was my 11 month mark. I don't know how I'll handle next month. Yet... the beautiful thing about this experience is the little time we have to reflect on such harsh realities when there are a million more important tasks at hand.
It has been a sweet week. The Lord has been giving me so many painful, tender, humbling, wonderful, and perfect experiences to help me learn some really important lessons.... sometimes I feel like the slowest learner. Every day I realize a little better the incomprehensible patience that the Lord has...especially for me. As I see more and more how far I am from where He needs and wants me to be...the more I start to internalize how desperately I need His mercy every day...and how pathetically helpless I am without Him taking me by the hand.... every moment of every day. When we say we are Children of God...I am seeing myself more and more like that child... but too often in an obstinate, temperamental, and naive way. Like... our Father is trying to take our hand to help us cross the road to avoid danger... but we refuse to take His hand, or yank our hands out of His.. and run for the street... alone...with a blind determination to do it "our way". Oh how much better is His way.
He never makes us do anything. Yet... He continually invites us to do the Right thing... and receive eternal life. This transfer I've been noticing that just as there are TONS of invitations from Christ to come unto Him...that perhaps there are nearly as many to Return. I love and use so often 3 Nephi 9:13-14. What a merciful and forgiving invitation and plead from Christ...for us to return, repent, and be converted... so that He can do as He desires for us... which is... to heal us.
How can we refuse such an offer?
I am so grateful for this opportunity to carry this open invitation to the children of God in Belize. There is so much hurt here. We see it everywhere... every moment of every day. Such anger, selfishness, addiction, ignorance.... and it makes for a whole lot of pain. Every time we find more people that have not been keeping the commandments and their covenants...we are destined to witness the consequences of the child ripping their hand out of our Father's grip and running into the busy road alone.... they get hurt. I have had so many experiences like Alma when he goes to the Zoramites and finds the persecuted being so harshly humbled... but consequently receptive to the gospel and willing to repent. I hate to see all the heart breaking things that have happened... but the humility that they have... how readily they admit and accept that they are stuck and lost... and need help. Like in Alma 32:6...I behold them with joy...and get so excited to be able to testify to them... that it is not too late. Trying to help my brothers and sisters understand the Lord's unextinguishable love for them... has planted and nourished an ever growing love within myself for them. I see where and who they are right now... they tell me what they have done...how far it's gone... and yet it somehow doesn't tarnish the view of the divine potential within them that God has blessed me to see. Hearing their frustration and self-loathing... their guilt and pain of sin... sometimes it's like I'm hearing and seeing myself in them. Studying the scriptures and the Atonement with them... has rejuvenated within myself that "brightness of hope"... and I have never been so happy in my life. I know that if the Lord has and can forgive me of my own pride and rebellion... there is not one soul in Belize that the He is not willing and anxious to forgive and heal. - as long as they complete the conditions of repentence... the power of the Redeemer is all for them.
We are seeing little changes everywhere...and the hand of the Lord is so evident. No... not everyone ran back to church this sunday... but many sauntered in eventually...and our excitement couldn't be greater. As these people are reading and feasting upon the words of Christ in the scriptures again... the "scales are falling from their eyes"... and they are starting to remember these precious truths that satan had spent years trying to erase. The power of the Lord is being manifest in them every day... and I feel so blessed to be a witness to it.
The Lord just keeps blessing more and more...I can't keep up with it! Just as I'm in the middle of counting them... he dumps on a new day full of tender mercies... and I loose track all over again. I just got news from the zone that we gave to the East mission... that after a tearful and very spiritual goodbye to Andrea Dias in Las Palmeras...Andrea read in Heleman 5 that the Spirit is a voice of perfect mildness... and the Spirit hit her... and she realized without question that she had her answer...and she was baptized the very next week!! She is now in the YW presidency and is helping with the open house of the temple! Jim was baptized, and David Sandoval was baptized and the rest of Sandoval is starting to go to church regularly and they're hoping for baptism soon too. This is definitely the highlight of my day. The Lord is so patient... and he truly does hear our prayers and fasts....and without doubt.. He answers them.
We are hearing news and stories of the heavens opening and the administering of angels and the miracles that are happening in El Salvador with the open house and preparations for the dedication of the temple. The missionaries are sprinting to keep up with all the referrals that they're receiving.... the Lord is doing His work. I love El Salvador... and He certainly does too.
The other day we were biking down the road.. and I heard, " hey! I want to hang out with you guys! " ... we are always haunted and taunted by creepers... so as I was going to ignore it... the Spirit hit me... and I hit my brakes. As we started talking to this man... he started to explain to us that he has a show on the biggest national radio station...and wants us to talk on it. Well... ok! So.. this monday we'll be on national radio...just... telling the whole country that the gospel has been restored!! This DJ even came to church on sunday... the Lord is doing his work.
We keep on finding new people to teach.. and we're working with the greatest elders to meet our baptizing and reactivating goals. I am really enjoying our zone. I feel so inspired and so much power in the strength of these young men... and humbled to work with them. We saw a serious miracle this sunday and had 18 investigators in church. Maybe many have seen that in their mission.. but that was a big first in mine. We are finding friends and families of these inactive families that are ready for the gospel. We'll have a baptism this week and next. The Lord is working His miracles.
The promises and blessing in D&C 109 are real. I see it more and more every day. I know I'm still blind to most of what the Lord has done and is doing... but I can hardly grasp and fathom all that I have seen thus far. Some day my eyes will adjust to such powerful light... I'm in the process.
P.S. Banana...I love you so so so so so so so much.