....wasn't I just sitting here writing a letter... like... yesterday? Since when it did become a week later? What is happening with my sense of time?
I realized what is so familiar about this place. I feel like I’m living the play, “Our Town” almost every day. The streets.. the houses, stores, people… sometimes remind me of that era… but the quiet erriness… the daily rhythm… some parts of the culture… but especially.. the things I’m learning.. or the way I’m starting to view the world here, or, life in general… I can almost here Anna’s voice narrating the scenes that I see as we’re flying on our bikes. It’s… really weird, but really great at the same time. Part of this production that I’m living… is witnessing and participating steps in the progression of life. Like the picture that I sent last week… we got to be with Shawna- the sister that has is reactivating- the day she had her baby. It was so sweet and tender to teach her the plan of salvation in the hospital room with her new precious angel… hot and fresh out of the veil. We have had 2 baptisms… and have been able to see our brother and sister complete/ start a big part of their purpose in this life… and they were so tender. Then.. just in this last week.. we have played the piano at two funerals- a celebration of the continuation after this life.
One funeral was of a young man that had died of AIDS.. and the other was of a brother that I came to know even before I saw him- Brother Nicholas. As we’ve been visiting many many many members that were baptized in the 80’s and on… Brother Nicholas’ name has come up… A LOT. SO many people have told us.. “ Brother Nicholas taught me this..” or, “Brother Nicholas visited me all the time..” or, “Brother Nicholas was there for me when this happened…”…. And so on. His fingerprints… or, better said, little parts of his heart are strewn over this city… and though I’m new here… so quickly we have seen that… this Brother Nicholas made a real difference. Even before meeting him… I knew that he was a man of faith, and had truly been faithful to his baptismal and temple covenants TO THE END. I have been so touched by this stranger’s example of Christ-like service and teaching… and and true faith. I finally met him as he had come back from the hospital to die at home. As we sang hymns with him… he became the most conscious that he had been in weeks… and tried to hum “ High on a Mountain Top”. I came to respect, admire, love, and hope to emulate this great man even before meeting him. Sitting this with his BIG black hand in mine… I felt like I was someone from my own family that I had always known. His funeral was over 2 hours long.. and was beautiful. As I listened to so many differnet people speak, members and nonmembers, from so many different walks of life.. I started to understand that I had been misunderstanding this people… and that I lack so much understanding still. Yet… I learned that day that their natural man is so visibly exposed… because they’ve been rubbed so wrong and so hard for so many generations. They’re not just angry… they are PASSIONATE. Watching a woman in her beautiful african dress, nose ring, and dreds pulled on top of her head in bright fabric… ranting from the podium Krioel that I did not understand… peppered with colored words that I did not expect or want to hear…. I realized… that they just feel hard. It’s like… they have more emotion and passion than they know what or how to deal with it. They’re like children… easily provoked… but tender and vulnerable… and so sweet deep down. The death of Brother Nicholas woke a lot of people up. So many have said with such sweet confidence that he is in Spirit Paradise… and now we’re jumping into his family to try to help them do their part to be with him and his wife again. My love and appreciation for this perfect perfect PERFECT plan of Salvation just about exploded that rainy thursday afternoon.
Our sister Samantha was baptized on Saturday.. and it was a unique baptism. We joined with the Elders… and we had unfortunate miscomunications.. and when we got there just a little early.. we realized that the baptismal font hadn’t been started. So.. this pictures are of the investigators and I grabbing hoses and filling up buckets to try to fill the font faster. Haha… investigators filling their own baptismal font. I just had to remember to be thankful, as we waited for 2 hours.. that at least we weren’t having to break through ice. I hardly remember what ice is anymore.
Our experiences have been so sweet with Samantha.. and just last night we had a family home evening with Shawna and her… and Shawna gave the lesson… and it was SO SO SO great! Just remembering 1.5 months ago Shawna hardly talking, so depressed… frustrated, confused… wanting to give up…. Testifying to Samantha of the power of reading the scriptures… and the importance of them as single mothers of young boys to read the scriptures with their children EVERY DAY and prepare them for missions. It was SO SO SO beautiful.
I’m loving Belize.. and my mission all around. It’s taken so many turns and twists.. and I love it. I have been seeing the promise from President Hinckley when he said that the Book of Mormon would give strength to keep the commandments of God. As so many inactive people, new converts, and investigators have been truly diving into the scriptures… they have learned too to love the commandments… and are learning to keep them… and the windows of heaven are being opened and the blessings are being poured out. I love being a witness to it.
P.S. Interesting note that I found in a phonebook – The main population of Belize consists of Creoles, Garifunas, Mestizos, Maya, english, mennonite, lebanses, chinese, eastern indians, and europeans. I love this place! I just sat with a man from Spain… and as he insisted that we shared his juice (he’d take a sip.. then insist that I take a sip… then he’d take another.. and make me take another… so against my religion…but I’ll probably live this time.)… he told me he believed in nothing. If he couldn’t see it.. he didn’t believe it existed. There is no God.. we end after this life… ect, ect. I just can’t believe that anyone believes that. I swear we have a deep down spiritual memory… and that everyone has to know deeeeeep down… that we are truly… children of God.