What a difficult and delightfully blissful week. Can my life always have such a balance?
We had so many tender mercies and saw such huge miracles this week.... I am so overwhelmed with gratitude.. I don't even know where to begin. I think I'm the most excited to talk about how about 30 people came back to church this sunday! It all started on entering the chapel and finding a guy that has been inactive for like, 8 years that we have been having mildly frustrating visits with... who has been so hard, stubborn, difficult to understand, and impossible to focus.. and the unthinkable dream... happened- he came. He even bore his testimony in fast and testimony meeting... I, for one of the few times in my life, was totally speechless. woah. Three huge families came- ALL of the members of this families... like.. the parents got up, got them ready, and they all came and loved it!! It was so satisfying peeking out at the congregation from behind the piano... and seeing these families that we have been visiting and working with for months.... sitting so cozy and happy together on the pews... I even giggled with delight to see Brother Nolberto with his arm around his wife... just after he had told us days ago that there was no hope for her of coming back.. she was just too hard. Hope is so understated in the world today. It is not an idealistic, outdated, or oblivious state of mind..... with faith in the Lord... it is perfectly logical and valid... and I received a million more reasons on sunday.. to be filled with a "brightness of hope". Happy happy happy.
With that hope, must come the patience. I am trying to take more personally the commandment that the Lord gave the sons of Mosiah, to be patient in their difficulties with Lamanites... and to keep showing them for good examples.. and He promises them they'll be the means of bring salvation to them. Being here... has really helped me understand the way the Lamanites are described in the Book of Mormon... because the culture here is so eroded with such vile fast traditions. Just as the Sons of Mosiah went out to change such traditions... we are learning that that is a big part of our role here... is help incorporate celestial traditions into the culture. It's not easy... but cultivating my personal faith has blossomed within me an inextinguishable hope that carries me everyday. I am trying to keep the ultimate vision of actual wards in Belize...return missionaries...strong families in the gospel... a Stake... then multiple stakes... and a temple. Sometimes it's tempting to question if these little sprouts will bring forth fruit when the ground is so dry and lacking in nutrition... but I love the commandment in Jacob 5:22 when the Lord says, "Counsel me not; I knew that it was a poor spot of ground... I have nourished it this long time, and though beholdest that it hath brought for much fruit." I didn't realize how much this hope had grown within me until President Cordon and Sister Cordon came again this week... but this time to really get to know Belize. We took Sister Cordon to meet the families... and she was really shocked and deeply touched by the incredibly difficult situations here. Seeing her so overcome.. made me question if I had become more than acclimated to these circumstances... that maybe I had become... hardened. I had to really analyze myself... and I realized that I wasn't in emotional shambles every day because I don't see or feel the reality around me... but because the Lord has heard my cries... and has truly given me the hope and ability to endure these things that we hear and see every day. I am so grateful for the changes in vision and enlargening of heart and soul that He gives me every day. I know that I could not do this every day without the miraculous interventions that he has had within me.
Earlier this week... we were riding along... and struck with the impression to change plans and visit a sister that has been reactivated and has been doing so well... that we still visit.... but had no logical reason to race to her home that night... more than just.. a clear inspiration. We got there... and felt to teach her the Word of Wisdom... though I mentally assumed there was no problem. Her mother started texting us at 5 in the morning the next day... telling us that she had been praying all day yesterday that we would come... but we had no appointment and her phone didn't work at that time to call us. She said that there were big temptations coming for her daughter...with the Word of Wisdom... and that every time we have come over to their house.. we have taught just the thing that she had been wanting her daughter to hear. It was such a beautiful reminder that this is the Lord's work for HIS children. He knows their needs. I am SO grateful for the Holy Ghost. We would be so useless without it.
Something difficult that we face every day that I don't think I've mentioned... is racism. I didn't think it would be so big... but it really is. Many don't want to talk to me...because I'm white. Many yell things out in the street... and we often hear that it's the "white people's church"... but our investigators have been puzzled and said, "woah... almost everyone is black in here"- well ya- we're in BELIZE! I didn't really understand or know what racism was before my mission... and know I know it better and understand it less. I echo the declaration of Nephi in 2 Nephi 26:33, that God invites ALL to come unto Him and partake of his goodness, and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female." I know that is not remotely racist... so why would people think it's ok that we would be?
I have been thinking a lot about children. They flock to us. They LOVE us. I have been thinking about how... they are THE FIRST ones in the family to recognize that we are sent by their Heavenly Father. As I have been pondering this... replaying so many sweet moments and conversations I've had with these children...... seeing their faces and eyes in my mind... the way they look at us...I realized..... maybe they're not just communicating with us... they're connecting and associating with our guardian angels that they can see and only I can feel.
I love you all. Love this work... and I love my Saviour. Let's try to be a little, or, a LOT more like Him this week!