Thank you so much for the birthday wishes!! They totally made me smile, and even tear up a bit. I have such beautiful people in my life. Thank you!!
A family that we've been focusing on, the "Anderson Family", we shall call them... has totally taken my heart... and left with a few broken fragments. I love this family so so so so so much. One night, a few weeks ago... our plan A, B, C, D-Y had fallen through.... and as we driving down the road... we saw my dear Brother Wallace- a big strong dark humble kind charitable old man in the ward that I have become every so fond of- on his bike in the middle of the road. I stopped him and felt inspired to ask him who he knew that was inactive that we could visit. He got very serious... and said, " I know just the people you need to meet. FOLLOW ME."... and he took us to the broken home... of the "Anderson Family". Of Brother "Anderson" that was once upon a time a sad soul totally lost in the streets, drowning in drugs and immorality... until two sisters found him in an alleyway... and he accepted the gospel... and married a sister in the church... and had 6 BEAUTIFUL children- the oldest being only 9 years old. In the course of 9 years... Sister "Anderson" decided to stop going to church... and started doing many many things that one needn't do... and over time Brother Anderson also stopped loosing steam... and they fell apart from there. The lack of happiness, hope, or even feeling with that man and woman... was astounding. The children are so pure, sweet, and innocent... but have been cruely forced to grow up faster than any 9, 8,7....year olds should. The patience and preserverence of these children astound me. The economic situation is so dificult... with only the mother working... and so much of the income going to activities that are opposite of beneficial to the children... it's been difficult. We've been working with giving Brother Anderson the courage to come back to church... since he claimed to have the desire. He began reading the book of Mormon again... and we even had the mother listening to us. I wanted so badly for them to come to church this sunday... so so so so badly... we visited them saturday night with glowsticks, food... and a sweet lesson to give the kids some excitement... and more than anything hope to Brother Anderson. He expressed previous thoughts of leaving the whole situation... but as we read and talked.... and knelt with him in prayer... he thanked us for bringing this new light into his life again... and we promised to come by the next morning with a van to take them to church. I woke up my birthday... so so so excited to pile this family into the van and see them in church... and get them rolling again.... and when we showed up... brother Anderson was gone. He had left in the middle of the night with his few belongings... and when we got there, the mother was at work... and all the kids were home alone... with not a crumb in the house to eat. We got creative and found food... threw on slightly soiled clothes... and ran them to the church... where they began to sing and play and have a few hours of security. I can't explain all the details... but this may be one of the hardest experiences of my whole mission. I keep asking myself... what more could we have done? What did we do wrong? Yet I know that all have their agency... and now we focus on the kids. I love these children so so so much.... and they have such a hunger for love that I have never seen before. It makes me appreciate so much my parents... and fills me with a determination to love many many many children like this all my life.
One of our deaf investigators, Karl, is really progressing and it's been such a sweet experience! I do NOT speak sign... but the give of tongues is so real. I now read the promise of "open thy mouth and it shall be filled" to... just... start moving your hands.... and they will be led. It really is so marvelous that we have been able to communicate with him... and now we've started finding ways to watch the ASL videos online with him- that have all the gospel principle lessons on them. He LOVES them. He is eating the scriptures up- he's read up to 2 Nephi 26 and has prayed... and of course received an answer. He is preparing to be baptized the 20th of August. We are struggling to find a way to integrate him with the members... since only one person speaks a little bit of sign... and he's not able to come to lessons with us.. and translating in the meetings... is rough. The good thing is that Karl is learning and loving the solid doctrinal truths... but now he prefers staying at the computer watching the videos than going into sacrament meeting. So.. we're praying that the whole branch will have the gift of tongues... and that they will learn how to overcome these barriers. We would love to get some clips of you guys signing your testimonies- please please please!!! :) I keep wishing more and more that my mom and sisters could come help teach... he would love it.
My birthday was bitter sweet... lots of things happen... but the happy things were:
- I got to share it with Rose Renue- the sister that we've been working with that has returned to activity- it was her birthday too. So... I got to share it with my OTHER sister here... and we love each other so much... that it was a happy time.
- just as I had always dreamed of... we had a BAPTISM on my BIRTHDAY in the afternoon of our dear Sister Gloria that we found in the home of new converts from Guatamala... and she has changed so miraculously.. and was so so so happy... that I really couldn't ask for a better burfday present.
- I got to spend all morning with the Anderson children... playing mom and despite the recent events... feeling their love was a great and precious gift to me that day.
- I got to teach and testify all day with Sister Rodas... a powerful missionary and awesome companion.
- The Lord gave me another day in the mission. Could I wish for anything more?
I am more more grateful for my mission everyday. I'm glad it's not easy... and there are days when I start to realize how hot that refining fire really is... or, maybe it's just the Belizean weather... but I appreciate these refining experiences and opportunities to be molded in my sacred time here.
Thanks for all your support and all you do. I am proud of where I come from!!