Oh what a life this is!!! I just realized this morning that the mission can be a lot like.. pregnancy. Not that I know what pregnancy is like.. but it's beautiful how these women go through so much pain and discomfort for so many months.. and then such agony in labor.... and then God blesses them with overuling love to help erase from their memory the excruciating aspects of pregnancy... so that they miraculously want to be pregnant again and are excited to have another baby. I feel like it's like that on the mission. We can go through so much during a day... so many painful and trying experiences... but the blesses and fortifies us.. so that when the alarm buzzes at 5:50 the next morning... we jump up and do it all over again... and with excitement and joy.. like the pain of the past experiences was removed. Like pregnancy?
The Lord put a man in our path this week. Well.. many men, women, people... but this one special man has especially retained much of my contemplation since. He struggles to walk, his body is covered with open sores from his head to his feet... he is in constant pain... and he tell me he lupus and has 4 years to live. I think to myself, "This is a job and a case that only the Atonement can address". As I attempt to receive inspiration and share it with him... he stops me and tells me to just save my breath. He informs me that he knows the bible, but has spent his whole life in cheating, drugs, and womanizing... and will not now suddenly turn to God because he's dying. He continued to share with me the falsest and saddest philosophies that one can have... especially with a death date posted. He talked about his kids, and his wife having increasing breast cancer.... but he remains insistent that he would not turn to God now. My heart broke for him... but especially his family. What a blessing such a situation could be to bring one into humility and allow the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ to work His miracles perhaps physically, and undeniably spiritually. I just prayed that this poor man wouldn't require more compelling to come to the Lord. I though of Sister Paventy, of the peace and humility and joy in that beautiful family... of the death of my own grandfathers....- that is how death should be. This quick conversation has really penetrated me and blessed me with the opportunity and guided meditation on what I am doing and will do with my own short mortal time.. and my personal humility and application of the Atonement in my own life. I am renewed with a desire to choose to be humble... despite how unnatural humility is to me... I'm realizing more and more how much I lack and need it in myself.
During my whole mission... but especially in this assignment the last 2 changes... obedience has been a huge hot topic..and even obsession to me and with the needs of the people here. It's just that... I really don't think the Lord is lying when he clearly repeats over and over and over and over and over again in the scriptures that if we obey him... he will bless us. I'm terrible at math.. but I'm really starting to figure out that equation. I'm so grateful for parents that usually so patient in teaching me this divine, celestial, and eternal principle... but I know that I still have so much more to change and become to really understand what is it to be perfectly obedient. YET, I have seen in myself, and especially in the lives of these families... and when they really do experiment with their little seeds of faith and test the Lord and obey his commandments... He has ALWAYS held true to His word. He truly does bless us for obedience. SO... we are always testifying and teaching the commandments and the principle of obedience to these families... and we try to do it so clearly, boldly, and strongly, but still allowing them to CHOOSE to obey God. The commandment in D&C 66:11 when it says to "push people to Zion"... I see myself doing just what mom did to us... literally- sunday mornings going into these homes, singing hymns at the top of my lungs, turning on the lights, even throwing off the sheets...haha... just like mom. Yet... from what I've learned from myself, experiences in Israel, and here.... the true reason for obedience shouldn't to get Sister Clark to stop singing... or even to get the anticipated blessings... but for love. Love of God. "If ye love me... keep my commandments". Simple as that.
Sometimes we feel like we're right in the heart of Sodom and Gomorrah in the nights... but in the daylight here. They had a big parade.. and we got sprayed with beer and smelt like it the rest of the day. I was really inspired this week by the example of the Lamanites when they were converted in Helaman 6... and they HUNTED the robbers and sought out and taught the most wicked parts of them. The only difference here is... we don't have to hunt them.
George has continued to progress.. and the healing, purifying, and miraculously power of the Atonement is SO tangible in his life right now. He is engrossing himself in the scriptures...and he is totally changing. I will send a picture next week of what we saw when we surprised him at this house. Without expecting us.. he was out reading the Book of Mormon. I snuck up and got a beautiful picture. It totally captures the reason I'm here and loving it. I love this man. I love what the Lord is doing for him. I love that I get to see it.
Welp... we're happy happy happy here. I love Sister Rodas. I hope marriage is truly like his- because every day I learn something more from her... I see something new in her... and she becomes more and more beautiful in my eyes. I am so blessed. Every time I blink, I see another blessing. It's totally ridiculous... but I'll take it. :)
Have a wonderful week! I love you all!
P.S. Banana, wha' happened? Your turn!
Hailey- you know. Now! and... CONGRATS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!