Monday, January 9, 2012
I Love My Companion!
It was so good and neat to see and talk to you all! The best news of the week is the AWESOME news I received last night. The Martinez and Cardona family that I taught in Candelaria are going to be sealed February 18th!!!!! Right when we're there!!! The Lord has continued to spoil me time and time again... for than I could ever deserve... but this really does top it all. I love these families SO SO SO much, and it's my greatest mission/life fantasy to have seen their weddings, baptisms, and now their sealings. What a blessing!!
Yet, it can't all be lollypops and gumdrops, huh? When I think of sweet Candelaria.. I am often startled back into the reality... of the Jaredite world I live it. I refer to it as Jaredite in the sense of the curse that the land had at the time... when they couldn't set anything down... or it would dissapear...it's a great description of my beloved Belize. After receiving my awesome package full of gifts for the kids... Sister Rodas and I stayed up way too late saturday night wrapping them and preparing about 15 packages for our dear families and their children. We put them in big inconspicuous ugly black bags, and thinking ourselves very careful and wise... we hid them away in the library at church- knowing better than to leave them at our bikes or even bring them into the sacrament room. When we rushed to collect and distribute them after the sacrament meeting... despite our supposed previous ingenuity... Our hidden treasures where now hidden from us... and mysteriously no where to be found. We were mildly disappointed, but not the least bit surprised. Then... satan stepped it up a knotch. Not in creativity, mind you, but in severity.
Just last night, we were leaving our last appointment, as we descended down the stairs and went to unlock and mount our iron stallions... when we realized...that we would not be riding out bikes home that night. (See sad picture) It was classic Belize. We had just been saying to ourselves how incredibly hard the Lord must have been working for us and watching over us the last 7 months because despite all that goes on here...we have not been touched... and though all the other missionaries have had their bikes stolen, or they've been robbed... we've only lost minor things...that only by pure grace have we been so incredibly preserved thus far. Yet, it's Sister Rodas' last week... we had to get a taste of reality. :) Yet, really... Satan's gonna have to get a lot more creative than taking out our tires from underneath us to frustrate us. Seriously.
Christmas was so so so SO wonderful. After 7 months here... we had WAY too many people visit and share the time with. It was my favorite Christmas EVER. We felt the true magic and Spirit all week as we raced home to home to remind and teach of the true Gift our Father gave us when Christ was born. I've never like commercialize... but it's never pained me so terribly as it did this year to see so many blinded from the truth by the glitter, toys, and parties. We heard many say, "I couldn't go to church because I had to cook... I was tired... my family was over...." so many awfully lame excuses. Not even on the day universally dedicated to remember and celebrate the Lord could His children make Him a priority. It is so tragic. This Christmas really made an impact on me and has helped me understand what I want and will do with my future family.
We've been having so many special experiences... I can't even start to relate them... but I will try. We've been working with the "Johnson family"-we shall call them. They've been struggling to keep the commandments... and we've come to really love them as we've jumped into the fighting ring against satan with them. Bro J has an awful propensity for alcohol... but we had been seeing great progress with him for many months... until Christmas came. I really don't understand how it's remotely appropriate or justifiable to celebrate the Lord's birth by breaking His commandments and intoxicating yourself. It makes NO sense. So, when we visited them Christmas eve...we found him disgustingly drunk. We were trying to help Sis.J and the kids feel the Spirit as we taught them the BOM Christmas story... when we he stumbled in being very obnoxious. I have never yet seen my companion be so stern and bold as she demanded that he leave NOW. It was a really sad scene.. and broke my heart... and those of his family. We returned yesterday and found himwith a double broken jaw and very humbled and sober... and had an incredibly powerful lesson. We read with him Sister Dalton's talk and called him to be repent, be a man, and to be who his family needed. I love that family so much... it made me even more grateful for the real man I have had in my life as my father. I would not be here without him.
We were at a baptism for the Spanish branch, when the branch president called on Oscar Valerio to give his testimony. It was a total mission high to listen to this sweet humble man talk about his past of constant drinking, darkness, and confusion… and how he and his wife were married and baptized… and the changes and miracles they’ve experienced in their lives and how happy he has been this last year… and how excited he is to be sealed with his family. I loved watching Lucy’s face… in total shock… this being the first time her shy and tough husband had ever given his testimony. She was so in love. It was an INCREDIBLE moment.
We get to work with the Espinal family… who were just married and baptized. They are fighting against cancer and many financial crisis… and have experienced the healing miracles through the priesthood, and have incredible peace and joy despite the ragging struggles they are fighting every day. I am so humbled and astounded by their humility, patience, faith, and love of the Lord. I am learning so much from them. They are a beautiful couple and wonderful children that truly love each other. That is what I want. They have so little of worldly things… but they are some of the wealthiest people I have ever met.
It doesn’t feel like Sister Rodas is leaving. I feel like I’ve always had her, and will always have her. The Lord has been SO gracious and generous with the time He has blessed me with her. You’re right Dad… she deserves a LOT of respect for the time she has put up with me. I will always be in her debt. I hope you get to meet her some day.
Love you all!!