Wow, what a week we have had! Though sometimes I may get a little tired.... I will never be tired of this work. It's hard for me to imagine a better calling and assignment than the one that I have right now. This is such a dream come true... and things greater than dreams have come to pass... and I continually stand all amazed.
I was in the Spanish branch this week... and kids were running every where... way too many adults talking... it was painful for me to realize how the Spirit wasn't there... and I began to pray that the members would wake up and remember why we were there. As I was praying... the Spirit sweetly, softly, but ever so clearly told me...to sing. I didn't have anything planned, didn't know what I should sing... but I sent a note over to the brother conducting, and offered to sing the intermediate hymn. I started praying some more... asking what He wanted me to sing.... when the Elder that was talking read a few lines of "I Stand All Amazed"- my favorite hymn. I stood up... not nervous.. but knowing that it was a sparadic effort... but undoubtedly inspired. As I started to sing acapella... I started to feel and truly mean every word I was singing. "I Stand All Amazed" has always been so dear to me- I remember when it first touched me when I was probably 9 or 10... but in that moment... as I sang... reflecting on the Atonement, my own repentance, and all I have seen here... it sunk deeper than it had ever gone before. As I was trying to sing, "siempre jamas le agradecire"... The Clark genes overcame me... and I choked on the words and after many pauses and fighting to squeek something out.. I finished. I don't think I could ever possibly thank my Heavenly Father and my Saviour enough for all He has done for me... and I will truly be forever amazed.
This week has been so dear and sweet. When missionaries hear how long I've been in my area- that half of my mission will have been in Belize City working on reactivation and retention... they shake their heads with sympathy- but how little do they know. I feel SO blessed to have had so much time here. To get to know so many people on such personal and intimate levels... and most of all... to see their change. Even in these last few weeks.. I have seen true and pure miracles that I had always prayed for... but doubted I would be blessed to witness the answers.
There is a family that we have been visiting for about 6 months... the father was coming about 1 time ever 1 or 2 months... and when we asked about his wife, he only shook his head and said, "man... she is a hard one."- and of course... that kind of response always sparks my interest. We started visiting her and her kids... and she didn't want anything with us! So... we started coming on surprise.. and just helping her wash clothes and clean. She tried so hard to avoid us... haha... but that is only more inviting to me! I could feel the Lord's love for this family SO strong... and He clearly guided us with them. One time her little son came out and said, "She dun gon ou" (She already left)... the Spirit told me otherwise.. and I felt strongly impressed to barge on into the house and poke my head out the back door- only to find my dear sister knee deep in the nasty garbage and alligator filled swamp with her back pressed up against the house trying to stay quiet until we left. :) It was an awkward moment... but a sweet one all the same... and over weeks and months as we continued to patiently love and teach... she started to listen... and they all started to change. They have now gone to church 5 weeks straight and are SO SO SO happy and are experiencing miracles and blessings in her husbands new business as he is using his priesthood again and recieving a calling. We just taught her about temples... and the Spirit was so sweet and strong... and they are preparing to go to the temple this year. I am so grateful to been here to see such sweet fruits.
My dear "G-Family" (Elder Holbrook will know who this is) is another marvelous transformation. This family has been a true test of my patience and charity... and I have left that home heart broken and frustrated...but not without hope. I have truly startled my dear Sister Rodas with my bluntness in teaching... but there was no other way. There clear rebellion was out of control... and though they too avoided us, ignored us, and totally reject the visits of the members... we kept... chugging along. After 7 months of warning, teaching, serving, loving... doing everything we could think of... and all the Lord inspired us to do.... Brother G is bound and determined to jump back in. He is going through the process of repentance, and we helped him yesterday write out a family home evening agenda and lesson to teach his kids and wife and get them preparing for the temple. I have seen an INCREDIBLE change in him... and I am so grateful that my Father answered me and the prayers of many missionaries... and has allowed me the opportunity to see His hand moving working miracles. There are many members that have been reactivated that are now preparing themselves to go to the temple this year. There are powerful converts that are now getting callings and working on hauling back the inactives too (Just like the story in Helaman 6! I LOVE IT!)
Sister Villatoro is such a, may I say, BABE. She is the woman. She is so determined to learn english, she super optimistic and has so much zeal for the work- especially this calling. Her personal experiences of inactivty and reactivation are super powerful, I know she was called by inspiration for THIS assignment... and we are enjoying our time together. She jumps out of bed at 5:30 ready to run all along the shore with me... and keep running all day. Belize is SO different from El Salvador... and our calling doens't come with clear lesson plans from Preach My Gospel... or much guidance... but just true reliance on inspiration and the Spirit. We have had some pretty crazy but beautiful lessons lately... and it's so neat to see her enthusiasm. There are so many startling factors of the culture of Belize... but she's learning and using her faith... and I am learning a lot from her. She is GREAT.
Thank you for all your prayers, faith, fasts, love, and support. I feel it every day.