Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week 53: Voice of Lightning

Well.  It happened.  A baptism.  It took a year, but it happened.  And it was perfect.
(By the way, I've been a missionary for an entire year last Thursday, is that wild or what?)
So Brother J got baptized by his son-in-law.  His daughter gave one of the talks and his grandkids sang the "I like to look for rainbows" baptism song and it was super precious.  He was confirmed the next day in sacrament, and advised in the blessing to look forward to the temple and work toward it.  He's retired and single, which I believe translates to "perfect candidate for hecka family history work."  As I said before, he was so prepared and accepted it all so readily (because he felt peace about it the whole time) that I basically did nothing as a missionary but relay the lessons and the Spirit done the rest.  But still.  Mucho blessed to have been able to take some small part in the process, and equal part in the rejoicing.

For my year mark on July 31st, Sister Dailey made me a "Happy Mish Day" sign and got me a pie for breakfast because she's the sweetest companion ever.  We spent the day in M-Hall and finally got to teach that legit young family that we've only taught once but I had a dream about and knew we had to follow up with.  They were home this time, so we taught the Plan of Salvation and when we talked about eternal marriage and families, the wife lit up and looked at her husband.  They both agreed that sounded way better than "til death do us part."  They're planning on moving to the coast soon, which will be great because then they won't feel that obligation to attend the church here that they grew up in (traditions of their fathers is a real obstacle in these parts) and would only be made greater if I were to get transferred to the coast at the end of the month.  Fingers crossed and praying for it.

You know how Aaron (Broseph) always called me a muffler because I like to muffle and no one can hear me?  Well I'm learning more and more that the Holy Ghost likes to muffle too.  We were planning one night and I got the idea to write down to tract a certain road on Friday.  So I did.  Not even thinking it was inspired or anything.  And that's where we ended up, despite there being no promising prospects in that whole neighborhood.  We tracted the remainder of it anyway and got let in to a home of three after an awkward door approach and the woman had randomly told us that her mother had recently passed.  I don't think any of us were sure why she let us in, but she did and we sat down with her and her fiance and her heavily grieving father and taught the Plan of Salvation.  It was likely the most beautiful lesson I've ever been in.  They asked questions and listened closely and expressed individual concerns about salvation, and at the end the fiance prayed, thanking God for sending us to provide answers he'd been in need of, and she called us guardian angels.  We walked away from that house, floating, squealing, and crying a little bit because it was flawless and that has never happened before to either of us.  We've had the great opportunity to teach them four more times in the last week, and three different members of the ward have come to assist us.  They take it all in and continue to ask questions, but are hesitant to agree to baptism because of bad experiences with former churches, which is common and expected.  Now they just need to attend a service with us.  Always the hardest part.  But if they're sincere, they'll make a way.  The third time we went over and it was just the woman, she told us that the day after our first visit, her father who was usually a noon-sleeper, had woken at six in the morning to clean the house.  S
he asked him why and he said because for the first time, he had hope that he'd see his wife again.  I smiled so hard I near broke my face.  He said when we came over, we were glowing and happy and he wanted to be like that.  "well then we better do what they say," the daughter had responded.  That's what I like to hear.  Those who seek shall find; those who act will learn, that this gospel is the real deal.

For service this week we learned how to can pears and I learned that I can't peel fruits with small knives without nicking my fingers in five places.  Band-aided fingers is kind of embarrassing and makes me feel like a five year old.

Tender mercies yesterday.  Sister Dailey and I made it to our tracting area on bikes without passing out.  We stood up to a guy who wanted to bash with us and spoke calmly the whole time without blowing any jets or punching his face in.  We met an old man who told us his life story before he'd even learned our names and then listened earnestly to the message of the Restoration, promising he'd let the Spirit of Truth guide him as he read the Book of Mormon.  Which is exactly what we were about to ask him to do.  We broke our fast and lamented that there was no dessert in the house, then went back out to work and dropped in on a member who's less active relatives were over.  And she gave us homemade chocolate cake from scratch.  We biked home when we saw the lightning so we wouldn't get electrocuted, then proceeded to stand outside out apartment for the next 45 minutes, just watching the clouds light up like camera flashes and bright white streaks split the sky, like fascinated children.  It was lovely.  And very poetic.  We took videos and pictures and I sang Ma Belle Evangeline to my companion.  "Look how... she lights up... the skyyyy....." as we beheld this marvelous scene of sublimity, and I felt an odd but welcome contentment and joy, even, that something as natural as a lightning storm could be such a thing of wonder.  But the tender mercies of the Lord are just that: simple, natural, and tailor-made for each of us.

We taught the young women in the ward yesterday, and what was originally supposed to be a gospel-sharing-with-your-peers tutorial, ended up being a discussion (well, a lecture, because discussion would require student participation) on true conversion and our duty to share the gospel with everyone because otherwise they perish and we won't be exalted and if we don't share the blessings, we're being ungrateful.  Not in so many words of course.  I fear I may have been a little too enthusiastic (seconds away from standing on my chair) and preachy, and maybe I just turned a roomful of girls off to the idea of serving a mission ever because it makes you crazy and preachy.  But I thought I was following the Spirit on that one, so hopefully it did some good to someone.  I worry perpetually about the youth of the church.  I fear that they lack the desire to be different, and the courage to be valiant.  The world says blend in.  The Lord says be peculiar.  Only one will bring you happiness and it's not the first.

21 For if I, who am a man, do lift up my voice and call upon you to repent, and ye hate me, what will ye say when the day cometh when the thunders shall utter their voices from the ends of the earth, speaking to the ears of all that live, saying—Repent, and prepare for the great day of the Lord?
 22 Yea, and again, when the lightnings shall streak forth from the east unto the west, and shall utter forth their voices unto all that live, and make the ears of all tingle that hear, saying these words—Repent ye, for the great day of the Lord is come? [D&C 43]

Your ears tingling?  The day is come, indeed.  We're in the fullness of times now, which is both great and terrible.  But the righteous, as they say, will see these things come to pass and not fear, but look forward with joy and gladness to the second c
oming of our Savior.  Wake up.  Look up.  Heavenly Father hand's is everywhere, preparing hearts, paving roads, and sometimes painting skies.  This is a wonderful time to be partakers - and sharers - of the one true gospel.  The prophets, both living and dead, have told us what to do to prepare.  Lightnings are streaking forth, criers of repentance are crying - and what will ye say?  I say, don't waste no time.  After being here a year, I've learned it's true as they say: you blink, you might miss it.  Wake up.  Look up.  And be valiant.  God's power is real, and His promises sure.

Sister Valdez

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