This week, I’ll be honest, felt like the longest week ever. I think it was because p-day was on Tuesday last week. Oh well. It was so long and yet oh so fast. That seems to be the general protocol in mission life.
Like always, miracles are happening right and left. And I am grateful and humble at the love Jesus has for me and His hand that guides us so delicately and, at times, sternly. I am humbled to be a servant of His. I was reading in Jacob 5 and one verse hit me differently this time around–and the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning. Jacob 5:74. Which was most precious unto him from the beginning. Wow. Precious. What a beautiful and powerful word. Truly, these “souls are precious” as Alma said (Alma 31:35). They are most precious, and I am learning (or understanding a little bit more) just how precious they are to the Lord. I am grateful He is patient as He works with me and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have a part in the conversion process of these people. It is beautiful, “And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me” (Alma 29:10). I am reminded all over again of His mercy to me and my testimony grows, too.
This week we met with a darling sister in the ward named Dorivee. She is a star and so strong. She has been battling cancer for ten years or so, and is just an angel. She used to be a cover girl model and is so gorgeous. She is from the Dominican Republic and is about 35 or so–still gorgeous and so kind. She finished another round of chemo this week and asked us to come over with the elders to give her a blessing. She has very cute little ears, a little pointy, and with her shaved head, they really look marvelous. She was all smiles, but we could see the exhaustion in her eyes. I learned something in her blessing. The elder said that she was going through this for a reason, and that she would be healed according to her faith, the faith of those praying for her, and the Lord’s will. I thought that was so powerful–“according to the faith of those praying for you.” I had never heard at before. It was a reminder to me to have faith in this miracle, to work and exercise faith and really believe that a miracle would be given. It is still–and always–according to the Lord’s will. But our faith plays a role. Believe!!
After the blessing, Hermana Card pulled out a scripture in Alma 22 from our reading this morning. We read verses 15-16. It was so powerful, and I thought a little daring to bring this up in the face of someone battling with cancer. But it was just perfect. We read the verses and talked how we all need to fight with our trials and afflictions, blah blah blah. But then we stopped talking and it was quiet for a minute and Hermana Card said, “Dorivee, Dios ama a usted muchisimo (the Lord loves you so much). And Dorivee let out a gasp and brought her hands to her eyes and in the most pure and humble voice said, “I know, I know.” It was powerful. She has a conviction as strong as that of the apostles. That time with her is precious to me, and I want to fight with her. I am fighting with her. Faith is so powerful. It is the key to our conversion! When we have faith in Christ, we have power and hope and are led to have charity. We truly can do all things through Christ. Just believe and keep going. Nourish that seed of faith, and you just wait. You will have a great tree before you know it. And that tree with bear fruit, and that fruit will bless and nourish many, many more people. I love faith. Hold onto it, cultivate and protect the faith you have. There is a reason it is the shield in Ephesians 6.
We dropped in on Minerva this week on her birthday to drop off a goodie and confirm our lesson for the next day. She opened the door and seemed so excited to see us. She immediately invited us in and as we walked in we found that she was all alone. And she had been for most of the day. So sad! I was so grateful we stopped in! We shared a scripture with her and, mostly, just listened to her. This has been one of my favorite parts of my mission so far–listening. I hear the craziest and scariest and sweetest and funniest things!! I often think of what the Savior did before and after the miracles he performed. I really don’t think he came and healed and left. I bet a good amount of his time was listening, with love, to the problems and the stories of the people he met and helped. All along his walks to Jerusalem and to Galilee, and all in between, I am sure he taught and explained. But I am sure he also listened. He mourned with those that mourned, and comforted those that needed it–in one way, by listening. I feel grateful that I can sit and listen to the people in this part of the vineyard and then discern their needs and try to serve and help them accordingly.
Ha, this was priceless: during Sunday school at church, we were reading about the Second Coming and millennium. We read Isaiah 64:1-4 and the teacher asked what we learned from that. Someone immediately shouted out, “it means He’s not comin’ like some punk.” It was so prime and exactly describes our ward. I love them so much. We worked a lot with some less-active members this week, and I love them all so much. I want them to come back to church so badly! As I have worked with them, I have realized how precious these souls, too, are to the Lord. They have made covenants. They have felt the Spirit and have had spiritual experiences in the past. It is a wonderful part of my mission to be there to help them remember their testimonies–rediscover the love that Christ has for all people.
Another story: we were at the dollar slice pizza place for lunch one day this week, and as we ate this man approached us and signaled that he was deaf and handed us a napkin. There was a note that said, “my bible kjv I am Christian. Warning Mormon false Joseph Smith is lie and false teach and false prophet.” Alright! We smiled at him and he went back to his table and stared at us. I got out a pen and wrote on another napkin, “thank you so much for the warning! We testify that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. The Book of Mormon is true, I have one that I can give to you if you’d like. God loves you, have a great day!” He read it and scratched his head and looked at us for a while. I pulled out the Book of Mormon and motioned if he wanted it, and he motioned he already has one. I motioned if he had read it and he motioned that he skimmed and tossed it out. Then he walked out of the store. Ha! I should have told him we believe the Bible to be the word of God, too. And we could’ve talked about that. Oh well, I was glad to reach out in love. I don’t think he expected that. Love is the gospel, love is all it is. And it is the most important and powerful part of missionary work. It changes people, and as I learn more about the Lord and the love he has for me, it is changing me.
That’s all I’ve got this week. Thank you for all your love and support! I love you all so much and hope you have a happy Halloween! Be safe and true and good! And hold on to that faith. Let it grow and take over and change you! It’s changing me.