This week was a blur. But, it was the best blur.
I don’t even know where to start. How about with the Miracle on Gleason Avenue! Aka our investigator Connie. We had a lesson with her last week with Hermana Leon (from the ward – the BEST HUMAN) and at the end of the lesson, Jose Luis came in (Connie’s boyfriend) and Hermana Leon invited them both to her daughter Sasha’s baptism on Sunday. They accepted, and I was feeling like Connie would come, but it would take a miracle for Jose Luis to come.
Our hearts broke when Connie didn’t come to church. WHAT?!?! She always comes. And then we had a crazy afternoon–coming soon–and then literally ran back to the church for the baptism. We got in and NONE of our investigators came. We had called and confirmed and double checked and they were good to go. And no one was there. Talk about a broken heart. The service started a little late, and we were listening to Obispo give the opening welcome, and then THEY WALKED IN! Connie came first, and we were STOKED. A few steps behind her was Jose Luis with Ethan. It was amazing. They stayed through the meeting and then the dinner afterward, where our ward mission leader and Hermano Leon ate them up – especially Jose Luis. It was super amazing.
Then last night, we had a lesson with Connie. We came and had our little small talk and were about to begin then Connie shouted to Jose Luis and he came out – we thought he wasn’t home (though we’ve been trying to come later so that he would be home). He stayed with us for the whole lesson – about temples and family history. But before we taught about the temple, he had TONS of questions about the baptism – especially because Hermano Leon baptized Sasha. “Is he a priest?” It all led us into a big discussion about the restoration and the priesthood. It was just perfect. He had so many questions and we were able to just go with it and with the Spirit. It ties in perfectly with the temple as we brought up the Family Proclamation we gave them a week ago and the role baptism has in the Plan of Salvation.
Everything was just perfect. Connie prayed to close the lesson and I walked out floating. My face hurt like it was going to break because I couldn’t stop smiling the rest of the night. So many prayers and thoughts and effort and strategy and prayers and more prayers all seemed to accumulate in that one prayer. It was just so beautiful and wonderful.
I have HIGH hopes for their family. I am so stoked.
The story about Sunday evening: OH MY GOSH. “Swiss beach.” Bless her heart. Maria is the best. She is a sweet and SASSY Dominican who I talked about last time. I just love her. The tres LECHES cake Maria. We came over to visit on Sunday and she had made us a dinner of rice and chicken – I LOVE RICE. Then, she insisted on teaching us how to make habichuelas con dulce (sweet beans, or as Maria says in her sweet and THICK accent, “swiiiiiss beeeech.”). Love her. It was such a fun time to cook and listen and learn from her. I really enjoyed it, and especially because she is aching for the church and the people in it. She was LIT UP by the time we left. All we all need is love. Really. The habichuelas con dulce was BOMB. It is my favorite Dominican treat. I’ll make it for us when I get home (rather soon, strangely. We are already practically in June. My halfway mark was forever ago). Here are my notes on how to make it in case there are any souls wanting to go for it:
Cook red beans in water
Put them in blender with shredded coconut. Blend until DESTROYED.
Strain the bean and coconut juice, then put in some more water and strain it again. Toss the leftover gunk. Heat bean juice on stove.
Put in some cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, a tablespoon or so of vanilla
Almost whole can of evaporated milk, then half can of coconut milk, and a bunch of sugar, and some salt (1TB)
Then batata–sweet potato?? (Peeled, and chopped and raw)
All of this in a pot with heat under it. Cook until thickened and keep adding sugar and whatever Maria says until it tastes good.
Casabe con mantequilla–serve with toast in it (hard crackers).
It was WAY good. I LOVE it.
The coolest part of that visit was us sitting to share the message and Maria stopping us and saying that she invited her friends to come and she wanted us to wait until they got there to share it. Ha! Talk about a blessing! Usually people try to get us out before anyone sees us! Ha.
Anyway, we did so. They came about twenty minutes later and we shared a short message about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith (the baptism was in a half hour and we had to RUN). We gave her friend, Jocelyn, and her son, Geoffres, Books of Mormon and invited them to read. We left and then later we got a call from Maria:
“Where are you?!?”
We are knocking on doors near the church.
“Well, why are you doing that? Come back here!”
“Geoffres is reading the Book of Mormon. Come read with him.”
So we did. We got there and he had started from literally the first page. He had read the introduction and the testimony of the three witnesses and the explanation and all that. When we got there, we read the whole testimony of Joseph Smith with him. He really likes that book. He is 11 years old. We left and Maria called us again the next day and said he told her he wants to be baptized.
So that was a MIRACLE. We have stake conference this weekend, and they are planning on coming. SO STOKED!!! That book has power. I know it and I feel it and everyone does. Read it.
We are doing a ton of finding (three hours a day is the minimum – rule from President). We haven’t found a ton of people from it. Miriam and Belkys juked us last week and then haven’t gotten back to us. So that was lame. BUT I feel so strongly and know in my heart that the Lord is blessing us for our obedience. We have not tracted into many people AT ALL that are interested. BUT we have been the answer to prayers SEVERAL times. Knocking on a door and it being opened by someone who is about ready to give up the fight. Questions and concerns about the news and the world and “they told me when I was a little boy that Christ was coming and to get ready. And I’m still waiting…..?” (With not an ounce of sarcasm or cruelty in the voice, but honest seeking and confusion, imploring for truth). We’ve given over-the-doorstep hugs and had people break down and cry in our embrace as they expressed the loss of hope they feel. It has been both heartbreaking and so fulfilling and humbling to be the answer to someone’s questions and prayers. We will follow up with each of them, but in the meantime, the Lord DOES answer prayers. He answers mine. And He is no respector of persons. And He works in mysterious ways – including sending two gringas with wanna-be-Spanish knocking on their doors. It’s been so humbling to feel so directed by Him, and to fulfill our baptismal covenants in this way. Lifting the hands that hang down, comforting those that stand in need of comfort, celebrating, singing, crying, holding, and sometimes just weeping. It’s like what Elder Holland said in his talk called “The Blessings and Burdens of Discipleship” (I think).
It’s just been a full week. Full of miracles and prayers. Happiness and peace. Peace, in my opinion, is the answer to the question of knowing whether you are close to the Lord. Peace – overwhelming peace – comes into my heart and mind and soul when I am close to Him. That is the sign of the Spirit. And He only dwells in clean places. And He is the messenger from the Lord.
I love my life. And I love all of the people in it – more than I bet many, or all, of you realize.