Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week 14: Asombro Me Da (It Amazes Me)

This week, I would like to proclaim that things do not happen by magic.

For example, some people we talk to believe that it doesn't matter much what church someone goes to, or if they go regularly, or if they even fully apply the teachings of Christ in their lives. They're generally good people, believing that if they keep being generally good people it will all be okay in the end, the God's love will take care of them and lead them to a very fuzzily-imagined palace somewhere in the sky when they die.

I do not blame people for believing this. At all. Life is hard and, especially here in this third world country, most don't have time to sit around thinking about such things or read theological books.
But I, as a Mormon missionary, have the at time rather uncomfortable task of explaining that God is a God of order. I do not understand his order exactly, or how and why he works. But I do know, and spend every day preaching, that he commands us to follow his order. That means having faith, repenting, being baptized, and following the guidance of his Holy Spirit every day of our lives, keeping the commandments to the letter as best we can until we die. This is a narrow path, but there is so much room in it for thought, contemplation, happiness, love and laughter and the fullness of life. God does love us so much - and he blesses us because of that and also, I think, as a way to get us to recognize his presence, to get us to seek him out and keep the commandments and therefore receive even more blessings, immediately, from him.

Above all, he commands us to seek him out. And that doesn't require reading theological books or abandoning work to go to every church on the street or putting life on hold until some conclusion can be drawn. Because nobody's going to figure it out all at once like that - it's something that has to be learned living.

All it takes is thinking about it. While you're mowing the grass or macheting the bushes or making tortillas or fixing the car. Thinking about it. Honestly. Wondering. Who I am I? Where did I come from? Who is God anyway? Is he really the source of all my blessings? And what on earth is he doing giving me these trials?

It just requires wondering. And, as the fruits of that wondering, trying out the whole prayer thing. Scary but simple: Going to the source of it all, asking God where he is and if he's listening and if any of these churches is right or if he even operates through organized religion or what the heck is up.
But nobody much wants to ask that question, and that's the most frustrating thing about being a missionary, hands down, above all.

This week a 50-year-grandmother with two teeth and her boobs hanging out of her sloppily tied shirt stood on her front porch and made me cry. I never, ever thought I would be in that situation. But I loved her, and her son and his wife and their two cute little daughters, and she was telling me so smugly how she had convinced them to go to the church down the street where they blare mourning-sounding chanting from loudspeakers everyday at 5 p.m. and where her little granddaughters are probably going to grow up with a third grade education and get married at 16 never knowing or believing that they are divine daughters of God. And I could just see that family in the pew of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pioneers where they live, learning profound truths of God, entering the temple, knowing and striving to be all they can be.

But they never went to church, never visited, not once. They never asked the question. They family church down the street was far too convenient.

We are in a war. I never really believed it until now, but now I see it, now I know. Because those teeny little girls are never going to have what I have, a burning in their heart, the strength and drive and desire to see what is beyond the end of their dirt road, what plans God just might have for them.
Things do not happen by magic. We have to search. We have to try. Even God's true, restored church doesn't just suddenly make itself known and appealing to everyone in the world - God is a God of order and he requires missionaries to go out and walk day after day on dusty streets searching for the people who at this moment in time are ready to wonder.

It's a slow process, but the work is hastening, and I still have hope for those two little girls. Because as much as I love them, and their parents, and even their poor grandmother who with all her heart blessed the tall gringa girl to go back to her country and search out an evangelical church - as much as I love them and can muster to love that grandma, God loves them a million times more. And he WILL take care of them.

Well. I hope that wasn't too depressing. It's gloriously hot today and we're going to go play basketball after this. I got to talk to my family yesterday and that was amazing! Families are incredible important, if you doubt this try going three months without communicating with them.

Eat some ice cream and ask a profound question - with a real desire to find the answer.

Lots of love from Guatemala,
Hermana Ison

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