Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 33: Sand in my Shoes

In case you didn't hear the shout of joy - Yosselin got baptized on Saturday! It was her 19th birthday and we celebrated afterward with cake. We gave her a journal with pictures of Jesus and temples and women from the scriptures filled with congratulations and testimonies and spiritual thoughts from us and the members of the ward. She bore her testimony in the baptism and it was beautiful. She was trembling before and smiling to the sky after. She brought one of her friends from school. She's going to be a missionary someday. And I can not even say how glad and grateful I am to have been part of the whole process.

In other news, remember when I told you about Jose, the youth who came out of a ward testimony meeting telling us he wanted to move up his baptismal date? Well, the week after the week he got baptized, he started working in a bus. ON SUNDAY. We were heartbroken, and really confused. He was basically dropping out of school to do it too. Turns out he was helping support his family. His Dad works far away and his mom has to take care of his four little siblings, including a newborn baby that has to go to the hospital far away this week for some tests. But however good intentioned, Jose´s decision was, it was taking him down the wrong path: missing school and church, working in a dangerous position, and helping him make bad friends. We tried and tried to visit him at his house, but could never find him.

Finally, last week we found him and taught him. Turns out his Mom got him to quit the bus and finish the school year (which ends in October). He said he would be coming back to church. We read from the Book of Mormon with him and said we'd pass by on Sunday morning so he could help us pass by with investigators. But last Sunday morning...we found him sitting in what passes for the neighborhood arcade, definitely not in his church clothes, listening to music and hanging out with his friends, not planning on being in church. I wanted to cry. We had felt the Spirit so much with this kid... but the devil was working so hard on him. I felt bad for him, lost in the middle of this world, without any direction from his family, practically having to be the direction for his family. And all we were, two 20 year-old girls in skirts, begging him to come to church.

Well, I bore my testimony with all the energy of my heart, as the scriptures said. I did basically almost cry, but in love for him and hope in God and not in frustration, as I had felt. I don't know how it happened, I really don't know how it happened, but there in the middle of the arcade, with his friends all watching, he felt the Spirit and he came with us. We had to fight again at the door of his house - and when I say fight, I mean to pray and testify and try to help him see what we see, why it's so important - but finally he changed and he came with us. And he liked it, as we knew he would.

On Thursday a brother in the ward passed by to bring him to the activity, and on Friday morning we dropped by and dropped off his white dress shirt, so he can go and feel like the other boys, and someday bless and pass the sacrament. That was a beautiful, beautiful morning, in which he felt the love of God passed through us. At the end he offered a prayer, in the which he said, ¨thank you for the hermanas, that have brought my shirt, which I will use this Sunday and all the Sundays to come when I visit your holy church.¨ There may have never been sweeter words to my ears.

All this helps me understand that there is no giving up on people. So many times I saw that bus pass with Jose inside, and felt a kind of lost desperation: what are we going to do? But we put our shoulder to the wheel, as the hymn says, and let God's words be said. That morning with him, I really felt like an instrument in the hands of God, a force for good in this world. It made me realize that we, all of us, can be that force for good, if we just try. God will put his strength behind us, always, without fail. But how many times do we lose that opportunity just because we think it's too late.

It's never too late. Don't EVER give up on ANYBODY. As the scriptures say, after is a different story, but this life here in the world is our time to prepare to meet God. And it doesn't matter how far away we stray, in this life, He will always take us back into the fold. He will always come looking for us. We can always repent. And we can always help other people repent.

So keep on trying. Don't ever give up. And don't ever think you can't make a difference in someone else's life. You don't have to be a missionary to do it. In fact, it would have been a lot easier if the young men's president in the ward had been knocking on Jose's door on Sunday morning, or if it were Jose's mom taking him to church. We all have a role to play in this world... and the stakes are too high to shy away from it.

On a Lighter Note

Not to sound like a religious infomercial, or the blind preacher begging money on the bus today, I will change to talking about the beach! We went to Champerico, which is one of the popular beaches here, this morning. That's why there's sand in my cute plastic shoes. It was excellent to listen to the giant waves. Hannah Quinn, I hope you looked out the window at the same ocean I was dipping my feet in this morning! Also, I bought a really cool peacock made out of shells to bring home in a year and show you guys, but then I left it in the bathroom and it disappeared. Good thing it only cost the equivalent of two dollars!

I think I've gotten to the point in the mission where I don't know what to say anymore in these emails... I don't always remember that well what it was like before I was a missionary, so I don't know what would be interesting to hear about. Any requests?

An Invitation

General Conference is this weekend! That's when the prophet and apostles talk. For anybody reading this who doubts that there's a real prophet on the earth today, check out the conference, Saturday and Sunday, lds.org. You will feel the Spirit, and learn something you can apply to your life to improve it and feel better about yourself. And maybe, just maybe, you will come to believe in prophets again.

I LOVE CONFERENCE! And I love being a missionary.

Take care, all!

Hermana Ison

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