Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Week 40: Seven Pennis from Gabi

This week we were SO spiritually edified.

In preparation for a visit from Elder Amado, Central America area president in the church, we were supposed to study the atonement, the restoration, and four chapters in Preach My Gospel (1, 8, 9, and 11, for those that are curious) and prepare a 5 minute speech about each one. As predicted, it was a hoax to get us to spiritually prepare. Nobody had to give their talks, but I actually did it, and really did learn (and remember, which is almost the same thing) a ton as part of the study process.

Then on Friday the Elder, who is one of the Seventy, finally came. Our whole zone got to go together in a bus to Mazate (passing through my old area made me want to just jump off and start contacting people again!) to a pretty chapel that I hadn't visited before, to hear messages from our mission president and his wife, musical numbers from our zone and one other (we sang the Primary song, If the Savior Stood Beside Me), and the teaching from Elder Amado, to our group of 60 or so missionaries. We thought it was going to be from 9-12, but, biggest surprise ever, it finished at 5 p.m.! Elder Amado taught us the whole time, with just a brief pause for lunch (Subway has never tasted so good.)

Nobody wanted it to end. He started talking about one thing, and ended up talking about something completely different, and try as I might, I could never catch where the transition happened, caught up in the learning as we all were. He really and truly teaches by the Spirit. I felt like the early saints, so close to the apostles and prophet, content just to spend hours and days being spiritually edified by the words that leave their mouths. He gave us a lot to mediate, and a lot to put into practice. My favorite part was probably about the Atonement of Christ.

That was Friday; on Saturday we finished the last session of my daughter's (my companion that I'm training) training program, and on Sunday was stake conference. Except it was stake conference for all of Guatemala, broadcast from Salt Lake. One of the 70 from Central America spoke, then the General Primary President, then Elder Richard G. Scott, then Elder Henry B. Eyring.

Even though our chapel had technical difficulties such that at the beginning we could only hear and not see the speakers, and then later when we could see them the picture and the Spanish dubbed translation didn't match up, it didn't matter. I felt the Spirit so strong among all those wonderful Guatemalan people, coming each one of them from such different backgrounds, but united, with the missionaries with them, all in the cause of getting to be more like Jesus Christ.

I loved that there was something for everyone: tears in the eyes of our Relief Society president when they talked about not getting frustrated from working in a small word, very attentive ears and pensative eyes in the face of our investigator, Lola, mom of eight, when they talked about how a marriage should really be. Even 10-year-old Ronald, a more-or-less less active recent convert, left with a determination to tell his mom he loves her more often.

In this month and week of thanksgiving, I am so grateful to be a missionary, and for all of the spiritual edification we receive in this day of marvelous miracles. I'm grateful to have a time programmed into each day in which I can study from the scriptures and feed my spirit (and am determined to keep that time sacred after the mission). Most of all, I'm grateful for the testimony that God has given me through his Holy Spirit. I'm grateful to know the things I preach and teach are true, and to know them with a certainty that only comes from walking by faith. I'm grateful for the light, life, and direction this testimony gives to my life. I'm grateful to know who I am and what I stand for, and to be actively standing for it. I'm grateful to know each and every one of you, and pray that you can all say with the same sincerity that you're grateful for these things too.

Now, about those seven pennies...

We've been teaching a 10-year-old girl named Gabi for a few weeks. Her older brother, Marlon, has been a more or less active member for five years, and her mom, Lola, is the one who came to the conference on Sunday. In a pair of weeks where we've been struggling to find new, positive investigators, Gabi has been a light in every lesson. We gave her the Book of Mormon and she began to read immediately. Her reading skills are better than those of almost every adult I've met in Guatemala (or at least the ones that also live in two-room, dirt floor houses.) She is currently in 2 Nephi. She loves coming to church, and told us this week that she feels a warm feeling she doesn't know how to describe when she reads the scriptures and gets ready for church. We helped her understand that that's the Holy Ghost, testifying to her very ready heart that these things are true.

We invited her to be baptized this week, which was a delicate thing, because her dad is pretty against the church. But it seems like it's going to work out. On Sunday morning she told us of the date she selected, December 7. When she told me, she held out her fist and dropped into mine seven American pennies. Her aunt that lives in the US sends them to them periodically, and she had 14. She wanted to give 7 to me to commemorate her upcoming baptism. She kept 7 for her. I thought about that ´three little pennies´ country song and just wanted to cry. This little girl is an angel and I am so grateful to know her.

This Thanksgiving, put your gratitude in practice and help somebody feel God's love.

I'm so grateful to have felt all of your love throughout my life, family members and friends. Take care. Love you tons :)

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