Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week 48: Odds and Ends

Things Missionaries Might Not Know

First things first, an important CORRECTION: We are not 1-2 hrs away from Mexico.

Not even close. We are 20 minutes from the border.

I about had a heart attack in the street when our stake president's wife, getting into her car, explained that they were going grocery shopping in Hildalgo.

Hidalgo! I saw a movie about that! Could it be, could it be...? Yes! It's Mexico.

We had been misinformed. Mexico from here is actually just like from Bloomington to Martinsville.

I'm still stunned...And the members were stunned that I was so stunned.

But grocery shopping. Who goes grocery shopping in another country?

People in Pajapita do.

I am super jealous. We're trying to figure out a way to be able to go to Mexico for P-day. Or at least get permission to visit the other zone and take a photo with Mexico in the background. I love internationality. :)

This Week's Hero: The Ward Mission Leader

His name's Nery (pronounced Neddy) and he's been a member of the church for 3 months.

Though his conversion process began about eight years ago.

Thanks to a combination of interesting life events, he stopped drinking and smoking on his own, was almost a witch doctor, and since like a year ago has had a mystery girlfriend who's part of our congregation, but nobody knows which sister she is. He's a single dad of a really cool girl my age, and drives a red pickup truck. He readGospel Principles and 200 pages of the Book of Mormon before being baptized. And he's taking on one of the biggest challenges Rama Pajapita has to offer: a third timer branch president.

(Oh, and I apologize right now if this part of the story includes a lot of Mormon jergon. Oh, that's a word I haven't used in English for 11 months... How do you spell jargon? Anyway, I will try to include definitions...)

This branch (smaller congregation) is amazing. I actually don't know why the New Era (church magazine for youth) hasn't written about them yet. There are like 15 youth called as branch missionaries, and they go out on their own during the week and visit members who are less active (haven't been coming regularly) or recent converts. They also talk to strangers and friends about the gospel, and refer them to us if they're interested.

This kind of organization is something that should exist in every congregation, but hasn't really caught on yet in most parts of the world. There are like 12 missionaries serving from this branch, and 5 more preparing. (One is going to Salt Lake City Central in March, but him and his family is a story for another day!) When I find out how they helped these kids to have such burning testimonies in their adolescence, I will let you all know.

The Gospel Principles (Sunday school class for new and returning members) teacher is also completely amazing. I can't say the same about my last area, but it makes me happy here that they've got resources in play to help the people who join the church stay active.

The only thing that concerns me is the branch president (the member called by God to help lead the congregation) is a carbon copy of his wife, who, before I had said more than 15 words in their house, and while I was contently eating my chicken soup, began a 12-minute lecture on the manners missionaries should show while eating in members´ houses. It was an unasked for and inexplicably fiery lecture that did not stop even when my companion, who had been feeling poorly that day, suddenly jumped up from the table to go throw up.

Our first branch council (meeting for leaders of the congregation to talk about how to help the members and plan activities) was like that meal, except mission work was the victim.
After the branch president gave an hour long speech (which included a bit of apostasy of its own), he turned the time over to us and the ward mission leader. It all started cool and calm...but how it ended, I can't tell you. Let's just say that I had never seen a branch president angry and yelling before.

Thankfully, he was the only one. I was flabbergasted to see the rest of the branch leaders shaking their heads and smiling, telling us to get used to it, that's just how it is. Hermano Nery was the only leader there who hadn't worked with or at least known the branch president before... and we were worried he was going to renounce his baptism or something.

But that man held his ground.

He left cool as a cucumber, actually telling the all of us with nametags not to be frightened, explaining to his missionaries (we're starting to feel like little chicklings under his wings) that we will find a way to work together with all the branch leaders, because that's what the prophet wants, and this is the Lord's work, not ours or the branch presidents´.

And it's true. I don't know how God did it, but he put the gospel in Hermano Nedy's life right when he needed it. And he put Hermana Nedy in Pajapita's branch council right when we and all the investigators need him.

I know that lots of times people's personalities get in the way of getting the job done. That's not how it should be. Especially in the Lord's church. Hermana Nery instinctively understands that, and I have faith that wis his and the Lord's help, we are going to be able to work miracles in Pajapita... not just in the lives of the people who learn about and accept the gospel and true church, but with the members leaders, and the unity of this unit.


He's 25, deaf from birth, and as a result, speech-impaired.

He leaves on his mission tomorrow.

Yesterday we visited his Mom, a very dignified, well-to-do lady, convert of less than a year. She cried. Her little baby boy is all grown up, going off to the temple to serve the Lord for one year.

Her lawyer husband, also Sergio, is a convert of a little more than a year and now a member of the branch presidency. That afternoon, he looked at his son in an oversized sweatshirt, and tried to be strong. This time, I cried. Because when I watched those two Sergios interact, so much love was present between father and son.

And so much faith.

The church is true. And maybe those three beautiful people haven't had the years or even the physical abilities that I've had to learn it, but they feel it in their heart, and they're making the sacrifices to serve the Lord in his appointed way.

I love them so much, without even knowing them. And I think that is the spirit of missionary work.

Let us all be a little more like Sergio.

And Just Have to Say:

I love you guys a ton. Take care :)


No comments:

Post a Comment