Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This holiday is definitively not celebrated in Guatemala, but at least in my district of missionaries we're sporting green today.
This week was special. It involved another fiesty ward council meeting, a trip to the most rural of Guatemala's ruralness, hitchiking again (but always with the elders), four more brand new people in church, talk of brownies, some kneeling family prayers, and my companion's birthday.
Here's just one highlight:
When someone dies in a country without obituaries, they use a pick-up truck outfitted with loudspeakers. You'll be eating dinner or sitting down to watch TV, and suddenly 'Ave Maria' will start playing down the street and you'll stick your head out the street to see the moving annoucement pass by: So-and-so has died and all are invited to the funeral at this time in this place.
This happens for or five times a week, but about two weeks ago a message even sadder than normal was heard: a mother had died in a tragic accident, leaving behind several children ages 5-17. The family lives in our area and we pass by their house everyday, but we didn't visit them until last Tuesday, when one of the young women in the ward was accompanying us and asked if we couldn't stop by with her friend, Luis.
Luis is 15 and when I was met him he was sitting on a rubber tire watching his friends play soccer. He can't join them just yet; he got a little beat up in the car accident - in which his dad was driving and swerved to miss a drunk man that wandered out in the street, leaving the road and causing the death of his mom - and his body needs time to heal.
His soul needs even more time to heal, but we'll get around to that.
We started talking to him about Jesus Christ, but he didn't know very much. We taught him about the miracles the Savior performed, his teachings of peace and tolerance. Then we asked him if he's heard of the Book of Mormon.
Turns out he goes to the school where we gave out the 800 Books of Mormon, and recieved his copy that day. He started trying to think about where it was, when was the last time he had it. Then he remembered, and the cover of a kid who seemed so untouched by a tragedy slid off and suddenly we were seeing a bruised little boy who needs a lot of hugs.
The book was in his backpack the day of the accident. His backpack that was thrown out of the car onto the Guatemalan roadside, at ten o-clock on what should have been any other late night coming back from work with his parents.
I watched the youth playing soccer in the field, but my mind and heart and soul was with Luis, trying to convey to his heart, without words or tears or gestures, that God understands, that everything will be alright, that one day it will stop hurting so much. ¨
¨For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice, yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl, for it shall not a be a human sacrifice, but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice...And this is the whole meaning of the law...Thus mercy can sacrifice the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety.¨ -Alma 34: 10, 14, 16 in the Book of Mormon
Jesus Christ is a God. But he descended from the incomprehensible presence of his Father to come to Earth and suffer every single pain, emotional and physical, that can be suffered. We can not comprehend the Atonement, but in that moment with Luis, I could comprehend that it is the only hope, the only solace when one if faced with terrors and tragedies so horrible.
I don't know exactly how we're going to show Luis that Christ is where he can turn for peace. When you're 15 and have never really belonged to any church, you tend to look for the answers in other places. (For example, yesterday he went to the beach with his girlfriend's family instead of coming to church.) But that's where we come in, as missionaries, I suppose. To help him feel the Spirit of God and grow the pocket of faith that he has.
Everything really will be alright. That's what we promised him.
And that's what God promises every single one of us, when we choose to come unto Christ and take advantage of the infinte and eternal sacrifice that has been made for us.
Lots of love from Guatemala! Hope it's thawing out over there. I would love some lovely letters... :)
Please take care!