Dear Family and Friends!
Hope you had a great Fourth of July! I live in a house with three Latin sisters, so my celebrations were limited to putting on red, white and blue clothes and eating banana pancakes that one of the sisters from Honduras coincidentally made. But it was awesome, though, because I spent the day doing what I love...being a missionary!
So I've packaged the events of this week in a different way this time around, hope it make sense!
To demonstrate that we do new things every day, this week:
They canceled the third hour of chruch so we could attend the funeral service of the mom of one of my recent converts. In Guatemala, the funeral procession is all walking, and men carry the casket on their shoulders. In the cementary, it's totally okay to sit and stand and walk all over the graves, and they sell cotton candy and juice to the mourners.
We told an investigator he could not be baptized. N. O. (He wants to do it on Sunday, without having gained a testimony of the restoration, just so his girlfriend won't dump him. I really think a lightning bolt will hit him if he were to try it.)
To demonstrate the depth of apostasy present here in Guatemala, this week:
A woman who blurted out the reason she thinks she can't be baptized: she likes to dance! (Mormons do dance.)
Someone else who told us they previously attended ¨The Church of Shakira.¨ ¨I just couldn't get used to all the dancing and raucous they made there,¨she said.
To demonstrate the opposition that really is in all things, this week:
After 17 incredibly healthy months, I finally contracted dengue, a mosquito-carried disease that gives you a fever and makes your body hurt and is starting to give me a rash.
This morning at 5 AM, we experienced a very powerful earthquake! My companion jumped out of bed and pulled me out too, and we went running outside, in case the house were to fall down. It didn't, nor did any nearby houses, so I can't decide if it was cool or scary.
To demonstrate the power of the priesthood present in the restored church, this week:
The blessing the elders gave me for dengue said I would be able to work uninterrupted. So far, it's been absolutely true!
After three of the four missionaries living in the house had very realistic dreams about nightly visitors, the other ward's bishopric dedicated our house. From that point on, all has been tranquil.
To demonstrate the depth of the Lord's love, this week:
When we were walking down an empty street, far from the center of the town, and "our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us" (Alma 26:27, Book of Mormon) and put a service opportunity right in front of us, and we were able to help and teach a brand new, large, family.
When it was Sunday night and raining hard, when we were tired and short on lessons and new investigators, when every door was closed shut and the district leaders were already sending us messages thinking about P-day, we prayed to find a family and the first door that opened was one, a mom and dad and their two daughters, very interested in the gospel!
To demonstrate that miracles do happen, this week:
On Saturday, the ward's second counselor invited us to lunch in his home and gave us each a huge, steaming bowl of chicken soup. "I served you so much," he said, "Because the ward needs you to go out this afternoon and work extremely hard." He told us that the attendance goal for Sunday was 140 people, and he was trusting in us. Well, I'm not sure if it had to do more with us or with the families from out of town who came to see a baby blessed and an elder who finished the mission and brought his family back to say goodbye, but when all was counted up on Sunday the attendance was...140. Not more or less. With 17 less active members present, many of whom we've been working with. The finishing elders' mom also played the piano, so the congregation didn't have to sing a capella. Woo hoo!!
The previously mentioned funeral procession was very well-attended by ward members, which made me grateful to see their support. Gaspar, a miracle convert, was baptized in April and is the one who went to 4 of the 5 sessions of General Conference beforehand. Well, he hadn't come to church for about three weeks, because his mom had been sick. This week, when she took a very serious turn, we let three ward members know, and before we knew it, ALL of them were going to visit her and Gaspar and their family! I don't know how a unit that almost doesn't have ward councils or home or visiting teachers can mobilize so fast, but they did, and we were sure grateful for it. Because life isn't easy for a new convert, ESPECIALLY when passing through grief like this. But when I saw Gaspar walking in the funeral procession, with two sturdy ward members - worthy priesthood holders, and men who are his friends - gripping his shoulders and walking with him, side by side - I knew that Gaspar will be okay. He has the gospel, the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation, and, most importantly, he has friends to help see him through. It makes me think of Alma's words, describing the baptismal covenant that these two brothers were keeping so clearly, "...ye are desirous to come into thefold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death.¨
May we all keep our convenants, and love one another, and make every day a special one, this week.
Hermana Victoria Ison