We were in Resistencia on Tuesday for consejo. We waddled into the chapel like confident ducklings and I insisted we plant ourselves in the f-r-o-n-t r-o-w. Oh yeah. I was on fire, all ready to be competent and contribute to the discussion in meaningful ways. As the meeting started and we got focused on the tasks at hand, I realized that I had left my copy of Preach my Gospel in Formosa. Furthermore I had made a fool of myself by having desired to sit in the front row. I could not even look down and pretend to be following along in an imaginary book. I had nothing.
In times like these, when you realize that you might not be as cool and excellent as you thought you were, you have no choice but to listen. You defiantly put your chin up and open your ears like two little satellite dishes on the sides of your face, and you LISTEN. Luckily it just so happens that Presidente was on fire, and this was no tired habitual sloggish church reunion. On the contrary, Presidente was conscious of the problems we're presented with in our various corners of the Resistencia mission, and he insisted that we re-think our methods. How can we help the people we've been entrusted with if we're not constantly checking our motives? If we're not constantly letting them know why we're there and helping them overcome their fears and hesitations? How can we help them overcome their fears if we don't overcome our own first?
Hermana Beecher and I have had a very good week trying to puzzle through it all, and the good news is we will never be done puzzling. But to all you other missionaries out there, or to anyone who reads, why do you think Mormons go to church on Sundays? There are many answers to this question ranging from social lives to family ties to callings and other obligations. And they can all be a-okay for a while, but none of them are constant. If I had internalized the doctrinally constant reason why Mormons go to church on Sundays sooner, I might have avoided a couple of years of unhappiness.
Latter-day saints go to church on Sunday to take the sacrament. As Elder Oaks said, "this is the center of our worship". The sacrament is a renewal of the covenants we made at baptism. It is more than just bread and water; it is an outer manifestation of our inner commitment to keep making the Atonement of Jesus Christ a part of our lives.
Speaking of Jesus Christ, Basilio Sanabria and his family have been steadily coming more unto him since I last mentioned them in an email.
This picture was yesterday, but I will say that on Wednesday, Basilio asked me for my shoes. I shrugged and took them off, wondering why he would want to go for the Dutch gardening clogs / school nurse look. He said that he found out it had been my birthday on Monday, and this was his present to me. He took them out to the sink and, oh mom, Basilio washed the mud off my shoes. I never knew they were actually black underneath all that. It was the most touching birthday gift anyone could have ever given me, especially from this beautiful man. Basilio really does want the best for his family. Yesterday he shared with us his feelings about the gospel and the way he has come to see it. We all once again remembered how far these three have come, and Hermana Beecher and I walked away praying and praising God for having changed the lives of Basilio, Valentina and Dora.
|Suprise birthday party at Apontes'!|
Final thought about my birthday: it was like a dream. I felt so loved and so full of joy all at once, over and over again last Monday. Dad, I hope you had similar experiences.
|Family Home Evening / Birthday at Yanina's|
So, Dad, I will finish this email by saying something that you constantly repeated to me growing up. "The best is yet to come." I've had some stellar experiences in my life so far. And I find that as long as I keep myself capable of receiving it, no matter how bad things can get in the moment, the good always comes. Whether it's my birthday in Argentina, or just the relief of another p-day.
Whether it's kicking back to read a big old stack of letters from Julie Tucker, or that moment when Hermana Beecher lets me eat the last banana, or when an investigator says they know the gospel is TRUE, I've come to maneuver through the difficulties and trust that the good will always be ahead of us. So don't despair! Don't get lost sighing about your glory days and how great things were. 'Cause if you've forgotten that the good is still up ahead, then you're missing the point! If you live the gospel without knowing that the greatest glory still awaits, you're missing the point! As Elder Uchtdorf said last general conference, "Living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal..." If you don't understand that mindset, you can talk about religion all you want, but you're missing the point!!!!