ASHLI (FINALLY) GETS BAPTIZED
So me and my companion, a while back, were teaching a 16 year old daughter of a member who was refusing to be baptized. Well not so much refusing as saying that she was good without a baptism and that was that.
Instead of throwing a million scriptures in her face that clearly state that a baptism IS necessary in order to live with God again, we decided to let God do the answering and invited her to ask him if she should be baptized or no.
That is one thing I just love about the gospel and the lessons we teach. We help the people see the truth, in the scriptures, through testimony, and a million other ways, but in the end we invite them to get on their knees and ask God what HE thinks about all this. What is it that HE wants. It's not about what the missionaries think is the best idea or what the missionaries say is correct. It's what GOD tells you is right. And He always lets you know if you ask with your heart. I love that.
God wants to help us out. He's waiting to answer our questions. And not just spiritual questions but any kind of question. I'm thankful for the answers that He gives me. They're subtle and simple but they are there. He loves me. He loves you too. He listens. He answers.
Ashli did as we invited her to do. She asked God. The best source of knowledge that has ever existed. And she got an answer. Her answer was that she should keep listening to us. Because of Ashli's crazy work schedule we only got to teach her a few times, but the spirit was always there. The last lesson we taught her was a special one. We took her and her family to the temple and we taught them in the waiting room of the temple. A member of the temple presidency came out and shared a little message and it was just about the coolest.
At one point in the lesson I looked over and saw a little tear roll down Ashli's face. In that moment I knew she knew it. There was no way someone could deny the peace and the happiness that we felt in that little waiting room.
Then a few weeks later they changed houses to a neighborhood just out of our area. A few weeks later some elders called us to let us know that they found Ashli and her family hitchhiking, and she told them she wanted to be baptized because what happened in the temple changed everything.
So cool to play such a small roll in the conversion of a 16 year old, stubborn, and wonderful teenager. I love Ashli. She is going places. The elders also invited us to the baptism. We brought a cake and a special ukulele number. We played Secret Prayer and made Ashli cry. It was pretty wonderful. PLUS her new ward building is the chapel right in front of the temple, so her baptism pictures are in front of the very spot where everything changed. Pretty cool if you ask me.
SERVICE WITH A SMILE
We have an investigator that's got it pretty rough. Her daughter recently ran away, her son is turning rebellious and causing big problems at school, her husband left her for the United States and never sends anything to help them out, she works two jobs and still has barely enough money to just buy the basics like toilet paper and food.
We are always trying to visit her but she never has enough time, so we decided to show up on Saturday when we knew she would be at home. And at least drop by the house to help her clean things up a bit.
She has a lot of dogs. A lot of dogs means a lot of poop. I won't go into detail about the condition of her yard and house, but just imagine something really really really really really really dirty. Dog poop and pee from weeks of no one having time or energy to pick up, in the house and outside of it. Also the trash from several weeks of no one picking it up or even putting it in a bag.
There were several times when I almost turned around and left screaming and running, but I kept my calm, tried not to breath through my nose, and slapped a smile on my face. FINALLY someone was letting us serve them. That's rare here.
We began to make it fun. Instead of gagging we laughed instead. We served with a smile. We spent a significant time out in the blazing hot sun shoveling the garbage and poop into piles, and it was VERY tiring. But VERY fun. Because we made it fun.
We called the elders from our neighboring area and they showed up to do some heavy lifting and make a door for her outside gate. It was a hilarious sight. Four young people from various different countries in skirts and white shirts shoveling dirt and garbage around a fairly sketchy Mexican neighborhood. People passed by and did double takes. Some smiled, some laughed, some just let their mouth hang open and stare.
We just smiled. The rest of the day was spent walking around in the super super hot sun and not finding people in their houses. That night the disanimo threatened to creep its way back into my head. Negative thoughts and feelings of 'Why Even Try' kept attacking. I was sunburnt and sweaty and had a thin layer of dust all over my body from walking in the dusty dirt roads all day.
I didn't know what else to do, so I prayed. I kneeled down and prayed with all my heart. I cried and I told God that I was down here just trying to do my best and that I needed help. I told him it was hard to be a missionary and I told him that I don't always love it, even though I always want to love it. I told him I didn't understand why there was no one progressing in our area and why all the people we contacted turned us down. I cried and prayed it out. It was nice to 100 percent express myself.
God understands English so that was refreshing. I felt the burden lifted as I felt God listen. He's the best listener. I fell asleep very tired but with a smile on my face. Why? Because I'm a missionary. How cool is that? I get to serve with a smile. Even when its hard. and hot. And smelly. Because there is just so much to smile about. So don't forget to smile this week. And do your best to serve, because God loves you and he listens. Isn't that the best thing you've heard all week?
So smile. And smile big.
Today we had a district activity in which we played soccer and then ate one of the spiciest chiles that one can eat without dying or damaging their digestive system. The chile is called abanero. It was the death. We took a video of everyone eating it. Everyone in their soccer jerseys and with their milk ready.
I only threw up a little. OH HOW IT BURNED. But in the end it was a memorable and hilarious experience. We laughed a lot. And yelled. Because it hurt. My lips still feel a bit numb but my stomach is calm and relatively normal. We took a big group pic of everyone with their chiles. Provecho.