|We found this INSANE hill to climb and had to take pictures. Solo para que sepa, the ones looking up the hill are only from 1/4 of the way down. It's pretty much a mountain.|
|Also, going down that hill. Very, very dangerous. Hermana Miller fell down one day and describes that experience as "I slowly fell into the mouth of a shark"|
Hey, did everyone have a great 4th of July? Hermana Miller and I were watching The Restoration with an investigator and there is a scene wherein the inhabitants of Palmayra are celebrating Independance Day, so that was pretty much our moment of recognition of America's birthday. That and me summing up Bill Pullman's character in the film Independance Day. But moving on from there...
We had a wonderful week! The work is pressing onward, ever onward out here in Copán Ruinas. We visited almost all of the inactive members that 1. we're aware of and 2. we can get to (there are some good hiding spots up in the mountains). One family, la familia Lucero, is working on getting ready to go to the temple. It might take a while longer because of financial problems, but they're definitely excited to go! The mom of the family asked us the other night, "Hermanas, we know it's important to go to the temple and we want to go, but what do we have to do, other than get to Tegucigalpa?" Good question, Myrna! We're going to look into a temple prep class for couples like this one, because I think there are still a few.
We also found a new investigator named Lesly. There is a promise in Alma that the Lord prepares the hearts of His children, even sending angels to prepare them. I think if I've ever met someone prepared by angels to receive the gospel, it's Lesly. She read the pamphlet that we left with her family and then waited and waited until we came back so she could meet us (fortunately, I have a wonderfully inspired companion who said various times "I want to go see familia Verganza again"). When we arrived, she opened up that pamplet--she had taken notes! She had compared passages with the Bible and wrote them in the margins! The didn't just have questions, she wrote them down so that she wouldn't forget! That doesn't happen here! (I had an English teacher once who said a writer is only allotted 4 exclaimation points in their lives, so I guess I just used mine...but Gifford S. Nelson used exclaimation points all over the place, so I feel justified). We love her already, she is so excited to receive more knowledge about the gospel (like when we talked about the Book of Mormon and she said "Oh, so it's just like a third companion to the bible? Great!" NOBODY says that), and vosotros (y'all) can expect lots of good news about her very soon.
It was also a highlight week because President Dester came to visit us! It was once again time for interviews, and he said he's been wanting to come out to Copán for some time now (the last time he came I was still with Hermana Cumatz). We took turns having wonderfully uplifting talks with President Dester--this just struck me as odd, but I think other missionaries get nervous about their interviews with the President. We love them--and then got to eat really fancy dinner with President and the APs, Elder Ro and Elder Juarez. And then something really REALLY cool happened, which will be mentioned below.
Easily the best part of this week, which is really saying something because my interview with President was awesome, were our lessons with familia Hernandez. Neither of the parents came to church on Sunday, and they seemed to be losing a little bit of focus/enthusiasm as of late. But on Tuesday, we went to follow up with them on a prior conversation we had had about priesthood blessings. Our branch president and his brother came to the lesson with us, which was awesome because both of them had problems with smoking and drinking that were really tough for them to kick before they got baptized. We could tell that it meant a lot to Julio to talk to people who get him. But even better, after the lesson Julio and Sonia took turns sitting under the hands of men ordained with the Melchizdek priesthood and receive blessings by the power and authority of God. Among other wonderful things said, Julio was blessed that his addiction would disappear from his body and Sonia was blessed that one day, not far from now, her family would be sealed in the temple. And with that, we put a baptismal date for the 19th and left them alone for two days. We got back on Thursday, a little bit wary about the last time we had left sure that Julio was done drinking, and that house was stone cold sober. He could tell story after story about his friends trying to get him to come drinking and he had no interest in going. My favorite was when he had to wait for a stone to be delivered for him to cut, and the guy was going to drop it off in front of a bar. He knew that was going to be tough, so he bought an orange juice and a bag of chips and handled it. One of his friends tried to beckon him inside, yelling "Hey, man! You can't get drunk off that!" Julio raised his orange juice, as if in a toast, and yelled back "That's okay! This tastes better!" WOW! And on top of that, the entire family could says "Yeah, hermanas, we read the chapter you left! It's about faith, right? How you have to plant the seed and use your faith to let it grow!" Awesome. Just, awesome.
And then the awesomeness was compounded on Saturday night, when President Dester, el Presidente mismo, came to teach familia Hernandez with us. He told us that one of the reasons he wanted to come to Copán so badly was just to meet Julio Cesar. He expressed so beautifully the love that God has for all of us, the meaning of Christ's atonement, and how we can find happiness in our lives. And then the next day, when the entire family came to church and stayed for all three hours, President sat next to Julio in Sunday School and Priesthood meeting. My mission president is friends with one of my investigators. Julio knows him as Jamie. No big deal.
The Lord has not been short on miracles this week. It still hasn't all been easy, because it's not supposed to all be easy, but it's right. Hermana Miller and I have started singing All is Well while we climb the really big hills, and our favorite line is the one that says "¿Por qué decís que es duro la porción?" which in English, I think, is why should we whine nor think our lot is hard? The Lord has asked us to do hard things sometimes, but we don't need to think that that is unfair. He has never asked us to do hard things alone. He has never asked us to do hard things without a purpose. Above all, He has never asked us to do something too hard. I love Him and I love this work. President Dester pointed out a scripture I hadn't noticed before in D&C 97:8-9, which says:
8 Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.
9 For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitfultree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.
And that was pretty much just what I needed to hear. The Lord does indeed ask us to make sacrifices, but He accepts what we can give, even though it isn't perfect, and it is counted as a righteousness for us. I love Him and I am so grateful that He trusts me with His children here in this corner of the vineyard.
I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week! Think of me on Wednesday when I complete ONE YEAR in the mission!
The Church is true!
- Hermana Pickett