|Bairon (scruffy looking kid next to me) and his dad (next to Hna Cumatz), leaving priesthood meeting together for the first time, and definitely not the last|
Some time ago, as a little high school junior in Mrs. (Sister) Shaffer's class, we took a very simple assessment. She counseled us beforehand that, before beginning the test, we should read and follow very carefully all of the instructions. I read the first line of instructions, and then started answering the questions. Within a few moments, I noticed that some of my classmates were acting strangely. As more and more people joined in, I realized that I had not read and followed all of the instructions. With curiosity, I read the instructions that I had neglected. After skipping to the penultimate question and shouting my name loudly (as instructed) I followed the last line: write your name on the back of this sheet and turn in your test for a 100%.
Sometimes in life, we make things too hard by not following the instructions.
This thought struck me this week as I borrowed a mixing bowl and a hand mixer from Cindy Lopez, the branch president's wife (bless that woman, I can't even count the times I have borrowed baking supplies from her, and never once has she complained about lending them to me) and she and the first counselor in the branch said, "What will you make?"
"Banana bread!" I answered, excited.
"Hermana Pickett sure does love to cook," said the first counselor.
"She has such a gift for it," said Cindy in agreement. Looking to me, she asked, "What's your secret?"
"That's easy," I answered. "All I do is follow the instructions." Think about that. How many amazing things can we do just by following the instructions? Of course, we get better and quicker with practice, but when we do what we are directed to do, we can produce pretty good results really quickly.
Life totally works that way. God knows how to have success in this life. Not only can He see the end from the beginning, but as we read in the scriptures, He was once as we are. He completed successfully what we are now fighting to finish. He knows how to do this. And He gave us instructions! My shoulders are killing me from almost 16 months of carrying those instructions around every day (but joyfully!). And He hasn't stopped. The instructions keep coming. And when we are confused about something, we can received an answer, not by uplifted hand, but rather by uplifted prayer. We have all of the instructions to happiness. When we follow them, we get results. Of course, there are things we can't control sometimes. Today the oven didn't heat up properly. A few weeks ago my dough wouldn't defrost and hence did not rise. The power goes out, there isn't enough flour, we don't have a springform pan, etc. But when we do our best with the part we do have control over, we see the results that were promised to us.
Each week, we have a meeting with our branch president to talk about our investigators and the progression of our area. Some time ago, President Lopez told us that he wanted Bairon to see a certain film, How Rare a Possession. No one in the branch has it, and we couldn't find a version to download off of the internet, so we sort of let that counsel go. But this last Sunday, a copy of that film came into the branch's possession (thank you, Hno Quintanilla). President said, "Did you ever watch that with Bairon?" He gave us a slightly disapproving look when we responded that we hadn't and told us that we needed to take that opportunity. So we followed our instructions. And the message of that film made something click for Bairon.
After the video, we read 1 Nephi 3:7 with him and challenged him, according to the answers and revelation he had received in response to his prayers, if he would be baptized. And Bairon, that kid who has never given us a straight answer EVER in response to a baptimal challenge, set a date for this Saturday. Remember that feeling I described of lack of the Spirit last week, that was so strong it made me want to vomit? This was just as strong, but just the opposite. I was so full of the Spirit I thought I was going to explode. It was like EFY, but so much better. Bairon's father came with him to church yesterday, and we think his mother and sister are very likely to come this week.
I love so dearly being a missionary. It is the best thing I have ever done. Yesterday I was blessed to give a talk on conversion, and when I received that assignment, I thought, Great! I'm a missionary, I've got the best seat in the house to see how conversion works. That's true. I see miracles every day, and I see them as people follow the instructions.
Bairon wasn't our only good miracle this week, but he was one of the most spectacular. The wave of support that has rushed in to help Elder Vivas to get into the field is another. Waking up at 6:30 every morning and realizing I have another day in this wonderful work is another. I love the Lord so much and I feel so priviledged to be in His service.
I hope you all have a wonderful week! Remember, read the manual, ask for clarification if anything doesn't quite make sense, and over all, follow the instructions! They work!
Con mucho amor,