One of the most comic weeks in the life of a Rosario, Argentina Missionary. I was on divisions with one of the Sister Training Leaders in a little Pueblito called Roldan (its pretty much the Kamus, Utah of Argentina . . . in other words, a little ole country town in the middle of nowhere) and when I woke up in the morning I had 27 mosquito bites, one of which was on my front lip. Remember that year at Mirror lake when i got bit by a mosquito and my whole eyelid swelled up, family? Well, that happened again, but this time on my mouth. I walked around for a day a little asymmetrical, but it made me laugh. Yesterday we had a flash flood--we had studies during the tarde hours after church, and just after we arrived at Brisa Diaz' home (about 6pm) for a lesson, the skies opened up and CRIED. The streets and sewage systems aren't architecturally designed to handle how much water spills from the heavens every summertime. The water was up to a foot and a half deep when the rain began to calm down. After our lesson, we hurried on home, getting soaked all the while. At this time, lightning and thunder began to crack in rambunctious torments all about the sky. It flashed right above our heads on the power lines, and with it's strike, the lights went out in all of downtown Cañada. Hermana Martinez said a quick prayer in petition for protection, and finally made our way Safely to the apartment. We were sure to thank Heavenly father for the protection he gave us in our bedtime prayer. Luckily the other sisters made it home safely as well. Without the lights on there wasn't much journal writing or studying to be done amongst the four of us, and so we made the best of our situation, lit up a candle, cooked some oatmeal and stove top popcorn, and settled down to watch "Legacy" on our battery powered DVD player. It was a fun Sunday night in the mission field I will never forget. Oh, Argetina. There are so many misadventures here that just make us smile.
This was a beautiful week. We encountered a man while doing street contacting the other day, working in his front yard, that called us over to talk to him. He explained that he needs the word of God in his live, and pulled out a few chairs from his home to talk to us. Juan is his name, and he is such a unique person. He is about 60 years old, He has two children, ages 6 and 3, a little boy and a little girl. The little girl has special needs and the little boy is just a doll, he wanted to make sure we had enough "Jugo" (juice) and that we weren't thirsty. Juan currently is housing a homeless man named Elvio, about 40 years old. This week while I was away on divisions in Roldan, Hermana Reyes and Hermana Martinez invited them both to baptism on December 28th, and they accepted! I am so tickled for them and look forward to seeing how the Gospel truly blesses families and changes lives. Juan, after hearing about Joseph Smith, got teary eyed and explained that he's searching for the truth as well. We promised, as we always do, that the answer and testament of the truths we share come from God, not from us. That through the witness of the Holy Spirit, he will come to a knowledge that this is the true and restored church of Jesus Christ upon the Earth, or that it is not. They both read the Book of Mormon together after our visits and their prayers are powerful and sincere. Elvio has this little dog that follows him around everywhere, he calls her his best friend, and he asked us if we needed any help in the music on Sunday because he plays the drums. We explained that we'd love to have his talents at our Noche de Hogar activities on Fridays. We'll wait and see. We are just hoping they will come to church this Sunday so they can progress and make this precious covenant of baptism.
Sister Jan Holiday, I got your package from clear back on August 9th with the marvelous drawings from the Primary Kids! Oh, they are darling! Thank you for sending it and there is hope for the other packages you all have sent! Thank you for your love and your examples. Yes, you sweet primary Children, you ARE missionaries now! You don't have to wait until you're grown. The world needs your light and your pure Christlike examples!
I had a profound spiritual experience this week. On Saturday we had a Zone meeting, and for a couple of reasons it was just an off day. I was caught up in worrying about the safety of missionaries throughout the world, and particularly for the Elders and Sisters in more politically and physically dangerous areas of the world. Living in a foreign country opens my eyes in so many ways of the freedoms and rights I have been offered my entire life. American Heroes, my gratitude is yours! As I pondered the turmoil, temptation, and unrest in the world around me, I felt overcome with worry and contempt in my heart. My heart cried to God all the day long. When we returned from Rosario in the late afternoon, we had an hour for personal study. I felt impressed to open to Alma 56, which relates the account of the 2000 young stripling warriors. Helaman writes to Moroni about his experience as the leader of these young men. During their first weeks and months, he does all he can to evade fights with the Lamanites and protect his little "sons," while still fulfilling their duties and work as a battallion. But there comes a point where the troops of Antipus are dying, and the closest aid they have is this small battalion of teenage boys. I began to weep as I read the following verses:
"And now, whether they were overtaken by Antipus we knew not, but I said unto my men: Behold, we know not but they have halted for this purpose that we should come against them, that they might catch us in their snare,
"Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?
"And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amonst all the Nephites.
" . . . Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death, and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives, yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them."
I testify that God was with me in this moment, in this dark our of my grief and worry, and testified to me that we are as the armies of Helaman, truly. He is with us on our right hand and our left. He protected me this week through storms of lightning and storms of men, and he does so to each of his precious sons and daughters in the mission field. I so testify that the Book of Mormon is an account of people who actually lived, and that its pages are inspired of God. Those who have not read the book of Mormon, read it now and feast upon its words. Those who have read it and do not believe it, I plead with you to pick it up and read it again. We have to push ourselves in order to find understanding, at times.
Onward, ever onward.