So first of all, it was SOOOOOOOO wonderful to talk to my wonderful family last night!! Thanks for the laughs and all the encouragement. Mom, I'm still repenting for that crack I made about dad. ;) haha But I really do love you all and I'm so grateful for all your prayers! I still need them!!!
So I promised that I would write in my weekly update about some of the miracles and tender mercies that I've experienced this last week, because it felt like there were SO MANY!!! So here are just a couple of highlights:
Remember Melissa, the 11 year old we're teaching? Well she is just so fantastic! She is getting baptized 22 May, and she is SO excited! I love her like my own little sister. Well we taught her on Friday night, and when she let us in, her dog (a chiuahua OF COURSE haha) Blackie got out. He normally comes back within a couple hours, but he never did. So we got a text from her Saturday morning saying that he never came home and asked if we could come help her look for him. So we started off with a prayer, and then wandered around pretty much aimlessly for the next 30 minutes until she said we should just go back to her house because we weren't going to find him. Back at her house we shared Alma 32:21-22 about what it means to have faith, and how God is MERCIFUL to everyone that believes on His word. I told her that God's word was that He would answer our prayers, if it be His will, but it would be in His time and in His way. We told her to keep praying and we'd do the same. We prayed with her again before we left, and I was 100% confident that God was trying to teach this little girl about Faith. So that's what I told her. And I found myself promising her that if she would have faith and pray, that God would help her get Blackie back. I walked out of there thinking to myself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE?! I CAN'T PROMISE HER THAT!!" haha So Before I started to panic, I just remembered that if the Spirit was telling me to promise her that, then I could show some faith too. Well, On our way back home, we hear some dog barking, so I started following the noise and calling Blackie's name. A woman was getting out of her car and asked us if we had lost a dog. We said that we had and it was a little black chiuahua. She said, "I have him! I was just coming to report that I'd found him!" NO WAY. God is SO COOL. So we walk back to her apartment with her while she tells us how her son found him the night before while walking their dogs and thought he was a stray because he didn't have a collar on. And then she says, "By the way, I'm a member [of the church]!" WHAT?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Seriously. God is SO SO SO GREAT sometimes. Not only does He work miracles, but He does it in such a way to teach us lessons and build our faith. I've never seen a little girl so grateful to God for anything as when we gave her Blackie. I made her promise that she'd go home and kneel down and pray to thank God for this miracle in her life. And now she really does know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers. Seriously, it was so wonderful!
Another miracle, well I don't have much time left to go into too much detail. But we found this Honduran woman, Maria, digging through the dumpster looking for things she could recycle--that's how a lot of people earn money here. We miraculously found a bottle to give her, and so we were able to start talking to her really easily. Turns out her husband's coworker had just told him about the Book of Mormon a couple days ago. Coincidence? I think not! God really wants to bless this family's life with the gospel and He's hitting them with it on all sides! :) That's just how merciful God is to us. I love it! Anyway, turns out her son was murdered in Honduras a few years ago... when Ryland says it's dangerous there, he's not kidding! So we start telling her about how we know where her son is right now and what he's doing--learning about the same things that we'd like to teach her about! So we ask if we can come back and teach her about how her family can be together forever, and she gladly accepted. Before we left, the Spirit prompted me so strongly to sing her a hymn. By the dumptser. In the parking lot. But hey, who am I to go against the Spirit? haha So I pulled out my hymn book and said a quick prayer to know what to sing her. The Spirit very clearly told me "Nearer My God To Thee." So I open it up, show my companion, ask the woman if we could sing with her, and we just start singing to her right then and there. And you know what? The Spirit was so very powerful. When we were done, we all had tears streaming down our faces because the love of God for that woman was so palpable through the Spirit. I only understood about 40% of what she said, but in that moment, singing to her, our spirits communicated and I really could feel the overwhelming love of God for Maria. Incredible.
Don't worry. We had a lesson with her on Saturday and it was just as amazing. She is such an incredible woman and I pray that God will continue to touch her heart through the Holy Ghost. Because God is trying to show her His mercy through Hermana Kiewra and I. In fact, He's trying to extend His arm of mercy to ALL of His children in our area through us. It's so sad to see people rejecting that mercy so much. But when they accept it and welcome it into their lives and do the things and make the changes necessary to feel it more, it's an incredible experience!
Ok so those are just a couple highlights from this last week. But there have been so very many tender mercies because God really is directing His work here on the earth. He really does invite ALL of His children to come to Him through His Son Jesus Christ. But in order to fully come, we have to do 5 simple things: 1) Faith 2) Repent 3) Baptism by immersion by someone authorized by God 4) Receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, which is only one of the greatest gifts God can give us--a member of the Godhead to ALWAYS be with me?! YES PLEASE!!!! And 5) Endure to the End (Happily!) by continuining to follow Christ in our daily actions.
For everything we all go through in our lives, these 5 things really are very simple. It's hard for me to learn just how many of God's children don't want to hear, don't want to know, don't want to do these 5 simple things because of one excuse or another. That's why Melissa is such a bright spot in my day when we teach her. Because she doesn't care that it will be hard to have to be the example to her family. She doesn't care what people might think of her for making good choices. She only cares about what God thinks and what He wants for her. And she's humble enough to ask God really and truly to know for herself what He would have her do. And she's also humble enough to accept that answer and act on it. I hope I can always have the faith of a child like Melissa. Because, really, in the end, what God thinks of us and what He would have us do is the only opinion that really matters. So I encourage you all to think of how YOU can try and cultivate this child-like faith in our Heavenly Father.
I love you all!! Look for a miracle today. I promise if you look, you'll find one. I do EVERY TIME. God is always there for us!