On Thursday we were walking by a construction site when someone hollered at us, “Hermanas!” I almost didn’t want to turn around because sometimes they just holler at us to bother us. But I am a missionary so I can’t just ignore people! So we turn around and walk back toward them, and one of the guys says, “There’s someone here who wants to talk to you.” Haha we didn’t really know what to think, but we asked when we should come back. They said they got off work at 5, so we went back at 5. And it was kinda funny cause we just stood there waiting because we didn’t know who to ask for or anything. And right away, out came a maybe 30 year old guy, bunch of curly hair, and we started to talk. He said that one of his coworkers (the one who had talked to us) was a member of the church and had told him to look into it. Wow! That was a good start. We told him we would come back to teach, because we need a sister from the ward to come with us in order to be able to teach him.
Friday my companion got really sick (allergic reaction from some pork they gave us Thursday). So we spent the morning in the doctor and the afternoon in our meeting with the Ward Missionary Leader, and we weren’t able to go all the way out to the construction site.
Sooo… From Friday night to Sunday night it RAINED. Saturday from the moment we left the house in the morning until the moment we got home at night, we were soaking wet. Everything. Shoes, skirt, even my scriptures got wet. There was no sister from the ward who was willing to come with us, so Hermana Herrera and I went just to invite him to church. His eyes were so big and so sincere when we were testifying to him of the truthfulness of the gospel and the perfection of the plan that God has for him. He said he shouldn’t go because he only had his contractor’s clothes, but we said it didn’t matter. He’s one of the guys who does NOT go to church, but what he felt standing out there getting wet in the pouring rain was hope. He said he would come.
Sunday morning we put on every sweater and jacket we own and started walking toward the area where our investigators live (about a 30 minute walk). But the streets were so flooded, and it was so cold, we really didn’t want to wade through the water again! So we surrendered and called a taxi haha! We did the rounds in style this time (aka with a car) and the taxi driver probably thought we were really funny. Two little girls running around in the icy rain collecting all the people in the neighborhood to come to church. When we passed by the construction site, out came Fernando (that’s not his name) in clean jeans and a polo!
It was stake conference, and it was amazing. But seriously, amazing. They taught us about the family and it was incredible everything I learned. Fernando was sitting in front of us with some members, and I was watching him to see how he reacted. His shoulders were tense the whole time. Afterwards, we asked him what he thought. He said, “I feel overwhelmed.” I thought it was because of all the new words and the way everything was done, but he said, “All my life I thought being a man meant being tough, winning, having people be afraid of you. I learned today that’s not true. But I’ve already taught my son everything wrong. Is it too late? I want to change, but when I try to change, they make fun of me. I’ve never heard these things before. I’ve done sooo much wrong. Can I be forgiven?”
We sat down right then and there in the chapel and started teaching him. As we closed the opening prayer, he had his fingers pressed tightly across his eyes. “They burn!” I asked him if that happens to him a lot, and he said no. It was in that moment that someone started playing on the piano one of my favorite songs, a duet that we learned at EFY. It was so surreal. I wanted to capture that moment and hold it forever. We taught him that what he was feeling was the Holy Ghost, a personage that helps us recognize the truths we learned before coming here, but had to forget. “I feel so weird,” Fernando said. “I have never ever felt this before.” I love teaching about repentance. He has things in his past that aren’t okay. Repentance is the ONLY way to be clean and happy. It makes me happy just thinking about all the times in my life that repentance has helped me regain control of my life, regain the confidence to come before God and work side by side with Him, regain peace.
It was a moment that I couldn’t hold back tears, either. To watch the transformation from rough, dirty, contractor, to clean, humble, repentant father and husband—to see his hands twisting and turning as he tried to tell us how hungry he is for peace—to see his eyes huge and shining as he asked if it is too late—that was something that changed me, too.