Then spake Jesus saying, "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 18: Merry Christmas

Hermana Luci was sooooooooo nervous the day of her interview. She had to leave work early because her blood pressure sky-rocketed—and she doesn’t even suffer from high blood pressure. Then, when she and her husband and daughter all showed up together for the interview, and Elder Mills asked who wanted to go first, she almost shouted, Me. I have never seen her take so much iniciative EVER. When she came out of the interview she was SO HAPPY she did a little dance. She was so happy that when we were filling out her paperwork and asked, “What is your dad’s full name?” she goes, “I only know his first name was Refugio, his last name—who knows!” And my companion goes, “Well, it would be your last name, too.” HAHAHA. She s always so reserved, but on Thursday she was all emotions.

Friday, the day of the baptism, I woke up at 4 in the morning to go to the bathroom. You know how you usually feel so much relief to see that it’s not time to get up yet—that you get to back to sleep? I didn’t. I didn’t want to go back to sleep—I wanted it to be Friday already! It was like Christmas—the second you wake up you know it’s Christmas, there’s none of that waking-up grogginess.

Their daughter also got baptized; the elders have been teaching her because soon after we started teaching them, she got married and moved out of our area. One night when she invited her fiancĂ©e to listen to the lesson, he whispers to her, “I’m a member of this church!” Her husband was less-active… not anymore! Now his mom’s coming back to church, too. It is hard to believe in coincidences anymore. The baptism was perfect and we love knowing that we promised to find them and because of the Lord’s hand we kept that promise.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

May 11: What do you focus on?

We’ve been doing family home evenings with all the members who live in this neighborhood; they all take turns hosting it and everyone else goes. Well, when they can. Cause sometimes no one goes. But last week, guess who hosted it? The Robles! It was their second time hosting it and they’re not even members yet. And not all the members have even hosted it yet. They’re so in love with the Spirit and it is so beautiful to see. Because sometimes I take it for granted, but when I see how much it impacts them, I realize what a miracle it truly is to simply have the Spirit in your life, in your home.

On Thursday we went to see them and they told us that the blood draws they had done a couple weeks ago in preparation for their marriage (I’m not sure if that’s a law in the US? I assume so…) expired! They have to pay to have them done AGAIN. But they’re not discouraged. They’re going to do whatever they have to do, even though it means more sacrifices. We should all follow their example. Refuse to let setbacks discourage us. Focus more on the successes than the frustrations or failures.

Hermana Hererra and I called our moms on Saturday (miss you, Mom!), and on Sunday we had church and the normal lessons but we spent a good part of the day singing a sweet mother-daughter song one by one to all the moms we know here! We didn’t have room in our hearts to feel sad that we weren’t with our moms, because our hearts were too busy giving love to be selfish. I know when we forget ourselves in the service of others we find a really sweet peace and happiness in our hearts. Because each and every one of us truly are brothers and sisters, since we are children of God, we have the need to love and be loved.

In the April 2010 General Conference, Bradley D. Foster said:

"Perhaps the reason we respond so universally to our mothers’ love is because it typifies the love of our Savior. As President Joseph F. Smith said, “The love of a true mother comes nearer [to] being like the love of God than any other kind of love”"

Making salsa by hand, helping one of the hermanas

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

May 4: Axel

Last week the bishopric gave us a list of all the members and asked us to see if the information was current. Needless to say, we’ve been getting to know the area a lot better. So! We knocked on a blue door with a bunch of graffiti. A skinny 16-year-old sauntered out we introduced ourselves. He said that he was baptized 4 years ago but hasn’t really been to church. That his grandparents, who lived with them and were also on the list, passed away. So we asked who all lives there. Axel said that he lives with his 17-year-old brother because when his mom died several months ago, his dad left.
But when we told the bishop that we had met him, the bishop told us that his mom didn’t just die, she was killed. By his dad. We haven’t told him we know.
How can I begin to comprehend what he’s going through?
I can’t.

But the miracle I know is true is that Someone does. I can’t heal him, but healing is possible. Alma 7 tells us that Christ suffered your sin, your anger, your regret, your sickness, what you felt every time you have been betrayed or let down- EVERYTHING. And not only that, but it tells us why: that His soul may be filled with mercy, and that He may know how to comfort you.
I know these things are true. I’ve come to ask myself, like most people, I think, “If God loves us so much, why does He let things like this—and worse—happen?” The other day they shared a story with us in church that I want to share with you all.

A barber and his client chatted as the barber worked. As they began to talk more, the barber said, “I don’t believe in God.” His client asked him why. “If God existed, He simply would not let some of the atrocities that we see today happen. The children that are abused in every form, the torture. If there were Someone all-powerful, and loving, He would put limits on this kind of suffering.” The client thought, and after a moment, said, “Well, I don’t believe in barbers.” “What are you talking about? You’re sitting right here talking to one,” the barber said, as a big bearded guy passed by outside. The client said, “If there were barbers, there simply wouldn’t be guys like that walking around.”
The barber said, “I always see that guy pass by. I’ve even talked with him before. But he just won’t come in and let me fix him up.”

I testify that God is as real as you or I. The world is how it is because most people don’t want to come unto Him. And even though He is all-powerful, there is one thing He won’t override—our agency. He allowed His only perfect Son to suffer all the sin and perversion and pain of the rest of His children in order to give us the chance to come unto Him. If we accept His yoke (the sacred covenants such as baptism, etc.) with sincerity, we will be healed. All the evil in the world will be punished with time. But more importantly, all the scars that evil caused will be erased.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

April 27: The Robles Family

Dear everyone!

One morning before we left the house, we prayed that when we got back home at night, we would have found three people who accepted a baptismal date.  Accepting a baptismal doesn’t mean you’re GOING to get baptized that day. It means you’re going to search to find out if the church is true. And if you feel, before that date, that God has responded to your prayers and your search, then you will decide to get baptized that day.

We got home that night with three baptismal dates. With a little family. The dad, the mom, and their youngest daughter, who’s 13. The rest of their kids are already married. The Robles family have become our best friends in Zamora. As missionaries, we always make our plans and back-up plans. But we laugh when we come to the part where we have to make back-up plans for the Robles, because they always receive us. They haven’t missed a week of church. One night when we were getting ready to leave, the mom, Luci, said, “It’s gonna be terrible when one of you gets transferred. I’m gonna feel like one of my own daughters is leaving!” One day it was raining so hard, and the dad, Manuel, wouldn’t let us leave until he paid a taxi!! Their 13-year-old, Estefani, used to come out with us every day after working in the “freezer” cutting the tops off strawberries.

We’ve been through everything with them. A few weeks ago, Estefani, got back together with her boyfriend BUT she didn’t tell anyone. She just didn’t come home that night. They called us at midnight to see if we knew anything, but we didn’t, and we could hardly sleep that night, not knowing where Estefani was and if she was okay. The next day they called us to saythat she had come by the house, and we went over right away to see her. We hate seeing her choose momentary happiness over permanent happiness. It has taught me to always have an eternal perspective in my life, so that I don’t choose temporary over what lasts.

The day we found out that Manuel and Luci aren’t married was the worst! But we left them with the pamphlet of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and when we went to the next lesson and asked, “Were you able to read the assignment we left?” they said, “We understand what you were trying to tell us. We need to get married.” And one of the their adult daughters goes, “Yeah, y’all are living in sin!” Hahahaha. But they don’t have much money, so they really weren’t sure what to do. One day we sat down with them and set a goal. We thought we were going to need the help of the ward to accomplish that goal, but a week later they told us everything was taken care of, and they have an appointment for MAY 12!

It’s inspiring to see people MAKE DECISIONS. To see people appreciate the gift God has given us to CHOOSE what we want to do. When we use our AGENCY to improve our lives, when we make the sacrifices necessary to live God’s beautiful and perfect plan, we will reach our divine potential. If you think about any goal you have reached, there will also come to mind the many sacrifices you had to make to achieve it. #Howbaddoyouwantit?
I will always remember one time when we were trying to convince a group of people to come on a hike with us, and they were like, “I’m tired.” Or “It’s really steep.” And stuff like that. And my friend said, “Do y’all know about Type A Fun and Type B Fun?” I turned to look at him cause I didn’t. He said, “Type A Fun is good in the moment but bad afterward. Like eating a ton of ice cream. Type B Fun is bad in the moment but good afterwards. Like a really hard workout.” I’ve never forgotten about Type A and Type B Fun, and when I’m doing something I think I can’t do, but I’m doing it for a good purpose, I tell myself, This is Type B Fun, that’s all.
We often have so many things to do we don’t know where to start. But it’s not as complicated as we think it is. We complicate things, not God. I like this scripture because it reminds me how simple life is. 

27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil;for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
 28 And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit;
 29 And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth thespirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.

I know this scripture is true. We can choose—life or death. Put that way, it’s sooooooooooooo easy. Put into real life, it’s hard. Choosing life is simple, but its not easy. Know the difference?
I know that our decisions have an eternal echo. I promise that in the end, the spiritual is all that matters. I invite you to think about what the Lord is asking you to SACRIFICE at this time in your life in order to advance spiritually. And DO IT. And I love each and every one of you. Think about each and every one of you. Pray for each and every one of you.