Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Witnessing the Lords Work

Lately I have been describing my weeks to myself in terms of general experiences that have the length of a week. This helps me to remember what happened during the week and also what would be of most avail to those who read my newsletter.  People like stories, and nothing will replace the human desire to hear things in the form of stories, which is a hard fact to take in because I've never been too great at story telling. Thankfully, the events of this week seemed to knit themselves together into a story.

Our daily efforts this week were focused on finding less active members and finding new people to teach. We have a really old list of members. We consider the people on the list that we haven't met yet as less active, inactive, or relocated. So we began searching for the addresses we had close to our house. A great majority of the people on the list had already moved. As we were searching for Paulo, we passed a group of 4 people relaxing and soaking in the shade, a common Tocantins occurrence. We couldn't find his address so we made our way back. I didn't want to go down the road and back for no reason, and felt like we should ask those people if they knew Paulo. We introduced ourselves and got into good conversation without even asking about Paulo. They didn't know him, but we talked and planned to come back the next day. We came back and it turns out that none of them actually lived in that house, so we thought nothing of it and went to the next thing. One day we ate lunch with Maria Joana, a member that has been here for quite some time. Lunch went by quickly, so we determined to stay a little longer to get to know her and ask questions about the area and old members. We got talking and asked if she knew anyone we could visit. She mentioned many people, including her daughter, who hadn't gone to church in some time. She explained to us where she lived but it was very confusing. Elder Nascimento wrote down her name and directions as best as we could. After lunch we passed the house we previously passed looking for Paulo. We decided to stop again to see if one of them was there. A less active member, Cleane, answered the door (gate). She said that she didn't know the people we were looking for. She told us her name and Elder Nascimento looked at his planner, looked up to her, and then to me, then back at his planner, then back to her, asking her for her name. She said she was Maria Joana's daughter. We were really surprised that she lived there--we never expected to find her house. She invited us in. We got to know her and talked to her about a lot of things. She said that she has felt empty since she stopped going to church. She told us how she met the missionaries and about becoming a member. We read the scriptures with her and shared our testimonies with her. I talked about how the gospel has blessed my family and how it is crucial in the lives of her children. She thanked us for the visit and said she would go to church on Sunday.

Yesterday she came to church. When she sat down, I told Elder Nascimento that she came and pointed to her. We gave each other hidden high fives (it was much like Shawn and Gus when they get excited about something). She gave her testimony in testimony meeting and expressed how happy she was. Her daughter came along with her. Looking at them sitting together made me so happy. The testimony meeting was fantastic. After she gave her testimony she sat down with a smile on for the rest of the meeting.

I wish I could express how I felt seeing the week's events culminate into yesterday, many of which were extremely coincidental (we weren't even supposed to each lunch at Maria Joana's house that day. There was a mix-up in the lunch calendar) Yesterday's happenings made all the sun, long walks, vain visits, and challenges of this week worth it. 

Ether 12:6

And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that afaith is things which arebhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.

The witness came duly after the trial of our faith. Not faith just in our own efforts, but faith in the guidance of the spirit, which led us, on two specific occasions to be able to help Cleane in some small way. I remember often the words of David A. Bednar in a MTC address. When asked how to recognize the spirit.

"Quit stewing about it. 
Quit Fussing. 
Quit worrying. 
Just be good boys and girls. 
Just be worthy. 
Sometime you will look back and see that you were in the right place at the right time. And you will recognize that you were prompted and directed."

As we do what we know we should do, as we are in the right place at the right time, our steps will be guided. 

Moroni 7:16
 16 For behold, the aSpirit of Christ is given to every bman, that he may cknow good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

Every thing which inviteth to do good is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ. I've learned that I don't need to double think thoughts that invite me to do good. We don't need to be over preoccupied with whether or not what we're thinking is the influence of the spirit or not, just "be a good boy" and guidance will come.

Before I forget. Another less active came back to church yesterday because a friend of a friend shared something about the church on facebook. Continue to 

stand ascwitnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death (Mosiah 18)


and be ready always to give ban answer to every man that asketh you a reason of thechope that is in you with dmeekness and efear (1 Peter 3)

I've learned to:
Never think that your efforts are in vain, no matter how small they may be. And be ready to share what you believe and why you believe it.

Have a wonderful remainder of summer before the humdrum season of school.

Elder Young

(I've noted that the sun here is good for only 2 things so far: 1. Drying clothes quickly, 2. Drying bananas for a nice treat)

1 comment:

  1. Jeni,

    Will you pass this on?

    Elder Young - you may not know me, but I love reading this blog and this week, I had to respond.

    I did not serve a mission and didn't get that opportunity when I was young (married at 19 does that to you) to do so. But I spent 6 months immersed and living in Madrid, Spain as a newlywed with my my Spanish is functional at best.
    My husband is currently serving as branch president in a Spanish speaking unit where we live in NJ. We attend and work in the branch and it's been a lot of work that is frustrating and sad at times. There's a lot of humble people that are wonderful but have been struggling with issues. At one point a few weeks ago, we looked at each other and wondered, out loud, if our efforts were really making a difference. It seemed like all were backtracking and we were losing members, one by one and family by family. I've spent more time struggling to communicate with people because they need to know I care, and I've felt like all my efforts were so miniscule it didn't matter.

    Let me tell you that as I read your letter, I felt so strongly that THEY MATTER. A LOT.

    This weekend we will celebrate and witness a sealing three years in the works.

    We watched the third and fourth adult children of a wonderful pair get baptized last week. These are people that I wrongfully made an assumption that my sad effort didn't make a difference.

    When she asked me to speak at their baptism, I was honored. Only later I learned that my smiling face welcoming her to church (in my limited Spanish) changed it all for her.

    And in just a few months, her parents are going to be sealed.

    You know that it is one of the most frustrating things to see people with so much potential do so little. When they grab hold, it's amazing the change.

    That little seed makes all the difference.

    May the Lord keep you safe and be happy serving Him!

    Jillayne Tompkins