Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Greatest Man

Well my mind currently can’t wrap around all the things that have passed in the last week! It’s safe to say it’s been an interesting one, from district leaders’ flip out because we found 10 new investigators all in one day....to our district leader, for the first time ever, being completely speechless, "simply stating, wow you can’t catch a break!" So where do I begin with a week like that?!?! Well with my testimony, I know that everything that we go through is this light truly makes us better people, BUT only if we choose to let it do so! I know that the plan of the Lord is perfect for ALL his children, ALL OF THEM, and He will never simply leave us to suffer.  If we turn to Him, He will truly send angels to protect us and to keep us standing when our knees become to week to stand! I truly believe in the ministry of angels both seen and unseen!

This week our new mission president arrived and it has been one of the funniest experiences of my life! He couldn’t be any more lost if he tried but he is so willing and wanting to get to know everyone and just be a part of everything so I know he will do great things! We had a multi-zone conference on Friday and everyone was ecstatic because there were so many friends there. He started off the conference asking if anyone had any questions, so we started in....and then when no one had any more questions that was the end of the conference.....interesting! But they are sooooo very different from the Kuschs that there will never be comparing that’s for sure.  We feel just a little sick and Hna Avila (the President’s wife) is ready to turn the mission home into our personal hospital. We leave our area and they want a direct phone call when we leave and when we get home safely. They just want to talk to all of us and they could care less about the line of authority (district leaders call zone leaders, zl call APs, APs call president).  Hna Avila was super worried Sunday because no one had signed up to feed us, "Is that normally a problem hermanas?! I can totally feed you whenever you need me to, I hope you guys know that, just call me!" And I was like, aren’t you always gonna be gone like the Kuschs?? THIS IS GONNA BE AWESOME!!!!! I think the greatest part about the Avilas, if that wasn’t already enough, is that they brought with them one of their sons who has Downs syndrome.  His name is Sammy and he reminds me so much of Sara Bailey that I just want to squeeze him!!!!! He soooo sweet and just awesome! During church on Sunday he sat across from me and every time he looked up I just smiled at him, he blushed, looked down, and then would peak back at me, so I naturally just kept smiling during the whole class!!!! I’m so excited to have them here with us!!! Truly they are a great light during a rather roller coaster kind of week....

So for the roller coaster....On Friday night we stopped by to see Lucio, the greatest miracle of my mission, and he was crying.  What on earth is going on, was all I could think?! He then filled us in on the fact that the court case that we all thought had been settled a month ago when they dropped the charges had come back up. Because he still didn’t have the 31,000 pesos he was officially going to jail Monday morning for 8 years on false charges, despite all the testigos....so naturally his tears were not the only ones shed.  I couldn’t believe my ears, but what followed was the most powerful testimony meeting of my life.  This dear old man who I just happened to sit next to one day on the bus for 2 minutes has stolen my heart and showed me that our Heavenly Father knows us much more personally then we can ever imagine! I have had the marvillosa pleasure of watching Lucio transform in the course of a month from a man who knew nothing of God or how to read, to someone who now can read AND UNDERSTAND, but more importantly has a faith in God that cannot be shaken! We started talking about faith and he shared his testimony that he knows that His father in Heaven is looking out for him.  He told us that he knows it for sure because that same God sent his "angels" (us) to him.  In that moment I was so thankful for the family Palmas (my district: the office secretaries and the assistants) and their ability to react fast.  I called Elder Jenson instantly to come give Lucio a blessing and they dropped everything and came running just by listening to my voice.  It was a powerful blessing and the spirit was just burning as we left his house. So that imposing doom is still hanging over our heads 13 days before his baptism.....

It was a rough day/night, but we woke up Saturday morning with our dreams big cause we had so much to do and we were crazy excited about how good our day was going to be! But naturally you shouldn’t count your eggs before they hatch, the day quickly became something that none of us were expecting! Everything fell through so we decided to go visit Jose (a 72 year old recent convert of Hna Chynoweth who we visit about every day because he’s amazing) early.  We sent him a message to tell him we were on our way but when we arrived he wasn’t waiting for us outside....that’s a first! The door was open and there was Jose, hunched over in a chair unable to breath.  Luckily, missionaries are trained to react super well in crazy situations so we kept our calm really well.  Jose was able to get air and started showing us how swelled up his legs were and telling us about his other horrible symptoms.  For a man that has been smoking around 20 cigarettes every day of his life for the last 60 years, he’s basically a living miracle.  He didn’t want us to tell anyone, just to sing him a few hymns.  We naturally did not follow the first request, the second one we followed through with.  The other week I made him a disk of the music and lyrics of every hymn, which he has now listened to 50 times through.  He loves the “Spirit of God” so we sang him that one as we waited for the APs to arrive to our aid (we decided to give Elder Jenson and Elder Morales a break because they had saved us last night).  The APs dropped everything and were there in minutes, love them! Jose was shocked to see them but happily received the blessing.  Afterwards he said, "I already feel better. Do we want to have the lesson here on the patio or in my house?" YEAH RIGHT, there was no doubt in my mind that he needed to get to the hospital.  We all went to work trying to find a member to pass by to help us get him there but nobody answered so we just went to work.  The elders carried Jose down the mountain where he lives and I ran way out in front to find a taxi.  A taxi was the first thing that passed by, can someone say miracle?!?!?, but the guy apologized saying he didn’t have time and needed to repair something in his car first.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Was all I could think to say as he drove away.  I said a quick prayer and out of nowhere there was the same taxi driver backing his car down the same road he had just driven away on.  "Okay.....I’ll do it!" We later came to find that as he drove away a huge feeling to go back came over him that he said he just couldn’t ignore, THANK YOU HEAVENLY FATHER!

The hospitals here are sponsored by the government so the care is all free.....which means the lines are hours long....and the care isn’t the best....but it’s free.  For yet another miracle, the mile long line parted ways as the elders carried Jose in and he was immediately attended to.  Elder Estrada went in with him while we sat outside with Elder Corven.  It was probably the worst three hours of my life! We had no idea what was going on inside.  All we could do was sit there and watch all the sick and horribly battered bleeding people standing patiently in line trying to get care.  At one point an old man who was waiting in a chair had a heart attack...he was dead before the doctors even got to him.  When he arrived he hadn’t been bad enough for the doctors to have to rush him in so they had told him he had to wait an hour.  And that’s how I passed my Independence Day and I have to say that I am proud to be an American! I have never felt so thankful for my country then I did in that moment.  A good part was that I stick out as an American so a ton of people stopped to ask me what I was doing there and I had a ton of opportunities to share the gospel with hopeless people who just needed hugs. With a few calls the elder quorum was on top of things.  From that moment till today, there was a member of the elders quorum at Jose’s bedside 24/7 all of the brethren taking shifts :) it was a tender mercy and one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

The night finished with little news of Jose and even less of Lucio.  Elder Jensen tried to share words of comfort but just felt hopeless.  Safe to say Sunday was a welcomed blessing.  Everyone canceled about coming to church an hour before everything started and we couldn’t find Lucio anywhere...stress.  We walked into the chapel with our heads down, and found Lucio sitting there waiting for us with a huge smile on his face! It was a needed tender mercy. We sang the Spirit of God....and I was in tears thinking of Jose.  And from that moment on it became one of the greatest sacrament meetings of my life! I don’t think I have ever heard more powerful testimonies.  There was a unity in the ward, there was a powerful spirit in the air, and there was simply love flowing from every individual! I left truly happier as if I had shed a burden.  As we were sitting in pricipios del evangelio when Hermano Javier called us out.  My comp and I were a little surprised but we followed him out of the room to a lady who was waiting in the lobby for us.  He simply said, "she’d like to hear about the church so I thought you guys could help." I almost started crying on the spot, but a giant smile won! In my entire mission I have never had the experience of someone just showing up to church and I couldn’t stop thanking the Lord.  It was needed.  It was as if the Lord was telling us, "Everything’s going to be okay. Here’s a family of 8 of my precious children who need your spirit and help.  Go strengthen them and I’ll take care of the rest!"

Sunday night ended on a horrible note.  We arrived home and instantly called Elder Estrada to see what he knew about Jose.  He told us he would call us in a few minutes...but after an hour we tried calling him again...still didn’t answer.  The meeting that our district was in with president lasted till 10 pm...so Elder Jenson called at about 10:20 for our data and to see how we were doing.  In the middle of the phone call the assistants called so we hung up really fast from him.  To hear Elder Estrada crying on the other side of the line was all I needed to know....Jose had been put into induced sleep because his heart was overworking, and then his lungs had failed, he had fallen into a coma a few hours before.  I broke down like I haven’t in a while and instantly called Chynoweth....it was a hard conversation.  After that Jenson called to see how we were all doing....safe to say it was a really late night for the Family Palmas......

All I know is that despite everything! I have unfailing confidence in the plan of the Lord! Jose, Lucio, Margarita, every one of them was a blessing from the Lord and I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without their help and support! I’m so glad for the knowledge I have of the gospel.  I know with all certainty that there is no other way to happiness then accepting and following the gospel of Jesus Christ.  He is my rock and my Salvador.  One day I’ll have the chance to thank Him for all He has suffered for me and for all the tender mercies I have received at His hand.  This work will never end, because it’s the work of an Almighty God and it will truly change the world, as it has truly changed my life! In the words of Elder Holland, "we cannot quit, we cannot go back!" So forward we go! With the shield of faith ready to destroy all the doubts and traps strewn in our path by the adversary!

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