Belief is very powerful. It is what helps me putter along here when things are good or bad. We had a week full of miracles.
I am learning more and more that God’s influence is in the details of our lives. He knows his children and His spirit is always there. Because he is a loving father, I don’t think we have any understanding of the blessings that await us beyond this life if we are true. In contrast to what will come, my mission has been a close-up observation of the suffering, hardship, and difficulties of this life.
Last week, without directly saying anything to one another, Sister Simbol and I decided to push our effort up a notch. I honestly believe that as we strive to do our best, as imperfect as it may be, God does carry us and fill in the missing pieces.
On Saturday we had a half day mission workshop where the leaders and ward missionaries came in the morning and we had a discussion about member missionary work. Our theme was "shoulder-to-shoulder, arm-in-arm, it takes all of us to do the work of salvation." We downloaded parts from the world wide broadcast in July and used that to try to raise excitement about missionary work. I have made promises to myself that even when the time comes that I am not wearing a name tag I will still be a missionary. And I will always do my visiting teaching and I will sit by people that are new in church. You just learn so much on the mission. After lunch we split into groups and went and visited less active members of the ward. It was so wonderful and it made a difference on Sunday!
We weren’t able to visit the family far away in the mountains this week because of the half day mission conference but we were texting them and inviting them to church. When we walked out of Relief Society on Sunday this woman was sitting on a plastic chair outside the room! After church, Sister Simbol and I split up, each taking a woman from the RS as our companion to teach different investigators. I went with Sister Rosie and asked her why she came to church? What made her come all this way even though we didn’t visit her this week? She said, "I can’t forget what you said about there being more than this. I never knew that there was something more than this life. I thought this was it." She lost two of her children and I could see that thirst for the knowledge that the gospel gives to us. She told us she is not educated and doesn’t have a religious background but she just wants to know. If there is something more she wants to know how to get it.
There was a day that all of our appointments fell through so we bought a bag of salted peanuts and began to walk. We passed a long road that was lined with only trees and no houses. Sister Simbol and I looked at one another and said “I wonder where that goes?” We decided to find out. We found a beautiful rice field that looked more like a painting than real life. We continued to walk when we passed a girl hanging her laundry on the fence of an old, empty rice mill. We asked for directions to get out of the winding path and she came down from her post to show us. Her name is Stephanie and she is 18. She never knew her parents. They died when she was a baby. She has one brother but when she was 11 he left for Manila and she hasn’t heard from him and she doesn’t know now if he is alive or not. We began to share with her the gospel plan and she said she just has so many questions about why she has gone through what she has. We taught about the Restoration and left a Book of Mormon. Two days later we returned and she had read through 1 Nephi 3. She is thirsting for that knowledge that she hasn’t been able to find anywhere else. Before we left she prayed thanking God for sending us.
We didn’t know about the family in the mountains. We didn’t know about the small bamboo home tucked away on the side of a rice field where an 18 year old girl lives alone with so many questions. We didn’t know about these people but God did. He knew them. He knows their hearts and their desires. I know that God lives and I know that the healing balm of Jesus Christ is what will take us all out of the poverty and hardships we face here on earth.
Transfer announcements are on Saturday. I have no idea what’s coming but I would be quite happy to stay with Sister Simbol in Goa for a little longer.
I was grateful for the gift of tongues this week as a kind woman rattled off in Bikol and I was able to understand. It took me right back to the first few weeks and months here on this island.
Surprisingly, I have become a banana addict. Yep it’s true. I guess the mission changes us in many ways.
Owey, your letter was the best. It sounds like you are a little star as a keeper.
salamat sa sulat ninyo! sobrang nagpapasalamat ako para sa indong gabos and ang supportahan nyo. kayo ang inspyrasion ko digdi sa mission. padanga ko kamo!