From the Parent of a Missionary
Yup, this week was definitely full of surprises. Sometimes as humans we tend to complain when some unexpected change comes into our lives, but nothing that happens to us is a surprise to God! I´m learning more and more to be humble like Job and say, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away.” We have to be humble with both sides of it.
One of the first surprises was a new change in mission goals. We went from the tiny goal of contacting 5 families a day to now contacting, as a minimum, 35 people daily. And our president is putting a huge emphasis on the challenge to baptism — we are now supposed to invite people to receive the same baptism as Christ did every time we contact someone. It has made my mission experience a lot more intense, and even though we are always hesitant as humans to invite others change, we receive an even greater joy when they actually do it! So rather than receiving the new goals with a hard heart, my companions and I tried to put it into practice right away. It goes to show me that the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and will always push our limits. The biggest limit to our progression is ourselves.
One of the biggest surprises in my entire mission came with a dreaded phone call on Thursday night (a night I will never forget.) We were sitting there, happily talking as a companionship when the phone rang. I answered, and the zone leader, Elder Rosero, told me, “Hey man, I´ve got some bad news. Your companion has emergency changes.” The first thing that ran through my mind was, “WHAT?! Elder Hernandez just got here!” But then he went on, “Elder Carvalho needs to pack his bags and be ready to leave tomorrow morning at 10.”
Here´s a little excerpt from my journal that night: “I felt like a little piece of my heart was being torn out — this companion that I have grown with and loved SO much is leaving!” As Elder Carvalho packed his stuff, I just said a silent prayer to God, putting everything in his hands. My “son,” as we say here in the mission to the missionaries that we train, is now gone to another area. He didn´t even get the chance to say goodbye to the members and investigators here. Now it´s just Elder Hernandez and I, but I am already seeing that God has a great purpose in that.
Elder Hernandez truly is an amazing missionary. My stake president´s blessing and patriarchal blessing tell me that I would learn from all of my companions, who would come from all different parts of the world. That has been completely true in my mission so far. And Elder Hernandez has passes through so many trials and afflictions in his mission and his life that I am amazed that he is here with me now. I always thank God that he allows me to learn from the afflictions of others and not have to pass through them myself. Ever since Elder Carvalho left, we have really opened up to each other and tried to come closer to Christ. There have been some times when our differences have caused contention, but without fail we have been able to forgive each other and move on. I am amazed at how much of a different person I am than a year ago. With my trainer we would pass sometimes an entire day without talking to each other because we were to prideful to forgive each other. But now, when I don´t get along with my companion, I know that I don´t have the spirit and I feel terrible. I am quick to forgive and quick to ask for forgiveness. It makes life so much easier — try it out! Trials and contentions just give us the chance to learn how to love and become more like our savior.
Some random side notes: I´m learning how to play the recorder. Elder Hernandez plays it really well and he´s teaching me. I have successfully learned how to play all of the songs from Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which is pretty awesome, I must say. The Chamo family is progressing quickly towards baptisms. Sergio, the father of the family, told us that he believes in the Restoration of the Gospel and that he loves church. Even though his wife is having a hard time getting her own testimony, she came to church with the rest of the family and they were warmly welcomed by the branch. Raul continues to investigate and have doubts, but bit by bit they are being resolved. We were guided by the spirit to find many new investigators this week as well, and we had one of the area seventy named Elder Galvez with us in church this Sunday to see how much the branch was progressing. We celebrated a happy independence day here in Guatemala (September 15th, which is also the independence day for Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, basically converting all of central America into a giant party.) There was a good church activity and my companion and I put little flags on our nametags. Fun Stuff.
I want to bear my testimony that there is NOTHING that can keep us from feeling the love of God in our life except ourselves. If we look for Him, he is always there. Never think that another person is causing you harm and preventing you from getting closer to God, because it´s really just yourself. If we kneel down in humble prayer and submit our will to his, we will be accepted by him. (D&C 97:8) I have felt several spiritual hugs from my Heavenly Father this week. I know he is real, and that he is with us. He can change you if you let him. This work is true and is the only thing in this life that brings us true joy.
May you all have an excellent week.
Elder Justin See