Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'll Take it as Change

I'm starting to think that witnessing drug busts is just anther part of life in this area. We visited a less-active on Friday, and passed a group of guys hanging around their building. We cut through the crowd (and smoke), made our visit, and came out to find them still clustered together. We'd barely made it back to our car before a black sedan swerved into the parking lot, and we watched as two officers sprang from the car and started searching and handcuffing the guys one by one. 

Some things never change:)

Oh well....moving on.....

I translated for my first time an entire sacrament meeting in ASL! Yea....I'm pretty sure I was shaking like a leaf for the first 15 minutes and I won't say that everything said from that pulpit made it's way into my hands but....I tried:) One of the speakers mentioned that he served his mission in Japan, and I'm pretty sure I accidentally signed "moon" instead of Japan. No joke:) That's Brian Regan material right there...."I served on the moon..."

We also helped out at the food pantry again this week, but this time we were assigned to stock and organize the storage room. I don't think I've handled more boxes of Cheez-its in MY LIFE. But hey, in case your wondering, I now know how many boxes of Cheez-its come in a cardboard flat, and how to stack them just right so that they fit on a converted utility shelf. I can now go home. Learned what I needed to learn out here:) 

Finally, we had an amazing night with the Villegas family this week! Before our lesson, they sat us down to dinner and filled our glasses with juice and our plates with authentic mexican food (my fav). I was so thirsty, I gulped almost all of my "juice" (that's what he called it) before beginning to eat. They saw that my glass was almost empty and filled me up again, as I commented, "That juice is really good! What kind is it??" "Oh, it's not juice...it's from the container above you on the fridge." I looked up and expected to see koolaid or something of that nature.....but no. Nope. 



I didn't have the heart to say anything, so Sis Green and I just looked at each other wide-eyed and went through the rest of (spicy mexican) dinner without drinking the rest:). THAT'S a feat, just saying:) hahaha! 

Our lesson went well, though:) We shared the Mormon message, "The Hope of God's Light" with them and then the story of Naaman's healing and talked about how receiving blessing from the Lord requires our action. It went SO well and the spirit was strong!! They're reading the scriptures now and said they're going to start praying more as well. 

(side note: right after we' finished our BOMB lesson with them, their daughter and her husband came over to drop their kids off before heading out to get TATTOOS. But not before meeting us and then showing us pictures of what they wanted to get and asking us our opinion of "this color rose, or this color of rose? Should the shield be over the vines, or kind of behind? I think I'd like it too start here on my shoulder....what do you think??" "Uhhhh.... ummmmm ....well...... ehhhhh....."......yea try wiggling out of that one:) it was an interesting conversation:) hahaha!)

Anyways...so the next day (Sunday) I was sitting at the front signing the whole meeting, and didn't get the chance to look for our investigators. But afterwards, I turned to see Ricardo making his way up to the front to meet us!!!! THAT is one of those moments when my hear just SOARED as a missionary! Here he was.....in church for the first time in "more years than he could count," smelling thick of smoke, and with multiple earrings and gages, wearing his black leather, and yet all of that just made that moment all the sweeter for me, because I knew....and I believe that he knew....that he was RIGHT where he needed to be. And NOTHING else mattered! 

I've found myself sitting in church on my mission, smelling the residue of smoke or even weed on others, seeing people covered in tattoos or piercings, hearing them disrupt the silence of the meeting with their questions about what's taking place, or wearing clothes that haven't been washed in weeks or that don't conform to the Mormon expectation of "Sunday best," and yet I LOVE it. I love it because I KNOW that if the Savior were there, THOSE are the ones that He would single out, wrap in a hug, and welcome back with tears of joy. I love it because THAT is what the gospel is about. It's about acceptance. It's about growth. And it's about change. I love it because it's an opportunity for me to love. 

While some might roll their eyes, cover their noses, avoid any contact, or scoff and scorn.....I love it because of what it means: it means that they are coming home. It means that they are finding hope. It means they are looking for love. It means they need help. And it means that I can play a part in that. It means that I can choose to look past the image, the smells, or the sounds and see them as He sees them. They are His, and my greatest joy comes in showing them that love through my love. 

The gospel is about change.....continual change.....and it's a path we all walk whether we're sitting on the stand at General Conference every year, or in a sacrament meeting for the first time after years of addictive habits and serious sin. THAT'S what the gospel does for each of us. Ah! This gospel is glorious!!! It just fills my WHOLE heart and these short 5 weeks left of my mission will NEVER be enough time for me to express that to everyone here! 

The gospel is hope. It's love. And it's HAPPINESS!!!

Onward and upward,

Sister Anna Parker 

(our video from the first snowstorm last week.....this was taken at the beginning of the snowstorm....by the end we gave up the idea of doing a before and after video....brrrrrrr;) haha