Monday, July 7, 2014

One Day with the Savior

July 7, 2014

Another week in Babahoyo with Hermana Toledo just loving this grand work and getting wrinkles from smiling so much! 

The biggest smile of the week came because…Carlos came to church!!! :)  Hermana Toledo and I squealed for joy because he came all on his own, we didn’t have to pass by his house or anything!  After 20 years of not coming to church, the many prayers of his family were answered this week as he finally entered the doors of the chapel again. 

This week we have also seen Carlos’ prayers answered as he said, "Hermanas, I prayed and I know that Joseph was a prophet and this is the true church of Christ!"  Ahh it was perfect!  His son who is active in the church (he is actually the stake president’s secretary) said, "Who are these missionaries that are teaching my dad?  I want to meet them.  We have had missionary after missionary try and help my dad over all these years!  I want to meet these Hermanas!!"  So, to any of you out there who are reading this, who are praying and waiting for a wayward son or daughter or mother or father to return, your prayers will be answered in HIS time.  Carlos truly is the man in the red plastic chair reading the Book of Mormon!

We also had some tender and spiritual experiences working with Luz and Jenny this week that strengthened my testimony and understanding that trials in our lives are given to strengthen our faith.  Luz always has millions of challenges when she tries to return to church, but persevering with patience she came to church this week with her daughter and granddaughter.  She is the sweetest lady whom we just love!  Another reason to smile.
Well, these two snippets from our week of less-active members returning to church were definitely highlights.  Sadly, we are lacking in investigators right now who either desire to attend church or didn’t get drunk the night before and were too out of it to come to church.  Derian "Dear Johned" us over the phone and told us he just isn’t ready to make this kind of commitment but still wants to be friends.  But like Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of 12 Apostles said in his past general conference talk, we have learned the importance of persistence.  Like him, we are going to try once more this week with Derian and pray for a miracle!

As of July 1, we have a new Mission President!  President and Hermana Riggins! They are amazing and I feel that they truly are called of God to come and serve here in Ecuador at this time.  We had a meeting in Milagro along with a few other zones this week to meet the new president and to be taught and edified.  And boy were we edified.  Wow!  President Riggins taught an amazing lesson and it fit perfectly with what I have been studying recently during my personal study time in 3rd Nefi [Nephi]. 

President Riggins said something that I just love.  In speaking of how to best connect with investigators, he said, “Help them remember what they already knew.  You are here to help them remember their divine nature as a Child of God.”  He told us that everyone on earth today made a choice in the pre-existence to follow Jesus Christ and his plan for us.  We were taught the lessons of the gospel before we came to this earth.  We knew Christ personally. 

In the letter Mom wrote me in the package, she reminded me how there was a time when I was little and I was inconsolably crying and there was nothing my sweet parents could do to calm me down.  As my mom was walking around the house with me in her arms, she passed a picture of the Savior and I stopped crying and just gazed at the picture of Christ.  In Mom’s letter, she said, "You knew His face...you didn’t know me as well at that time.  I remember holding you up to look at Him...it strengthened my testimony of knowing that we lived with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ before coming to earth..." 

I have had similar experiences here in Ecuador with children seeing the picture of Christ and becoming more reverent and teachable.  As a missionary and representative of Christ I am here to help others gain a testimony of the Savior, so when they see a picture of HIM, they truly know and recognize HIS face.
Yesterday, I spent the whole day with my favorite picture of the Savior in my hands.  (I got this idea from a video I saw before I left on my mission.  The video was made by a member of the church back in Utah named Al Fox and is on YouTube called “Always There”.)  I carried the picture around as a visual lesson or reminder for me to truly see that as a missionary I am serving shoulder to shoulder with The Perfect Missionary who ever lived. 

The Picture of Christ in my Hand - All Day Long!

With the picture of Jesus in my hands, HE was with me while walking under the hot sun.  HE was with me when I placed the cap back on my pen after writing down the name and address of a new contact who we are going to teach and baptize right? :)  HE was with me while eating my lunch prepared by the ward.  HE was with me when we walked into church without a single investigator.  HE was with me when I shook the hand of Carlos, with a huge smile on my face, as he entered the chapel for the first time in 20 years.  HE was with me as I stood up in Fast & Testimony Meeting and shared my testimony of HIM.  HE was and is with me always.  I looked at the Savior’s face many times yesterday and many times throughout my life I have seen His face.  Like the story mom shared in her letter about me as a baby - I truly know my Savior, and I know that HE is always with me!          

Getting back to our meeting with Presidente Riggins, he also shared with us a story from when he was a bishop that will forever change my reverence and feelings for the Savior during the sacrament.  President Riggins once walked into the chapel on a Sunday morning before Sacrament Meeting with a visitor.  This man turned to President Riggins (then Bishop Riggins) and asked, "Oh, who died?"  President Riggins looked at him thinking, that is a silly question, and then realized that the visitor was looking at the sacrament table with the bread and water covered by a white cloth.  Without thinking, he quickly replied, “Oh, no one died, that is just the sacrament.”

President Riggins recounted this experience to us with shame and said, "¡Que terible!" [“How terrible!”]  Indeed someone did die.  Our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ."  It is not "just the sacrament", it is our covenant with the Savior to ALWAYS REMEMBER HIM and His great atoning sacrifice.  When we partake of the sacrament, the bread and water enter our bodies, and through digestion, literally penetrate our whole body.  May we all be more reverent and remember that truly someone did die for you and me. 

After Christ was resurrected, he visited the people living on the American continent and instituted the sacrament.  You can read about this in the Book of Mormon in 3 Nefi chapter 18.  In speaking of the sacrament Christ told the people, “And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you. 

And this shall ye do in rememberance of my body, which I have shown unto you.  And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me.  And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.”

He then gave them wine to drink and said, “and ye shall do it [drink the wine] in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me.  And if ye do always remember me, ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.”

As part of Jesus’ visit to the people in America, He also gave each of them a chance to spend a minute with Him and come to know for themselves that HE was their personal Savior by feeling the wounds in his hands and feet.  This happened right after he appeared to the people for the first time and is recorded in 3 Nefi chapter 11. 

I like to imagine this encounter as a profound and intimate moment physically to be embraced by the Savior.  His arms are always extended towards us.  As important as it was for those individuals, one by one, to touch the Savior, it was as important, if not more, for them to know that HE touched them.  I invite you all to imagine what you would do with that one moment with the Savior. 

I also invite all of you who read this to take one day this week and carry around a picture of the Savior to truly see we are never alone.  HE is ALWAYS with us.  I know my Savior.  I know His face.  My love for Him and His atonement grows each day.  We are never alone when we rely on our Savior. 

I love you all family, have a wonderful week! 

Con muchisimo amor, 

Hermana Bartholomew  

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