So, funny story about the age change. Ja, the eternal investigator who has been going to church and seminary for a year but who doesn´t want to get baptized, went into conference praying and fasting for a definite answer so that she could make the choice and get baptized. She had said, when she turned 18 two months ago, that if the mission age for woman was lowered to 19 she would get baptized to be able to serve as soon as she graduated. Guess what the first thing she heard from the conference was!
We found a less-active member named J this week. Actually, I met him several months ago in an interchange in another area. It was raining a lot, and a family of less-active members had pity on us and let us in the door to dry off. One of their sons, who was there visiting, lives in our ward, and he gave me his address. We went by this last week, and he told us a pretty amazing story. He was baptized thirty years ago, and went inactive as a young man, about age 16. He has now not gone to church for 20 years. But he said that all the circumstances in his life, from the possible lung cancer that was detected in his lungs from smoking to the way he has been feeling about his life, makes him believe that Right Now is the moment for him to make it back to church. It was pretty neat.
Y stopped reading the Book of Mormon for about a week, for about the same reason I used to not read it for a week before my mission--I got busy, or just didn´t think about it, or when I had the free time I did something else. When we went by to share a bit with her, the difference was obvious. She was irritated by her children´s behavior, frustrated by her life situation, sick and tired of working, and just wanting it all to go away. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon for a few minutes, and then passed by the next day. The difference was like night and day--where she had felt stress and frustration before, she was feeling peace and happiness then. We talked about Lehi´s dream, and how the iron rod is the only way to get to the tree of life, to help her understand this pattern in her own life. It was definitely a good reminder of how much the little things really matter.
Do you remember E and C? C is the inactive daughter of the 2nd counselor in the bishopbric, E is her very catholic husband. I met them towards the beginning of my time here in El Mirador, but they got lost for a few months while going on vacation and redoing a wall in their house. We visited them for the first time in a long while this week and shared about the Restoration, talking about the church that Christ formed while on the earth and Joseph Smith´s vision when he asked which was the true church. It was really powerful lesson, and I´m excited to keep sharing with them.
We met a sister with a really sad story yesterday. She joined the church in Colombia, then came over here to Chile to get married to the missionary who baptized her. We didn´t ask for details of the story, but she made some really bad decisions at one point in time, was divorced, and got to the point where she felt like she was all alone in the whole world with her 2 children (she couldn´t even go back to Colombia because her ex-husband needs to keep seeing the kids). Right now she is almost to the point of getting out of her hard situation, she is reasonably within months of having her life how it should be, but I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice how difficult it has been to pull herself out of what she did. We are going to try to help her get her life back together, and I am going to always remember that the choices of a few moments can have pretty big consequences.
Last story, one that left me absolutely amazed by how great the spirit is. We were with the A family yesterday, recent converts who stopped going to church because they felt guilty for having made a few mistakes. Pure, beautiful revelation reminded me of a scripture passage I had read earlier in the week, in 2nd Nephi 26:25-28. (It says, in the words I can remember in English, "Has he commanded anyone to leave the synagogue, or the house of worship? Behold, I say onto ye, no.") When we started sharing from this passage, we all felt the spirit confirm it. The family decided to go back to church.
I feel so privileged to be the Lord´s servant, to be able to be an instrument that the Holy Ghost can use to touch somebody´s heart. I love my mission, every single minute of it.
Viviendo el sueño,
Elder Jason Ray