HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! 51! I used to think of 51 as being old ..... nope! It's still young!
THE HERNANDEZ FAMILY (minus Carlos) got baptized on Friday! As usual, baptisms are always a little hectic before but wonderful and Spirit-felt in the end! Horray! After they got baptized, they were welcomed into the branch and were asked to stand up there so everyone could see them. Oh how happy they were - the light in their eyes!!!! Carlos will not be long behind. He just needs a little help with recognizing and opening up to the Spirit (that's the only secret) - [I guess that's with EVERYONE in the world too.....]. It's like President Packer's comments once in a talk - a testimony is well hidden ... no one that is prideful or egotistical can find it. It can ONLY be found in humbly seeking the Spirit. That is what I've learned if nothing else with their family and the Vargas (baptized in September). If you're humble and seek the spirit, it will testify of things of truth. Baptism, therefore, is only the beginning. As we talked to the Hernandez (especially the kids) about the "interview" (in quotes because they were sooooo nervous when we said that word!) it's not about what you know; it's what you're willing to do to and what you know to be true from these feelings from our Heavenly Father. They will be an incredible strength to the branch and they continue to learn, grow, and serve! And Carlos!
This week felt really short thinking I was just here .... but sooooo much happened. Something we saw this week was lots of sadness. We started talking to a woman who is going through a divorce after 8 years, 3 kids, high school sweethearts. She feels like she's starting over and everything she knew has abandoned her. Well .... that's why we're here! :) One day we didn't have dinner so we called a woman in the rama [PARTLY because we didn't want to eat our food ..... but also because she is in primary and can't sign up and would like to]. She really just opened up expressing her trial of patience while serving in primary. She knows english well enough ... but she's not being challenged in this calling. She just sits through 2 hours of primary .... she doesn't have a class or anything ... serving in the Primary presidency. She wants to learn and be fed the gospel! She struggles with patience "why do you think I only had 2 kids." She knows she struggles with it and recognizes that for some reason she is in Primary ... again .... but it doesn't mean it's easy. Oh this dear hermana! It made me so sad to see what is going on in her heart. I started realizing this a few months ago. As we do a better job at being representatives of Jesus Christ and more worthy of the Spirit, we speak more to peoples hearts and we learn how we can help them. We find out their concerns, struggles, problems. Oh all the hurt in this world! It is so amazing though to be in this role as a representative of El .... to testify to people that there is a way through (maybe and most of the time not out). That is why we invite people to come unto Him - because he can relieve us of our cargas, debilidades, affliciones. He can help us, if we let him into our hearts! How can we let him in? we can learn about him in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, living day prophets.
We saw a family a few weeks ago that looked hispanic so we wrote down the address and came back this week. Getting out of the car we went and talked to a man outside. No doubt in my mind, we were sent, at the very least, to talk to him. What is success in missionary work? That peoples burdens are lifted. His mom was just leaving as we came to talk to him. We were worthy of the Spirit and asked a heaven sent question, "Have you had a lot of change in your life recently." A few minutes later he told us he had just told his mom he didn't want to talk about God - he was mad at him. The Spirit was there, however, so we were able to testify of our loving Heavenly Father and his plan for us. Central to the plan is our Savior, Jesus Christ. No he didn't accept that missionaries come by his house, but he was lifted.
We went to the temple this morning as a zone and Hermana Nielsen told me that they visited Doris in the hospital this week. Doris is a woman we saw one day (we were always right by her house ..... I only saw her once) when we were leaving a note for a woman. I remember it like it was yesterday. That day we had practiced and promised each other we wouldn't let anyone pass without asking them a soul-searching question (yes it's always easier to just give them a card to the Visitors Center but that's like telling someone you have something really special but not letting them see that it really IS something they want .... like a billion dollars). Hna Nielsen was writing the note and I saw Doris walking her dog. I knew I had to talk to her. I walked up to her .... had a little conversation ... knowing that I HAD to ask a soul-searching question (yes sometimes it is awkward/weird to ask people we just met about things that are really close to their hearts) .... and I don't know what I asked her but she opened up to us. She invited us in and told us that 20 years ago she'd lost a baby and she still feels that sadness. She's tried many things but hasn't found any relief from her pain. She said she's not really willing to go to church ... bad experiences. We taught her about the plan, testified of Jesus Christ, prayed, and were off. [gave the referral to the Elders - english] This week she called Hnas Nielsen and Alvarez asking if they could come visit her in the hospital [besides losing a baby ... she has every health problem known to mankind]! When they went, she said, "I know this will really surprise you .... but I want to go to church!" I'm pretty sure Doris doesn't remember who I am, but I remember her. She was looking for something and we have it! I am SO grateful and feel so privileged to be a messenger, angel, representative in this GREAT WORK!
I love this time in the mission. I love this work! I love Hermana Mazariegos! I love the Valencia branch! My prayer is that we can be God's hands here in our area. I know we will continue to be guided to those seeking relief as we are obedient and follow promptings of the Spirit. I am learning more about myself than ever before. It hurts but it feels soooooo good. Breaking out of that chocolate shell that you always say, "I can't do that. I'm just like that." No, we can change for the better (or the worse ... but hopefully the better). I recognized this week that I've really changed. I don't know how exactly .... but I have. I am a different person. One thing I've learned is that there are MANY ways to love people and the secret is to find the way that they need to feel that love our Heavenly Father has for them. When that love is felt, the Spirit can testify, we can be edified, we will acercarnos a Dios, seremos felices! We will all be winners (thanks grandpa!). What a glorious thing to be taught from on high in the temple!
I love you all! Thanks for your love! Keep being facilitators of miracles with your great faith! Love always, Hermana Clark