I have felt the Lord's love very strongly this week as we have been able to pass time with many different, colorful, vibrant people. I am amazed by the world that lives inside of each individual person and the magic that brings our souls to life when we are authentic and true to who God has made us to be, to our individual talents, abilities and stories. In my time in Guatemala, I have learned more about my own life story and am growing to really love it. As humans, we must share our stories, our lives and our authentic selves, lose the privacy and arise together, helping one another.
Here are some of the photos from this week of our family here in Dalmacia...
The Linares Family. About 3 years ago, the missionaries came to their house and started teaching them. They had never attended any church before in their lives, but always believed in God. They started receiving missionary lessons. Florencio (the husband) started really taking into consideration the doctrine he was being taught and prayed to know if what the missionaries taught was true. He received his answer and immediately asked the missionaries when he could be baptized. The missionaries, of course, were so excited that Florencio had received his answer and prepared the baptism.
Florencio talked to his wife and told her he didn't want to do it alone, that he wanted his exaltation with his eternal companion. She told him that she would follow him wherever he went, that she also believed the message was true. They both were baptized and exactly a year later, they were sealed in the temple for all eternity. It is the sweetest story.
Something else that really impresses me is that Florencio had never learned to read and he wanted to learn so he could read the scriptures, so he taught himself just a couple years ago. He is the most devoted servant of God I have ever met. I love their sweet love story and their devotion to serve God. They live only off the sales of their banana trees, which isn't a lot, but they always find a way to pay their tithing and do all the Lord asks of them.
Hermana Meza and I... She has really taught me a lot of lessons. I feel so privileged to be her companion and be able to learn from her everyday.
Hermana Meza left notes by my bed this morning and it really made my day. Think of little things you can do for those around you. I know this act really meant a lot to me.
We all showed up to church wearing the same colors without knowing it, so we had to take a picture. (From left to right) Mama Maritza, Our little sister, Lilia, Hermana Meza and I, and Jessica with her little boy.
Papa Felix. Felix lives across the street from us and always watches out for us and helps us with whatever we need. He is one of the happiest, kindest people I have ever met in my life. He is a newer convert to the church. Just a year ago, he tells us that he was discouraged with his life and was a big smoker and drinker. The elders started teaching him a few months ago and when he listened to their message, he told them that he knew it was true and said he would never smoke or touch alcohol again. He was baptized and since is very involved in serving others and doing what God would have him do.
Abuela Dorita... She was one of the very first members of the church here in Coatepeque and says she will fight to the end for God's kingdom. She invited us over to dinner last night. We were soaking wet from the rain so she gave us her clothes to change into. All of the lights in the city went out because of the storm, so she lit candles for us and cooked us a traditional dinner of platanos, beans, and eggs with toast.
Home is wherever the people we love are. As we open our hearts to those around us, the Lord will use them to help us and vice versa. The whole purpose in life is that we all learn, grow and progress together in Earthly families. Reach out this week to those around you who need your help, or if you are struggling, listen to those around you. Heavenly Father very often answers our prayers through other people. I am also working on opening up my own heart to the people around me, being vulnerable, and allowing the Lord to change me through others. I know God has a plan for each one of us.
We have been teaching the Hererra Family for a few weeks now. They recently moved to Coatepeque from Xela. They speak one of the mayan dialects, K'iche'. All the little kids speak it too. It is so cool to listen to them!
Justa (the mom) and Francisco (dad) have been going to church for about 6 months in Xela. They really want to get baptized but there are some complcations, so they are not able to quite yet. But, what amazes me, is that despite their challenges and not being able to be members quite yet, they actively serve and follow all the commandments, like paying their tithing and keeping the sabbath day holy.
Justa's dad is a pastor of the Evangelical Church and for a long time, she was frustrated when the missionaries would come over. She did not believe in Joseph Smith or the doctrine of the church. It was difficult for her to accept it. But, one day, as she was watching the video of Joseph Smith that the missionaries brought to their house, she felt the spirit testify to her that it is true. She said that the spirit touched her in a new way and from that point forward, she has learned more about the gospel and her testimony continues to grow. Justa is a woman of elegance and strength and I really look up to her as an example to me. As she bore her testimony last week in Family Home Evening, I felt the power of her words. I know the church doctrine can seem funky from a worldly perspective, but I know that as we really try to understand it and come unto Christ, He will make all things known unto us through his holy spirit.
Justa and Francisco allowed their son, Daniel to be baptized on Saturday. He is 11 years old and full of fun. I love the Hererra Family!
Do all things with great love and courage!