Monday, July 25, 2016

Reaping the Whirlwind -- July 25, 2016

Happy July, errbody. Well. Wouldn't ya know it. I'm writing this from the internet cafe in Espaillat. Yes. THAT Espaillat. My birth area. The one where a very fat, very lost gringo touched down on November 4, 2014.

My great lozzy. What a whirlwind! It's weird to see everything through experienced eyes. At this precise moment exactly one month from today, assuming I don't get hit by a bus or struck by lightning or something, I'll be sitting in JFK International Airport. Eating Panda Express. I know that's really not bragging to any of you (except for Elder Jake Hogan haha) but it seems pretty stupendous to me.

But really, when I first arrived here, I was blown away. The
noise, the smell, the lack of grass, the street vendors, everything was just this Spanish-speaking cacophony and I thought that all things considered, I was probably going to die.

Things have changed. I feel at home in these streets. Spanish flows naturally for me now. I understand the nuances, the dips and rises, and I think it's beautiful. There's still no grass, but I forgive Espaillat for not being the prettiest barrio in the whole city.

But after just the few visits I've made, I've received a testimony of sowing seeds. Let me explain. In my two transfers here with Elder Miller, we taught exactly 400 lessons. FOUR. HUNDRED. We worked like animals. I showed up to the house every single night feeling like a donkey had kicked me in the back. And even after all that, we had just one baptism, Wellington. I was so sick of fighting with people. I was about ready just to blow the place up. Do baptisms for the dead.

Then, today, I found out that four people who Elder Miller and
I found have been baptized since I left. Two of the less-actives who we brought back to church have gone on missions. Another couple we taught is preparing to be married and baptized. Walescak, who was baptized and whose husband we reactivated, is preparing to go to the temple to be sealed to her family for time and all eternity. And Wellington continues strong in the church.

And I didn't know about hardly any of it. I wouldn't have even known had I not come back to visit. And it blows me away. I can't realistically take credit, because miracles like that are a composite of the efforts of many members and missionaries and above all by the Lord. His work will always be done no matter who the person is that does it. Anyone could have done what me and Elder Miller did here in Espaillat. But we did it. We were blessed so completely, so miraculously, to be able to do it.

That to me is the miracle of the mission. I used to think the mission was a sacrifice. I gave up girls,studying, music, orange chicken, reading non-gospel books. I gave up my life. 

And so God gave me another life. A better one. Infinitely better. I finally am beginning to understand what the scripture means that says, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it." And beyond just me, He blessed His other children through me, even with all my rough edges and unrefinedness. No, in the end, I didn't sacrifice anything at all. I invested it. And I have received one hundred fold every single thing I gave up. I have not been a perfect missionary in any sense of the word.

But that's okay. It really is.

Have a grand week!

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