Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday: Church + La charla fogonera... (fireside)

I'm still working on finishing Saturday, fyi.  And this is reallllly long, but I think it's good. The best part starts in the paragraph before the asterisk list, in case you're interested in skipping. :)

me, on the balcony of the church

It's crazy. I've only been here two days, and yet my testimony has grown more since I've been here than it has in a long, long time. It was an amazing Sunday.

Today was a testimony to me of how people can think they're happy, but then realize they weren't so much as soon as they receive the gospel.

Today was Fast Sunday, which our mamá remembered before us and was really supportive about :) I wasn't sure what to fast about because I initially thought of the trip and fasting about something that wasn't as... no sé, personal? for me. But I decided that instead of blessing or changing situations or others, I would focus on myself, and it was really good. 

the parking lot of the church; taken from the balcony
This morning we left the house at ten after eight to give ourselves enough time to get to church by nine. It sounds like a long time, and really, we only live maybe twenty minutes away, but it turned out perfectly. We were supposed to get on the bus on one side of the street, but we got on on the wrong side. Thankfully, it just goes in a circle, but it took a while to get to church.  We got there wonderfully, though, and got in with probably about ten minutes to spare.  Perfect!  It was Fast Sunday and the microphone was pretty quiet, so we didn't hear everyone, but it was still good.  People often say, when they go to other countries, that they felt the Spirit even though they couldn't understand the language.  I've been in situations where I couldn't hear what was going on in sacrament mtg and tried to feel the Spirit, but I've never understood what they meant.  Today, I did.  The minute we walked onto the church grounds, I felt different.  I realized the feeling I'd been missing since leaving home - a feeling of belonging, home, unconditional love, understanding.  I thought everything was normal and fine until I felt those feelings, and then I knew what I'd been missing out on and what really made me happy.  It made me appreciate the gospel and members of the church more.  They provide a very comfortable sense of community and family.  And when the bishop said, "I know you might not understand everything, but there's another language everyone can understand, and that's the language of the Spirit," I knew that what he said was true because I had been feeling it all morning.  Sacrament meeting was really good, and it was cool that some people from BYU got up, too.  (We went to a ward of like, 30 people.)  The whole time I was thinking about my gratitude for the peace I've felt recently while reading my scriptures but I was too afraid to stand up :P

Sunday School was amazing!  I don't know if I can remember the last time I learned so much in a Sunday School class!  Well, not learned.  Thing stayed normal and doctrinal, but the teacher just pointed things out I've never thought of before.  He talked about the story in John 9 of Jesus healing the blind man with clay.  The very first verse says, "Al pasar Jesús, vio a un hombre ciego de nacimiento."  Christ saw him, not the other way around.  After verse 3, which says that the man was blind "para que las obras de Dios ase manifestasen en él", our teacher said, "All of us are looking for Christ, but this story shows that He looks for us, too."  and I know that's true.  Christ cares more about getting us back than we care about getting back, which is saying a lot.  Do I forget sometimes that He helps more than only when I ask and that He is looking for me, too?  Then at the end, our teacher talked about how all of us are blind and need the Savior to heal us, like the blind man.  Some are blind regarding the gospel - not knowing about it - but thankfully, that's never been me.  I am still blind, though.  Sometimes I am blind to others' worth.  Sometimes I am blind to my own.  Sometimes I am blind to the fact that life is good.  Sometimes I am blind to the fact that everything will work out.  I continually need Him to heal my blindness.  

Relief Society was good, but nothing really spectacular happened.  We talked about prayer, though, so it gave me a chance to think about the times when Heavenly Father has answered my prayers.  Church was interesting - everything is pretty much the same, but during Sunday School and Relief Society they don't ask for comments.  If there are comments, they are mostly pre-planned - "Such-and-such, would you please tell that story?" It's interesting.  And also, they don't have hymnbooks all around, so I just hummed today :)   And I saw a baby blessed today who had more hair than me!  Well, not really, but it seemed like it.  And a mango tree!

After church we took some pictures and then came home.  The daughter Carmita, her husband Sergio, and his mom were all at the house.  I love it when they're here because they're super nice, and things are kind of more social and comfortable when they're here.  One of my favorite things - when we were eating after breaking our fast, Carmita Jr. asked if we know how to make cookies and when we said yes, she gasped this HUGE gasp and then asked what kinds we know how to make. :)  She loves Puppy Chow and wants to make Monster Cookies :) She practically died :D  Her husband was like, One of these days, we're going to spend the whole day making cookies!  It was soooo funny.

While they were here they also taught us how to use our map and which buses to take where and stuff.  It was awesome; I felt so confident!  They're reallllly nice.

After lunch, we got ready for a fireside!  Everyone was going to meet at our house to leave at 6:00 and we were going to go to the stake center by the temple in El Centro so we could see where the temple was, but no one really came until 6:10 and then only two people came.  After we got directions, we left.... and everything went downhill from there.  First of all, we took the bus from the wrong side of the street again, even after double-checking!  I think that Carmita must've misunderstood my question, because otherwise I have no idea what i misunderstood; I've gone over it a million times in my mind.  Anyway, once we reached the end of the route and the bus started going back, the driver asked where we were going. "El Centro - ¿estamos bien?" "(Laugh) No."  So Jill went up to the front because my voice sounds like a monster today and talked to him.  He told her to just stay up there and he would tell us when to get off.  Normally, it wouldn't have been such a big deal, but the two girls were upset with us for being wrong. They were right initially and told us we should've crossed the street, but with what I understood, I thought I was 100% sure we were on the right track.  So they were not very happy.  It was hard and embarrassing.  Anyway, when he told us to get off the bus, we were close-ish to El Centro, but nowhere near where Carmita had said we'd be, so again, I was frustrated because I had no idea what I had understood incorrectly.  We had to walk 19 1/2 blocks to the temple.  It was ridiculous.  And then when we got there, the gates were locked but there was a security guard who let us in and let us walk through the grounds to get to the chapel on the other side.  We got there at 7:35 and snuck into the chapel only to find that the only seats were in the front, so to the front we went.  And then listened to (and both sobbed through) the last 15 minutes of a beautiful talk about letting Heavenly Father and Jesus guide our lives.  (The people sitting around us were from our group and all thought we were having some kind of breakdown.  There were a lot of "are you okay?"s, "is she okay?"s, and back-patting.) Everything paralleled amazingly with what had happened on the bus, and I started to realize how much Heavenly Father was watching out for us and loves me.  I thought back on the night and realized all of the blessings...

*The bus I was expecting wasn't the one we took (on accident).  I was 100% sure I knew where we were going, but when the bus turned out to be different than I thought I didn't know anymore.  When we got there, though, I realized that I had been 100% wrong and had we taken the bus I thought was right, I would've had us get off in a COMPLETELY wrong place and things would not have worked out.
*We had a nice bus driver and Jill wasn't afraid to talk to him to get help.
*Our bus took us to the general right area.
*When we were walking and turned, we turned the right direction. (We didn't know for a block and I was already so embarrassed about everything I would've died.)
*It was getting dark when we were walking and we were a group of four gringas in a not safe-looking part of town with random people... and we were totally safe and not as afraid as normally I would've been.
*I knew the address of the temple.  When we were at church, Jill thought it was really close and wanted to visit it.  I asked a woman if it was close and she proceeded to tell me EXACTLY where it was and how to get there.  Another man thought it was at a different address, but she knew exactly and told me.  And then I remembered it.  I want to thank the woman profusely next week.
*The temple wasn't just closed with no one around - there was a security guard. 
*He saw us, let us in, and showed us to the stake center.
*We made it to the fireside at least in time to meet with other people and ride home with people we knew who could help us.

People always say how great the Spirit is at the temple, and I have felt that, but I'll tell you what - I have never in my life felt such a tangible peace upon entering the temple grounds.  And I've never appreciated the feeling of safety so much. When we were walking down the block where it was, there was a big white wall with gates, but it was different - you couldn't see Moroni, you couldn't tell it was a temple until you were looking through the gates.  I would've sat down and cried my eyes out if I had been wrong, of embarrassment and fear.  I probably would've called Carmita to pick us up.  I hoped it was the temple but was terrified of it being a parking garage.  I was so nervous because I felt like everything was my fault.  When I looked through those gates and then the man opened them for us, I felt a huge change - the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.  I was with someone who I felt loved me even though he didn't know me just because he was a member of the church.  He understood me and who I was.  I was on the temple grounds - the front yard of the house of God.  I was safe from the scary streets and didn't need to worry anymore.  And when we got to the stake center - I don't know if I've ever seen a more beautiful building! :)  And sitting on the pews, I wanted to hug the chairs on the stand.  I really broke down during the devotional and cried, and Jill and I talked afterwards because the same thing happened to her and I cried some more, and we all went as a group to see the temple after the devotional and I sat on the curb and cried again!  My testimony feels like it has grown much more in the last two days than it has in a long time.  Heavenly Father is watching out for me. I really felt like I had angels with me all night.  He loves me.  I am so thankful, and I love Him so much.  

After everything, we all went and waited for the bus together, I made some new friends who live close to us!, we got off at the right stop and got home safely... and I feel so thankful.  I love Sundays.  Today was absolutely amazing.  

On a completely different and random note, there randomly appeared two more people living in our house and I have no idea who they are.


Mom said...


You are taking the time to notice how the Lord is blessing you! The more we notice and thank Him, the more He will give. I am so happy for you! We had two people in church yesterday, mention how important it is to have a positive attitude. You have one and it will be so helpful to you! Enjoy every minute. Take time to smell the roses and don't rush through. Your time is going to go faster than you'll believe and it will be time to go home before you know it. Enjoy it while you're there. If you feel lonely, go find a friend who is lonely too. There will be some who will benefit from you being there. Go out and find them!!
I love you honey!

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