I had a very spiritual weekend…I have learned a lot about myself and the Lord. I feel closer to Him. I am so grateful for His trust in me for allowing me help others in the way that I did.
Mom you asked about the weather…it has been hot! Here in Nicaragua the hottest time of year is in April and May so we will be trying to stay in there if you know what I mean. Despite the heat we have been trying to help out the zone this last week. With General Conference, we couldn´t baptize in the mission and the stress level has inched up a notch especially because many of our investigators went on vacation that weekend. It has kind of put a two week halt on the missionary work. So we are fighting to find new investigators and help the current investigators progress more. Another goal we have for this zone is to raise the attendance because the area authorities are very worried about it. We are going to have a visit in my Ward from Seventy Elder Clark in May to see how everything is…so we are getting prepared.
One activity that my companion and had been preparing was presented this Friday. It all went really well. It was a power point presentation about the Book of Mormon and the spirit was very strong. We added in a few of the short films the church makes from the conference talks and we focused the lesson on the importance of the Book of Mormon and continuous revelation. We had a strong spiritual witness that what we were teaching was true and throughout the preparation process I felt the guiding power of the spirit to make necessary changes. At the end, many people came up to ask for the presentation. I felt thrilled with the success.
As far as attendance in the Ward concerns, We have been prayerfully considering the families that we have in the Ward and we have been working with the Ward Council to help actívate a few families. The Bishop gave us several names and we have been visiting one family in particular, the Toruño Family. He is an ex counselor in the Bishopric and she is an ex missionary. They went inactive about 5 months ago and haven´t come back since for what the Bishop said concerning a few challenges in their callings. They were offended and it caused quite the uproar in the Ward. The attendance crashed and the members have had enmity towards them ever since. It was heart wrenching to feel of their hatred. We had visited the family before and had felt of their painful story. We tried to comfort them but they were always reluctant to forgive and forget.
As we stopped by Sunday morning to visit and invite them to church we found the small haircutting business open and the 80s music in the background. It was a hint as to their intention on going to church. We talked for a bit and they said that they were going to go another day. They didn´t have clean clothes and they have three small children. We continued to insist and then we began to talk about the blessings they would receive for their sacrifice. The mom began to cry and she once again shared her resentment for not having gone to church but expressed her desire for future forgiveness. I compared her hatred to a cáncer that would destroy everything.
At this time the father had already come out and he was participating the conversation. They talked together and began to put the goal for the following week. With a few more minutes they began to talk about going in the afternoon instead of the morning so as to evade the problems. Then I shared a heart filled testimony of how their actions would affect their children and their great grand children and that they had to stop thinking about themselves and make changes in their life. She knew that her absence in church hurt her and her family. I shared with her how her resentment and hatred for the Ward members and her continued absence would last for generations if they didn´t change. I bore my testimony of how my parents dedication and firmness in keeping the Sabbath Day Holy and led me to be an active member in the church and had helped me gain by experience the same testimony of that commandment. I told them that their obedience would help many others. We cried together. The love of the Savior filled the room and we were all edified. Then we witnessed the miracle. She lowered her head and said, ´´what are we sitting around for, we are just wasting time. let´s get ready and go to church.´´ They called the kids into the room and we had a family prayer. We left the house humbled and changed. We had truly witnessed a miracle.
We went to neighbor´s house to ask that she might greet them as they came to church. She had been offended by the family at one time and we invited her to get rid of her resentment and to give Sister Toruño a hug at church to make her feel loved. She agreed.
We started the church meeting on time and as the testimony meeting began the chapel was nearly filled. The was one pew empty and the Toruño family arrived just in time to fill it. As I stood in the doorway watching them come in in their White shirts and ties like a super active family, my heart filled with joy to see that an elderly woman from the Ward beat us to the greeting and had lept to her feet to give the family hugs and kisses. ¨I have been praying for this! I have been praying for this!´´ The whole congregation gave similar Greetings. In many testimonies the Ward members shared their gratitude for having returned and welcomed the family back into activity. It was the most spiritual sacrament meeting I have had in Nicaragua. All the testimonies had talked about Christ, forgiveness, love and we all left a Little bit better people. I greeted the Toruño family after the meeting and they gave me warm smiles. ´´Thanks Elder. We needed this. We needed a visit like that. Now we would like to thank your parents for their example. Their example has helped people here in Nicaragua.´´ ´´That is so true and they never thought that they would help people here because of it. Just imagine the impact your three Little future missionaries could have on the world for your decisión to come today.´´ We hugged. We hugged several times that day.
When we come to understand the worth of the souls of God´s children, we rejoice to see even the slightest change for better in character and behavior. We always learn like that…precept upon precept and line upon line. I felt so blessed yesterday and I know that the Lord was happy with their decisión. Great is the joy in the Heavens when save it be one soul repents. I have felt that Godly joy.
Let us love our brothers and sisters and help them live the góspel of Jesus Christ. This church helps us complete with our family responsibilities as they said in conference. We have quite the family to help here in this big world. Let´s lift where we stand.
Elder Grant Russell