I hugged a drunk woman yesterday. Yep. It was pretty funny...and eye-opening actually. Yesterday was one of the craziest Sundays of my mission. We started out the morning trying to get one of our new investigators, Ventura, to church. I say "trying" because the ride we had arranged for him left without taking him...which we didn't find out until right before church started (we were waiting with him to be picked up). So then we had to call around for a taxi and got to church with him right in the middle of the Sacrament. It was crazy but I hope he still could feel the spirit there. Luckily there was an empty seat next to Rafael so they became best friends...oh little Dominican men. :) Then me and my comps had to rush up to sit on the stand because we were all speaking (which we found out about late Saturday night). I gave my talk and everybody was commenting afterward about how they remembered the last time I spoke in the branch...my third week on the mission. Haha, I hope it was a little better this time. :)
So, I sat down after my talk, which was all about how Christ invites everyone to come unto Him (2 Nephi 26:33), and Hna Binning gets up to give hers. All of a sudden, in the back door of the chapel comes wandering this big drunk black woman crying. One of the members gets up immediately to take her into the foyer and then motions for me to come out too. I go out there and find the elders reading her some scriptures. I sat down next to her on the couch, she turned to me and just threw herself on me as she started bawling her eyes out saying how she's been bad and she wants to come to Jesus. She lives across the street from the church and just came wandering over. I just put my arm around her and told her she had come to the right place to change and be better. After about 20 minutes of this, the elders offered to give her a blessing, but they told her it depended on her faith. She yelled out, "Oh, I have faith BIGGER than a mustard seed, yes it is!" Haha, something in that just made my heart go out to her. She didn't want to leave the church building until she could attend the English branch, which was still over 2 hours away from starting, so we put in Finding Faith in Christ for her to watch and she exclaimed that she wanted to get baptized! :) When the English elders showed up, we happily greeted them and told them, "Hey, we've got a baptism all lined up for you!" Good times. Like I said though, the whole experience was actually pretty eye-opening. It's so easy to love people when they're doing what's right but I had never really had such a feeling for someone who wasn't. I guess I just saw that no matter how drunk she was, something in her told her that she could go to the church and find help. I thought back to how much my talk had just applied to what I was facing. Christ invites everyone, and therefore, we should invite everyone as well. Maybe today when the elders go over to see her, she won't remember a thing that happened yesterday, but in time, Heavenly Father will touch her heart and she may wander into a church again (hopefully more sober) and feel something familiar, something good.
Exciting, huh? :) Let's see...oh, also this week, we contacted and taught an Italian man (who speaks some Spanish) and a Brazilian woman (who just speaks Portuguese but we do the best we can). Michael and Cari, the Italian man, Victor, wants you to call him and talk to him. He is from Napoli and brought out a lot of pictures of Calabria (are they anywhere near each other?) I don't know. Anyway, I'll send you his number. And Chris, if you want to call Anisia and speak Portuguese to her, go for it. Since coming back to Paterson and going to Ellis Island every other week, I have grown this huge desire to learn both Portuguese and Italian to just be able to communicate with more of these people! I've learned how to teach how to pray in Portuguese and how to offer help in Italian. Any extra help from you on more phrases or whatever would be greatly appreciated. :)
I heard good news from Hna Erickson in Morristown about Miguel! I wrote him a letter before I left and was pretty bold with him about the church and left 2 Nephi 33:10-11 for him to read. Apparently when they went over to give it to him, they spoke really boldly as well and when he read the letter, it matched up perfectly with what they had been telling him and he knew it was the spirit. He is seriously praying about moving his baptismal date up now. I absolutely love that man! When I look back on my time in Morristown, he is definitely one of the reasons I was there.
So how are you all doing? How is your latest tour going, Malcolm? Summer has basically started now, right? I love the summer time on the mission. People are just naturally happier and more willing to talk about God and make changes in their lives as we point out the blessings of God's creations all around us.
I know that Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us more than we can know. The very first principle we teach is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. That is a principle I think I took for granted so much before my mission. No matter what our circumstance, our heartache, our joy, or our suffering may be, He is always there. I love teaching people how to pray and hearing them talk with Him for maybe the first time in their life. My mind goes so much to Mormon 9, which I have become addicted to lately! It testifies to me that miracles do happen, our prayers will be answered, and we will be blessed through our faith.
I pray for you all continually that the Lord continues to bless you. Take care and I will write again next week. I miss you tons but I love you more!