|Mini Liberty Jail|
|His new "pension."|
Hey Family and Friends!
I was pondering last night, "what in the world am I going to write to my family?" Because this week was...indescribable, to say the least. I was trying to think of a positive way to describe it, and well nothing really came. It was stretching yes, it was an opportunity for growth, but really it was one of the most miserable weeks. As I pondered this week, I remembered Liberty Jail, when Joseph Smith and others suffered for months, living in absolutely horrible conditions, away from their families. I remembered this not by any means to say I was even close to the suffering of Joseph or those conditions, but because Joseph there, through his suffering, learned lessons that changed his life forever, that have changed the lives of millions forever. To paraphrase Elder Holland ( Lessons from Liberty Jail ), Liberty Jail, the place of his suffering, became a temple to Joseph, because the Lord taught him some of the most sacred lessons through his suffering. Nobody can paraphrase Elder Holland and do it justice, but this week was a mini liberty jail for me, where the Lord gave me the opportunity to learn great things through suffering.
So on Wednesday, we got called and were told that we needed to move to a new pension, so we packed up all our bags again and calles a remisse (taxi type thing) and brought all our stuff to the new pension. I almost thought my companion was joking when we pulled up haha. This new pension is a sight. We spent most of the day spraying aerosol to kill all the spiders, ants, roaches, and other bugs that were everywhere. Then that night, I was exhausted and dehydrated, so I got my filtered water bottle, and filled it with water from our house, and as I drank, it tasted horrible and was really slimy...but we didnt have any other water, and I was so thirsty, so I kept drinking it...This was the start of my liberty experience.
We awoke in the morning and I felt miserable, in every sense. Then we found out the water had gone out in our pension (probably a blessing). but that meant we couldnt shower there haha. So we showered at the other elders pension all week. But this 1st day was a lonnnnggg day. I was just praying the whole day, "please just help me make it to the end of this day." It really was a blessing that somehow we were able to work the whole day. Anyways, the next two days were like this. With hardly any sleep, running back and forth all night from the bathroom to my bed.
I was suffering, not only physically, but spiritually too. Thoughts of negativity came to my mind, thoughts thinking I shouldn't be here or things like that, which just brought me down further. But I know these were from the adversary. So I was feeling horrible physically and kind of alone spiritually. I never doubted if God was here or never doubted that the Lord really does know how I am feeling, I just felt like I couldn't feel him near. I thought "I know you're here and you know what I am feeling. But why can't I feel it?"
The next day, we did exchanges, and I went to Lopez Carmella. I was with Elder Thomas and Elder Rodriguez (missionary who Elder Engebretsen trained). Anyways, I was still feeling bad, and we were walking past this river on the way to an appointment, and there was a random hole underneath some grass, I stepped and my leg went straight through all the way, and I was beginning to fall towards the river. Elder Rodriguez quickly knelt down and wrapped his arms around me, and lifted me up, out of the hole and I didn't fall. I got up and we kept walking, I said to Elder Rodriguez, "thank you for saving me." As soon as I said those words, I felt the love of the Savior. It was like a veil was lifted. My problems didn't flee, but I knew that Heavenly Father was not distant, He never is, but when we need to feel His love, He often works through others. It reminded me of President Uchtdorf, who taught about Christ saying, "you are my hands." There are so many people who need us to be "His hands" and wrap our arms around them to lift them up and help them feel the love of Christ.
Real quickly, one other thing I learned. I was walking (we do a lot of walking) and still feeling miserable, looking for anything I could do to do better and feel better. I was praying and the thought came to my mind, "you have to see the world through the eyes of Christ." When I realized that, my focus changed, and I looked for any way I could serve, the natural man still pulled for me to just look inward, but as I looked for opportunities to do what Christ would do, and stopped focussing on myself, I felt His atonement even more. After that it seemed like more and more came: helping a woman carry things down some stairs, saying hello and smiling to people, etc.
Sorry this is super long and all over the place. It may seem like I am complaining a lot, I hope it doesn't, but really I am grateful. In Romans, Paul says something like "I glory in tribulation, for tribulation worketh patience." and wow, I agree. I realized this morning that just a week ago, I was praying for patience... so, careful what you pray for, because God will answer you ;)
Really, I know that God does not leave us in our tribulations. If we always knew and felt his presence right next to us, there would be no such thing as faith. So look for opportunities to uplift others this week, to be His hands, because you never know who is in their own liberty jail.
I love the Savior.
Elder Heath Tenney