So Thursday marked the first day of the end of our Carnaval probation. It was a little strange coming out of a 6:30am – 5:00pm work schedule and settling back into the 6:30am – 9:00pm work schedule. A bit like standing up after sitting down to rest after a marathon, or mounting a bicycle the second day of a multi-day cycling trip. Those of you who have gone through either one of those two privileged experiences know well the mixed sentiments of comfortable familiarity and weary perseverance. But now that we’ve come back around to Sunday (and now Monday) I’m enjoying the swing of things once more.
We started this week without any baptisms marked for the weekend, but, with prayer and quick feet, we were ecstatic to have the privilege of helping two young women start their new life in Christ by leading them to the waters of baptism. Larissa and Paloma are friends of a young woman/recent convert in our ward named Ellen. Ellen is one of those members that just “gets it”. She realizes the value and importance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and wants to share her blessings and knowledge with all of her friends. She lives in a poorer part of Garanhuns, an area afflicted with alcohol and domestic abuse. She herself is the daughter of an abusive father who has now left her family of four behind. In spite of her trials, or perhaps because of them, she has become a shining example of animated dignity in our ward. She shows us all that one can be well-liked and virtuous, amicable and bold in declaring the Gospel of Christ, and most of all that sharing the gospel is fun.
Missionary Work is not just something we do grudgingly on Sundays dressed in a white shirt and tie. Oftentimes it’s the unplanned testimony, the unprepared lesson, and the sincere and unexpected invitation that come spontaneously but powerfully with the guidance of the Spirit which initiate conversion.
Christ in the New Testament compared faith to a mustard seed. Mustard seeds are among the smallest of seeds in the herb family, but stand among the tallest of trees. We who have had the privilege of growing our mustard seeds understand the power and glory and blessings of a Life in Christ. But a tree does not multiply spontaneously to form other trees. Rather, small seeds fall from the mustard tree and, with time, other small mustard saplings begin to sprout. When a disciple of Christ offers his testimony to another, he does not offer a tree, but a seed. We simply offer our promise that, if they care for the seed, it will grow. We try to describe what a mustard tree of faith looks like using words. Sometimes we make analogies. Sometimes we draw little diagrams and arrows to try and explain the brilliance of our experiences living a life dedicated to Christ. But ultimately, words will fail and diagrams will fall short. And, in the end, we must leave the rest up to the Lord.
Not all mustard seeds sprout. Thousands of seeds, perhaps millions, fall from a mustard tree. Only a few, however, have the chance to sprout. Perhaps only one seed sprouts per year, even though thousands were dropped and many more planted. But that one seed that sprouts will, in due time, drop millions of other seeds.
Work as a full-time missionary is impossible without the support of members. References from members are generally more involved and remain active in the church longer than their shot-in-the-dark counterparts. A seed planted in the ground has a better chance to grow being than one dropped on the surface. I humbly encourage you to make the step of faith and invite a friend to receive the missionaries’ message. (P.S. mark a time and ask for their address and/or telephone number so that the missionaries can meet with them even when you’re not around). Those who aren’t members – find your token Mormon friend and ask to visit the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And, afterwards, visit with the missionaries.
The Lord asks not that we convert, but that we open our mouths.
May God bless each of you in your search for happiness through the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I love you all dearly.