Monday, October 19, 2009

The Atonement


October 19, 2009 Familia,
This morning in my studies I found a scripture that prophesies of the new Spanish Bible. So cool! Look it up...1 Nephi 13:38. I gasped really loud and had to share it immediately with my companion even though we still had 10 minutes until companionship study, which is when we usually shares things we learned during personal study.

We went to the old folks home again and saw a few funny things. There was an old lady running around hitting people. She is really tiny and walks like a bird, with her arms placed like a bird and her nose kind of looks like a beak, so the whole scene looked like a bird running around pecking people. It was pretty funny until she looked my way and then started for me, but changed her course at the last second and I breathed a sigh of relief. There is always a man outside doing random things that look like they could be yard work, but really he is just digging in the dirt and moving piles of wood and wire, things like that. I think that he was a farmer and just can’t stand to sit around all day, so he does things to imitate what he did earlier in his life. He wears a big broad-rimmed hat and tucks his sweater into his high-rise pants. Oh moses smell the roses I love visiting that place.

I had two experiences this week where I truly felt like a representative of Jesus Christ. First, we were in a lesson with Manuel, who by the way is progressing and learning a lot from the Book of Mormon and we are going to meet with his son tonight, and he asked us, “So you are representatives of Jesus Christ here on the earth.” We both replied, “Yes” with resolve and I felt it so strongly in my heart that we really are acting in the name of Jesus Christ here in this part of Los Andes, Chile. He then said, “Grand responsibility.” Yep it is.

Last night we had our last lesson with Bernardo. He came to church the second Sunday of the last transfer and we have been teaching him ever since. His girlfriend that he had been living with for 13 years died three weeks before he met us and at first he was excited to be baptized and do the temple work for her, but after two or three weeks he changed. The light that we saw in his eyes disappeared and I personally think it was replaced by the effects of the drugs that doctors started prescribing him. He started to smoke and stopped listening to us during lessons, instead of answering our questions he would start off on all of the problems he has and how horribly he is treating people that don’t deserve it. He has always come to church and does his reading in the Book of Mormon, so we thought he was progressing enough to continue teaching him. Two weeks ago we decided to stop passing, but when we had a meeting with Hermano Arnaldo, our ward mission leader, he told us that we needed to have a frank lesson with him and that it had to be his decision that we not pass anymore. So that in the last day God knows that we did all we could and that it was his decision to not accept that Gospel.

Last Monday night we stopped by to have this lesson and after a lesson in which I know the Spirit was talking, not me, we decided to continue the appointments because he really wants baptism but doesn’t know how to achieve it. He is so far into the depths of despair that he can’t see any light whatsoever. I asked him to start counting his blessings every night in his prayers and he replied with another list of his problems. I said in my most forceful voice, “Bernardo you aren’t listening to me!” He snapped out of what ever mood he was in and said, “Hermana, I’m sorry it’s the drugs that they have me taking.” Then he agreed to do all that we asked him do in order to beat this depression together. Later in the week we had a lesson about how he could stop smoking and I offered to leave him a package of cigarettes the next morning before he left for work if he promised to follow the directions. He agreed and I asked what time he left for work. He said 6! So I used a package of cigarettes that I had confiscated from someone else and covered it in pictures of Christ and taped scriptures around each cigarette. Then the next morning we got up at 5:30 and I rode my bike that doesn’t have air in the tires and we left the cigarettes outside of his house. This ride was really painful and the wheels were making an awful squeaking noise. Let’s just say we were super tired for a couple of days.

Last night we arrived at his house and asked how it went with the cigarettes. He said that he didn’t use them. He pulled out one and didn’t read the scripture and didn’t say a prayer. He then went on to thank us for everything we have done for him. He said we have sacrificed so much to come here and help people every day, to help him over come this sadness. He said that he wanted so much to reach his baptism, but that he can’t and he knows we can’t come by anymore. I told him that I know he is going to beat this, one day he is going to be ready to receive his baptism and that I hope with all my heart that Heavenly Father takes care of him. We said goodbye and walked away.

We started a long walk back to the house and we cried the whole way. I kept asking myself, “Why couldn’t we help him?” We have the Spirit and the help of the Lord, why couldn’t we help him? I hurt physically in my heart and thoughts of the atonement of Christ came to mind. I have always wanted to understand the atonement better and I feel like last night I felt a little bit of the suffering that Christ went through. We did all that we could for Bernardo. All that we could. We put our whole heart into it. But he has his agency. Christ did everything he could, has given us every opportunity, but he can’t save us. We have to use our agency. I saw the world for a moment through the eyes of Christ and Heavenly Father. All of the houses filled with people who have the gift of the atonement, but have to use their agency to accept it.
My job right now is to continue doing everything I can to give people the opportunity to accept the gospel. Not everyone is going to choose to accept. But I have to continue doing everything I can.

I love you, each and every one,
Hermana Arnold

P.S. I am going to play tennis on a clay court this afternoon!!!!!!!!!!! I am in South America and am going to play tennis on a clay court...it doesn’t get better than that!

PS Oooh your trip sounds like it was so beautiful. You have no idea how much I miss our adventures as a family. I want to repel off of an arch!

The picture that Ho. Arnaldo sent you is for an activity we are having on Halloween. It is supposedly a trip to Africa, we are going to seat everyone in the plane and then the plane is going to crash and we are going to take everyone to the judgment and we will show them the kingdoms of glory and perdition. So it is a big surprise and I am excited, but I don’t know that I will be here as we have transfers Sunday.

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