The first time we met Fulana (yes, I changed the name), it was late a night and she was clamoring to gather some plastic bags and enter into her cement-walled home. We greeted her, she responded demonstrating a bit of frustration with the day she´d gone through. She then sighed, shook her head, and said, ¨Just a minute, chicas¨. She wrestled with a tangled mass of keys, found the one to her home, and opened the door for us. Well, she opened the door first to harness her seven frenzied dogs and store them in a room a bit further from the front.
Once we entered, she slammed the cigarettes on the table, shrugged her shoulders and began to tell us of her whirlwind life of problems: renters that don´t pay, family that have died and left nothing for her, health that limits her dreams and ambitions, and - most distressing of all - a heart full of ¨ravia,¨ hate, sorrow, anger, and everything she avioded in her youth.
I don´t remember what we said to her that first time. We taught her to pray. I remember that. We prayed together. She prayed. We pleaded with her to understand that she is a precious daughter of God. She doubted. Can´t says I blame her; she didn´t know any better.
The subsequent visits were filled with expressions and love and tenderness, and we emphasized much the love of our Heavenly Father and the sweet peace the Gospel brings. We read to her Christ´s words to the Nephite nation in the Americas shortly after His resurrection: ¨Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world. And behold, I am the light and the life of the world; and I have drunk out of that bitter cup which the Father hath given me, and have glorified the Father in taking upon me the sins of the world, in the which I have suffered the will of the Father in all things from the beginning¨ (3 Nephi 11).She felt impressed by the Spirit - although she didn´t fully realize it at the time - that Christ really drank from the ¨bitter cup¨. The venom of oppressed years that she felt she had been drinking became, in her eyes, a cup the Lord had shared. The truth is He did.
We visited other days with sisters from the local ward (congregation). It was amazing to hear these sisters´ testimonies of the changes they´ve seen in their lives as they came to understand the cleansing, supporting power of Christ´s Atonement.
In a few short visits, Fulana´s countenance began to change drastically. She began wiping down the table before we´d visit. Then, she started having crackers ready for us. One day, she didn´t complain at all about anything. Another day she was saying good things about many things. Her jokes became more positive. Her smile became more radiant. She began to rearrange her tiny room - a goal she´d had for months. She had at one time given up on her talents; now, she was making little paper maché flowers to sell in the street. They are beautiful.
Now, when we see her, she is cheerful. She is happy.
The difference? She began to pray every night. She prayed with faith. She also took real interest in the scriptures. The Book of Mormon contains so much hope. Yesterday, she came to church for the first time. She found there the family she had missed so terribly. I am so humbled and happy to see the changes she´s made. I loved her from the start, but now I´m so happy because she loves herself, and she knows not that God loves her too. What a tremendous difference that knowledge makes.
Smile at everyone. Love them with all ya got, and teach them principles of love and faith. That way they can love themselves and see the value they have. I know that the Lord always sees our value. Always! He wants so badly for us to see and understand it as well. I know that the principles of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, as taught by modern day prophets, teachers, and revelators in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, really make all the difference in a person´s life. By applying these things, with faith in Jesus Christ, we can progress toward eternal life - life as God knows it. Life with our families and friends, in perfect harmony and joy for the rest of all time and beyond. Sounds pretty sweet to me!
I love you all oh so much and look forward to a bright future tomorrow, the next day, a year from now, and ¨to infinity and beyond!¨ (I always knew Buzz Lightyear was inspired.) :)
Muchísimas gracias por todo. Les amo un MONTÓN!!