Monday, April 20, 2015

Be Men

New transfer started up and things are looking so good! There's a lot of great things happening here in Pontevedra. On Tuesday, to my surprise, the branch threw me a little birthday party. It was the best! Especially because one of the Sisters in the branch made me another cheesecake! That's two cheesecakes in the last week! What more could I ask for? The members sang me Happy Birthday in my favorite language in the world and one member threw a little "flamenco" in there as well. I love the members here.

My companion and I were talking this week about the fact that eating 5 rations of fruits and vegetables a day is the "healthy required" amount. I thought that that was a ridiculously high amount and said, "How is it even possible to eat 5 rations of fruits and 5 rations of vegetables daily?" While saying that, I was trying to break off a banana from the bunch.... I accidentally broke the peel of 4 bananas at the same time. Therefore I was forced to eat 4 bananas, fearing that if I didn't they would go bad. Looks like I got my answer.

Now for the long awaited miracle I've been waiting to tell you all. Monday night we were in the street looking for new people to teach, trying our best to talk to every person we could find. After a few hours and not too much success, we took a different direction through a park. I saw a girl sitting on a bench and felt a voice whisper to me, "Go talk to her." While processing the thought, I saw that she got up and started walking in a direction where we would cross paths. We were supposed to turn left, because of a direction we were going to pass by, but I told my comp that we needed to talk to this girl. We started talking to her and she was really nice and open to listen to us. We presented ourselves and the Book of Mormon, then set up a time to meet with her. On Wednesday, we met in the church and shared the message of the Restoration and at the end of the lesson, while talking about prayer, we asked her if she believed God answers our prayers. This is what she said, "I know that God answers our prayers because he answered mine. On Sunday, the day before we met, I was praying for guidance and direction in my life, for God to help me find the right path. You two were the answer to my prayer.".......... WOW! We invited her to be baptized and she said "Yes."

The next day we had the privilege to give a blessing to a member in the branch. He's struggled with medical problems basically his whole life and has been through so much. It has been a humbling experience to see this man's positive attitude and faith in the Lord. I don't know many people who have been through so much and still never fail to smile. In that visit he shared a lot of stories about his conversion and childhood in Brasil. He spoke of trials he's passed through and expressed how he's not quite sure "Why?", when he's tried his best to be so good, have things been so bad. He testified of following the Lord no matter what and told us that although he doesn't exactly understand his purpose sometimes, he knows God loves him. I looked him in the eyes, just about crying, and told him how much of an effect he's had on not only just me but many many people. The spirit and love felt in that room was indescribable.

My companion just reminded me of a great quote from one of my favorite movies: Batman. The quote is this, "Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up." I found a scripture this week that I love and that goes along with this quote. It is found in 2 Nephi 1:21:

"And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and BE MEN, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;"

If we never fell down, we'd never know how to pick ourselves back up. It is true that we need to learn this but what will we be when we rise back up? I love Lehi's invitation to not only rise up, but when we do, to be men. That we may not quickly fall back down again.

The other day we were walking next to a big forest. I was surprised at how much it looked like a jungle. While looking into the forest I started to hear a repetitive clicking noise that sounded exactly like the "Black Smoke" from the TV series LOST. I just about passed out from fear and I ran away pretty quickly. I thought my mom would enjoy hearing this story.

Well family and friends, it was a great week and I could write so much more but I'd like to close with a couple thoughts from my studies this week. I was studying the talk by Elder Holland titled, "Are We Not All Beggars?" this week and a couple things stood out to me. He expressed how one of Jesus's main duties during His earthly ministry was to bless the poor, including the poor in Spirit. Christ taught, while Judas Iscariot murmured against Mary as she anointed Jesus's head with an expensive burial ointment, that we are to do all that we can when it comes to serving others. (Mark 14, Matthew 26, John 12) 

He also quoted the following story about Mother Teresa, "A journalist once questioned Mother Teresa of Calcutta about her hopeless task of rescuing the destitute in that city. He said that, statistically speaking, she was accomplishing absolutely nothing. This remarkable little woman shot back that her work was about love, not statistics. Notwithstanding the staggering number beyond her reach, she said she could keep the commandment to love God and her neighbor by serving those within her reach with whatever resources she had. “What we do is nothing but a drop in the ocean,” she would say on another occasion. “But if we didn’t do it, the ocean would be one drop less [than it is].” Soberly, the journalist concluded that Christianity is obviously not a statistical endeavor. He reasoned that if there would be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over the ninety and nine who need no repentance, then apparently God is not overly preoccupied with percentages."

I love that! Too often we worry about the things to do in the world that are beyond our reach while we miss the great things we could be doing within our reach! Let's look around and see what we can do. No effort is wasted, no kind act is lost, no smile is forgotten. "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."(D&C 18:10) The worth of every soul! 

I testify that God loves us! He trusts us to be His instruments to help in the work of salvation. "Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free." (Part of an epistle written by Joseph Smith to the Latter Day Saints in Nauvoo, Illinois. Found in D&C 128:22)

With love!
Elder Giforos

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