(written Aug 23)
This week was full of uplifting experiences and I learned a lot about one of my favorite subjects, the Atonement, as that was the focus of Elder Viñas' trainings. I feel very privileged and blessed because I was able to be present in each of the 3 meetings. And although the theme was the same for each meeting I don't think he repeated the same thing twice... so I got about 3 hours of doctrine on the Atonement and how that applies to us as missionaries and our calling. It was uplifting and reassuring as often we are too hard on ourselves when it comes to forgiveness.
The first meeting was wednesday morning up in San Juan, the second meeting was on thursday here in Mendoza, and the last meeting was down in San Rafael. On both wednesday and friday Elder Garcia and I got to go out to lunch with President Goates, Sister Goates, and Elder Viñas. Interestingly, I might have gotten more learning out of the teaching and analyzing that he did with us at lunch than in the meetings themselves.. haha! Elder Garcia and I left lunch with our jaws hanging from disbelief from what we had learned in a simple sit-down meal with Elder Viñas.
Elder Viñas shared something very interesting in all of the meetings that had to do with our responsibilities in the church and how we should never cast blame on others but instead offer help and just do it. He said how it is the same old story everywhere he goes - the missionaries blame the members for not helping enough in finding or teaching and the members blame the missionaries for baptizing people that aren't ready or for not fulfilling their responsibilities. When what we need to do is do everything within our power to help or offer help. We blame others while not realizing that it is within our power to help the situation. If the missionaries want the members to help we need to encourage them, uplift them, give them ideas on how to share the Gospel. If the members want the missionaries to baptize people that are better prepared they need to warmly welcome our investigators, accompany us to lessons, and even better.. invite their friends to listen in their homes!!
In the three meetings that we had both Elder Garcia and I gave talks. My talks were on charity and how obtaining charity is necessary to have in our callings as representatives of Jesus Christ. I started my talk by talking about the often ignored but very important part of charity which includes being enduring, bearing, long-suffering, and not easily provoked. Complaining about our situations or circumstances, especially when it becomes a habit and something we do for the even littlest things, is a good way to keep charity out of our hearts. I then shared some scriptures from Isaiah 53 that show Christ suffering for all and not once complaining.
I then moved on to talking about the part of Charity that is like faith - it takes us to action. Us as missionaries, charity should be the motivating factor in us sharing the Gospel with others. I finished by speaking about how to gain greater charity through prayer by reading and then sharing an experience about Moroni 7:48.
I just want to share one cool experience that I had yesterday evening as I was driving back from San Rafael with Elder Garcia. We were about an hour into the drive and Elder Garcia had fallen asleep so I was driving silently while listening to the Mormon Tabernacle choir CD we had on. I was reflecting on some of the spiritual impressions throughout the meeting that I had and then a special moment I had with Elder Viñas we he pulled me off to the side after lunch and told me something that meant a lot to me. I wasn't in a moment of sadness nor searching any kind of relief but the Lord decided to bless me with a beautiful experience unlike any I had experienced before. The music was leading to a climactic point and just as it struck, the very instant, the clouds ahead opened up to allow a beautiful display of sun beams that pillared down on the horizon in front. It caught me off-guard but the fact that it happened so simultaneously and the feeling that overcame me was enough to know that it wasn't coincidence. I guess He wanted to make sure that I didn't rule it off as a coincidence either because after about 15 seconds, just as suddenly as it appeared, when the climax of the song ended the rays disappeared. The experience was beautiful and I felt as if my senses had reached their threshold of enlivenment for this life.. haha. That's the best way I can manage to describe how I felt... well... and it brought some tears to my eyes... but that's nothing new for me :)
It was an especially cool experience because I had just shared in my talk that morning that in order to have charity for others, the pure love of Christ, we first need to feel that love ourselves. We need to treasure the experiences we have in which we feel the love of our Savior and through our prayers ask to be filled with that love as it says in Moroni 7. In my talk I mentioned a number of ways in which the Lord can answer that prayer including experiences like that (something that I had never personally experienced). As I had been preparing to speak on that subject the last couple weeks I had made sure to give special attention to asking for charity in my prayers... I felt like, even though I wasn't feeling desperate or asking, the Lord decided to maybe bless me with that moment as a little pick-me-up after a few hard months health-wise.
It was another great week despite the challenges and I think that is one of the best parts. The Gospel is so uplifting and empowering that even in our weakest state we can be happy.
- Elder Rainock