Sorry it's been a while since we posted anything, but thanks to those who recently have. We can't wait to get back and play with those cute little babbies. But in the meantime, we've had some interesting experiences we thought we'd share and then we have some pics.
One morning a few weeks ago the mission president called and asked us to focus primarily on one struggling little branch here in Goya. We decided what we'd do is first search out less-active previous leaders and invite them to come back and help rebuild the branch. Later that same day we were at a little produce store and in walks an older sophisticated looking gentleman who milled around while waiting for Mom to make her purchases and upon seeing our name tags eventually introduced himself as a member of the Church. Lo and behold he is a former District President who'd fallen into inactivity but had recently felt the need to return. We shook hands and I invited him to come back telling him that the Church still needed him. Come to find out he and his wife had been having some serious difficulties but they came to Church anyway and have continued to come for the past several weeks. Today he stood up and bore his testimony and paid a tender tribute to his wife of 44 years, after which she stood and tearfully thanked the Lord for the return of her husband. He's also accepted the calling to serve as the priesthood quorum instructor and is an outstanding teacher. So what are the chances we would run into each other in a little produce store the very day the mission president called and asked us to focus on this struggling little branch? There are no coincidences in the Lord's work.
Another experience we recently had was visiting an elderly inactive member who was one of the first to join the Church here in Goya -- a bonafide pioneer. He is now in his 80's, blind, and confined to a wheel chair, having had his right leg amputated at the hip. We visited for some time and offered what comfort and encouragement we could and were about to leave when he asked for a priesthood blessing. He had his caretaker daughter wheel him inside their little home and after the branch president annointed him we both placed our hands on his soiled head. As I sealed the annointing and began to pronounce a blessing upon him I could feel the love the Lord has for this seriously disabled but faithful old man. I began to feel emotional and heard myself promise him that the Lord has a place prepared for him in the Celestial Kingdom. This man who has suffered so much under such deprived circumstances has a place waiting for him in the kingdom of our Father. God is indeed no respecter of persons -- all He cares about is what's in our heart.
Finally, we were visiting another less-active family one night -- a young man and his wife and two small children. He comes from a large extended family of members but had slipped into inactivity. We chatted for a while and per usual invited him to come back and enjoy all the blessings the Church has to offer. Just as we were about to leave he asked if he could share something. So he related a dream he'd recently had and wanted to know what it meant. He said he envisioned the Savior walking on the surface of a river toward him and as he got closer he was captivated by what he saw. But then the figure he was watching turned and he could see a tail sticking out behind him. He was confused by that and wondered what it meant. As soon as he related the dream it was as though the interpretation was given to me and I told him the person he saw was a false Christ -- someone who was attempting to deceive him and he needed to be very careful. I told him he was at a cross roads and he needed to follow the right path -- and that path was activity in the true Church. He began to attend Church again, last week was ordained an Elder, and today bore his testimony thanking his Father in Heaven for the blessing of the priesthood in his life -- which he said is much better now that he's active again in the Church. What a fine young man who just needed a little encouragement.
Well, those are just a few of the kinds of experiences we're having regularly. This mission has been a sacrifice and challenge, but when we think of these kinds of things, we're thankful the Lord has permitted us to participate in his great plan of redemption.
Now let's see if we can get a few pics to post.
This is the Rodriguez family -- we had a family home evening with them. Great people who are dirt poor but happily preparing to go to the temple.
This is 12 year-old Daniela -- our branch president's daughter playing "jacks" -- "cachua" in spanish. But there's no rubber ball -- she just tosses a rock up in the air and tries to gather the other rocks in her hand and then catch the rock in the air before it hits the ground. She's pretty good.
Just us with a couple of our missionaries and the branch RS president -- who's only been a member of the Church for about a year.
Guess we'll close with this one -- your friendly neighborhood senior missionaries posing in front of the Parana' River on a beautiful spring day. There are some really nice areas down here -- and this is one of them.
So adios for now. Thank you all for your posts and personal e-mails -- we really appreciate them and more than that, we really appreciate all of you -- our beloved family. We love you and can't wait to be together again.
Dad and Mom