Sunshine in My Soul

1 July 2013

Ahojte!

It’s a beautiful, sunny day here in Z!

Hanging baskets of flowers and colourful flags lend a festive air

Hanging baskets of flowers and colourful flags lend a festive air

Sunny town square; open-air dining on the namiestie

Sunny town square;
open-air dining on the namestie

I had a fun experience on Sunday: the Church members who usually translate for the English-speaking members of our congregation were absent, so I translated Sunday School for President Wr.  I was surprisingly comfortable (except when a visitor started speaking Czech – then I was so lost!), and Sestra S (who, together with another sister here in Z, was responsible for translating  Kniha Mormonova) complimented me on a job very well done. Yay! My companion, Sestra B, does a beautiful job playing the hymns for our Church services each Sunday, so it was nice for me to be able to contribute something, too.

It’s been a good week: full of the usual ups and downs, but the humbling moments help us appreciate our victories when they finally come, and we’ve been very blessed. Z is a beautiful little city with about 20 active (and very dedicated) Church members. We’re blessed to be teaching some wonderful people with exemplary faith, and have high hopes for each of them.

One humbling experience was teaching J, a lovely Catholic man, about living prophets. J is reading the Book of Mormon (on and off) and enjoys discussing our beliefs, but has yet to come to Church and we were unsure how to help him progress. We decided to demonstrate the principles of living prophets and apostles by viewing a General Conference talk together: Elder Callister’s powerful address about the Book of Mormon. Surely that would help him see why the Restoration is so important to us, we thought. But to our surprise, he just said “Thanks, that was interesting” and brushed it off, saying as before that authority is unimportant when it comes to baptism. I guess we thought he’d just magically agree with us. That is, after all, what happens when people feel the Spirit testifying of truth, but looking back we hadn’t clearly taught any doctrine of which the Spirit could bear witness. We’ve determined to teach more from the scriptures and be grounded in the doctrine as we strive to meet people’s interests and needs.

castle on the hill

Castle walls rise above the treetops;
Lietava castle/Lietavský hrad

A victory this week was our Branch activity at Lietava castle on Saturday morning. We had two investigators there: M’o (friends with a member in Trenčín and one of our many miracles this transfer) and Ma’k. They seemed to enjoy themselves immensely. The weather was gorgeous, and the members of the Branch were fantastic. They lugged heavy gear up the hill on their own backs, prepared delicious food, bore testimony of their conversions in a friendly, conversational manner, and generally made sure everyone felt included, well-fed, and at home.

As we sat on that sunny hilltop, surrounded by trees and people and woodsmoke, an investigator asked me a question that surprised me. Ma’k is a young man, an atheist. As we were conversing, the topic of reincarnation arose, and to illustrate my viewpoint, I shared Alma 34:32-34:

“32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.”

Thoughtful, Ma’k asked: “What is repentance?” Jan, a member of the Church visiting from another unit, chipped in, and I concurred: “It means becoming a little more like God every day: just and good and kind.”

Then Ma’k’s question: “Is that what you want? To be like God?” I’m still struck with wonder as I ponder the reply. “Yes; that is everything I want.” And it is. It’s what motivates my actions every day: that one overarching, all-encompassing desire to become what God intends me to be. Then I turned the question to him: “Don’t you?” Realisation lit his eyes for a wondrous moment, “Yes, I suppose I do.”

Blue skies and scriptures

Blue skies and scriptures
Sestra Jones

Then he was called to the fire for a turn roasting sausages, and the spell was broken. I pray that Ma’k will remember what he felt in that moment, and that he’ll recognise the Spirit more and more as we teach him the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Because whether or not he realises it now, only Christ can help him realise that sacred ambition – to be as He is.

I love feeling that I’ve been an answer to someone’s prayer – an instrument in heavenly Father’s hands . I know that our prayers are answered. I know this is the Lord’s church restored to the earth, that the Book of Mormon is true, and that the Saviour’s arms of mercy are extended to each of us. What a privilege and responsibility to bear His holy name!

Lots of love,
Sestra Jones

“Oh, there’s sunshine, blessed sunshine
When the peaceful happy moments roll.
When Jesus shows his smiling face,
There is sunshine in the soul.”
by Eliza E. Hewitt, Hymns 227
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