Monday, March 18, 2013

Turn, Turn, Turn

    I saw two nests with baby birds in them this past week and thought to myself, "Oh! It must be spring!" And then I thought, "No, that's not right... It should be almost Fall here now...." But the truth of it is, there's no such thing as seasons in Bahia. It's all one eternal Summer. So how do the birds know when to lay eggs? How do the flowers know when to bloom? I guess it's all just random here. I decided that when I get home, I'm going to write a book called "700 Days of Summer", because that's about how long it will have been before I experience anything but Summer weather again. I left just before Fall began in the US to greet the Brasilian Summer and Spring will be just around the corner when I get home. Strange.
   To everything there may be a season, but I'm not sure what that means in Bahia. I believe this could be one reason why people here seem to have no sense of time. They can sit around in their homes doing nothing but watching TV for days and days at a time and never feel like they've wasted a moment. As a missionary, I feel like I'm in a time bubble. It's as if the world has actually stopped turning and I'm just going to keep doing missionary work until it starts again. The lack of changing seasons doesn't bother me when I'm keeping track of time in mission transfers. But how do these people live their whole lives like this?
    There's a hazy laziness that seems to be draped over the people if Bahia. The hot sun, the lack of change, all these things contribute to the lack of motivation people seem to have here. It's nice to enjoy a summer day every now and then, sipping ice-cold juice and lounging in the sun while kids play in the street. But when does it end? There's never a cold spell to urge the people to get back to work, back to school, back to SOMETHING! It's almost Twilight-Zone-ish. Maybe it only seems that way to me because I only see people while they're at home. I know that they do have work and school. I just never see them there. That must be it. Surely, that must be it!
   Yesterday as we walked for miles under the hot sun to accompany our investigators to church, and as one after the other turned us down because of sore feet, messy houses that needed to be cleaned, a stuffy nose, or a lack of sleep, I reflected on the words of Alma. Just like him, I found myself wishing, "Oh! That I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart! That I could go forth with a voice like a trumpet and preach repentance unto all people!" (Ok, that's not an exact quote because I'm translating from Português) I wanted to stand on a mountain and yell so all could hear me in the whole city: "You lazy people! Wake up and see what's really important! Can't you see that the answer to all your problems is right here, waiting for you to get off your couches and accept it?!" And then I thought of Christ, preaching to people who wanted what He was offering, but weren't willing to do their part to accept it. How incredibly frustrating that must have been for Him. And then He ended His mission by suffering for their sins, weaknesses, laziness, pains... everything. Every person who ever lived, He suffered and died for them. How could He do it? I marveled over this as I boiled inwardly, making the long walk to church unaccompanied by those I've been trying so hard to help. How could he take this heartache over and over again for years and then, having been rejected by the people, suffer for them? 
    Then it hit me. He suffered for all in the hope of the few who WOULD accept His offering. This realization hit me with such force that I burst into tears (probably freaked out my companion and all of the Brasilians around us on the road). His hope for the few gave Him the strength and the love necessary to pay the price for all. I feel like the more I understand the atonement, the less I comprehend it. What infiinite love! I stand all amazed at my Savior more and more every day. 
    As a missionary, I am constantly humbled to represent such a Perfect Being. And it gives me strength, somehow. The more I recognize how unqualified I am for this work, the more I rely on Him and see His hand mold me into someone better. I'm doing this work for Him, because these people are so important to Him. Every soul is so precious, and I'll keep doing this work, sweating and teaching all for the hope of the few who are ready now to accept the blessings of the Gospel.
    This Church is true. I know it. I know it, and I can not deny it. Missionary work is not easy, but it really is worth it, just for the changes I'm seeing in myself and the lives of others. I know that Jesus Christ lives, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His church, and that He loves all of you more than you can possibly understand.
    Pray to Him. He wants to hear from you.

I love you all!!!

-Sister Whitaker

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