Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Goodbye Galvarino

Hermano Mendez our ward mission leader in Galvarino
Hey family and other people!

So, on Thursday night I got the call from the assistants that not only would I be leaving Galvarino, but my companion would be leaving as well. We thought it was a joke at first that both would be leaving, but it turns out that it was true. Elder Langston was so sure that he’d be staying that he bought 30 eggs just an hour and a half before we got the call.  That weekend was the first time in my mission that I’ve had to say goodbye to people and there were a lot of people to say goodbye to.

Luckenson and Elder Birrell
Luckenson, the recently baptized Haitian, was really sad when he heard the news. In fact, he said “Wow” at least 100 times when we delivered him the news and he said that night he couldn’t sleep. On Sunday he received the priesthood, which was a special moment, but something happened just minutes before that I will forever remember. At the end of the Gospel Principles class, he offered to say the final prayer, but before saying the prayer he told us that he wants to share his testimony with everyone in the class since the next fast and testimony meeting wouldn’t be for a couple weeks more. He said that before we started sharing with him, he never liked anything to do with religion and he didn’t believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, his mom would always ask him to come to church but he never wanted to go. He testified that there’s something different here and that through learning more of the work of God, coming to church, and being baptized, he is an entirely new person. He said he’s truly been born again in Christ and that he’s so much happier now. The most incredible part of the testimony was that normally he struggles in expressing himself in Spanish, plus he has a very noticeable speech impediment, but as he bore testimony none of those problems were evident. Truly a powerful moment.

The  Muñoz Family
Another family we said goodbye to was the Muñoz family which is a family that will forever have a large place in my heart. From the first time I passed by their house I’ve always felt something special, but this special feeling has grown as I’ve seen their faith increase and as they shared their own experiences and testimonies. The final scripture I shared with them describes what I’ve learned from them through the 5 months. I was able to play a small part in their lives.

“Now, was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.” (Alma 27:18)

This family has very little money, 3 kids in jail (some of them for a long time) and every reason to complain in the world, and for a time that’s what they did. As they began to grow their faith and repent little by little their joy has grown immensely. Their humility to follow what invites the spirit and to give them true happiness is something that will forever mark me. Every time we passed by for them they’d have some amazing spiritual experience to share. On Friday night I actually cried when I was talking to Oscar and I thought of this scripture. They recently had an interview with the bishop and he said he sees them as a future bishop and relief society president and I’d agree with that. By law they still need to wait a bit to get married, but it shouldn’t be too long after that before they get sealed in the temple.

Oscar and Viviana Muñoz
This weekend we also said goodbye to another Haitian named Billy, who has come to church for 5 weeks in a row basically and always enjoys his experience, but until Friday never expressed any desire to be baptized. He was baptized in a different church not too long ago and for a while he didn’t accept the fact that the priesthood has been restored in these days and that it is through this authority that he must be baptized. No matter how many different ways we tried to help him understand this concept and ask God if it was true, it never seemed to work. Finally, on Friday night something clicked and it was way cool to see him understand that both the great apostasy and the restoration of Christ’s church are real and how truly blessed we are to live in a time when we can receive all the blessings God wants us to have.

Billy and the Haitian girls
Seeing Jesús from the day I met him to now has also been a blessing. The only things I recognize from May 2016 in Jesús is the fact that he talks really Chilean (bad) and he loves horses. I never would’ve thought that someday he’d go to the temple with his wife to be sealed, but now they’re planning on working towards the 16th of December 2017 and honestly I believe they can do it. Jesús grew up in rough circumstances family-wise and for a while that mentality of treating people poorly kind of stuck with him. He had a lot of “natural man” tendencies, whereas now he’s a dedicated husband, father, and servant of the Lord.
Jesús, Katalina and little Trinidad

The final goodbye was with Jacob and his family (the Aguilar family). With this family we’ve been able to be there through everything. We were there in the hospital with them as doctors gave baby Alice a few hours of life left maximum and we were also there to see her healed by a priesthood blessing and the prayers of many. The spirit we’ve felt in that home has been undeniable so many times. I know that someday they’ll be faithful member, leaders, and tools in God’s hands to bring this joy to families just like their own. We’re all hoping we get permission to come back for their baptism.

Jacob Aguilar and Elder Birrell
Elder Birrell, Baby Alice and Elder Langston
5 amazing months in Galvarino, some of the greatest of my life. I’m thankful for everyone there that’s impacted me in some way, especially the companions I had there, most recently being Elder Langston. I’d trust my life with the guy and through the service that we gave together in bringing souls to Christ we also formed what will definitely be a lifelong friendship. Also shout out to his best friend Jorge Reyes who was baptized on the 15th

I’ll miss Galvarino.

Elder Birrell

More Aguilar Family

A kid named Diego gave us each a medallion he won in school
Herman Irma. We live right above her. nicest lady in the world, always giving us food
The little Haitian girls
Peruvian family (los peruanitos we called them)
Nicolas. The thing with his fingers is a little dance he loves to do

The Bishop's family

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