Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Praying IN THE MIDDLE OF A THRIFT SHOP (6 January 2016)

On a frozen lake!
Amazing week.

- Goal. So we have this goal that if we see anyone that looks like they speak Spanish, we stop whatever we are doing and go talk to them. Even if we are driving on the road and we see them walking, we pull over and talk to them. It's been paying off huge, too.

- Yesterday we were in a Salvation Army looking to offer community service to the organization. Well, I went to look around and I heard a lady speaking Spanish. I knew right from the beginning that she was from the Dominican Republic due to her accent. I went up to her and cracked a Dominican joke in Spanish, which completely took her by surprise that some white boy in the middle of a farming town was speaking Spanish and then knew jokes that only Dominicans get. It was amazing because we started talking about who we were. Turns out her husband is on his death bed who used to be a pastor for a different church. We explained to the lady what blessings of healing and comfort were, and asked if her husband would be interesting in having us visit him and give him a blessing. She said she would ask him. As we started to talk, I learned more of her situation. She was with her son who had been mentally damaged due to some medication he has taken over the years. I asked them in the middle of this thrift shop if we could get together and pray for him. So, we got in a group and prayed right there on the spot in the middle of this popular thrift shop. Everyone was looking at us. After, the lady was so touched that she looked at us and asked, "Can we now pray for me, too? Please?" We ended up saying a prayer with her and she would repeat everything we said when it touched her. So many people were watching, but yet the spirit and the love of God were so strong. We got her contact info and are going to go and try and see her husband. We have been trying to go visit that store for a few weeks, but God knew we had to be there in that store in that very minute.

- Kenny.  Kenny is a very interesting situation—I previously mentioned in a past letter that he is a man who was a professional tennis player. He was one of the best. He was a multimillionaire with all the fame and money in the world. Yet, he's been humbled. During his great tennis career, he suffered a back injury and the doctors gave him medication that gave him brain damage, ending his tennis career. We went over there the other day and had an amazing discussion on existence. Kenny started to break down crying, talking about how he realizes now that money, fame, satisfying the natural man, giving into temptation, drinking, drugs, etc...all of that is nothing. He says the only thing that matters is eternal life. He sat there in his guilt of all the horrible things he expressed to us, and yet he was having the turning point that would change his life forever. It was amazing to see someone who is so talented, who knows so much about the professional world, be humbled down in the depths of humility to truly see what eternally matters. It was one of the most powerful moments of my entire mission. His life is changing. He gets baptized in three weeks. I can't wait for his guilt to be gone because it weights so heavily upon him. Kenny is really an example to me.

- To finish, I want to share some thoughts that have been weighing deeply on my mind. This life - so short, yet so much of the future depends on what we do here. As someone who is human, I am stuck in the middle of this vast concept of reality separate from an identity placed on by society. Stuck with the reality of life, with the sting of the knowledge that every second that passes, death creeps closer to me. Stuck thinking on the topic of why we have free agency. Why we as a society from the beginning of time have been so obsessed with progression. We have 80 years of life on average. We grow up in a world where they teach us to follow our dreams, to fall in love, to go with that person in whom you fall in love with, and the two of you separate yourselves from the world you knew and create this new existence of a world that binds you together, something new that you didn't know existed before. You then add children into that reality and your world slowly begins to completely revolve around what you call your family. You teach them, you help them, you love them, and even if your family does not get along with each other, secretly you always wish they would. You build up your spouse, you have moments together where you feel as if you are placed in Heaven, and you have times where you all seem to enter into the gall of bitterness when you experience the misery of certain elements of life. Yet as you stay strong together, holding each other when the darkness takes over and the light fades, together you somehow are still stuck in this bliss, even in the pits of darkness, knowing that wherever you go, whoever you become, your spouse and children will still be there. You become one. Without them, you aren't you. Without you, they aren't them. They are your life. They are your hope. They are your heaven. As I dwell on this thought, the thought of the future seems to haunt me, coming to the front of my mind and taking over the feelings of joy when thinking of this family to come—that thought being the sure reality that one day the life I have now will be gone.

Most of us have less than 80 years left. Then there is death. We as humans are frightened by death because it's unknown. I've always believed in God, but I never understood how I can be satisfied with this idea of hoping that I'll be with my family again....or in what they call "heaven." How can I really know? At this point, isn't it merely a desperate attempt to satisfy the horror that would weigh on my soul if I were to realize that all of this would go away and one day vanish? Being satisfied with this hope would be my way of hiding it from myself so I don't have to think of such a grave thing because that is a very scary thing to think about. But if God existed, and is the God we know in the New Testament, then we know He is a God of order. We would also know that He created us, and that He loves us. So if He is both, wouldn't He give us an orderly way to obtain life after death? And since He loves us, wouldn't He give us a way to return together as a family unit? I'm not satisfied hoping that I will one day be in the presence of God, having eternal life with my family, by simply hoping that it will come by just trying to aimlessly live a good life. I can sit here hoping in the cold that a fire will start from here until forever. But I will never be able to light the fire until I have fuel. That is the only way to produce it. So what is the "fuel" of eternal life?

Let's then say that death is not the end, but you had no promises. Let's picture a life in the next, and what it would be like without the ones we love and a world where we are limited and where we suffer limitations and deprivations. How final! How frightening! Since we would know well that mortal death does not terminate our existence, since we know that we live on and on, how devastating to realize that marriage and family life, so sweet and happy in so many homes, would end at death.

A general authority once wrote in his words what it may be like:

"Are you willing to jeopardize your eternities, your great continuing happiness, your privilege to see God and dwell in his presence? Are you willing to make yourself a widow for eternity or a widower for endless ages--a single, separate individual to live alone and serve others? Are you willing to give up your children when they die or when you expire, and make them orphans? Are you willing to go through eternity alone and solitary when all of the greatest joys you have ever experienced in life could be 'added upon' and accentuated, multiplied, and eternalized?"
What a horrible world that would be.  Thankfully we don't have to ever live in that world if we choose to do what God asks of us to "make sure" our blessings in the life to come. And those blessings are so grand, vast, and filled with endless glory that the human mind cannot comprehend them, and the human body wouldn't be able to sustain itself in their presence.  I will touch a little on that next week.  But for now, just think of what this world would be like without everything you have ever worked for, cried for, smiled for, laughed for, loved for, and have ever hoped for.  It would be a world that even Satan himself would not want to live in.

I love you all,

- Elder Celaya

Our zone (two German boys right in the middle haha)

Christmas mission dinner

Christmas Skype!

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