The purpose of this blog is to highlight the beautiful city of Guadalajara; the faithful members, the valiant missionaries who serve here, as well as the people, culture, and food.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We serve where we are called, and when we are called.

# a lesson in being faithful.

I remember well a Saturday morning long ago in Albuquerque New Mexico.  It was General Conference weekend. President Clayton had been recently called as the Bishop of the Taylor Ranch Ward. Weeks earlier, as the building cleaning assignment list had gone around his priesthood meeting, he had signed our family up to go clean the church building before the Saturday morning session of conference began. I can remember the grumbles, mostly by me, as we ate an early breakfast and piled into the car to get the job accomplished and make it back home in time for the morning session.
When we got to the church building, there was not a car in the parking lot.  No one else had come. I am embarrassed to admit, that I specifically remember rolling my eyes.  We sat there for a minute there in the car, in the parking lot, and then President Clayton said to our kids... who's here?   And they all said, no one.  No one else is here dad!  He got out of the car and we all followed him out of the car, and as the kids and I gathered around him, he asked again, who’s here?  And the kids said, just us.
No one is here except us.  And he said, that's right.  You know who’s here he asked as our kids looked at one another?  The Faithful!  The Faithful Are Here, he said with his fists in the air!  He unlocked the church doors, with his newly acquired keys and I'll always remember the girls dancing around and around, and the boys leaping and jumping down that long church hallway calling out, The Faithful!  The Faithful Are Here!  For just over an hour as we emptied trash cans, and cleaned chalkboards, as we checked the hymn book holders for spilled cheerios and loose crayons, as we vacuumed the two entryways, and polished those bathroom mirrors, our kids and their dad peeked out from here and there calling out to each other, Only The Faithful!  The Faithful Are Here!  We Are The Faithful!  All the way home we sung out the word Faithful.  That's right!  We Are The Faithful they said.

  That, was a good day.

That word has been a key word in our family, and one that we have used back and forth in family home evenings, and in our Sunday evening devotionals.  
When Scott would come home from school in Alaska and if I had been baking, he would come in and smelling chocolate chip cookies, or sweet rolls, he would say, way to be faithful mamalu, way to be faithful.
But seriously, over the years, we have tried to teach our children what it means to be truly faithful; and that if we seek to be such, how rich the blessings would be.
When our oldest son Matt left for college, we gathered our children together that first Sunday evening, after he left and we said, do you think Matt went to church this morning? Of course, they all chimed. Do you think he's reading his scriptures and saying his prayers each day now that he's at college, and away from home? Of course, they were convinced. He did. He was faithful. As our children left for their missions, each had experiences and trials that were eye opening, and spiritually awaking. They had opportunities that strengthened their faith and helped to shape their adult spiritual life.
I love Bruce R. McConkie's teaching that 'faith is a gift from God, bestowed as a reward for personal righteousness'. He continues by detailing, 'the greater the measure of obedience to God's laws, the greater will be the endowment of faith'.

Well today in Ameca I felt again those words come to my mind, only with a deeper sincerity and richer meaning.  Today President Clayton released President Partida after serving as Branch President for 8 years, and called him to be the 1st counselor to the newly called Branch President, who has only been a member, for not quite 2 years. President Partida will be such a support and guide to this new President,  but he will not have the burden he has had for these many years upon his shoulders. These past 8 years President Partida and his wife have faithfully served the saints here in Ameca amid great hardships financially, and with his work, and other pressures, but most especially with their health.  

Sister Partida has been plagued with severe and extremely painful and debilitating arthritis.  Her hands and feet have become so sore and deformed.  The pain is also affected by the weather, yet, she rarely misses coming to church.  She comes and participates and always, always with a smile, always so gracious.
Those two have given and given and sacrificed and endured as they have served.  We have seen over and over again this little branch combine together and rent a bus to come to the temple.  It puts me to shame when I see such devotion and dedication, despite such affliction and sacrifice, and yet today, as we thanked them for their years of service, they both said, it has not been a sacrifice, we have received so many blessings. Today as President Clayton asked Sister Partida to bear her testimony, she said, we serve where we are called and when we are called. If we say no to a calling, we say no to the blessings. And my heart just melted with love. I was overflowing with gratitude that I had been there to witness such devotion.
Ameca is the 1st branch we visited as we arrived in the mission over a year ago.  I remember being so touched that first day with the earnest desire these members had to do their part and to magnify their callings. I remember that first Sunday, that Sister Partida, who was the Relief Society president gave the lesson, and afterwards, she opened her spiral notebook and asked each sister to give an accounting of their visiting teaching,  right then and there after the lesson.  I was surprised that she asked for a verbal accounting there in their meeting, but these sisters didn’t flinch, they responded when their names were called, and their report was tender as they told of their visits and the contacts they had made.  And please don’t misunderstand, it was not showy or boastful, nor do I think they were doing it for my benefit.  In a quiet and humble manner, they gave their report.

The Sunday School lesson on our first Sunday in Ameca, was taught by a newly baptized member, Brother Gustavo Caro Munoz.  He taught an outstanding lesson, with his two little girls toddling around the front where he was standing, sucking on little lollipops , with their fingers all sticky and adorable. Occasionally holding onto his pant legs as he taught with their precious stickiness.

Today, he was called to be the new Branch President.  He and his wife Christina just glowed.
I was so pleased to see his nonmember parents there today, and Christina’s nonmember mother was there.  President Clayton took a minute as he set him apart, and explained about keys to their parents. Sacred keys that would be given to him that would allow him to receive revelation for those within his stewardship.  And that would include all of Ameca,  He was now the shepherd for all of Ameca.
#priceless experience.

President Partida and his wife Gloria
We love them so much.

New Branch President Gustavo Caro Munoz and his wife Christina 
with their darling little girls
Evelyn, Christina, and Sarahi, 

President Munoz with his new counselors
left, 2nd counselor Raymundo Villalobos
and right 1st counselor Brother Partida

with President Clayton

I love this sweet hermana and I look for her each time 
we come to Ameca.
hermana Guillerma Guardado Flores. 

Our faithful missionaries serving here in Ameca
Elder and Sister Ortega (they are such outstanding missionaries!
honestly, what a great work they are doing. I love how positive
and happy they always are).
Sweethearts sister Marciano and sister Rodriguez
and Elder Santos and Elder Valdez who serve in Tala and
come to work in Ameca once a week.

I love these sisters!