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, September 7, 2016

She's not a convert, she's converted. Church in Jala

Our ride was gorgeous this morning as we drove to Jala for our Sunday meeting.

Look at that blue sky, set against those green rocky hills; 
and that stunning rock wall meandering across the field,
 and the cows taking advantage of that soft grass.

a little closer look.

We called the assistants as we drove into the small pueblo. They were just a few streets away, walking to church themselves, so we pulled over and waited for them, and drove together to the Pichardo's home.

We were the first to arrive. Brother and sister Pichardo had everything set up and ready. The chairs were lined up in 3 rows, hopeful that all invited would come. The sacrament table had been prepared, and they had a small table in front with the hymn books stacked and ready, and a set of scriptures along side them. I was struck with how the early afternoon light came in from the back porch, and shone across the sacrament table cloth, showing bits of sunlight as it beamed in between the eyelet pattern.

The chairs were lined up facing the kitchen that was framed in with a brick archway. The dishes were freshly washed, stacked and draining. The doorway to the side led to the back patio where their bathroom, washer and scrubbing sink was. We could see out to the clothes lines in their small yard. With no back door, the sun shone right in and we were so thankful for the occasional warm breeze that blew in.

There were 13 members there today. Brother and sister Pichardo, Roberto and his wife Agripina Vazquez with their three sweet children. They are expecting their 4th baby. Agripina is due in November and everyone is so excited and anxious to love this baby. Also there was brother Alan Vega, a member for many months now, and the newest baptized member, sister Lucia Zuniga.

As I sat in that white lawn chair during the meeting, in this sweet home, my heart was filled with love for these faithful members. They gather together each sabbath day, here in Jala, so grateful that they do not have to travel far any longer to participate in the ordinance and blessing of the sacrament. They do not take for granted the privilege of partaking of these sacred emblems. That is why they come together simply and specifically. The warm association they have with each other is evident.

I noticed that the two priesthood holders, brother Vazquez and brother Vega sang the sacrament song entirely, then, brother Vazquez stood reverently, and broke the pieces of bread into just enough pieces for this small group, while we quietly watched.

It was so very sacred.

I will be forever grateful for the Sabbath experience we had today. The setting and circumstances in which they met were just unforgettable. Here in this humble home we once again could hear the traffic outside bumping along that cobblestone road out front, and the roosters occasionally crowing  down the way, and today the Pichardo's little dog and 2 cats were also meandering here and there, in and out the open doors. A new sound today, were the Pichardo's kitchen and main room curtains that were gathered at the ends in knots that were tied with round balls of clay pottery that were actually wind chimes, that softly clanked together when the breeze blew in making a soft soothing sound every so often.

Brother Pichardo began the testimony meeting, then, brother Vazquez who was sitting in the row behind his wife with his son, stood next and came around to the front row and took his wife by the hand, and led her to the front with him. They both stood together as he bore his testimony. It was like he brought her up to stand next to him, to give him courage and strength to bear his heart. I could see the tears as he walked around past me to get her, and as they stood there, and he composed himself, she wiped the tears from his cheeks again and again, and squeezed his hand. His testimony was so heartfelt and personal, I could hardly look at them standing there. It was so precious and genuine. He told of how difficult things had been recently for them, and how he wondered how they were going to do it all. As a taxi driver, President and I knew his car had broken down. It broke my heart thinking of the stress and pressure that brought to him and to them.  Listening to him testify that he had been discouraged of late, but that coming today, and participating in the sacrament, he had felt strengthened and had felt the Lord’s calming and soothing spirit reassure him that all would be well.

Sister Zuniga shared with us that she had had such problems throughout her life, both growing up and during her adult life. She told us how she had been so unsettled for so long, but when she came into the church, she could finally admit, that yes, she had problems, but since she had joined the church, she now could see that, this is life!  I am truly happy she said, for the first time, and feel like I have a purpose and so much to live for.
I remembered what the Elders told me the day she was baptized... they said, she's not a convert, she's converted. How evident that was today.

President Clayton closed the meeting by sharing what he and I both understand clearer than ever before, that the preacher is no better than the hearer, neither is the teacher any better than the learner, and thus, they are all equal and do all labor, every man according to his strength. (Alma 1:26)  He then left a blessing with this small faithful group.
President Clayton interviewed several members afterwards, and as we visited together,  Elder Manriquez told me that the main Catholic priest in Jala told his congregation recently that he knew that there were now American missionaries that had been sent to their pueblo there in Jala. He told his congregation that they are wearing white shirts and dark suits and had name tags on. Be nice to them he told them. They are doing good things. They are wanting to help us, so be good to them. President Clayton said he would like to meet this Catholic priest, and thank him personally.

Bob and I both commented as we drove home, that wouldn't members everywhere, be blessed by attending church in the Pichard's home.

Just a closer look at these faithful members.

                                                  This was a good day. :)