Saturday, May 14, 2016

May Visiting Teaching

Normally I leave visiting teaching to my faithful and consistent companion. But it's my calling too. 

So last night I typed and printed out my typos message and hand delivered them all to front doors since no one was home. I'm sure my Father is looking down on me telling me,"Good job for taking that effort!"

But I wanted to also post my message on my blog. It is my journal after all. This is what the message I shared:

I would like to share with you something I seen on Facebook that touched and changed my heart.
See the photo above, a woman took this photo then posted it on fb to share with all. I copied it so you can read her experience:

“Yesterday was a very emotional day for me. Before the second session I asked Heavenly Father to please help me to feel the spirit strongly and allow me to feel love and forgiveness in my heart. As I sat in conference, 5 mins into the session this man walked into the conference center and sat down in front of us. He was dressed in a shirt with holes, had tattoos down both arms, jeans that look like they had not been washed, and swollen hands that looked like they had been through a lot. (I don't ever mean to hurt or insult this man, so I hope if he ever sees this that he understands I do not think to belittle him or anything. I think he's amazing and has helped me to increase my testimony with merely his presence there.)

My initial reaction was to judge him for his appearance, but almost immediately I felt an overwhelming sense of love for him. All he had in his hands was a conference ticket, and all I could think was: "now there is a man who truly understands the importance of standing in holy places."
I began to cry as I thought of this man who had been through a lot, yet made an effort to reside where the spirit was. He must have been the most humble and Christlike person among us all. I couldn't help but see how others made fun of the man, and would whisper to each other about his clothes. If that was the savior we would have all failed the test. We are taught that we should come as we are and worship the lord. How truly amazing it would be if we would all remember that it doesn't matter who you are on the outside, but the lord looketh on the heart.”

This woman’s post was shared close to 10,000 times all over the internet. And I am thankful she did this.

President Utchdorf spoke these words at conference when he was sharing with everyone his experience when the start of a war was happening around him:

"Not far from where my family lived was the city of Dresden. Those who lived there witnessed perhaps a thousand times what I had seen. Massive firestorms, caused by thousands of tons of explosives, swept through Dresden, destroying more than 90 percent of the city and leaving little but rubble and ash in their wake.
In a very short time, the city once nicknamed the “Jewel Box” was no more. Erich K√§stner, a German author, wrote of the destruction, “In a thousand years was her beauty built, in one night was it utterly destroyed.” During my childhood I could not imagine how the destruction of a war our own people had started could ever be overcome. The world around us appeared totally hopeless and without any future.

Last year I had the opportunity to return to Dresden. Seventy years after the war, it is, once again, a “Jewel Box” of a city. The ruins have been cleared, and the city is restored and even improved.

During my visit I saw the beautiful Lutheran church Frauenkirche, the Church of Our Lady. Originally built in the 1700s, it had been one of Dresden’s shining jewels, but the war reduced it to a pile of rubble. For many years it remained that way, until finally it was determined that the Frauenkirche would be rebuilt.

Stones from the destroyed church had been stored and cataloged and, when possible, were used in the reconstruction. Today you can see these fire-blackened stones pockmarking the outer walls. These “scars” are not only a reminder of the war history of this building but also a monument to hope—a magnificent symbol of man’s ability to create new life from ashes.

As I pondered the history of Dresden and marveled at the ingenuity and resolve of those who restored what had been so completely destroyed, I felt the sweet influence of the Holy Spirit. Surely, I thought, if man can take the ruins, rubble, and remains of a broken city and rebuild an awe-inspiring structure that rises toward the heavens, how much more capable is our Almighty Father to restore His children who have fallen, struggled, or become lost?".

These words had me in tears.  

I know we all have scars. Some are small or well hidden. Giving one the opportunity to fit in even though deep down they have their marks. And some scars are out in the open for all peering eyes to see. It’s unfortunate but those who have their scars on the outside like that man above get those quick judgments.

I thought this was as the same as the ruined church.  The church was once sacred, important, a bright beckon of the community. Like that man was when he was a child. But when “war” came both in sense of bombs and hardships both became rubble.

After the war as the city rebuild I’m sure some building required less time on than others. They probably needed smaller repairs that took less time or were easier to fix. Fix a few things here and there and everything is good again. But the task of the church was so large that it was left for 50 years. The people thought it would be best to leave it as a memorial than to rebuild it. 

The task might have been too hard. Or the people might have thought that leaving it was fine since there were other churches in their community. Whatever it was the people left it alone. Leaving it as it was instead of seeing what it could be. I asked myself when someone walks into “my” holy grounds with tattoos, t-shirts, and jeans do I turn my focus onto something else and not give my proper attention, compassion, and love this person deserves.

And Utchtdorf continues saying,

“It matters not how completely ruined our lives may seem. It matters not how scarlet our sins, how deep our bitterness, how lonely, abandoned, or broken our hearts may be. Even those who are without hope, who live in despair, who have betrayed trust, surrendered their integrity, or turned away from God can be rebuilt. Save those rare sons of perdition, there is no life so shattered that it cannot be restored.
The joyous news of the gospel is this: because of the eternal plan of happiness provided by our loving Heavenly Father and through the infinite sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, we can not only be redeemed from our fallen state and restored to purity, but we can also transcend mortal imagination and become heirs of eternal life and partakers of God’s indescribable glory.”

I felt the spirit tell me, and bring reassurance that even though I have scarlet sins, been deep with bitterness, been lonely, abandoned, betrayed, and broken hearted I have a safe place to fall into.

My Heavenly Fathers arms.  

God love us all. No matter the quantity of scars we have. He rebuilds us into beautiful beckons for others to use their peering eyes to now gaze upon us and see HIS works within us.

I remember the first time I went to church. I was investigating the church at the age of 23. I dressed in jeans, a clean t-shirt, and felt completely uncomfortable. I kept adjusting my shirt and sniffing myself.  No one sat by me and I wondered if maybe I smelled of cigarette smoke. I left that ward after 1 hour and didn’t want to go back. And I didn’t. The sister missionaries were so kind to me. They were the ones who kept telling me to give it another try. That they will come with me next time. That things will be better. I doubted them when they said that I would be accepted. 

A few weeks later due to financial issues I had to move into a different apartment. I never seen those sister missionaries again. A few days later moving into my new apartment the sister missionaries in my new area came over and invited me to church.

I told them about my last experience. Feeling singled out; judged instead of being welcomed. They promised me that they would be there this time to ensure I had a better experience. I told them I would think about it. A few days before Sunday the sister missionaries came over with a skirt that a sister donated to me. I had mixed emotions but I took the skirt and wore it to church. I felt so lady-like. A clean shirt tucked into the skirt. I didn’t smoke the day before to ensure I didn’t have any cigarette smell on my new clothes. When the sisters came to get me I felt ready and open to attending church. As we walked into the ward I felt so happy. However, that feeling faded with the pointing and whispers of my tattoos. I’m thinking to myself,

 “C’mon! I’m wearing a skirt, I don’t smell like smoke, and there’s still something wrong with me.”

I empathize with the photo’d man. He comes to conference in what he has and he has to experience negative peering eyes from all the people who covenanted to welcome everyone.

Back to my story…. When I went to Relief Society there was 1 woman who came up to me after I was introduced as a visitor asking me my last name. My last name at the time was Brown and she was also a Brown. So she asked me if I was related to her husband or his sister or his cousin. But being from Argentina I told her I doubt we have any common family. But she looked at me…… like the rebuilt church. A few burnt spots but so beautiful. She visited me a few times while I was still investigating.

She has been the only one who has loved me as I am. She sees my tattoos and thinks they are pretty. She doesn’t tell me that I should improve or that I should hide them. She tells me that it’s not her place to say those things so she doesn’t even think them.

I really hope that man in the jeans and shirt was approached by at least one person who could have seen him as their brother and not as an intruder. He was taking the most courageous steps someone can take and giving their life to God. When someone does this they need support, help, and need to be reminded that this is the right road. I hope that these words and this message will help us all to remember how special scars can be. To remember that “scars” can remind us of where we really need to be as Christ spent his days with the unlikeable sinners. I pray that these words are 1st understood since my emotions are all over the place but 2nd that you are reminded that God does marvelous works with war zone rubble.

It felt wonderful to actually go out share this message with the sister I was asked to teach. When they get home and see these papers on their door steps they might not know my name but I pray that as they read it all they will know my testimony and spirit. 

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