One Missionary put it best when he said,
“We have two jobs, one full-time job and one part-time job. Our full-time job is to invite others to come unto Christ by teaching the gospel. Our part-time job is to help the Bishop with less active members get back to church.” And guess what? He is right.
In my own mission, I did my part-time job for two years. Doing so, brought me great love, happiness, tears of joy and plenty of great stories for my journal. One in particular has been lingering in my mind. I have mentioned this before to others, but this is the first time here on my blog.
We met Pepe
The brother my companion and I visited was in our area book with recently visited notes from the previous missionaries. We made many attempts to get in contact with this member to no avail and not only that, but a handful of active members had only heard of him but never met him. However, the day came when the tall brown skin brother opened the door during a rainy day in Arlington Texas, perhaps the only rainy day that hot summer in 2011, we where surprise.
He told us in his cozy home how he had been a branch president at 18, how he had serve in various callings and remained faithful in the church despite being the only member of his family. He was a good old righteous man, the one that will do anything for the church without knowing all of the history or background of the responsibility, he just did. He particularly spoke about his two-year Mission in Nicaragua, a kid he took of the streets and other unique acts of kindness.
He began to tear up has he share a particular story during his mission. This is what I would like to write about today. I will strive to tell the story how he said things happened. I can’t remember his name since we were only able to meet with him once. I also don’t remember the names of people in the story. I will call the less active brother Pepe. I hope you get as much inspiration as I did. I as well hope that I can share this story in such a simple and clear way, that you as well could share it in the future with others.
The Child in The Distance
There was war and civil conflict the northern part of Pepe’s Mission which border Honduras. Issues in the late 70’s with the overthrow of the Somoza regime and the 1980’s Contra War led the suspension of proselytizing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in these areas. Pepe and his companion just so happened to be serving near the green mountains of the prohibited area. These areas where highly dangerous, the kind where no missionary mom wants his child to walk through. For one, war and the destructive crumbs left a trail to the shedding of blood and miserable death of the innocent, not to mention the darker part of war that scar many in such a way, death would a thing some would hope for.
One cloudy day, Pepe and his companion decided to disobey the Mission President for the first time in his mission. Together with his companion they planned a one day visit the danger zone to trek up into the hills of the green mountains. The plan was to go, see what the fuss was all about and come back down, especially if things became dangerous. They hope to at least find some one who needed help. However they had no clue how they would help nor how they would get help to go up there.
The trek began with his mission’s Presidents words in his head, but they continue anyways. Their whole time up there began to feel vain. They had waisted a day and had not seen a soul for hours. This is not to say however, that they were not in areas where people used to live. There were small homes and huts in various colors of blue, orange, yellow and green. Cafeterias and small shops. Parked old cars and barking dogs with just enough lose chickens to get the feel of an old Central American country that was leading way to something great, but fell in the cracks of corruptions and into the roots of proud men.
After a few hours, Pepe and his companion gave up and made the decision to obey and turn back around to embark the solitude trek to their main area. As the exhausted Missionaries headed back, they heard a noise behind them. Pepe looked at his companion and though nothing of it. They kept walking and again heard the noise louder this time.
As they turned around and walked up the steep hill, they notice and odd object in the middle of the dirt road that led to another small town. They got closer and notice that the object had slowly move. Pepe and his companion began to run towards the object, and as they got closer, the object move and made an unclear noise.
It was a young child, a boy with his body upside down. The two Elders finally got to the boy who was still and quiet. Pepe with his companion where on high alert for the possibilities of being lure into some kind of trap was of great concern. They try talking to the boy but he stood still not responding. Pepe finally leaned over to turn the boy around when he saw the young child’s stomachs slid in half.
His inners were out of his belly although all miraculously scape the sharp touch of the blade that had cut him. The blood was warm and blood was everywhere. Pepe quickly took off his shirt and wrapped it around the boy’s stomach to withstand the inners from being expose. Pepe and his companion aid the child and gently trying to picking him up to take him somewhere into town to save him.
Pepe, his companion and the wounded boy began to march down as quickly as they could when they notice once last thing, a woman looking at them from the corner of the wall that belong to one of the homes.
” Help.” They yelled.
The woman ran to them and blurted,
“That’s my son, Simon. The Guerrilla came and killed him and took many. My son try fighting them off but left him to die. Come over here they just left 10 minutes ago. I was going to help Simon but I saw you guys coming. I got scared and I figure he was already dead.”
The boy rested on Pepe’s arms and his companion was behind him. They both followed the woman into the home and behind a back door. By the door in the back was a man laying on the floor with a shot between his eyes.
“That’s my sweet husband, Pedro.” The woman said in tears as the walked around him.
She then took the Missionaries down a few steps where they went inside a basement. There, she took them inside another door where the room was pitch black. The room had been built by the woman’s husband, Pedro for he feared if the Guerrilla came they would barge inside the house, but not here. His words were prophetic when the woman said quietly, “come out, it’s safe.”
The sound of a match came from a dark corner of the small room where a lantern was lid. The room illuminated and the faces of thirty others as they began to appear from the darkness.
“These are the rest of my family from near by towns and villages. This is all I have left, the rest were killed through time but most today.” The woman said as tears ran down her face company with the sniffles and cries of others.
Now, I can’t quite remember how the boy was healed, I believe a blessing was given and one of the family members was some kind of nurse. The missionaries left and confess their disobedience to their mission President who eventually help out the family later on by letting the missionaries teach them.
The days past and the boy slowly healed. The missionaries tough the restored gospel to all thirty family members. Weeks later, Three according to Pepe, they all got baptized and confirmed members of the church.
Pepe began to weep when he said, ” The young boy healed and served a two-year mission. He returned with honor.”
This story shares so many things. One, the gospel healed wounded souls and restored the lives of a whole generation. Two, although the Elders where disobedient, they where only able to find the boy after hours of walking and searching when they decided to turn back around and leave the forbidden area. And three, Pepe’s best memories of him being a member where those times when he was serving the most. He had a great early life and I wish I could share more. But it is fair to ask why on earth did a man who experienced so much in the church would leave the church.
Well, Pepe’s problem was never with the church, it was with himself and issues in which he had not control of. His wife apparently cheated on him and this broke him into deep depression. She was also not a member which made things more difficult for him. He forgave her, but somewhere along the line his child was taken by the mother. That turned into years of grief and battle between families.
Although I understand his reasoning, I can’t understand why he had to leave the church. I was less active for about six years and I can clearly say, I had no testimony and when you don’t have that, you have nothing to cling on when the winds blow and life sweeps you from beneath. This at times can get very difficult to describe because even those who have had a testimony, slowly stop doing something through out the week which we are asked to do on Sundays, which is to remember Him. Less activity does not happen from one day to another. We stop remembering Him and begin to put our problems, and others desires such as work and family above God. This then begins to create more doubting questions. Great examples in the scriptures are King David, Laman and Lemuel just to name a few. All three men followed the Lord and their Prophet but also fell short. The same way we all agree that “by small things, great things are brought to pass.” Is the way the by small wrong things, bad things are brought to pass.
To all who may be less active or are on the verge, I say, don’t do so, hang in there. There is never a good enough reason to trade salvation for self philosophy, especially when those feeling of philosophy are poorly created on a sandy foundation. Sorry, but even at my darkest moments in life where I was nowhere near God, I would still be able to defend what I felt was right because others ideals never made sense or felt too weak and with not enough background.
A great example was the poorly presented and researched anti Christian film by Bill Marher which he makes all Christians seem uneducated and weird by going to small churches in trailer and pastors calling them self doctors without a P.H.D. To this day, I still put any personal feeling and any bias thoughts to anyone’s anti Christians views, however, I have yet to find any kind of powerful or even thought-provoking ideals. I will never find one because most of this people will always be missing pieces to what the truth is and one of them being the spirit, therefore the clarity of their argument will be weak and it will always be poorly research. There are many with rich abundance of questions, but few with the power of proper research.
In this case, Pepe did not only created a life of sadness for him, but, can you imagine how the young boy must have felt to find out that the missionary who saved his life and changed the lives of his whole family went less active? I plead with you in the most loving and experience way, your reasons to leave are vain and your cause is hallow. Remember Him, Christ, remember the scriptures and those who have fallen away, remember that when things don’t make sense is because they don’t and you need to have further research done. Talk to the missionaries, put them to work in their part-time, read and read and let the spirit work through you. But most importantly, let the Atonement work through you.