Sunday, November 11, 2012

Of Maggots, Earthquakes, & LOVE

You have to realize that these are PRECIOUS pictures that you're viewing here.  My brother, Taylor, has been on his mission in Guatemala for almost half of a year, and within that time frame he's only sent home a handful of pictures.  We wish we could see more, but these are beautiful glimpses into what life is like down there on his mission. 
This picture is my favorite--I love how TALL Taylor is compared to his friend.  These are probably the only 2 years of his life where he'll be the tall one almost everywhere he goes.  : )  We think that this is the picture that reminds him of Nacho Libre--"Hey, I like your cow." 
In his letters home, he's been pretty up & up. However, he DID write my brother Heber a personal letter in which he divulged some of the wonders of his living conditions. For most of his mission he has NOT had running water, or a bathroom in his living quarters. He has to drink bottled water to avoid getting parasites. It's like he's on a 2 year camping trip--no joke.  Are you ready for this? When he gets to take a shower/bath,  the water they use is dirty and sometimes has MAGGOTS in it, and they have to be careful when they're washing to make sure the maggots and gross things in the water don't remain in their hair.
Talk about making sacrifices to share the good news of the gospel.  : )

I love this picture, too.  We're not sure if this is a miniature garden where they're growing corn, or if it's a back yard, but I love seeing Taylor with the people.
This week, the day that Conservatives were proven to be the minority in America, I also happened to be sick, and just when we all were down and out and thought the day couldn't get worse, my dad got a text from Bishop Keller saying he heard there was an earthquake in Guatemala.  Mitch called me, I called my mom, we texted Erin, and did a Google search.  My boys were CONVINCED that the earthquake was caused by the VOLCANOES Taylor wrote home about.  Fortunately there were no volcanic explosions causing this earthquake, but we didn't know if we would hear from him, or how he was doing, so we kept up with the news reports.  Finally, the next morning, my mom couldn't take it anymore and she called church headquarters, where she learned that all the missionaries were accounted for.  About an hour later, she got a phone call from an AP letting her know that the missionaries were okay, and then much to our surprise we got an email from Taylor, too.  These are the highlights:

"When the shock wave hit us, me and my companion were walking in the street on our way to a lesson appointment. Also, side note, when a large semi truck passes by you in the street, you can feel the ground shake because the people don't really compact the ground very good before they put down pavers, but at any rate, when the earthquake happened, a large semi truck was passing by me and as usual I felt the ground shaking, but as it continued to shake even after the semi truck passed, I looked up to see the buildings and telephone poles around us shaking hard. I knew I would be protected because Monday I had the impression come to me of what to do if I was in an Earthquake and where safe places would be that I should go. I now realize that was revelation that I received just a day before the earthquake, and I realize the Lord was preparing me to be safe....It felt like a 5 on the richter scale when it hit us, and it reminded me of the feeling of being on a bridge over the ocean, and when a strong wind comes and shakes it, you can feel the bridge moving beneath your feet, that's the feeling of the earthquake. Hahah after it happened, everyone in the street was silent, but me and my companion high fived each other saying, my first earthquake, my first earthquake hahaha it was really funny."

I love this picture, because he looks so happy.  It reminds me that we take for granted all the blessings we have in America.  Even my kids are amazed with the kinds of houses these people live in.  We are so lucky to have sheets on our beds and drywall on our walls, and air conditioning and heating capabilities--not to mention running/fresh water.
One of my favorite stories from Taylor came two months ago when he got to perform his first baptism, and it was clear to me that he is serving the people in that country out of LOVE for the Lord, and LOVE for them.  The meeting for the baptism seemed to start out with a bit of chaos & people wanting to look at the Elders' cameras and last minute changes getting made to the program, but this was my favorite part of what Taylor said:
"The Family Escobar was my first baptism in my life, and was cool to say the least...because I got to bear my testimony before, that this was the beginning of their discipleship and the road isn't always easy, but its worth it. At times it isn't fair, (like 20 minutes ago when I thought this thing was going to go smooth haha)(I didn't say that, I thought that) but if we are patient and keep our covenants, it will all work out, the atonement will cover it for us. I then baptized Rolando Escobar, the husband. It was so fun to baptise someone. It was spirit filled as I held my arm to the square and used my priesthood, a literal power, to bind someones outward expression of an inner commitment, to the eternities. I left the font happy and as we changed into our clothes, i said to Brother Escobar in Spanish, "Rolando, you are my first baptism in my life. I will remember you forever. When we get to heaven, we will rejoice as we look back at that moment in our lives back on earth, where you first began your journey to Christ." What a blessing. The worth of souls is great in the sight of God."

I'm so happy for my brother, Elder Tenney, and that he is taking advantage of this ONCE IN A LIFETIME opportunity to share his LOVE of the Lord with the people in Guatemala--a land so far and foreign from home, but a land that will now FOREVER be ingrained into his heart.  These days are becoming a part of who he is as an individual and as a willing servant of the Lord.  I am so happy for him and am grateful for his example--weathering earthquakes washing in filthy water, and changing lives forever.
If you're reading this, I love you, Taylor!!!!!