Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 1, 2013 - Duff's Barbershop and a P.S.

Heeeey, cute duffs. (I forgot how funny that word is. But mostly I remembered because on Main Street in Hopkins lies Duff's Barber Shop. Funniest old men ever. I love it!)

So hey. This week has been incredible. Extremely tender and full of instances where we just knew the Lord had guided us to exactly where we needed to be, when we needed to be there. Ah. Gash. MISSIONS. There's nowhere I'd rather be right now. Except maybe Duff's Barber Shop. 'Eyyyy. But really. This time means everything to me.

CRAP, I've learned a ton this week. One of my favorite things has been being able to be guided to how best to serve those around us in a way that helps THEM to feel their worth. Not just to feel humbled by our insight or like we cleaned their house while they were sick. There's a less-active Ecuadorian sister in our ward who is going through a really rocky divorce and has major health issues. (I love listening to her talk. We always ask her to pray in Spanish. Stinkin' beautiful.) Every time we call, she refuses help or a visit, but the Spirit was just SCREAMING at us to go see her anyway. So we stopped by. Her house was in total disarray and she looked miserable. We prayed with her and had a really good chat. It's such a basic need for people to be heard. And it's such a blessing to the listener. We shared different scriptures as we taught, but I still wanted to DO something for her around her house. She was so overwhelmed.

Well, the Spirit's the coolest. All the sudden, out of nowhere, I asked if she would teach us how to cook something like once or twice a week. Part of her illness causes really bad pain in her hands, and it breaks her heart because cooking is her greatest gift, she feels like. (Word in the ward says TRUE.) So she always feels embarrassed having us in the house because a) it's a mess, b) she hates accepting or asking for help, and c) she has nothing prepared for us to eat.

She LIT UP. She was so flattered! We came back the next day and deep-cleaned while learning how to make arrez con leche, an Ecuadorian dessert. She gave us all the instructions while saving her hands the effort. We had way good conversation and even played in the pouring rain a little. She was so happy after, that she'd had something to offer, and something to teach us. That who she was could bless US. That she's important. Ahhh. I love her. People. They're the bayyyyest.

(Moral of the story is, by the time she is reactivated... I'm gonna be an Ecuadorian DREAM in the kitchen. Some tiny man in Quito is praying for my skillz. Next stop: her county-famous empanadas. "Ay-yi-yi!")

K continues to progress. I am so continually amazed by him. Just the faith of this man. Every time we teach, I'm like... wait? Did that just..? He's such a miracle. Hahahah. Also, we taught him the Law of Chastity this week. It's like the only thing left to teach. Um. Let's reiterate that he's 72 and barely walks. It was the most awkward, glorious thing ever. After reading the whole pamphlet in silence, he looked up and said, "I think I keep this very good." And then he just wheezed and laughed. Stinkin' K. I think so TOO.

Sunday at church with him was super emotional. I think we've talked about how strongly I've been able to feel Heavenly Father's love for K, right off the bat. But this was like, whole other level. He came to church and was obviously really sick again. I mean, back to where he was before that miraculous healing blessing. He was really shaky, had a couple near-falls. His skin was like, see-through and his lips were pale. I was so stinking concerned, while at the same time, the Spirit of peace was incredible. We all sat in the chapel together before anyone filed in, and I taught him how to fill out tithing slips. (We taught him earlier this week and he kept saying, "How? How I do this? I need to do this." My gash.) I thought he would just take it as an example, but he asked for a blank one, and reached a shaking hand into his suit coat to grab his check book. I can't even describe to you the might of this man as he lovingly, with hands that looked a hundred years old, wrote out his humble offering. He fumbled to find a member of the bishopric, and then he just grinned. The kind of sacrifices he is making to follow Christ blow my mind. All these little things that people who are completely whole, and healthy, and without burden find excuses to avoid. He embraces everything we teach him. He loves the Lord so much.

Sitting there, sharing scriptures and reading a few, the Spirit told both me and Sister Q really specifically that his time is running short. We kept recalling the words of his first blessing and we just had to wonder, is he going to make it to July 13? Is he going to make it through sacrament meeting even? As we were whispering, he just looked over with his wise eyes, and his little grin and nodded a little in affection. I lost it. Straight-up bawled. He just kept smiling. The Spirit around this man is incredible, and I can't tell you what it has meant to me to see him completely submit to everything the Lord asks him to do, however painful, difficult, or uncomfortable.

As church went on, we could tell he was in a LOT of pain. Really struggling. I leaned over and asked if he needed to go home and rest. He said, "No. I need to be here." K has been looking for this all his life. And now, right at the close, he has the opportunity to partake. He testified in gospel principles about God blessing him, making him feel better and be better. It was such a halting mumble, and yet, the most beautiful testimony I've ever heard.

Also, he knew every word to the Star Spangled Banner. Get it, K! AMURRICA.

After church, we had the elders give him another blessing. He was so excited. In this blessing, as in the first, it was affirmed to him that we were sent at this time in his life as a way for God to show him he loved him. That he had done well. That we specifically were the ones, and that God waited for US to give His love.

I can't describe how humbling that is, that kind of trust and privilege. As a missionary, I feel so lucky to be interacting with and learning from all the people we teach. God loves them SO much, and it's a testimony of His love for me that He is allowing me this time with them at all. I love K. And I love every investie we meet. They're all so good, in so many different ways. I could go on forever. Buuuut. Because of the mutual promptings, and some prayer, President is willing that K is probably getting baptized this weekend, is the moral of that update. It's going to honestly be the best day of my life.

God is there. He hears you. He loves you. He wants to help you. :)

I love my mission. I love ALL of you cuties. And I'll see you soon!

Have ze best week!

Sister Ballif

P.S. - We got to go to the St. Paul Temple this week... and it was SO tender and so beautiful. I love temples. And this gospel. And also youuuuu. Pictures to come. It's TINY. I was like, HOW WE GON DO THIS. But so peaceful inside.

Okay I love you! Have a good week!

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