Chile, Week 31 (Talca Stake, Jardín del Valle Ward)

What a blessing it is to be in the mission field. I love seeing how the Gospel changes lives. This is God’s work and we don’t really do anything but live worthy to bring His Spirit into the lessons. I was thinking of how the missionaries used to just say memorized lessons and thought, “A robot could do that.” What a robot can’t do is bring the Spirit. That’s the most important role we play as missionaries. The Spirit is what touches people’s hearts and teaches them what each individually needs to hear. If we live worthy enough to have the Spirit as the senior companion, He will guide the lesson and let us know what to say. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting the mission or finishing it or a member sharing something with a friend, the Spirit is companion to all who are worthy members and serve with their hearts. I’m so grateful that God lets us participate in His work because I know I’m changing and becoming more like Him.

I want to include a short part of the email my Dad sent me this past week:

Related to that story, I’m still reading the book Continuous Conversion by Brad Wilcox, and in it he talks about the importance of facing the right direction. Regardless of what we have done in our lives, good or bad, what matters is where we are facing. He quoted a man in prison who was repentant and determined to change for the better. He shared the following quote:
“One of the volunteers told me that anyone who is repenting, no matter how bad he has been, can be considered ‘righteous,’ and anyone who is giving up, no matter how good he has been in the past, can be considered ‘wicked.’ It all depends on which way you are facing.”

It’s so true. The Gospel is a gospel of change. What will matter when we stand in front of God again is who we are, not what we’ve done. I’ve seen many people truly change their lives and convert to the Gospel in the mission; investigators, members, even missionaries. It’s a miracle I’ve witnessed as well in myself. The people of Chile have suffered a lot—the huge earthquake that killed their friends and destroyed their houses, a dictator who took anyone who questioned his authority, cut open their stomachs and threw them in the sea, and many people who can’t find work and are living in poverty. One dramatic example of the change the Gospel can bring is one of our investigators named Minerva.

When we found Minerva, she lived in a tiny ugly house that we almost didn’t see because it was so surrounded in weeds. The house was dark and full of cigarette smoke. It was dirty and Minerva was laid back in an armchair, smoking. When we talked to her, she showed almost no emotion at all and it was kind of scary. She told us that the government pays her a bit every month to live because she was diagnosed with serious depression and psychological problems. She slept until 5:00 at night and hardly left the house. She has suffered a TON in her life and lives alone, without a friend or family member nearby. I’m sure she felt abandoned and surrounded in choking darkness.

Now we will fast forward one week. In only a WEEK, Minerva is a completely different person. A group of missionaries and members cleaned up all the weeds around her house. She cleaned up her house, she cleaned up herself, and she made her bed for the first time in about 11 years. Before, she just sat and smoked and listened to music all day long, and now she’s hungrily reading scriptures. One day she only smoked 4 cigarettes. Sunday she only smoked one. She doesn’t plan on buying more. She leaves the house and talks with the neighbors. She put a skirt on and went to church. She wept when we told her about the atonement. She wept when we invited her to be baptized. She has a light in her eyes and personality that didn’t exist a couple days before.

She is a one of the most prepared people I have ever met in my life to accept the Gospel. She has the most interesting life. She has read the Bible cover to cover 3 times. Saturday night she dreamed that she saw all of her family and friends that have died. They came to her in her dream and she could see that they were happy for her decision to be baptized. The next day in church she learned about baptisms for the dead and the work that she could do for all of them. The tears flowed once again.

Like I said, the Gospel is a gospel of change. Minerva told us that she had gone to other churches but none of them had ever changed her inside like this one. I can truly see the light in her eyes. The light of the Gospel fills us up and chases away the darkness. Darkness and light can NOT exist in the same space and the light always overcomes the darkness. If you ever feel that you are lost in a dark place, I beg you to fill your life with the light of Christ and His Gospel. It will change you and the way you see the world. It will change everything.

I love this Gospel. I love being a missionary. I love my family and friends here, at home, and those that have passed on to the Spirit world. I feel the influences of all these people who are separated from me geographically but we remain united spiritually. Keep going strong and facing the right direction. Check out John 8:12 and D&C 50:24, 84:45-46, 88:11-13. and the talk, The Hope of God’s Light by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Hermana Berbert

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