January 19, 2014
Pretty good week here.
Last Tuesday we went on exchanges with Elders Erickson and Rodriguez from Nacogdoches (an hour south of Henderson). They are Spanish missionaries, so I got to really brush up on my Spanish! I am glad to say I held my own and for the most part was able to tell generally what was being said, albeit able to contribute not much.
Nacogdoches county's roads are pretty bad so Elders Erickson and Rodriguez have a truck with four-wheel drive. Turned out well that we had it. I was with Elder Rodriguez who is from El Salvador and has no American drivers licence so I was driving. I had parked the truck off to the side of a rather shoddy road while he was talking on the phone with the Ward Mission Leader. Dirt rain ditches ran the entire length of the road and it had rained a few days prior.
After he finished, I put the vehicle into drive and started forward only to have the truck move sideways rather than forward! Our right side wheels were both in the ditch in the mud and the truck was stuck; pushing the pedal did nothing for us. Elder Rodriguez pushed a button that initiated four-wheel drive but driving straight back out was still impossible. So I drove into the ditch to level out the wheels then powered out of the mess. Then we were free - the truck was very muddy but nonetheless free!
Jesus Christ rode the good road. While His way is not always the easiest or most popular, His is the way to return to live with our Heavenly Father. All the parts and appendages of His gospel are the roadmaps, GPS units, spare tires, and gas cans needed to get us there.
Sometimes we get stuck in a ditch. Even when we pull ourselves out, we are still dirty, still filthy. We as children of God can turn from sin, escape it and even put it long behind us, but the mud remains. Only Christ, the purest of all, can cleanse us. Works cannot save us, only His grace. We also, however, cannot remain in our ditch and expect to get to the Kingdom of Heaven. We must, with His help and the help of others around us, pull out. Thus both grace and works combine to change us, sanctify us and bring us home.
During that exchange, Elders Witkowski and Erickson visited the Martinezes, a Mexican family we had found recently. The mother does not speak English and that was a barrier for us until then. They were able to have a great lesson and answer many questions she had. We returned again (Elder Witkowski and I) a couple days later to find they had much family over! Easily 25 people there visiting from Amarillo and Kilgore, all related. We were able to help them clean up Brother Martinezes backyard, answer questions and teach a little bit. Hendy is picking up the pace a bit. We found two more people who want to learn about the gospel - Matthew and Theodis as well as a few other people. We also finally got Brother Crow to church! We had helped him move in a month or two ago and have been working with him ever since, slowly progressing we asked him to give us ride to stake conference up in Longview- and he was excited to go- calling us that morning and telling us we could head up early if we wanted to!