This week has been surreal. Every one in my district has said multiple times how hard it is to believe we are in Mexico. It feels like we are on another planet to be perfectly honest and it is what I imagine heaven will be like. Everyone is always respectful, speaks cleanly, work from 6 in the morning to 10 at night, and where else on earth do you look around and see people discussing the Book of Mormon on a beautiful green lawn or see a group of teens kneeling in the middle of the side walk deep in sincere prayer and not think they are high on something? Literally the most amazing place ever. We are literally on consecrated and sacred ground where our entire purpose is to come closer to God and serve. How is that not the coolest thing you have ever even heard about?
So my first P-day was a blessing because we just relaxed and talked to our families and played basketball for 6 straight hours and then had a devotional to end it all. My idea of an absolute perfect day. The devotional was all about obedience and the Atonement and we sang ¨Mas Cerca, Dios, a Ti¨ (Nearer my God to Thee) and the building was shaking with the Spirit.
The next day was our sixth and final lesson with ¨Carlos¨ and it gave me a testimony of the gift of tongues. Elder Germann and I were rushing to get ready in the morning and were in the bathroom brushing our teeth when we heard a slam. We turned around and the door to our apartment had been blown shut by the wind and all of our lesson plans and Spanish notes were locked in there. We had five minutes to make it to our appointment so we said a quick prayer pleading for help and went to teach.
The first thirty seconds of the lesson went terribly and we were struggling when I managed to ask if we could start the lesson with a prayer. I began to pray in Spanish and for all I know I was blessing food that wasn´t there when all of the sudden Spanish started flowing through me. I explained the perfect example of Jesus and His earthly ministry and Elder Germann flowed in bore his testimony on the Savior´s suffering in the garden and His death on the cross. I finished by bearing my testimony of happiness and asked him to be baptized and he committed! Even though he is just a volunteer and the lesson wasn´t all that critical to his eternal salvation, there were no dry eyes at the end of the lesson.
Thursday was all language study. We were doing some study on the computer when a couple of Elders in our district threw up. In only a couple hours almost 80 missionaries had a very bad stomach virus that caused vomiting and diarrhea and three people were taken to the hospital because of dehydration. I was headed to my dorm with Elder Germann when some Hermanas stopped us. They explained one of their companions had been very sick for about two weeks and was making a good recovery when she caught this new bug and she was not doing well at all. She had lost 15 pounds and was very very pale and was about to be taken to the hospital. They had called our Branch President, Presidente Ruiz, and requested a blessing. As he was unavailable he recommended they find ME and ask for one. That brings us to when they found me and they took me to the house of this sick Hermana. Elders are not permitted in the houses of Hermanas and we did not have special permission nor time to get it so we half carried this girl across the street to an empty classroom.
I was so nervous I was shaking because I had never been involved with a blessing before. I asked her if she wanted Elder Germann to do it because he had many times but she refused and said she knew I was supposed to be the one to do it. So Elder Germann anointed her with oil and before I knew it everyone was looking at me ready for me to do my part. I slowly placed my hands on her head with Elder Germann and silently prayed to some how do this. I began to pray. I could barely get words out and what I did get out was choked whispers. I had just finished the set script you have to say when I felt more power than I have ever felt before. I felt actual, physical priesthood in my body and I started to shake. I knew what I had to say and I said it without any pause. I blessed her and assured her and comforted her in words that were not my own.
As I closed the blessing I felt all of the warmth or whatever was in me move into my hands and then into this girl. I felt so tired and weak that I barely uttered ¨Amen¨ and ended the blessing. Then this sister who had barely been able to stand let alone walk to the building stood, shook my hand, and RAN to her companion and hugged all her sisters there. It was the most humbling experience I have yet had in my life. I sat down and closed my eyes exhausted from what had just happened and listened to the singing of the sister I had just blessed as she skipped down the hall ( she has a beautiful voice but had not been able to sing for three weeks). I was about to doze off when someone softly tapped my shoulder.
It was an Elder I had never met before and he told me a sister in his district was very sick and she had asked for me to bless her. It was a girl I had seen maybe twice and the only time we had talked was when she could not handle her food tray so I carried it to her table for her. Elder Germann and I said we would and the exact same thing happened. It was hard and scary at first but somewhere in the middle I felt such power in me and then released it into this sister. I am convinced that I have never been that tired in my life. Not after any long day at work or a day of traveling or a 13-match wrestling tournament. And as before she got up thanked us with tears in her eyes and went on with her studying as if she had never been sick. Since then I have blessed about 9 other missionaries.
The next day was not quite THAT crazy spiritual but some fun stuff still happened. Now, knowing me it probably does not surprise you that when I was given the option of playing basketball with the Mexican kids who were about as good with their hands as white people are with their feet or with the 7-foot college players and kids from Lone Peak High School I chose the latter. The upside was that I am so small that I can drive hard and lay it into the hoop. Well about 30 minutes into the game I drove and got fouled hard with an elbow to the head but came up with that dumb this-hurts-but-I-can´t-show-it face and walked to the top to take the ball again. Everyone was looking at me wide-eyed and I could not figure out why for almost a full minute when I felt my head and pulled away my hand completely red. So that ended the game and long story short I took a shower, went to the clinica and got it taped up. The best part of the story is that I was being worked on for about 45 minutes and about 44 of those minutes were used taping it together as best they could. The last minute was used putting a piece of gauze and two pieces of tape on my eye and I was instructed to wear this sorry excuse for an eye patch for FOUR FREAKING DAYS!! Their reasoning was that it would keep my eyes closed so I would not move the wound too much so it would not scar.
I lasted about twenty minutes until I tore it off assuming that girls probably like a good scar more that an eye patch so I took my chances with the tape. It has healed quite nicely though.
Saturday and Sunday were a blur of study, blessings, and spiritual meetings. We watched the best talk I have ever heard by Elder Bednar about missionary work and the character of Christ given at the Provo MTC and I know that if any missionary there had needed any inspiration or help that was without doubt the answer.
Yesterday was just another good day. We got a new ¨investigator¨ and without any books other than the Book of Mormon we converted her to baptism on our first lesson...in Spanish. Other than that it was just study and work and being happy. This whole zone leader thing is so hard and demanding and I often have to be in three places at once but I have never been happier. I am a total believer in the scripture that explains when you are serving others you are only serving God. I have also been reading the Book of Mormon at every possible moment. I am already almost done with Helaman.
Well, I have to sign off for now. I love everyone so much. I feel your prayers. I feel your love. I love what I am doing. I love service. I love my family. I love my God.
With prayers and love,
Elder Aidan Daley Rich
Yo se que vive me Señor.
|Ubiquitous missionary basketball injury. No stitches required.|
|"My awesome eye patch." |
Not the eyes, not the moneymakers!
|"My best friend Fernando. He is our maintenance man and so funny."|
|"Painting from the CCM of the Stripling Warriors entitled, 'I Will Take Care of Him Mother'. Yes, I cried."|
|Elder Rich's building|
|"Favelas that surround the entire valley. Actually quite amazing."|
|P-Day photo shoot to give us an idea of what the CCM looks like.|
|Elder Germann, Aidan's companion, on the CCM campus. Everything is so green.|
|"Yes. Yes I did. #nachobike"|
This one is going in a frame for sure. He even has his pinkie up....nice touch Elder Rich!
|Elder Rich and Elder Marshall. We were able to chat back and forth over email on his P-Day and this was his final send-off to keep us smiling until our next blessed email!|