On the following P-Day, May 15, I only received this brief message:
Your email really helped me and meant a lot. Please, please forgive me but this week my email is going to be very short. I wrote some very long emails to people who really needed one.
I love you. I think about you all the time.
Since the last few weeks the blog hasn't had much of an update, I'm going to share some of the exchange we had with Elder Rich during our Skype talk. This blog has always been intended to be Elder Rich's experiences as told through his words. So acting as a ghost writer, my purpose is to only relay the tender testimony that he shared with us.
First, he looks great. He looks healthy, fit, and happy. He has built some homemade exercise equipment consisting of cement filled tires, cinder blocks welded on to metal bars, and other soon-to-be CrossFit branded inventions.
He shared how returning back to his mission in September has been much harder than it was the first time he arrived from the MTC. However, he has thrived in his new leadership position as district leader and is loving his new area and companion, Elder Herrera. As we were beginning to say our goodbyes, Elder Herrera asked Elder Rich to translate for him so he could leave us with a message. It was so tender as Elder Herrera told us what a wonderful missionary and friend Elder Rich has been.
As a mom, I don't know if I have ever been so touched by what someone has said about my son. It was tears all around as Elder Herrera would say something, Elder Rich would look up at him and hug him, and with tears tell us what he had said. I no longer wonder what the relationship between Alma and Amulek was like because I've witnessed the love that true disciples of the Lord have for one another as they labor side by side.
I have two experiences that I want to share that Elder Rich related. As you may have read in previous posts, Elder Rich received a coat from a member in Chile after his apartment was robbed and much of his warm clothing and winter coat were stolen. We heard more to that story during our talk with him. Apparently, Elder Rich was visiting the home of some members just days after arriving in Punta Arenas. When he went to the bathroom, the father of the home asked his companion if Elder Rich was an idiot because he wasn't wearing a coat just his suit jacket. Elder Rich's companion told the brother how his coat had been stolen.
They left this home and continued working for the rest of the day. When they got home that night, the coat was waiting. Elder Rich returned to this family's humble home the next day to try and pay the mother for the coat or to offer service as payment. The mother just took his face in her hands and told him that if he wanted to pay her back then he should serve his mission with all his heart, and when he's done he should go home and get married and have children and love them with all his heart, and teach them the gospel with all his heart, and serve in callings with all his heart, and live his life with all his heart for the Lord.
The other experience I wanted to share from our conversation was Elder Rich's testimony of his love for his Savior and Brother, Jesus Christ. He admitted that he feels so inadequate and wishes he had done so many things different in his life, but through the Atonement of Christ, he is doing the things God ask him to do.
He said that has low moments or misses home, but the Lord will give him "little visions" and those tender mercies sustain him. He then asked us what we had for dinner last night. I laughed because it had been a far cry from a Norman Rockwell family dinner. It had been one of those Saturdays where we had been running all day and in desperation and exhaustion, we drove through Chick-fil-A and picked up something to eat like a bunch of hungry savages around the kitchen counter.
Elder Rich had been holding a card in his hand since the beginning of our conversation, he now held it up so we could read it, and he had written "Chick-fil-A" on it. He said Saturday night he had a dream where he was able to look in on us for just a moment. He said that when he's been given these kind of little peeks at his family, they never last long, but the Lord gives him just enough to let him know we're doing fine.
He told us that we were sitting around the bar, not the table, which we were, and where each of us were sitting. He saw and felt that we were talking and laughing. He said that he then immediately woke up and looked at the clock. By our estimation, it was about the same time in Chile as Elder Rich sat in his darkened bedroom, as it was in Utah as we happily ate our fast-food dinner.
The sweet sidebar to that story is that Elder Rich's brother, Andy, had offered the prayer over dinner that night. He said an especially thoughtful and pleading prayer that we would be able to communicate with Elder Rich the next day and that the technology would work, and that we'd know the things to say to help him be happy, and that he would know we love him. I'm here to testify that the Lord doesn't need Skype to let our missionary know we love him.
To all who read this blog, I testify that the Lord lives. He hears and answers our prayers. Our family has been the recipient of miracles and blessings that will never be cataloged on this blog but are burned into our hearts. Elder Rich challenged us to 'invite' our friends and family to the gospel. As he said, it's not enough just to live our lives and assume others know the offer stands. We need to extend the invitation to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and come unto Christ. I'm grateful for my son's example, and accept his invitation to share the gospel more fully with others.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is my anchor and my hope. I will tether my life to His. I will hold on with all my might and serve God with all my soul. I'm grateful for a testimony of the truthfulness of these things and share that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Screen shot of Elder Rich on Mother's Day. A little fuzzy but that bright smile comes through just fine.