I had a very interesting experience this last week that left me thinking. A man that we talk to occasionally in passing continually invites us to the church that he attends. We told him that it would be impossible for us to come on Sunday because the time conflicts with our church. He is very persistent and invited us to the Wednesday night worship. I didn't know what denomination his church was, until we got there. It was a Pentecostal sect, and let me tell you, it was very different than anything I'm used to. In fact, I have always heard about what goes on in those churches, but it is so different to actually be there. The man told everyone we were coming, and all the members had their eyes on us. It began by everyone standing up, and praying at the same time. Different prayers. Very loud, prayers. Lots of shouts and "hallelujahs." Many of the people had their eyes closed and their hands in the air. (By the way, everything I say is not exaggerated. In fact it is probably toned down compared to the actual scene). It was chaotic. So much was happening at the same time, I had to control myself from laughing, because of how uncomfortable I felt in this situation. Then they sang a song together. I don't remember what it said, but it repeated "Jesus!" over and over again. It was so loud, so different from Mo-Tab. (They were really good singers though. haha) Then they handed everyone out a nine page paper full of a written prayer. A small quiet looking woman got up and took the microphone. (Yes, they had speakers, which I don't think they needed at all, because they were so loud). I didn't think this petite woman had it in her, but she proceeded to shout and scream out all nine pages, BACK AND FRONT, of the written prayer. And everyone shouted it with her. The best part was there was this kid that fell asleep during all of this. I was like, "What?! How can he sleep during all of this?!" Anyways, after the crazy written prayer, they went back to all praying at the same time. Except this time it was more intense. It started off kinda slower, and then climaxed. My heart was racing and I literally felt like I was choking. I almost wanted to just run out of there because it was too weird for me to handle. Many people started making erratic movements all over the place and they started to speak in a gibberish language. I just stood there next to Sister Lewis smiling because I didn't know what else to do. (By the way, my heart went out to Sister Lewis, because if I was having culture shock after 17 months, I don't even know what she was experiencing at that moment. haha) Not much more happened, plus we had to leave because of curfew, but it was something I will never forget, for the rest of my life.
I am very glad I went. I am glad I got to see what I saw. This explains so much about the difficulties of converting people to the Gospel here in Jamaica. They are used to loud expressions of worship. I bet they feel uncomfortable when they come to our church. The culture has such a huge impact on these people. I feel like I understand better where they are coming from. It explains a lot about even the members of the church who after feeling the spirit, were converted to our church. They made a huge change, a dramatic change from what they were used to. That must have taken a lot of faith. I have been thinking about the whole experience since Wednesday, and I even had dreams about it. Like I said, I will never forget that church we went too. It has change my perspective on so many things, and has built my testimony of the true and restored Church even more.
Patrick is still doing great. He is in the middle of 2 Nephi. I'm so happy for him. He came to church, again. He loves it. The members are doing well at including him. I really think he feels a lot of love from them, and from us. He is such a smart, unique young man. He is not like any of the other young men we meet here in Jamaica. He has a lot of faith, and he doesn't even realize it. I think the thing he loves about the church is that you are able to talk things out, and learn. He is just doing so well. I pray everything works out with him.
Something I have really learned through the course of my mission is the idea that it is not enough to just go on a mission. Just going on a mission will not get you a place in the Celestial kingdom. It is the way you serve and give your heart to God that will help you receive your eternal reward, and what you do AFTER the mission. Likewise, it is not just enough to be a member of the church. Just being a member means nothing if your whole soul is not in it. Heavenly Father expects consecration. We covenant with Him that we will give our all. When we stand before our Maker, we not only will be judged of the things we avoided doing (breaking the law of chastity or word of wisdom, etc..) , but we will be judged of the things that we did not do. If we could have helped someone, and we didn't, we will stand accountable. We must do all we can. I have also learned that we will feel inadequate. We will ALWAYS feel inadequate doing the Lord's work. We will always feel like there is more we can do, but if we just do our best and pray for strength, we can produce a miracle. I pray that my whole life will be dedicated to serving my Father in Heaven.
I love you all,
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