Hello blog followers! This is Steven’s letter dated May 30th. I apologize for the delay…but it’s well worth it 🙂 To understand the first paragraph of this letter, here’s a little glimpse from my journal, dated May 27th, with love, Marsi:
“This is one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” journal entries, one which is worthy of its own title and definitely will get your attention. YES, I met and shook hands (three times) and walked arm in arm with the Prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, this evening.
Here’s the story: Luke has been practicing for weeks to sing at this National Scout Conference held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego by Seaport VIllage. He sang Thursday morning at the traditional “Duty to God” Scout breakfast, in which Steve Young was the keynote speaker. Luke was overwhelmed with the spirit in that meeting, and said his heart was full to burst as the acoustics and singing were phenomenol. They received a standing ovation from a crowd of over 1,500! Here’s his text: “That was SO AWESOME! Steve Young came up and was talking to us, and I got to shake President Donaldson’s hand (the former YM General President) and the YM Presidency came and talked to us, ugh so awesome!”
This evening, having heard from Jackie Abernathy (choir director) that the prophet indeed would be in attendance, our family of five hurried down to the hotel to listen to Luke sing once again, this time for the LDS group of scout leaders/executives. We arrived and Luke and Reid jumped out of the car to go find the ballroom as he was to be there half an hour before the meeting began. I parked the car with McKay and Marissa and then saw Reid’s text that said, “Straight in front doors and up escalators to the ballroom.” We obeyed the text and saw Reid at the top of the stairs. He quickly pointed out that the prophet was just “over there” and escorted us right up to him. We made our way to see him and shake hands and he adored Marissa and wiggled his ears for her! He jumped back a step seeing McKay’s hair and said he wished he had some of that! I shook his hand and told him Marissa had just written him a letter and hoped he would remember her. We then walked a bit toward the room, in a slow pace, just in awe that we were in the presence of the prophet. No fanfare, just simple kindness, gestures of love and smiles abounding. Reid was on my right, and the prophet came between the two of us, grabbed each of our arms and walked with us to the ballroom. He had said something about the tall one, and I thought he was referring to Marissa, but he said, “no, you” meaning me! It was then that he grabbed our arms and we were able to tell him about our tall 6 foot 7 inch son serving in Argentina. We told him the Resistencia Mission, and he kept correcting our pronunciation of the word Resistencia!
As I reflect on him walking between us, holding each of our arms, I have this sense of overwhelming joy inside. It’s symbolic to me of the Savior at the center of our marriage, at the center of my life, and the lives of my husband and children. My whole soul is full of the spirit and I feel as if I’ve been to the temple today! It was so very special.
Upon conclusion of the meeting, Prophet Monson said a few words and saluted the scouts and then proceeded down the left side of the room. People stopped him to take a picture every few steps, but he was ever so gracious to attend to them, often kissing the cheeks of sisters, and hugging the children. He still ministers one by one, setting the ultimate example for all. I saw Luke and the choir getting pictures with the General Young Men’s Presidency, and knew he was hoping to greet the prophet personally. I walked out of the room following the prophet once again, and then saw a crowd of scouts make a mad dash to catch up with the prophet! There were pictures and handshakes exchanged, and I had yet to snap a photo with my kids and the prophet. Then it happened, Luke walked right up to the prophet, asked to shake his hand and get a photo with him…and I was there, with my handy dandy iphone and I snapped a few shots! They are already on Facebook, and the world knows that we met and touched the prophet of God! This is what I wrote on Facebook: “My kids with the prophet of our church!!! Luke sang in a Boy Scout Choir this evening and we were privileged to meet President Thomas S. Monson. He took Reid and I by the arms as we walked into the conference room. WOW!!! We talked about Steven with him. What an amazing experience!:-)”
I shook his hand one last time and Reid took a photo of that exchange. The kids again were thrilled and Luke was simply beaming with excitement. He says, “I want that photo as my picture on Facebook!” I’m so proud of him for his willingness to share the gospel and to “be not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” I count this as one of the Lord’s tender mercies for us: a physical and temporal blessing indeed that the Lord cares personally about my family and me. Marissa’s testimony has been shaky, her doubts real and her thoughts cluttered. I know this experience will burn within her soul and help solidify her budding beliefs. McKay doesn’t quite realize the magnitude of this interaction, but someday he will. I feel that Steven’s mission is a direct blessing to our family and we are tangibly feeling the blessings! I really feel our family’s blessing through his service. In the car driving away as we were discussing this matter, Marissa says, “I want Steven to stay on his mission forever!
Now, Steven’s letter, dated May 30th…
Oh what a week. Oh the beautiful things that you have been able to experience. No matter the distance, no matter the happenings in our separate lives, I feel so blessed to have such an incredible and faithful family. I can’t help but think that the life of our beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson was blessed a little bit more as he spoke and walked with you. He truly is the prophet of our Lord. I love you all, you all love me, we’re good. You can tell Marissa she doesn’t need to worry. I’m never coming home.
Anyways, as I was saying, it truly has been one of the longest and slowest weeks of the mission. Cleaning the pensión today has been an interesting stress reliever and I realize now more than ever why we have P-day on Monday. Yesterday we had planned on having 16 of our investigators come to church. Before anyone can be baptized, they have to go to church at least three times. I don’t know the requirement in other missions, but that’s our requirement. A famous dicho (saying) of Presidente del Castillo is “Sin la asistencia, no hay bautismos.” Being in church is the greatest way for someone to learn and feel the Spirit. Of the 16 we had planned to have in church, and of the many we passed by to pick up and take with us, not one came. The stress and heartbreak is killer. The power cut earlier in the morning in the middle of my shower (all the showers are electric) and it’s freezing cold right now, so I pushed through the hypothermia for the investigators for whom I had vigorously prayed would be able to make it to church. Whatever the case, the day is passed, the work moves on, and there’s always next week.
My companion’s got quite a few pride issues, but still an awesome guy. The stress gets to us both at times. He likes to correct me and teach me all his little “tricks”, he thinks my smile is fake and that it leads our investigators to think I’m lying or uncertain about the message we share, and he steals my food every now and then, but I know the Lord puts certain people in our lives to teach us different things, so even though I may not agree with everything he does, I take it all in and try to learn and fix everything to the best of my ability.
A few weeks ago I think I told you about a cita we had with some heavily blazed, well traveled friends. Turns out one of them is actually showing signs of progress. We learned last week that if we use more hand motions, talk really excited, and make lots of facial expressions, our good friend Cesar gets way into the lesson and loves it all. Hahaha I love the guy. As soon as he gets over his love for marijuana, coffee, tea, and alcohol, doesn’t go to Brazil to party on weekends, and we get him and his girlfriend married, things could shape up and the guy could get baptized. Che’s (che = bro/dude) just got to get to church first.
I finally got a blanket! It’s been on the floor in our pensión for who knows how long, smells bad and is way dirty, but warmth and sleep is more important than dirt. I’ve already fought off two parasites, I figure anymore wont be too bad. We still have an iguana or something living in our ceiling. No idea what it actually is, but the thing’s huge and one of these day’s I swear it’s just going to fall through the ceiling.
Mom, I bought sheets, a pair of shoes, an Argentina rugby jersey and may need to buy an mp3 player and a pillow. I still have about 511 pesos left, but I’m not entirely sure how they’ll hold out. A pillow alone goes for about 150. (I still don’t have one hahaha. I LOVE the mission).
This is the life I live. I LOVE the mission. I LOVE the gospel. I LOVE my family. I LOVE too many things. Take care of yourselves, do what’s right, you’re all classy.
Please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. As of right now, I’m never coming home, but the offer still stands.
Elder Steven Reid Walker