Dear Family and Friends,
Well, if you want stories of car-crashes and explosions, this week is less on the fiery booms but more of the warm-wow's.
Yesterday the branch soared with a congregation of over 125 people searching for seats. I was incredibly stressed trying to keep a tally of who was an investigator and who was a less-active, and so on. There came to be 26 investigators in that room yesterday!
This week as I hit my one year mark, I got a little sentimental last night as I glanced around the dinner table at Sister Dograk's. house. When I arrived into RoiEt, it was me and 5 other missionaries at the table of food, which this kind sister would prepare for us each week and not linger to eat with us.
Last night I took account for how my time in Roi Et has been spent. How have I taken care of my part of the vineyard?
So as I went to leave last night from the home of this long-time-member family, I took a count of who was present. Six recent converts, active and sublime. Six investigators, all anxiously anticipating their baptismal days. Three very less-active members, one even graciously receiving his very first calling which as he came back into activity as a brand new priesthood holder, had prayed fervently to receive. An old family, a brand new member family, an investigator's mom, and a guitar.
All of these stalwart people, 6 months ago, had no reason to know each other. Last night they were a large family. 6 months ago I ate sweet and sour chicken by myself. Last night I took a large group photo (even some missing in it) after we had a full-on bar-b-que. We sang hymns to the guitar, there was infinite smiles, and one investigator texted Elder Trabing last night, "This was the happiest I think I've ever been in my whole life."
I could not contain my smile. I have loved and served these people with my whole heart. As my mission-prep teacher Brother Goodman (once a mission president in this mission) once said, resonating in my ears since he said it: "Oh, I love the Thai's."
I will take the opportunity to echo his profound and simple statement: Oh, I love the Thai's.
These are my friends. These are my family. They came from all stages and places of life and we rejoiced together at one big dinner table. They welcomed in our newest members, including sweet Dom who was just baptized on Friday, and her daughters, and her loving and supportive husband. At her baptism, a special musical number was given by Sister Dograk and her family: including her husband, daughter, and son: Fittingly, the song- "My Heavenly Father Loves Me."
No other thing could bring people together like the gospel does.
So when I think of my accountability towards a loving Heavenly Father: "How did you take care of my vineyard all this time?" I think to myself, this table wouldn't feel right if any of these people were missing.
"No man hath greater love than this: to lie down his life for his friends." I love these people, and I plan to spend the rest of my delicate and valuable time in their service. And while my days in RoiEt tick-tock off the clock, I'm still optimistic of what other portions of the vineyard need a good garden hose and a dollar-store shovel.
I've learned very well to trust "The Gardener Here".