ADVISORY: This post is regarding faith and religion. If it is something you choose not to share, go ahead and scroll to the next post. If you're curious, give it a paragraph or two. But for all of those of you who know me even a little, this is what makes me who I am.
The rendition of "Blessed Assurance" that Gladys Knight did is the one that's rolling through my head. I've always thought that on some inner level I am a soul sister just waiting to get out. And while I can't belt like Gladys can, I can reiterate the words that she sings so well.
Perfect submission, perfect delight,
visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
angels descending bring from above
echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
After our adventure on Saturday we went back to the church on Sunday. Pretty sure the Adversary was trying to keep us away, as torrential rain unlike what we had seen up to that point suddenly fell from a sky that had been dry for six days. We would not be deterred. It rained so hard it started seeping through our umbrellas. The water splashing up from the ground soaked our legs. But the bus eventually came. And I swear to you as soon as it did the rain began to lessen until, by the time we reached our stop, it had ceased.
It turns out the gate we found is the back one, and we can access the church directly from the roundabout where our bus stops. We tentatively stepped in and were instantly welcomed. A woman, who only told me her English name, Julie, greeted us in remarkable English. She told us each where to go, and interpreted Relief Society for me (which she kept calling Social Society--a truer translation, IMO). At the end I asked where she learned her English, and she told me she learned it from the missionaries.
Sunday School was interpreted for us by an Elder who was just transferred in, Elder Pak Woo Jon. I don't know that I've ever concentrated so hard on anything as I tried to follow our lesson on the importance of Priesthood Authority and discernment between false and true witnesses.
During Sacrament Meeting a young man, his English name is Jeff, translated for us. His father is in the Bishopric, and he spent 10 months as an exchange student at Ohio State. He's currently trying to get in to BYU.
Between each of the meetings, and before and after Church nearly every member of the ward came to introduce themselves or say hello to us. We were something of a spectacle. They were all so polite and welcoming and kind. We received several offers for rides to and from church. Jeff's mother extended an open invitation to her home if we ever wanted to "get away" from the Village. And he offered his assistance when we go to get a phone. So many people, so willing to help. It was overwhelming.
And the quiet familiarity and presence of the Spirit was remarkable. That in Relief Society they sing an opening hymn and a practice hymn and sisters share in testimony with one another. In Sacrament that the bread and water are blessed and passed by worthy young men wearing white shirts and ties. That youth speakers race through their three minute talks in under one, and that closing Priesthood speakers get to "fill" the remainder of the time. The squirming children who are so captivating and given little "treats" to keep quiet. Even so far away it is so familiar.
It feels so much like home.
I keep getting messages from friends and family saying they are praying for us, that they love and miss us. Those prayers are answered, they are felt, and we are overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the tender mercies of the Lord.