Going to church here is kind of hard for me.
It is hot and uncomfortable, as there is no A/C and the benches are hard wood, no padding at all. There is no carpet anywhere and the building is always dirty (There is no custodian at all for the building and when families are assigned to come and clean it, most of them do not show up for their turn. So, if we are lucky it might get cleaned once a month). I don't understand 90% of what is being said and someone stole part of the translation equipment, so Kevin can't translate for the ward anymore. He ordered a new set, but it will take several months to get here and make it through customs. I really have not bonded with anyone in the ward and so there is no social interaction in between sacrament meeting and when I go to primary. And, I teach Primary in a room that is really just for storage of old junk that for some reason they can't get rid of....... our class of two sits in there with the broken ping pong table, the broken ugly green metal (rusting) cabinet that stores the primary junk that no one uses and the broken, chipped top table that I use to put my primary manual on. The room doesn't even have it's own door. I have to try and listen to what is going on in the other room and then open the accordian door that separates us from them when it is time to go, so that we can go out their door.......
These were the things going through my mind as I left for church in a rush with breakfast still sitting on the table, calling out to the ants, no makeup on as I spent all my time getting some extra activities for my primary class (which I forgot on the kitchen counter, sigh). I told Kevin "Will I make it through today? Maybe I should just stay home." (Of course I didn't)
We made it into sacrament a bit early and had to sit on the front row, as there were no benches with enough space available where we could sit together except there. (Older girls loved sitting there!) Smiled at a few people and waved at a cute girl from Primary who I just love. (That is all that we do, is smile and wave as we can't really understand each other that well. She does like to come and sit by me during sharing time)
The first speaker got up to give his talk. He looks to be in his early 20's and was baptized a few months ago. Kevin knows him, but I don't really know him at all. He was well prepared and looked anxious to share his message with us. What I didn't know is that he has a very pronounced stuttering problem. Probably the worst that I have ever heard. Ever. He struggled and struggled and struggled to get through his talk. Since we were on the front row, I sat looking at the brother, trying to encourage him with my eyes and attention (Don't you just hate it when you are giving a talk and you look out at the congregation and it appears that maybe 2 people are listening? Everyone else is looking down, texting, studying their lesson to give next hour, etc?) I was praying for him, as was everyone else in the congregation. I thought that maybe he would be blessed to be able to share his talk clearly, or to be able to get through a sentence without struggling. Here he was, brand new in the gospel, giving a talk in Sacrament with lots of visitors here today. If anyone deserved a miracle, he did. And yet, he didn't get one. He struggled to the very last sentence of his talk. He tried and tried and tried to share the scriptures and messages that he had prepared and yet he couldn't get the words to come out of his mouth.
And yet, what could have been agonizing and awkward wasn't. I haven't felt the spirit as strongly in our Sacrament meeting in a long time. You could tell that every member there today was really rooting for him and pleading for him to be successful. When he finished, I could hear and see several sisters crying; being overcome by the spirit. I don't know how many people understood his words. There were a lot of American missionaries and ex-patriate families, like ourselves, there who speak mostly English. There was a family there from Russia. There was a large group visiting today from Guadalupe and French Guyana who spoke only French. And I am sure that those who spoke fluent Spanish had a hard time understanding. Blessedly for us, the Spirit can speak to each of us individually so that we can understand the love that our Heavenly Father has for us.
So, I guess that it doesn't have to be perfect to go to church. No, I don't have my great ward family from Utah anymore. No, I don't have a building that is new, nice or even clean. No, I can't communicate with most of my Brothers and Sisters in the ward. But I can feel the Spirit. I can know of the truthfulness of the gospel. And I can know that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to try to teach me what is really important here on the earth today.
4 weeks ago