It was a misty-eyed Monday night (May 26, 2014) as we sat in the front room of the mission home and heard/felt the sweet testimonies of four of our departing leaders (Elders Richimondg, Meriles, Lino and Galvis).
One of their testimonies especially touched me. This sweet elder shared how he had messed around and been very disobedient during the first half of his mission, which was marked by our arrival in June 2013. He stood erect, but humbly reminisced on how in his first interview with President Richardson, he agreed to do a "start over," and "wipe the board clean." With Brian's encouragement, he reflected on what he wanted from his mission and expressed his desire to finish strong.
Not long after that, when standing in the open entry way of the mission home, Brian shared with me that he felt strongly that this elder should be the branch president in Lago Agrio. Chills up and down my spine confirmed what I would never have considered, but I agreed it sounded perfect. Sure enough, this experience truly helped him turn a corner.
Notwithstanding his faithful performance as Branch President, however, he was haunted by the errors of his first year. He felt he had blown it and that the Lord wasn't and would never be pleased with his labors. He looked down at the floor as he expressed his regret and sorrow at not only wasting an entire year, but at his serious disobedience. Knowing that his mission was ending, he said, "I prayed hoping to know if the Lord accepted my service, but felt nothing." He continued to express that he felt heart sick, and thus went to the scriptures to find solace. He randomly opened the Bible to Matthew 20 where he surprisingly began to read the "Parable of the laborer", wherein the laborers who began early or late all received the same wages. The spirit powerfully confirmed at that moment that this parable was his answer. He "arrived late," but the Lord valued his service just the same.
From this experience, he was convinced that the Lord accepted his missionary labors, notwithstanding the errors of his first year. He was more grateful for the atonement than any missionary I have yet met. As he spoke, he kept looking behind him at the near life-sized portrait of the Savior and giving Him all credit for his life and missionary service being redeemed.
My eyes welled up as he expressed his love for Brian's guiding and believing in him, for the Lord who so mercifully accepts us, in spite of our shortcomings, and for being rescued and able to return home truly converted. His mission was over, but he was pleased to go home, knowing that even though he had blown it his first year, he had ended well.
All's well that ends well.
Oh how I love these missionaries.