Haha what a week of miracles and trials. Our 78 year old investigator has diabetes and is losing her vision, but she was baptized this week!! She was supposed to have been baptized on Saturday (the same time as the earthquake), but we changed it to Friday so her friend could attend. So Friday comes around and we get lost in our sector and at 5:00 an hour before the baptism the thought comes to me, "hmm did we fill up the baptismal font?...nope we did not." So we book it to the church and turn on the font, but we have no gas to make the water hot! This a 78 year old women and she is baptized in cold water, poor girl may have a heart attack. The other missionaries come to our rescue and we find gas. Problem one solved. Problem 2 the font takes 3 hours to fill. We have 1 hour. So I have this idea to grab all the garbage cans we can find in the church and fill them up with water. But if we use water from the church it slows the water coming out of the font. So we go to the sisters apartment by the church and start filling up these trash cans and buckets with water. Imagine this, there is like 6 of us missionaries and a couple members who joined in running back and forth across the street with buckets of water. But these things are heavy and I ended up spilling an entire bucket on me..
Literally it could not be any more hectic. It's about 7:00 and we finally start the baptism. The font was only filled about shin high. But as Selvira walks out in her white gown all my worries and my sweat went away. She was glowing literally. The elder baptized her but the water was so low she had to get on her knees. She started going forward and the elder grabbed her head to push it forward. I was trying so hard not to laugh because it looked like he was drowning her and I was like "Elder, what are you doing?!" The poor Elder looked so worried having no idea how to baptize this woman in shin high water. Finally she went all the way under. As she came up the steps my comp and I held out our hands to help her out. It reminded me of how our Heavenly parents reach out to us. It was a very special moment until she started saying "Faeo, faeo, faeo!" Which is like ugly that was awful. I again tried not to laugh because this poor lady just got baptized in freezing cold water that was low enough to be a bath for my niece Gwen.
It was one of the most spiritual nights of my mission. Selvira doesn’t have family that visit her. She lives all alone. Has never been married, has no children, cannot even see and lives all alone on the mountain. I told her she had family now and she turned to me with the biggest smile and said "I have plenty of family now!" I bawled like a little baby. The joy that the gospel brings. That’s why I am here. That is why I left everything to learn this language to struggle like I do to have moments where people finally feel like they are home. To bring people home there is no greater feeling I promise you that.
Now for Saturday. Obviously Satan was not too pleased with the temple announcement here in Quito. At around 7pm (which remember if we hadn't changed Selviras baptism would have been going on at this moment) we were in correlation meaning with the missionaries serving in my branch when the table began to wobble. Everyone looked at the elders because one of them was playing with this little finger skateboard and asked him to stop shaking the table. They were like "we're not?" I looked down and saw that they really weren't and I don't even remember how it happened but I said "I think this is an earthquake?" It took a moment for everyone to believe it really wasn’t the elders and we all jumped up and ran out of the room. Have you ever been in the wave pool at 7 peaks? That constant motion of being pushed is what it felt like. I legit feel like I was in a movie people were yelling, lights were flickering on and off, a little girl passed out in the street from fear. It was complete chaos. The 6 of us missionaries ran to the front of the church and created a circle so we could pray. As I was saying the prayer the earth beneath was still moving, literally such a surreal feeling, but the spirit was so strong.
I felt like I was in a modern version of Lehi's dream. There is a giant cathedral diagonal from our church. After the prayer I turned and every single light of the catholic church was off even the park next to it. It was complete darkness looking out from the church. All the lights in our church were still on. There was a birthday party going on and all the kids attending were huddled in a circle singing primary songs. Some who were in the church left and ran for the streets trying to find safety. I thought about the Great and Spacious Building. How some of those who were once in the church left as if they tasted the goodness but were ashamed. Then the primary children who were huddled in the light singing about Christ. They reminded me of those who clung on to the iron rod and heeded not to those who were in the building.
In the midst of chaos the only stable thing because literally the earth was shaking haha I mean it was an EARTHQUAKE was Christ. The next day a member approached me and said she saw us missionaries circled up in prayer. She said she knew and felt that angels were a part of that circle. That she knew we would all be ok. I know and I testify that angels still continue to minister to the children of God. That moment was so real. I will never forget the miracles I have seen here. I have literally witnessed the miracles of God here in Ecuador. "In the last days men’s hearts will fail them." Seeing the little girl pass out it hit me that this is gonna get REAL! That this is only the beginning and now is the time to prepare! I was shocked the next day on my way to church that people in Ibarra were acting like nothing had even happened. They just continued to break the Sabbath day and party on. UM EXCUSE ME!! We live next to a big volcano and that thing is going to GO OFF and it’s going to get real unless you humble yourself and repent!!
I have gotten really into my book of Mormon reading the last few days. I know Christ will come again. I know that the only peace anyone will find is through the words of Christ. Obey him. Love him. Trust him.
You are never alone even in an earthquake
Con amor, Hermana Israelsen
PS. we were at an investigators house the other day and all the lights were off I went to find a switch and a disco ball turned on. Me and my comp were just like uhhh.... where are we?