Friday, August 17, 2007

Mariela & The Book of Mormon

I'd met Mariela over a month before. We had made numerous attempts to contact her since, but were always met with an excuse as to why she couldn't meet with us. This is a problem common with being a missionary in Uruguay- the people are so nice they'll often concoct an array of excuses to meet "in a few days" instead of today. Niceness is generally a good problem to have, but eventually a missionary has to discern if there is true interest or not. Such was the case with Mariela. I had finally determined to give it one last try, but if it didn't work out then we wouldn't go back.

These were the circumstances when we arrived at Mariela's door that afternoon. Then something awesome happened. She invited us in. We sat on the couch across from her and her 9 year old son and introduced the Book of Mormon. We told her it contained answers to important questions that many people have. She then looked us squarely in the eyes and said she wanted to know about life after death. Then she told us why.

She had driven past a cemetery that day, and in Uruguay the dead aren't always treated very well. Bodies are rarely buried; instead they are stored for a time and then taken out and put into a smaller box. This process can be rather gruesome. Worse yet is that the remains are commonly left lying around, and rumor had it that these often become pig food.

Mariela passed by the local cemetery and saw the bones and rags lying around- destined, surely, to become "comida para chanchos": pig food. In that moment it dawned on her that we are all destined to become pig food. Rich or poor, good or bad, everyone will eventually end up in the cemetery.

She told this story with much earnestness, and it was obvious that these thoughts troubled her. She asked, "are we all just comida para chanchos?"

This is where the power of the Book of Mormon came in. The power to teach, the power to feel the Spirit, the power to convert. I turned to Alma chapter 11 verses 42-45 and asked her to read, telling her that here was her answer.

Now, there is a death which is called a temporal death; and the death of Christ shall loose the bands of this temporal death, that all shall be raised from this temporal death.

The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil.

Now, behold, I have spoken unto you concerning the death of the mortal body, and also concerning the resurrection of the mortal body. I say unto you that this mortal body is raised to an immortal body, that is from death, even from the first death unto life, that they can die no more; their spirits uniting with their bodies, never to be divided; thus the whole becoming spiritual and immortal, that they can no more see corruption.

When she finished verse 45 I fully expected her to have questions. Instead, she just kept reading. And reading. And reading. She didn't stop reading for another 45 minutes. Finally, we had another appointment to go to so we told her to keep reading, marked a few passages that would interest her, and set up an appointment to come back. When we saw her again, she had read all that we had marked and then some.

What happened next in Mariela's life is truly remarkable. She overcame numerous obstacles and was eventually baptised and confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. That story deserves a post of its own.

But it all started with the Book of Mormon, and an answer to an important question.


Ashlee said...

So, was this from your mission or did you read it somewhere?

Cameron said...

Yep, it was me sitting on that couch watching her read. The rest of the story is pretty awesome too, I'll write about it some day.