It was a great week! I don’t have a ton of time, but I thought I would just tell you a little about the activity we had last Saturday. We did a multi stake public musical event for Easter, using the Prince of Peace initiative. We had soloists, small groups, and a choir made up of missionaries and members. We spent about a month planning and rehearsing the activity, putting together numbers, etc. The hermana in charge was Hna. Monica Dominguez, an hermana from the Santa Fe Norte stake. She is incredible. She has several severe, chronic health problems, and lately she has had a lot of problems with a constricted trachea that has caused her breathing to be very labored and difficult, and to tire easily and quickly. I’m going to tell you a little bit of her story, because she is probably one of the most faithful people I have ever met. She has done musical firesides for years. When she was younger, she had no idea how to play, write, or teach music. But someone gave her a Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD, and she would go into her room, and for hours at a time, just listen to it over and over again, until she started singing along to the hymns. Later, she started to notice that there were other parts, and over time taught herself to pick out the alto, tenor, and bass parts as well. She grew to love music, and began singing as well. She decided she wanted to study music, but where she was living, they often needed young women to serve as short time companions for missionaries, which she did more than 20 times, always preferring to put the Lord’s call before her own desires. After that, she served a full-time mission, and by that time no longer had the availability to study music. Fast forward to now. Hna. Dominguez has multiple health problems, including a respiratory problem that has been treated many times, including three failed operations. The area calls Elder Levrino, asking him if they can do some kind of public event as a part of the Prince of Peace campaign. He, in turn, calls Presidente Cantero, the stake president in Santa Fe Norte, and asks him if he has anyone in his stake that could organize an event like that. He tells him there is one sister, but he’s not sure if she will be able to because of her health problems. Presidente Cantero calls Hna. Dominguez and tells her a little bit about the activity and asks her what she thinks about it. She knew that the following week, she was going to be hospitalized so that she could have a fourth operation on her respiratory system, but she didn’t say a word of that to her stake president. She said, (paraphrasing) “Presidente, of course I’ll do it! Why are you even asking me? This is coming from our leaders, and it comes from the Lord. When they direct, we obey. We decided when we were baptized that we would be obedient. We decided before we even came to this world that we would always be obedient. So why are you doubting? We don’t need to make that decision again and again every time something comes, because we have already made the decision! If the Lord wants us to do this, then He will obviously prepare a way.” She immediately began organizing the event, and called the mission to ask if missionaries could participate, and that was how I became involved. She attended the first rehearsal, and in that rehearsal, made it very clear to all of us that the purpose of this activity was not just to share music, or to have fun, or to perform. The one and only purpose was to invite people to hear the message of the restored gospel so that they could be baptized and make covenants with their Heavenly Father. She invited us all to internalize the messages contained in the hymns we would sing so that we could have the Spirit with us and help other feel the Spirit as well during our performance. Two days later, she was hospitalized so she could undergo further treatments and operations, this being three weeks before the event. Her release date from the hospital was unclear, and as time went on, she asked me if I could direct the choir, since she didn’t know when she would come out. This last Tuesday, Elder Orgill and I went to the hospital to visit her (she’s in a hospital right around the corner from the mission office) and to give her a blessing. But when we got there, she was the one who lifted our spirits and comforted us. We arrived, and she was out of her bed in a chair, with her phone, calling people to coordinate location, equipment, etc. We walked in, and she was just as happy as could be. Always looking at the positive side, she told us about all the miracles that she had already seen in the preparation of the event. She gave me some ideas she had to take back to the choir, and some other things to do to prepare. She praised us for being great missionaries, and told us how wonderful missionaries are and the great power that they have. She then introduced us to the other patient in her room, and began to tell us all about her life, her family, and what she needed. She had been sharing the hymns with her, and reading her scriptures, and had told her about priesthood blessings, and had told her she could have one if she wanted. Her roommate told us that she would love a blessing, so we explained a little bit about consecrated oil and the faith that is required for a blessing to work, and about how Jesus blessed the sick, and then gave both of them priesthood blessings. After that, Hna. Dominguez asked us for Prince of Peace pass along cards, so that she could give them to all the doctors and nurses that she had met. Right in the middle of that, the food nurse came by with various snacks and things that they could have. Hna Dominguez passed, but immediately pointed out that she knew that two doors down, the were two women whose family was going to visit them and bring them food, but hadn’t and that it would be wonderful if they could have food as well. I just sat there, completely amazed by this sister who couldn’t even barely stand for more than a couple of minutes without intense pain and difficulty, and heavy, labored breathing, literally 100% focused on everyone but herself, completely trusting in the Lord in all things. I was overcome. Before leaving, she asked us if we would pray for good weather for the activity, and when we promised her we would, she said she was completely at ease, because she knew that when missionaries prayed for things, it always worked out. As we left, she thanked us profoundly for having visited her and told us that we were saints. I told Elder Orgill as we walked out, I don’t think I have ever met someone as faithful and selfless as her. I was overcome with gratitude for her example and faith. On Saturday, the day of the activity, she was able to convince a nurse to accompany her to the activity. She was all dressed in her Sunday best, and although she was most likely incredibly tired and pained, she showed no signs of it as she cheerfully directed the setup and organization from a chair next to the piano. She stayed there during the whole activity, guiding and helping the choir, mouthing the words and silently encouraging them as they sang. When the activity concluded, she was full of praise and gratitude for everyone who had participated, and shortly thereafter left with the nurse to return to the hospital, so that she could prepare herself for today, Monday, when she would be transferred to a larger hospital south of Buenos Aires that has better equipment for her specific health problems.
I am so grateful that I met Hna. Dominguez. She strengthened my faith, and helped me to see so many ways that I can be better committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and forget my own needs and wants in the service of others. I have a stronger testimony that if we serve others and love them fully, we will be happy, happier than if we had spent that time on a personal hobby or pursuing personal gain. It is the way of Jesus Christ.
I am out of time, but I hope that you all can find some way this week to follow the example of Hermana Dominguez and serve others this week. If you do it, I know you will be blessed.
|The choir of missionaries and members, along with (from left) Presidente Cantero (stake president Santa Fe Norte), Elder Levrino, Presidente and Hermana Perez, me, and Hna Dominquez|
|Me and Hna Dominguez|
|Directing the choir|