The wall mounted fans worked valiantly to move the hot humid air. The noise of motorcycles and trucks on the busy road bounced through the open windows. Loud music poured out of the large speakers of a sound system nearby.
The Relief Society sisters moved their chairs a little closer and continued to take turns reading and discussing the lesson.
I shifted on my seat and coughed again into my handkerchief. I felt a hand reach out and touch my shoulder. I turned to see the smiling face of the sister behind me.
May I massage your back? It will help your cough.
She cradled her sleeping year old daughter in one arm and used the other to thoroughly massage my neck, shoulders and back.
My cough faded, along with the outside distractions, and the sisters seemed wrapped in a cocoon of caring and love.
After the church services ended, we went with the elders to take the sacrament and a gospel message to a brother confined to a wheelchair, which is so worn that he can no longer leave his house.
As we left the home, Elder Hall spoke.
Elders, what are your plans now?
Elder Hall, how much time to you have?
We have as much of the rest of the day as you need.
Well, we have a referral in the way far part of our area. Could you take us there?
We drove down the pot-holed winding road. In a few places, some of the concrete roadbed remained in the center of the road. After a few kilometers, the elders asked us to stop so that they could speak to some people along the side of the road.
Excuse me. May I ask a question?
They consulted a piece of paper and asked where the people lived. They were told the place was farther along the road.
Elders, where did you get the referral?
From the Zone Leaders.
Where did they get it?
From Elder Stahle and Elder Harris in the City. They had to go to a hospital to give someone a blessing. When they were finished, they decided to reach out to all the people and their families. They each took one side of the large ward room, and took referrals from those who were interested in a gospel message
We stopped for directions a couple more times before taking the right-hand fork of the road. We stopped by a group of people along the side of the road. The men were digging into the side of the hill to prepare a foundation for a house. A number of children and women were there visiting with them.
As the elders talked to one person, the others gathered around to take part in the conversation. They talked and gestured. A man sleeping next to a bottle of coconut wine, in a covered waiting area on the other side of the road, got up, crossed the road, and reached out to shake the elders’ hands. Finally the elders came back to the truck.
These two men will show us the way. It is across the valley and behind the next ridge.
We back-tracked and took the left-hand fork. We followed the road, carefully skirting some deep, muddy ruts, and ended at what appeared to be a large sand pit.
You can park here.
I sure hope it doesn’t rain.
Elder Hall had muttered under his breath. I looked at the clouds with some concern.
The man who had been sleeping went ahead as our guide, and the other brought up the rear. On the steepest parts, Elder Hall stopped and held out his hand to help me up. When it was too far to reach, he held out the handle of his umbrella.
We stopped at a house and our guide introduced us. Then he continued up the mountain.
He is going to get the others.
He came back with several other people and left again. The elders asked each of the people if they would like to be taught. They all agreed. When everyone had been gathered in, eighteen people crowded into the small house.
The man who had been our guide listened to part of the lesson.
But the most important thing is money. Without it, my stomach hurts!
He rubbed his midsection graphically.
Without it, I don’t have a house to live in and I get very wet!
The elders smiled, and when the chuckles dies down, they taught an important truth.
Brother, you are literally a son of God. He knows you. He loves you. He has a plan for you.
He has sent us here today to tell you about that plan. He has sent us here today to show you how you can return to your Father.
He has sent here today to tell you that when you return to your Father, you will return crowned with honor, glory, immortality, and eternal life.
You will return as an heir, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, to receive all that the Father has. (See Romans 8:17)
The man sat back soberly and listened.
When the lesson was over, the elders tried to make an appointment to come back the next Sunday. The people hesitated. Then a sister spoke.
But Elders, can’t we come to church with you on Sunday?
Grins split the elders’ faces. They managed to mumble through their smiles.
Oo. Yes. Oo!