When All You Have Is Five Loaves and Two Fishes, and It’s Clearly Not Enough (God Multiplies Miracles)

Note: I do not speak for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I do try to be a good example of what God wants a Christian and a missionary to be, but I make no claims of doing it perfectly. Anything I write here should be seen as my personal thoughts, opinions, and experiences and not as official representation of the Church.

I’m starting today’s post with a long-ish quote from the Book of Mormon because the last 10 days or so have been a whole lot of hard mixed in with a big pile of God’s grace. And grace wins. I sometimes need the reminder that God sees the bigger picture and gives us the very best He has. Even when it might not feel like it to us. That’s hard to remember when I see people sleeping on sidewalks, or struggling with mental illness, or the loss of children. Those things don’t feel like grace to me. But in every hardship I’ve experienced, as I’ve kept my eyes on God and His promises, I come through on the other side and I see how grace, and angels, and necessary growth showed up or resulted from those difficult circumstances. Sometimes though, the hard stuff takes over my brain and keeps me awake at night. That’s when I put in headphones and go to Matt and Savannah Shaw’s YouTube channel and turn on their very first video of them singing The Prayer. This and a few other songs help me calm my mind and remember that I can trust God.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men? 28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens. 29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

Moroni 7:27-30

There has been a lot of hard family stuff happening behind the scenes of my life that I’m not putting up here, because they aren’t my story to tell. I will say that when terrible things happen in our family, and these past few weeks they have, one of the greatest miracles that God could send is the beautiful sight and story of how my children come together to love and support one another. It’s like watching a gloriously choreographed dance, where the performers lift and turn and move in beautiful synchronicity. How I love that they serve each other this way. I was feeling so worried and discouraged for a little while, but this reassures me that Mr Hot Stuff and I are where we need to be, doing what God wants us to do.

We toured a large cave. If I understood correctly, it’s the 6th largest cave in the world. I’m always a little nervous entering a cave, even when I know it’s been made safe for tourists. It felt a little like entering Alladin’s Cave of Wonders and I kept thinking, “Don’t touch anything!” The lighting inside made the whole atmosphere enchanting. It wasn’t as cold inside as some caves I’ve been in.

We have the honor of working closely with several General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at this time. It’s challenging and exciting, and a blessing to have them remind me that Heavenly Father is watching over those who sacrifice to serve Him. I may not know how everything will work out, but I know that in the end, all will be well.

This morning one of my daughters reminded me that angels are watching over my family and they are experiencing the blessings of our service. I really appreciated this. I forget sometimes that Jesus is the Lord of Hosts, and He has exactly the specialist angels my family needs right now. There have been so many miracles and angelic people who have helped our family throughout these hard things. Jesus is with us where we are, and He will see us through to where we need to go.

“I feel my Savior’s love, in all the world around me.” Primary Children’s Songbook. Photo taken inside the cave.

Also, thank you for your prayers.

Last week we had the opportunity to travel to a beautiful resort where we met with a whole bunch of mission leaders. There are eight missions in our area, and every so often, they are treated to some wonderful spiritual training when they meet together for a conference and talk about how to help God’s work progress. The environment and food were wonderful but spending time with people who are willing to put their lives on hold for three years so they can watch over the well-being of so many other treasured missionaries was the greatest privilege. I made some new friends and enjoyed the spirit of teaching and learning there. This was where we got to tour that amazing cave. I’m glad that now, as I do my assistant executive secretary work, I have some idea of who the people are that I may be communicating with on a regular basis.

The missionary couple that we are replacing here in the Dominican Republic (our trainers) left to go home yesterday. We now fly or fall on our own. Go make yourself some popcorn because this could get interesting. There’s a big Area Review confab next week with a member of the Quorum of 12 Apostles, and Mr Hot Stuff is supposed to be in the background running it. Mr Hot Stuff speaks Spanish but he’s still pretty rusty with it. Quickly. So running this sort of meetup for several days will be challenging. We had thought for a while that I’d be there to help him, but I’m not going to this event. Apparently, the rules for latter-day saint missionaries never leaving their companion (as well as many other missionary rules) are sort of loosey-goosey for senior missionaries. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I appreciate being able to govern ourselves but having Mr Hot Stuff go away on “business trips” even after he’s retired is a little weird to me. I suppose I just never considered how many wives and families are left home when Church General Authorities are traveling. Pray for them because those men travel A LOT.

We walked through a full-sized labrynth! It was so fun. And very similar to a corn maze, so it felt appropriate to the Halloween holiday.

Did I mention thank you for your prayers?

A quick note about how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is organized and run. If you look at this in a hierarchical way, at the top we have a President/Prophet who leads. He has two counselors who assist him, and then next down we have 12 apostles, who help to oversee and coordinate the governance of the Church. It’s a lot to have stewardship over and there are more people down the line who help to make everything work, including General Authorities and Area Authorities. It makes my head spin even trying to keep track of it all.

So, back to some fun things from last week. We got to visit a pottery studio where they made the pottery and ceramic ware for the hotel at the resort we were staying at. The potter helped us to make a little plate by finger pinching, and he helped us to throw a pot on the wheel. It really took me back to my high school days when I would do anything to spend extra time in the pottery studio. Part of what I loved were all the analogies that Mr. Watson would draw from the process of working with clay to make something beautiful. I’d love to take up pottery again someday. But for now, I’ll figure out what I need to learn and do here in the office.

Elder G, the top guy here in the Area offices, likes to try to sneak up and startle people. So far he hasn’t gotten me. I had a good laugh with him about it the other day, and he assured me that he’ll catch me one of these days. I suppose he has a while to try! It’s funny because when I’m using my personal laptop for things like art or blogging, I keep my office laptop open. The screen acts like a mirror sitting on my desk and I can see people approaching in the reflection. Soon we will move our things into the newly vacated office the previous couple used. I think I might buy a mirror or something to prop on the back of the desk so I can keep using the eyes in the back of my head. Haha! Shh! Don’t tell him.

I love how the lights in the trees look like fairy lanterns.

Someone here in the office recently made a quick trip to the US. She was kind enough to bring back a few things for some of us. She brought us a sou vide device, which I’m excited to use for perfectly cooked foods, especially fish, and a larger box of watercolor paint for me. I feel so happy when I look at those lovely paints, I just want to do a little happy dance every time! The walls here in the office are so big and WHITE, which I suppose is better than some other color choices, but I look forward to adding a little color in the form of a few drawings and paintings. I’m thinking of occasionally making them appropriate to the holiday. Hmm, maybe I’ll even make something for some of those quirky holidays, like chocolate chip cookie day or something like that. We’ll see. I might need to get some larger paper.

As I was walking to the office today, this man was sleeping on the sidewalk. It’s not an uncommon sight here really. I’ve wondered sometimes if people just stretch out on park benches in the early afternoon for a little siesta. I think this man was probably homeless, but I’m not sure about some of the others I see. This guy had a pretty good place early this afternoon because it was in the shade. I couldn’t help but think of him this evening when it started pouring rain. He was long gone by then, but I wondered how many people were without proper shelter. I’ve been in rain like that before in China. Umbrellas don’t work when the water is coming down that hard.
These pretty flowers bloom on bushes on the corner across the street from our apartment.

I almost forgot to tell you. Last Sunday, at church, a very brave young woman in our branch (she’s maybe 15 – that’s a total guess) led the music for all three songs during Sacrament meeting. It was especially hard because they changed the opening hymn at the last minute to something much harder to lead. She was terrified, but she did it anyway. Her courage inspired me to also be courageous in hard things. Bonus surprise, the Branch President has asked us to come to mutual (youth) nights and be a support to their program. They hold mutual on Friday nights, which I think is so smart, because it gives kids a safe place to be with friends and not get messed up with some of the other stuff that might be going on other places. We’re excited to have a chance to teach them some fun games, (Ultimate Ninja!) if they’ll let us. Also, it’s contingent on our being able to safely get to and from the meetinghouse after dark. THOSE ROADS!

What do you call an iguana with no eyes?
That one is for Camron. 😀
I hope you had a fun Halloween!

Edited to repair a typo.

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