Fast and testimony meeting has been my favorite since I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this term, fast and testimony meetings are usually held on the first Sunday of the month. Members are invited to fast, or abstain from two consecutive meals and to then give a fast offering or the equivalent cost of those two meals or more to be used for the poor. After the Sacrament is administered, the person conducting this hour of church (usually the Bishop or one of his Counselors) shares their testimony and then invites the members to come up at their discretion and share their testimonies with the congregation. This particular hour of church can be deeply personal and touching. I am a firm believer that Heavenly Father often answers our prayers through other people. In many cases, my prayers have been answered through a testimony of another on one of these fast and testimony days.
Now, as I was saying, these days are my favorite! Today’s fast and testimony meeting being no exception. In fact, today was my absolute favorite one.
It is very easy not to go up to the podium and share your testimony. In fact, I often don’t. Usually, I like to sit back and let my prayers be answered by others. But today was different. Every testimony that had been shared really touched my heart and led me to feel that I should share mine as well.
I shared it then, and I would like to share it with you now!
Most of you know that my family is from Venezuela. Most of you also know that I was able to visit my relatives in Venezuela this summer! It was such an exciting time in my life and I am so glad that I had the opportunity to go. What most of you don’t know is that my mother has not been to Venezuela in about thirteen years.
My grandmother on my mother’s side past away one or two months before I was born. I’ve asked my mother about her sometimes and usually what she tells me is how much my grandmother wanted to meet me. She would also tell me how I was named after her, my grandmother being Isabel and me Isabella.
Unbeknownst to my wonderful mother, I went to Venezuela with intentions of visiting my grandmother’s grave and taking pictures for my mother since she had not been able to do this for many years.
Two or three weeks into my trip to Venezuela I finally got to head over to the cemetery to visit my grandmother’s grave. I was so excited! My aunt and I even made a pit stop at a florist and bought an arrangement of flowers to place on her grave.
I’m not sure what cemeteries are like in the USA but the one my grandmother is buried at in Venezuela is HUGE. Honestly, it looks like acres and acres of land. My aunt didn’t remember where my grandmother was buried so we had to enter into the offices of the cemetery. We realized that there was an online directory for the people who are buried in the cemetery and were helped by a man who input the data for us. For about 20 minutes my aunt and I are standing there telling the man everything we know about my grandmother and HE CANNOT FIND HER FOR THE LIFE OF HIM. “Isabel Andrade”.
I just couldn’t take it anymore, I was so done with the situation, I left the room with the man and my aunt in it and looked for a chair to sit in. I felt so cheated. I bought the flowers, I came with the right intentions, and I got nowhere. I just didn’t get it.
Just as I had been sitting down, a name pops in my head. An extremely specific name.
I automatically get up and walk back into the room with the man and my aunt with a face, I can only imagine, looked like I had just won the lottery. I looked straight at my aunt and said, “Her first name is Sonia, not Isabel!” The gears start turning, my aunt looks at me and can’t believe she forgot that Sonia is my grandmother’s first name. Immediately the man is able to find where my grandmother is buried and my aunt and I went straight to her grave with victory over our shoulders.
I did not know my grandmother’s first name. I had always assumed her first name was Isabel because my mother told me I was named after her.
Heavenly Father loves families SO MUCH. He wants to see them thrive and progress through life. I had been at that cemetery in Venezuela because I knew how much it would mean to my mother and it also meant a lot to me. Although I am the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in my family I know for a fact that our Father in Heaven loves them just as much as He loves me. We are all His children and we each are worth far more than we realize in the eyes of God.
My mother was so grateful for what I did for her and I know I was only able to do that with the help of Heavenly Father.
Families are forever, and I know one day we will all be together again.