The kids and I were a touch late getting to church. We slipped in quietly and sat towards the back. As the hymn for the preparation of the Sacrament began, all of the sudden, little Amanda Nunez came running up to me and handed me this half sheet of paper with carefully drawn colored hearts all over it. There was a huge red heart in the middle and above it read, "Hermana Berigil." Sounded out PERFECTLY in Spanish. I broke into a huge smile and then my eyes got a little watery and I thought, "Uh-oh. This might be a tough one, today."
After the Sacrament was passed, her sister, Violeta, came up to me with the sweetest little picture of a 4 year olds interpretation of what a person should look like, and then threw her arms around me.
Yep. It's gonna be rough.
The Bishop announced that Fast and Testimony meeting was today and as soon as he sat down, 3 girls in our Primary got up and bore the sweetest testimonies. I just decided to let the tears flow. What's the use in stopping them? At this point, waterproof mascara doesn't even really help. Then Jake turned to me and said, "Mom, I want to bear my testimony." His first time ever. "Can you translate for me?"
I had to pull it together enough to walk up there and Jake stood up, bore a beautifully simple testimony. He said that he knows that Jesus is real because he can feel him in his heart and Jesus helps us when we fall. My sweet Jake.
And then Samuel, another little boy got up... My heart just swelled as I listened and watched these amazing children get up and share their feelings about the Savior. I have watched them learn and grow for 3 years and I wanted so much for every child in that room, young and old, to know that the only way we can be truly happy is by leaning on our Savior. He will carry us through as the world becomes a more and more difficult place. I tried to tell them that in my sniffly, teary Spanish and English. That has been our whole goal in Primary the entire time I've been in there. For the children to feel love as soon as they enter that room and to know that we are happiest when we follow Jesus Christ. I hope they felt it and I hope they will remember it.
I made it to Primary and sat down to play the piano, and Luke decided to join me. (Britany Evans happened to capture the moment ;) ) He refused to sit with his class today. At this point I had to roll with it. That is one HUGE lesson I've learned here. If you can roll, you'll enjoy things MUCH more. It has kind of become our motto when we show up and realize that we are IT for that day-- combining classes, bringing in the nursery kids to sit with the bigger kids...doing a double sharing time and throwing together a singing time while playing the piano? At first I had hernias almost every Sunday when things like this would happen. I'd feel my heart start to race and my face would get HOT. I slowly learned the lessons of improvisation and doing the best you can, and being Ok with that. And not even OK...but being GREAT with that. Look what we pulled off today with a lot of help from above! Phew! Let's hope next week is slightly smoother :)
In addition to Luke sitting by me, every time I got a little teary in there, a handful of children were suddenly around me with their arms wrapped around my neck. Oh, there was a lot of love today. A lot of love. I felt it so strongly.
As we sang Jake's favorite Primary song to say goodbye to him, more little notes, one by one were being dropped into my lap. "Berryhill, Berijil, Berrigil, Bary, Hill"... I loved every single one of them. Tati and Joana had the children put together a calendar with every single child's birthday. On that day, they either picked their favorite primary song or scripture and wrote it in the box so we can sing or read for that child on that day. What a wonderful way for us to remember everyone!!!
Some for Kate, some for Jake, some for me, some for our whole family!
Not all of the Primary teachers made it in the picture, but I am sooo grateful for these women who come and teach every week. We have a tough group and week after week, these teachers prepare meaningful lessons for these kids.
An attempt of a group shot. Complete with dogs! How fitting!
We will miss you, La Dehesa Primary and Ward. This has been an experience that has stretched, pulled, twisted, and turned me upside down. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It'd be lying if I claimed I wouldn't be looking forward to a few weeks of tranquility ;) But it's usually the things that you work your hardest at that mean the most to you.
Stalwartly-smiling Luke. The silliness doesn't even phase him!
After our last few goodbyes, we piled into the car and headed straight over to meet the Hiten's for a little farewell. I don't think I even had an ounce of makeup left on my face, but that didn't matter one bit. We all had a chance to enjoy each others company one more time before parting ways. It doesn't seem possible that we really became friends just 3 months ago. Can that be?! Thank you, Connie and Charles for treating us to a lovely afternoon and for more importantly your friendship. It's priceless. We will miss you dearly and look forward to when our paths cross again!