Monday, January 13, 2014

A Quote from Chicken Run

I am sorry that I have been cutting the work-side of the mission out of my emails. Reading Lizzie's emails, I can see how testimony building and fantastic it can really be. I have been finding more joy in emailing the individuals, however, having a conversation with family and friends. I'll try, however, to update you on many of the stories I have tried to tell in the past.

"The Zapata family is a friend of members in the ward. Alex, the son, has some sort of social autism in which he struggles talking to people in normal ways. His fall-to is to communicate with others through movie quotes. The whole family is completely centered around him, and if there is a decision made amongst the family, all variables depend on him.
We left them a book of Mormon the week before and taught their son. It went really well..."
Due to Alex's variable moods and the massive social barrier, we never know what to expect, neither do the parents. And because they have centered their whole life around taking care of this kid, we never know what to expect from them. Every conversation is about the son, even Gospel conversation. They talk about how he responds to it, how they taught him religious things in the past, how they taught Alex how to pray, how they were accepted into different churchs and rejected in others because of him. Questions about the mom's testimony results in a fifteen minute response about her son. It was something very interesting and new to me. It inspired me, to see so much devotion in another person. They are literally giving their life for someone else, that same love that the scriptures mention (John 15:13).

Something started to happen as we taught. It wasn't a spark that went off in our mind or anything, it just started happening. The more we listened to stories about the son, the more we ourselves started focusing on him. We began to teach him bit by bit, noticing how much he liked pictures and repeating key words and bullet points that we taught. It was cool to see how closely he mimicks my every actions, motion and word, so that he could understand. When we'd ask to repeat what we taught, he would. The words would be clips of movies he's watched, but they would be quotes appropriate to the topic and describing what we taught. For example, when we taught prayer, taught him simple steps of how to pray, and asked hime to repeat, he gave a response similar to this:
  • "One: Hello, How are you?" (1. Dear Heavenly Father)
  • "Two: Movies; Three: Chicken Run; Four: Massages..." (2. Things you are grateful for)
  • "Three: 'God Help Us;' 'God Help Us,' ... [a quote from Chicken Run]" (3. Things you ask God)
  • "Four: Christ. Christ is our Savior. Amen" (4. "In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen)
Not exactly what he said, but a good example. After we taught him prayer, he asked if he could pray, which was really cool! In the first prayer, he asked me if I could help him (note: he doesn't normally talk to people, but his social skills were high by this point) and so I did. The mother and father were very impressed with their son and what was happening.
At the end, we then knelt together. Alex wanted to say another prayer, so we let him. He did it all on his own this time, fluently and simply, like we taught it. When we looked up the father asked us if he could, as head of the house, say a prayer for his family. How could we deny that? He said an eloquent, heartfelt prayer. At the end, I looked up to see his tear-filled eyes.
This is one of the many miracles I have witnessed. Many more came from this family and families around. When one is willing and finds a need, the Gospel will sink into you and change you, as we later saw with the Zapata family.
For example, we went by and found out that the dad received revelation while we were gone to teach social traits and qualities that Alex was missing through topic-based studies from the index of the Book of Mormon...
But that's a story for another time. Pardon my details, again.
I love you all. I have seen Christ change my life especially, in the same way described above. It can for you too. I encourage you to "...try the virtue of the word of God." (Alma 31:5). I promise that you will see an change within yourselves as you use the scriptures correctly.
Elder Chelak


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