This past year has been a spiritual journey and I have seen the wisdom and majesty of my Lord in ways I never would have imagined. The lessons learned last year, “Be still and know that I am God,” gave us a foundation for the planning of this year’s expedition. The “miraculous” discovery of the 1976 picture in January of ’05 signaled a renewed focus and a more definitive approach to the cave. I felt certain God was giving us the direction for which we had been praying.
As we were making our final plans for this year’s trip several situations occurred between team members that threatened to cancel the whole thing. Through much prayer we began to understand the adversary was trying to destroy the work in which we were engaged. Armed with this realization, the misunderstandings were resolved and we became stronger and closer than ever. We had been warned over and over that Satan would do all he could to keep us from accomplishing our mission. When our guard was down, he slipped in and almost succeeded. I thank God He gave us the strength and ability to forgive and love one another. And isn’t that one of the characteristics of Zion; that we love each other so much that Satan has no power over us? I’m still a work in progress.
Crossing the border and trying to get all the paperwork for the vehicles just the way they want it is always a pain. You have to go to three or four different windows (always with lines) and they are never in the same sequence. Each official has his own little piece of the world and it’s not anywhere near where you are. I had the same paperwork I crossed with last year but THIS year it wasn’t good enough. Several of us had to walk back over to the US side and get new documents from Texas and then cross back over. This time everything passed and after four hours we were on our way again. Crazy!
The anticipation had been building for several months that this was the year. This was the right time. The condition of the church and the scheduling of World Conference in June (never happened before) all pointed to something wondrous happening with the records coming forth. At least that was my take on it. We had prepared as a group for several years, but this past year the spiritual growth seemed accelerated. We weren’t conservative or liberal. We weren’t Community of Christ or Restorationist. We were just God’s children who felt called to respond to where He was leading us.
The events of Sunday and Monday, April 3rd and 4th, are beyond my comprehension. The details can be found in Neil’s testimony. But I want to convey the way I felt if I could. On Sunday evening after members of our group had been detained in Jalapa, we arrived at the hotel somewhere between 6 - 7 PM. I wanted to be alone to meditate about the situation we found ourselves in. Here we were in the middle of Mexico and both of our Spanish-speaking members were under house arrest an hour away. We had no interpreters and at best several members had limited knowledge of the language. Somewhere around 8:30 p.m. I realized my cell phone was turned off so I immediately turned it on. About five minutes later Linda Brown (Mike’s wife) called and wanted to know what was going on. Mike could not reach me by phone so he called Linda and told her the situation and asked her to call me with instructions. She said they would be spending the night in Jalapa. The police were coming to pick up their papers (passports – visa) and she told me where to find them.
I gathered their things together and was waiting for the police when Mike called and told me they were on their way to the hotel with a girl, Catalina, who had been bitten by a poisonous snake. After I hung up from speaking with Mike I got my medical things together while David spread the word that our wayward group would be arriving soon. As we were preparing for the entourage’s arrival, I was extremely concerned; this was way over my head. The prayers offered were for insight and discernment that I might be given the understanding needed for this crisis.
As Catalina was seated in the chair we had borrowed from the hotel lobby, I began to examine her. It was reported that they couldn’t get a pulse on her. I found a weak radial pulse and started to ask the family questions through Neil. As the answers to my questions came, I was led by the Spirit to ask a series of questions to try to grasp what was happening in her body. The things I told Neil about what I felt was going on and what she needed to do to correct them were not of me. The Lord reached down and shared with me His infinite love and as I write this, the tears still come and I am extremely humbled.
At devotions that night we decided that tomorrow (Monday) we would just go to Jalapa instead of the hill since God seemed to be planning our schedule. Neil was supposed to meet with the mayor and get things squared away with him anyway.
About mid-morning on Monday I walked into the restaurant in the hotel and saw Neil having breakfast with a Mexican couple. Forrest came up to me and said that was the mayor and his wife. Immediately the spirit rested upon me and the tears flowed. Next there were the reporters, then the Federales. My Lord is wonderful. He works in marvelous ways. We went from desperados to heroes literally overnight.
The events of the rest of the trip can be found in other’s testimonies but I’d like to share one more event if I may. By early Saturday afternoon the cave was still as illusive as ever and the prospect of finding the records seemed slim at best. Evangelist John Gorker had given me an envelope before we left and told me, “If you get discouraged you might want to share this with the team.” It was sealed and I hadn’t felt the need to see what might be inside until now. I found a quiet place where I could be alone. I opened the envelope and began to read. Again, the spirit rested upon me and I understood. The Lord knew what was going to happen and He had provided instruction and encouragement for this hour.
I had kept the letter in my Book of Mormon so it was with me when I went back to the cave camp group. We decided to sing some hymns and offer prayer. To make a long story short, when we were through I went back towards my tent and found thieves making off with both of my backpacks and my medical kit. The robbers were never caught (ran too fast!), but my most prized possessions, my Book of Mormon and the letter, were safe with me. We had a communion service the next day and with tears flowing (again) I read the inspiration that had been given us in our hour of need.
Just a side note: because we reported the theft of the backpack to the authorities we again made the newspaper. A reporter was with the mayor when he was told of the robbery and accompanied the local police in their search. The reporter came to the hotel in Tuxtepec the next day and had a lengthy interview with Neil. Neil was able to testify to him about our beliefs, the sacred records and why they are so important. Two articles were written about us because of the theft. More seeds were planted because of this event than we could ever have done any other way. It’s a joy to watch how God took a negative and turned it around for those who love Him.
Our purpose is still evolving. Maybe we will be instrumental in finding the records, or maybe we are to prepare the people of the Jalapa Valley for the coming forth of the records, or maybe we are to awaken the church from its slumber, or maybe all of the above. Maybe it is best we don’t know and just follow when the spirit leads us.
We live in a marvelous time to be able to be a part of God’s great plan. I am so blessed to be associated with such dedicated and loving brothers and sisters. I pray that we might all be found faithful and share His love with the people of the earth. May God bless you as you search for truth.