Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thank goodness that people can change!

Well, we had fun with the Wards. I got to see Jay's three daughters that I haven't seen in years. It's really weird because when I last saw them, they were three, two, and newborn. Now they're six, four (almost five) and two. The girls seemed so tall, so talkative, and grown up. Weird!

It was a strange situation because (without divulging too much information) Jay really screwed up his life in the past, and we had basically given up hope on him. But he has really turned himself around, and I was completely taken off guard that he and his girlfriend, who he lives with, are taking the missionary discussions. We were there when the missionaries came for one of them. He is coming back to full activity in the Church and she is learning about it and slowly gaining a testimony. Her name is Kelly, and I was very impressed with the kind of person that she is. I'll explain more about that in a minute.

I've never actually been there for a missionary discussion before, but it was cool. Kelly was raised to be religious, but in a non-denominational sort of way. She has always read the Bible and she told me that she was so happy to find Christ in the Book of Mormon. I could tell that she was really sincerely searching for truth by the questions she asked the missionaries. It was cool!

But Kelly is cool in other ways too. When we were visiting, we all went to a lake and Jay's girls were there. Kelly acted like they were her own kids, watching them, warning them away from the deep water, calling them back when one of them wandered off. And she gave special attention to the youngest, holding her and whispering to her and encouraging her to be silly and play. (This little girl seems to be scared of everyone and afraid to relax and be a child, so it was nice to see Kelly coax her along.)

These little girls have had a tough life with their parents making all sorts of mistakes, moving them around all the time, and it broke my heart to hear the latest news of their little lives. Apparently their mother has been leaving them with random family members for weeks at a time, disappearing and not explaining or calling. She moved and refused to give anyone the address and changed her phone number so that no one could reach her. Then she stops by unexpectedly, leaves the girls, and may not come back for weeks. These poor kids have almost no security and it's obvious that their mother doesn't take very good care of them. (They don't have beds or toothbrushes, and when their mom drops them off, it's obvious that they haven't been bathed in several days.)

But Jay is sincerely trying to be a father to them and he and Kelly are about to start a legal battle for custody. It's crazy, because in the past it was Jay who didn't care about his kids, and now he is the one with his head on straight. I'm so impressed with Kelly for loving and caring about these children who are not her own. She does everything she can to reach out to the girls, to offer them the love and security they need, and she is determined with an iron resolve to be their advocate. She's completely willing to raise them and take on all of their issues, which is something not many people would be willing to do. I couldn't help but love her and think that she really understands the pure love of Christ. I don't think she'll have too many problems embracing the gospel.

I'm so grateful for the atonement of Christ, which makes it possible for people to change. Paul is so happy to see his friend repenting, growing, and facing the light once more. It was a really good experience for us.