Okayokayokay! So much to say and absolutely not time to say it! I'm just gonna jump right into it and not mess around with the fluffy stuff. This week was absolutely INSANE! Okay, we're gonna jump back to Tuesday to start this one off. I'll be telling this in story-book fashion, because I'm really not sure if there's any other way to do this.
We went and visited Emily, Giovani, and Filipa (our investigators of gold) earlier that day, and everything was totally fine and normal. Later that evening, we visited an investigator named Viviana who lives in front of Emily and her family, and she told us about how apparently earlier that day, Filipa gave Emily a shot of medication, and she began acting very strange. She became dazed and confused, and after a while, her eyes closed, her voice dropped to that of a man, and she began muttering uninteligible words that no one understood. The family believed it to be evil spirits, and they've apparently had a history of evil spirits doing crazy stuff in their house, and Elder Gonzalez and I have had to bless it for them.
Needless to say, upon hearing this story, we were rather concerned, so after the lesson with Viviana, we went across the street to make sure everything was okay. Emily came out and looked a little weak, but normal (as in, her voice was normal). We asked if there was anything we could do, and she asked for a blessing. I gave the last blessing someone had asked for, so it was Elder Gonzalez's turn. We weren't entirely sure of the whole situation, but he just gave a pretty standard blessing of comfort. Upon saying "amen", Emily's eyes didn't open...
"Emily? Emily?" Giovani said a few times. Then he jumped into action as if this happens all the time! He grabbed some rubbing alcohol, put it on his hand, and held it in front of her face in an attempt to wake her up. Upon smelling the alcohol, Emily stirred. Her voice then dropped to that of a man, and she mutter words that neither I nor Elder Gonzalez understood. Giovani knew what was happening and immediately grabbed her arms from behind her chair to restrain her.
In the midst of this struggle, Emily appeared to have a large ammount of strength beyond her own, and she actually broke the chair she was sitting in. So the struggle moved to the floor as Emily's brother came out to help restrain her as well, and Filipa began rubbing alcohol all over her body. Eventually Emily's voice returned to normal, and she began saying, "it burns! It burns!" in regards to the rubbing alcohol.
Meanwhile, up against the wall, Elder Gonzalez and I were in complete and utter shock. Elder Gonzalez told me afterwards that he was thinking, "Okay, Elder Groesbeck is going to say something smart and save us!" He then proceeded to look over at me, see my mouth gaping wide open, and think, "Aw, crap..." I had absolutely no idea what to do! Or what I could do, for that matter. I asked Giovani if he needed us to help, and he just told us to pray. Two steps ahead of you on that one, Giovani.
As they continued to try to calm Emily down as well as keep her awake, the clock eventually turned to 9:30. For those of you unfamiliar with missionary rules, we have to be in our house by 9:30, but how in the flip were we supposed to tell Giovani we had to leave!? When I felt that Emily had calmed down sufficiently, I subtly reached down and picked up my bag. Giovani saw, got the hint, and walked us out. We told him we'd talk to the bishop and President about this, because we'd never encountered anything like it, and he said that sounded great.
The bishop lives 3 houses over from us, so we got home and banged on his door. He wasn't home! We told his son to send him to our house when he got back because we needed to talk to him... ASAP.
Eventually he came over and we explained what happened. He told us that the only way a spirit could possibly enter/possess a body is if we permit it (which I wholeheartedly agree with), so he just shook it off and said it was probably just epilepsy. SERIOUSLY!? I'm not familiar with epilepsy, but I really don't think that was it... We decided to talk to president.
He was able to call us the next evening, and we explained the situation to him. "Well," he said, "those certainly are the signs of someone with a spirit within them." He's apparently done this a few times in his career as a mission president. "What you need to do is find our more information to see if she's ever worshipped the Holy Death or anything like that to make sure it's an evil spirit, and if it comes down to it, you may have to ask, 'Emily, is there an evil spirit inhabiting your body right now?' And if there is an evil spirit, it will likely manifest itself in that moment and potentially take over her body. If/when that happens, all you need to do is place your hands over her head, and by the authority of the Melchezedik Priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ, you command that spirit to leave, and it has to leave. It doesn't have a choice. Elders, there's something very important that you need to know about this entire situation. You need to be very direct in the questions you ask. And you must be fearless. You have the power of God with you, so you must keep that in mind and be absolutely fearless."
And so, on Saturday, we went over. We asked them a very simple question of how they think this all went down, and Emily began to talk for a good 40 minutes about the situation, when it started, all of the crazy weird black and white magic things they've done to try to get rid of them, and lots of other things that have absolutely nothing to do with church doctrine. I was only getting about half of what she was saying (the vocabulary was lost to me), so I really wasn't sure how to respond to that. Then, my son jumped into action. He stopped Emily, and said, "All right, let's get something straight here. We're going to be extremely direct with you because that's the only way we can be with things of these matters. The only way that Satan or any of his minions can have power over any human being is if we give them that power. There are two types of power in this world: The power of God, and the power of the Devil. The only church on the face of this planet that holds the power of God is the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder Day Saints, and all of this other black and white magic stuff that you've been doing is not the power of God. Therefore, if it has any power at all, it is of the devil, so all of that has to stop now."
He then turned to me, and I added to his testimony. "I have more of the authority and power of God in my finger than the Pope of the Catholic Church has in his whole body!" Very direct, but it needed to be said. "The two of us possess this authority, and so the only thing we need to do is command that spirit to leave by the authority of the priesthood (which we had already explained to them), and it has to leave."
Then Elder Gonzalez began again. "Right now, we're going to ask a very simple, but direct question, and when we ask it, if this is an evil spirit, it's going to manifest itself. So Filipa, if you want to take the children into the other room and go get Daniel to help us, that would proabably be for the best." As Filipa did as instructed, Elder Gonzalez turned to me and asked if I wanted to ask the question. No. Just no. I told him I'd command the spirit to leave if it came down to that, but I didn't want to ask the question. He agreed.
When everyone was ready, Elder Gonzalez looked Emily right in the eyes (that's my boy) and said, "Emily, do you have an evil spirit inhabitting your body right now?"
The silence that followed seemed to last an eternity. I feared two things: 1) that the question wouldn't work, and 2) that the question would work. Emily continued to stare at Elder Gonzalez for a few seconds... and then her eyes closed. She remained silent, but began breathing very deeply as she had the other night. In that moment, and wave of emotion that I can only describe as the perfect mixture of courage and righteous anger came over me. My gaze remained fixed on Emily, and I said, "Emily, is there an evil spirit inhabitting your body right now?" Continued heavy breathing. "Answer the question!"
In the voice of a man, Emily muttered some uninteligible words, answering the question. "Okay, Giovani and Daniel, all we need to do now is place our hands over her head and tell it to leave, but the two of you need to restrain her." They did as instructed as Elder Gonzalez and I stepped forward, placed our hands on her head, and I began to speak, not knowing what to say beforehand. The words for some reason came out in English rather than Spanish, and I said something to the effect of, "By the authority of the holy Melchezedik Priesthood of God which we hold, we place our hands over the head of this woman and command any evil spirits that inhabit her body to leave now, and we do so in the sacred and holy name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, amen."
Upon saying the word "amen", Emily immediately ceased struggling. Daniel and Giovani kept their grip firm for a little bit longer just in case while I went to get Emily some water. She was a little weak and tired, but she was okay. We told them that the spirit was gone, and if they don't let it come back, it won't. If they ever think they start to feel its presence, they only need to say a prayer and ask the comfort of the Lord, and everything will be fine. They don't need to do anything else at all. We effectively then said, "All right. We'll see you at church tomorrow." and left, feeling more empowered than we ever had in our entire lives.
Like Joseph Smith, I'm really not sure I would believe the story myself if I had not experienced it, but I know that it did happen, and it has strengthened my testimony of the divine authority of God that we posess in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the importance of being worthy to hold said authority at all times, and in all things, and in all places. You never know when you will be called upon to act, and you need to be ready for anything in life. I know that this is the true church of God, and although slightly shaken up by the experience, my testimony has never been firmer. I testify of the divine power of God and how infinitely times greater it is than anything the Devil can do, and with said power, iré y haré.
Q&A with Elder Groesbeck (questions by Mike Nixon)
1.What do missionaries consider to be "fancy food" in your area (e.g., in Ukraine it was McDonalds)?
There aren't really restaurants that would be considered "fancy", but whenever the members make us tacos with some of the really special kinds of meats (whose names I can't remember for the life of me), it's always a pretty sweet meal.
2. What is the craziest food you have eaten?
I really haven't eaten anything crazy since I've been down here. It's a little disappointing... I would probably have to say Chicharron, which is basically just fried pig skin. It's actually pretty good.
3.What do you miss most about Texas?
I miss steak... Like, I really just need a nice juicy steak right now. That and shredded cheese. You can only find that at WalMart down here, and it's one of those unspoken heroes that no one notices until it's gone.
4.What is the most accurate stereotype of Mexico?
Definitely the things you see about a ton of people being crammed into the back of a truck. We see that ALL the time down here.
5. What is the rudest thing someone has said to you?
Apparently the husband of a woman who let us in began saying a bunch of swear words at us (my companion told me later because I didn't understand) because he thought we were Jehova's Witness.
6. What is the coolest place you have been to (beautiful view, historical site,etc)?
I haven't been to Teotihuacan yet (aztec pyramids), but there are actually some pretty cool spots in our area where you can see all of Pachuca. Needless to say, it's a little tough to bike up there, but it's totally worth it to look down. I'll see if I can get some photos later.
7. What is the furthest you have walked in one day?
We ride bikes, so I haven't walked a whole lot since I was in a trio back in cycle number 2. Our area is relatively small, though, so we never have to travel very far to get anywhere.
8. What do you do for exercise every morning - are you benching over 300 lbs yet?
We don't have a bench press, so for all I know, yes. I do. I normally do a pretty good balance of abs/arms, getting my legs whenever we ride out.
9. Any run-ins with corrupt police/gangs/drug lords?
Not yet... A few run ins with drunk people, but we're usually pretty good at avoiding them (it's not really that hard)
10. When and where was the last time you experienced air conditioning?
Supposedly there's air conditioning in the chapel, but I really don't think it works. Therefore, it's been 4 and a half months (since the MTC).
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This blog is edited by Elder Groesbeck's amazing, beautiful, younger sister Aubrie. I will post any update I get. Enjoy :)