Firstly: WOW! Our family has sure had an adventure this week! I am relieved to know Jack found his way back home via my incredible Madre (Mom, you're a saint. Thank you for going to the animal shelter and bringing him back home). What a nut. That perro . . . Austin, it sounds like your Birthday was a good one--between bacon and burgers and ice cream and weights and an ihome, you've got it made. Forgive my meager present. I'll make it up to you with peppermint shakes from chick fil a when I get home :) I'm sorry the Jazz aren't in the playoffs. Kindof a bummer :( Better the Spurrs than the Lakers, though! I can almost smell the cut grass and mulch of working in teh yard. I love this time of year of working in the yard and late nights in the summer sun and time with family. Love you all :) I'm with you in spirit!
Oh, Rachelle's wedding sounded wonderful!!! Mom, thank you for those precious details. I had the hardest time tracting on Thursday, I knew I was out knocking on doors the same time she and Reid were celebrating their special day. It brought tears to my eyes not to be there, but tears of joy in the same moment. I love you Rachelle Rachelle. Here you are in your journey of eternity! How fitting that Sarah did her hair and Danielle did her make up. I wouldn't be suprised if Kelsey was the costume mistress! . . . And Andrea was there! Gah!!! How awesome!!! I miss you all and love you, my dear roommates and dear friends.
I was able to see some of the pictures you sent through, but the computer here are the Gig Harbor Library blocked some of them. Perhaps if you could print out a cheap copy (even black and white would do!) and send them to me via snail mail, just so I can see them? I love seeing pictures of home.
Thank you for all the details--divinity, what you made and ate for Austin's dinner, cub scouts and temple trips and eagle scout projects. They make me feel so near to you. Thank you!
Secondly: The Subject of this email. Huberts lemonade. I'd never heard of it til Gig Harbor, but it is a little heavenly delight wrapped up in one glass bottle with a lemon sticker printed on the front. We get them at the grocery and gas stations here, and oh . . . if only you could taste a swig. Some kind of wonderful available in mango, strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry! Sister Brown and I reward ourselves with one after street contacting.
Gig Harbor is Great! All is well in the little blue house on the harbor with the chickens. Every night when we turn in at 9pm, I gently shout off the porch, "GOOD NIGHT, NEVERLAND!" With the harbor lights and the moon glittering on the water, it very well could be neverland.
I didn't mention this before, but I am in a completely english speaking area. I've only been able to use my Spanish once a week at Blue Agave, the mexican restaurant we eat at on P-days (remember how I was so excited to return and order everything in spanish at Cafe Rio with you, Mom? I've got it down already! :). I try to pray and write in Spanish as often as I can, but I'm afraid I'm losing it. Sister Brown is really sweet to turn of the church music in the car and let me practice to myself out loud. I've taught her a few things, like 'igualmente' and 'por supuesto' and 'soy una misionera.' At first I was really afraid of losing my Spanish after working so hard in the MTC for 7 weeks--but I'm learning to let that go. I'm doing the best I can. I know God qualifies whom he calls. Right now he needs me English Speaking, so that's what I'll be. I might struggle like crazy those first weeks in Argentina, but everything will be okay. He'll qualify me then, too. D&C 64:32--all things in their time :) Including Spanish.
I haven't heard anything more about the Visa situation. All things in their time, again. i've been told anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 months. Y'all know me pretty well . . . I like to plan ahead. I like to have thigns under control! I studied Rosario and talked to my friends who've lived in Argentina and looked at their government, geography, and history a little before embarking on my mission. I grew to love Argentines in the MTC even more, and my heart seemed full to bursting with love for this country and its people.
And then I was sent to Gig Harbor, Washington. I have been humbled--I realize this situation happens for a lot of missionaries headed to visa-tricky countries. But of all places even within the U.S., Heavenly Father sent me here. I'm coming to see that I need to love my people, my American people, first. As Esmerelda says, "I thought we all were the children of God." I'm coming to understand and live that better, here.
We've had a lot of blessings and a lot of miracles! We are teaching 7 investigators right now--when I arrived in Gig Harbor only 2 weeks ago, we were only teaching 3.
Josh is 9 years old--his father, Bob (who reminds me of Grandpa Bob so much it scares me sometimes! Military background, spunk, silvery hair and all) is a recent convert that Sister Brown had the privilege of teaching, and his step-mother, Kim, has returned to Church Activity. Josh wants to follow in his Daddy's footsteps, and requested that he have the missionary discussions as well. This little boy is amazing. He has already read the entire Book of Mormon Stories (the simplified version with pictures). We hadc dinner with their family this week, and as we were cleaning up Josh began telling me that his favorite story is of Ether hiding in the cave after the fall of the Jaredites. He also related his interest for Nephi prophesying regarding Seantum and the Judge murder. WOW. He knows the book of Mormon better than I do! He also read the Plan of Salvation pamphlet before we came over to teach him. We played a game of jeapordy to go over the questions and concepts of the Plan of Salvation, and he knew every answer without flaw. Soon he was quizzing us!! He is well on the road to baptism, it's just a matter of gaining permission from his Mom since his parents are divorced. Josh inspires me with his eagerness to learn and to follow the Savior's example.
Elenor is another investigator who inspires me. We met her tracting my second day here, and she expressed excitement to see young ladies out for the LDS church as well. She said she was interested in learning more about our church because of a friend she'd had in high school. We returned this past Tuesday to teach her a little about the restoration and our beliefs. This woman is incredible--she's a mother of two and has nearly died 3 times because of pregnancy and breast cancer complications. But she's here, and she has such a belief and trust in God. She just kept saying 'God has been so good to me!' She's a devoted Catholic, so I'm not sure how far our lessons will go. After we explained about the Book of Mormon, she exclaimed 'Gosh, I would sure love to read it!' To which we delightedly handed her a copy and invited her to ask God for herself. It was a tremendous experience and we look forward to teaching her again this week.
I am inspired by the ward here. Bishop Kasteler, our Bishop, views Missionaries as an integral part of the ward, working not alongisde or with the ward, but as part of the ward. Sister Brown and I loved by these good people. Every night we have a dinner appointment with a family in the ward (pray for me to not gain too much weight! We are always richly fed with things like Greek Gyros and sticky rice and there is ALWAYS dessert) right after we go tracting. Their strength and support uplifts us. We always leave a spiritual message or 'member inspirer' with each family in their home before we leave. My favorite to teach are the families with teenagers and young children--they remind me of you, family. My Brothers and Cousins and Parents and Aunts and Uncles. They remind me of your strength and your potential and your talent and your power to do so much good. Oh, and p.s. they all call me Hermana--lots of people do a double take when they see I'm not 'sister.' And then I have a visa story for them :)
I've come to realize that in life, there are good, better, and best things. It's easy, ofttimes, to avoid the bad--tattoos or smoking or being unkind to others or whatnot. We know those things are bad, so we veer from them. But I feel that Satan nubs our potential by distracting us with merely good things, keeping us from the better and best. Time is a precious gift from Heavenly Father, and I encourage you all to remember that. What BEST things are you capable of? Take your life, and explode the possibilities!
I'm low on time, but my heart is full. More to come in letters :) I think of you all the time and appreciate all the words of encouragement you send me, via letter, email, or prayer.
Love, love, love,