My Querida Familia y Amigos Mios,
Thank you kindly for your emails. I never tire of them. Send them whenever you can and with whichever details from home you can include--I love to hear from you! I pray for you ever day and think of you all the time. To my beloved friends in the Wollochet Ward in Washington, yourselves included! I thank Heavenly Father every day for the time I had to be with you. My service here is only possible because of what I learned while in the Gig Harbor Ward.
This week has been one of the best in my mission. Hermana Ferraez and Hermana Alicea both have quite the sense of humor, and between the both of them, I spent every moment between lessons busting up into laughter at their chistes (jokes). It is amazing to see them cracking up and getting to know each other even with a language barrier. I spent much of the time translating, to be sure. But it was delightful. The Zone Leaders brought another matres to accomidate a third sister.
Our investigators--Marcello. Marcello is 45, divorced, with 2 grown up daughters. He lives with his parents. It is rare for people here of any kind to live alone, they almost always live with their family--a distant cousin, a grandpa, a niece, a sister. Families never seem to part. Some families, like our investigator Marta, have their 11 grown up kids living on the same street as them in the connected walls of the little Argentine street Houses. Anyways, Marcello was a pastor for over 30 years to the Evangelical church. But as of 5 months ago, has had a little bit of a beef with God and with the people of his church, and so left it. We met him contacting--yup, that clapping thing, kinda like tracting--and he showed up to church the next Sunday! It was a miracle. Since, we´ve had a great member lesson with him and Hermano Allasia, He attended the Elders Quorum Activity Saturday where they cooked and ate Choripan (it´s like a hotdog, except with bratwurst kind of meet instead of a polish dog), and came to church again this past sunday. Hermana Ferraez and I invited him to be baptized on August 31st, and he said that if he gets an answer in the affirmative through prayer, he will be baptized. I commited him to read Nephi 31, and expressed to him that he would receive his answer. He has been keeping every commitment. We have a lot of hope for him!
Carolina. Carolina is living with Gaston, her boyfriend as of 12 years. They have 3 beautiful children. A plague of Argentina are people co-habitating. The government pays unmarried mothers a sum every year for each child they have, and, as a result, many people live ´juntada.´She has felt such a lack of peace in her life and immediately invited us to come back to her home when we met her contacting (yup, more clapping!). She is absolutely beautiful, and used to be a professional ballerina. She, to me, looks like and has mannerisms just like Noelle C., but in an Argentine way--Love you Noelle! She has loved reading the missionary pamphlets and keeps her commitments in reading the Book of Mormon. Right now, she´s struggling with feeling so alone in raising her 3 kids. Gaston supports their family financially, but works all the time, and when he´s home, he´s either sleeping or socializing. When reading the family proclamation, Carolina told us this plan is her dream. She wants this kind of home, and asked how she could find it. We expressed that God has a Plan for families to be forever. Two wonderful sisters in the branch have accompanied us on 2 different occasions and testified of the reality of eternal families. This past week, Hna. Ferraez felt impressed to sing Families Can Be Together Forever at the end of our lesson. Tears began to stream down Carolina´s cheeks. She accepted our invitation to baptism, but has to get married before she can enter the waters of baptism. Pray for her!
Javier--22 years old, a hipster in and of his own right. He weaves dream catchers and has them hanging all over his apartment. We met him contacting and he told us we are always welcome to come to his home and teach him about the gospel (he also asked if I was from Brazil?). We had a great Restoration lesson with him, and a member named Thomas A., who just returned from his mission in Dallas, Texas.
So many more . .. I wish I had the time to tell you!
Two final things. Yesterday morning We took a taxi to the Terminal, with Hermana Ferraez´ suitcases in tow. Hermana Ilse P. met us at the terminal and brought her hymnbook, and before I knew it the bags were packed on the Bus and all the missionaries (our zone leaders, district leader, etc.) and ourselves were singing ´Para Siempre Dios Este Con Vos,´or ´God Be With You Till We Meet Again.´ I held it together to the final verse, and then tears began to stream freely from my cheeks. Hermana Ferraez Gave me a sweet, tight, side hug while I warbled my way through the last verse with unreserved tears. I have never cried that much yet on my mission! She told me everything will be okay. I know it will be, the tears were for how much I´ll miss her. How do you put into words your feelings for a friend who has been there for you when you felt like a little kid on the first day of kindergarten? She was my best friend through the hardest 6 weeks of my life, learning a foreign tongue, learning to live and behave appropriately in an entirely new culture, how to ride the bus, how to budget with pesos, how to teach, where not to travel at night to stay safe, how to be patient with folks telling us that we´re preaching falsely, how to stand as a Witness of God in all things and at all times(she taught a lesson to a woman at the peluqueria, or salon, while she got her hair cut on pday). I´m far more now than I was 6 weeks ago. And I don´t know, for certain, when I´ll see her again. She´s on her way home now, at the end of her mission, to her home in Yucatan, Mexico. My goodness, I sure miss her!
I am so grateful for each and ever companion Heavenly Father has given me on my mission. Hermana Alicea, Hermana Telfer, Hermana Café (Sister Brown,) Hermana Joven (Sister Young), Hermana Ferraez, and Hermana Alicea over again--each sister has been just that, a sister to me. I love you, comps! God never leaves us alone. He always gives us a best friend to have for always as a Missionary, for which I am so grateful. And he gives us our families for forever. Amazing Grace. I am only beginning to realize how infinitely incredible each Child of God is. If only everyone would realize it! We are capable of so much! I am thankful for my family, friends, and companions for seeing things in me I didn´t think were there, and helping me achieve talents I never knew possible.
Finally, I have to express a truth I´ve come to this week and am striving to put into practice. We never need to be afraid of anything. I realized this week as I struggled to overcome feelings of inadequacy or unsurety in this change for this coming transfer, and bidding adieu to my entrenadora--never need we be afraid. When I get to be afraid of a new situation--teaching a lesson I´m less familiar with, or calling someone on the phone (without context of facial expressions or surroundings its alot harder to understand Castellano and it freaks me out!), I stop myself and think about it. Firstly, why am I afraid? Second, what can I do about it? Third, I tell myself everything´s going to be okay no matter how it turns out. And then I act. And you know what, as long as we´re doing our best, that´s all we can do. Ether 12,27. God gives us weaknesses that we may be humble. And Christ suffered all things so that we don´t have to. Don´t worry, be happy. Everything will be okay!
Love you all, and hugs from the bottom half of the world!