My sweet family,
Oh my goodness. You must be praying really hard or something, because this week has been one of incredible miracles and some of the sweetest, tender mercies of my mission. Thank you for all your love and support.
I must first begin with a very important discovery as a result of my personal study this week--I FOUND THE PETER PAN SCRIPTURE! Moses 6 verse 55. "Even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveith in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good." Peter doesn´t want to grow because he doesn´t want to sin . . . if we´re looking at things from a gospel perspective. Also, this one´s for you Casey H.--I FOUND THE NEWSIE SCRIPTURE as well! Alma 34,31. I´ll leave you to read it, but let´s just say that Now is the time to seize the day. I love finding Gospel connections to things. It reminds me of my time tracting in Wollochet with Sister young--"How is the gospel related to Ferris Buhler?" We would play that game some days just for fun.
Okay, that note aside (I just had to share it, what can I say) I´ll begin to share my week by typing straight from my journal.
"Time flies and the days pass by in flashes of a moment. Today was a beautiful Wednesday, Hermana Alicea and I rose at 3:30 am and took a remis to the terminal for Rosario. We met Elder Butler, Elder Cordell, Elder Vergara, Elder Alvarez, and Elder Toledo there. SLEEP. We slept all the way, in our posh scushy collectivo seats. I don´t mind the colletivo seats at all, actually. It´s relazing to look out the window while awake, and to recline while asleep.
Rosario--a special training meeting for all the new missionaries and trainers. It was an absolute joy to see Hermana Whitaker, Hermana Van Wagnen, Elder Martin, Elder Higginson, Elder Topham, and Elder Hill. We were only missing Hermana Telfer. We felt like little kids, giggling and chatting and catching up on how everyone´s first weeks had gone. I was so uplifted and emboldened in seeing them! Like a little branch of District family that will always be dear to my heart.
The training was great. We learned about Baptismal records, how to keep them and where to send them and what questions to ask. I was very grateful for this, seeing as Marcelo´s baptism is this Saturday. After this training in the chapel, we broke off into smaller groups. We new folks had a session with President Giuliani. He caringly asked how we were doing, and what struggles we face in our first week. Some new misisonaries--including one sweet, young Elder from Brazil--expressed their intimidation for contacting (tracting). I expressed my concern for how to use the afternoon hours during the time of the siesta effectively--President explained that fixed appointments with investigators is the best option--preferably not knocking doors. . . . I was so grateful for president Giuliani and his love and patience with us through our newbie questions, and wanting so much to hear our thoughts. I love how President Giuliani is teaching me ever more about Father in Heaven. He listens with such love, knowing the answers and has so much experience. Yet he always listens so patiently, emanating with sincerity and wisdom. He knows how hard this is for us--what changes we undergo, hardships we face. The awful things we have to see sometimes, amongst the world. And he loves us for the good we do, and sees such potential for who we can become.
After our meetings with him, we had one last meeting with everyone again in the chapel. The theme was obedience, and the importance thereof in everything we do. When we follow what we´re asked to do, we will see success in our missionas and have the protection of God.
Pictures! PIctures with everyone from our beloved MTC 41B district. chatting. Catching up on everything. Spanish--oh so neat to talk so easily in Spanish! I love them so much!
Afterwards we split back into our zones. We voted on where to go for lunch, and ended up opting for a chinese joint. The funny thing though . . . there was hardly any chinese food! An eggroll or two and some fried rice, but other than that . . . noquis, empanadas, milanesas, papas. Argentina food OTRA VEZ! I just giggled to myself. It was fun to talk with the Elders from chile and the states.
While we waited in the terminal for our collectivo, we decided to whip out our hymnals and sing a few. The acoustics were amazing, my goodness! Our voices reached into the echoey, spacious ceiling of skylights above us. A few fellow terminal waiters listened and smiled. Live music isn´t very common here, and rarer still are voices on key. I don´t know why, but singing isn´t as natural here for folks. I loved the loving stares of a little rubia girl and her mother, their rare blue eyes watching with soft smiles. It was a marvelous moment to realize we were sharing the gospel with them through song.
Collectivo ride--I thrived on the peace of the hum of the bus, the quiet, and the time to finally read my letters from home. I didn´t have any letters, physically, before this point during my time in Argentina. From Rachelle--3 pages of beautiful words, her first summer as a married woman in her new first apartment with Reid. It was so wonderful to hear from my precious friend. From Casey--near 20 pages! I loved it! A detailed account of her a capella tour trip to New York. Her detailed narrative of this marvelous adventure she had seeing NEWSIES on broadway and passing taxis and singin in Carnegie Hall. I loved it, every precious word from my cousin. My sister, more like it. I can´t wait to sing with her again. I can´t believe the beautiful woman she´s becoming so quickly, the firm testimony she holds in her heart, the beautiful soul she is.
From my brothers Tyler, Jordan, and Corey--drawings that made me laugh and sigh like I always do when they crack me up. Words of love, support, and the mischief and adventures they´re causing at home. What fine young men they´re becoming. From mom--a lovely little note and a bracelet from Lake Powell! It´s actually really cool, it has a mini dream catcher woven in the middle. She titled the envelope "Sweet dreams" appropriately.
A piece of home, so perfect and so needed in that moment. As I looked out the window at the flat Argentina Landscape, with it´s little homes made of brick and cement, and dirt rising up in the racing clouds next to the bus--I thought of them. I thought of this adventure we´re having, I´m having wiht Hermana Alicea, and it made me smile. I can´t wait to share it in stories to my family, my children, my grandchildren--forever. I´m striving to live it and serve it right. I missed my family, as I always do, but as I missed them I did so with such joy. I love them! And I have miles to go before I sleep, to quote Robert Frost, my favorite poet. I know my time and service here will only make our time later all the sweeter. God always does that. He accepts what simple things I bring and sanctifies my offering.
That night, cena con la familia Ermácora. Riquisimo. Como siempre.
The next day, Jueves. Thursday. Hermana Alicea and I had a 5 hour weekly planning session. We had a lot to plan, you know! Between Marcellos baptism and all our investigators, we wanted to make sure we got it right. One of the Goals we made was to never speak in English, to help us both improve. Castellano only.
After planning, we left for contacting. And you know, we knocked on this door. A young fellow with curly dark hair asked if we speak English upon hearing our accent. When we explained that we for sure do, a lesson ensued completely in English, with this 19 year old Jovencito who teaches English at a local school. It was one of those moments when you know God has a sense of humor. We had a fantastic lesson with him on the front doorstep, talking about the precious truths of the Gospel in our own tongue. It was a fun moment to feel like a stateside sister again, with Sister Alicea. His name is Federico, but asked us to call him Fred. We´ll be going back this week to give him the only copy of the Book of Mormon in english I have, besides my own set of scriptures. I brought it with me from Washington with the intention of finding someone in the Alabama airport to give it to, but didn´t have the chance. I´ve been marking it with questions of the soul from preach my gospel, and how the BOM answers those questions. It´s all ready, set to go to give to Fred this week. Tender mercies.
Saturday was spectacular. We had 3 lessons with investigators with members present, and had Marcello´s baptism at 7 pm. Hermana Alicea and I went early to set up and make sure everything was perfect and good to go. So many people came! It was miraculous! All the Elders and Sisters from our Zone attended, and brought with them many investigators, including an entire family! We had tremendous support from our little Branch. Probably 70 people attended, which is a big deal when you take into consideration that sacrament meeting usually has 50 people or so each week. We asked Marcello the week before which hymns he wanted to sing for his baptism, he chose I am a Child of God and the Lord is my Light. Hermana Alicea played the piano. All of the Brethren who have been such fellowship to Marcello played some part in participating in his baptism. Hermano Rafael Bolaño gave the talk on Baptism, Hermano Eduardo Ermácora gave the talk on the Gift of the Holy Ghost, Hermano Daniel Allasia baptized marcello, and Presidente Antuña gave a brief testimony and welcome after the ordinance. The sweetest moments were when Marcello and Hermano Allasia gave each other a huge, wet hug in the baptismal font, and when Marcello himself gave his testimony before the baptism concluded. He looked to us, and said in Spanish, "This all started with the Hermanas, preaching the word--with that other little Mexicana Hermana, at first." He was glowing, and expressed how God touched his heart and allowed him to open up to this beautiful message of the restored Gospel. It was tremendous to see this man and the changes he made in his life, from start to finish with hearing the word and entering the waters of baptism. Magnificent, truly. Hermana Alicea and I also offered a hymnal duet, Descansa Mi Alma, (Be still my soul), A capella.
The next day was Marcello´s confirmation. Another Miraculous attendance at church, of 75 souls, including 4 investigators! It was also fast and testimony meeting. Marcello walked in wearing a suit and tie, the most spiffy I´ve ever seen him. Before, it was jeans and a polo shirt. The spirit and calm of the meeting was incredible. Hermana Alicea and I sat with Hermana Ilse Puck, Jose & Emma, 10 year old Valentino Allasia, and our miracle investigator Mario, who is also to be baptized this coming Saturday.
The Relief Soceity lesson was on Missionary Work, given by lovely Victoria Ermácora, who just returned from her mission in Bahia Blanca (She knows Paul Stott!!! How is Paul? Is he back from his mission too, along With Kaz and the rest of my Sunday school gang?) and asked the sisters to please help us by giving references. We came out with 17 new references to visit this week. If you know anything about missionary work, this is the stuff miracle is made of. We´re lucky to get 3 referalls in a week. We have our work cut out for us, but we couldn´t be more excited.
When it came time to submit our numbers for the week, we ended up having 8 lessons with members, 7 other lessons, 1 baptized, 1 confirmed, 2 new investigators, and those 17 received references. It was an awesome week. We even got a call from the Assistents to the president last night congratulating us on our work, and telling us that we´re leading the zone. Our goal for this week? To exceed the standards (goals) the mission president has set as a standard for the mission for each companionship. 12 lessons with members, 1 baptized and confirmed, 10 other lessons, 14 new investigators, 6 received and 6 contacted, 80 contacts. Bring it on! We´re so excited!
I know that miracles are possible with God on our side. I love him, I´m grateful that he´s helping two little rubia jenkies who are so new but want to be obedient, see miracles around us. God is good, all the time.
I love you all with all of my heart, but know always that God loves you more and perfectly--and that´s the important thing.