Dearest Family and Friends,
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.
My chains are gone, I've been set free.
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood his mercy reigns
Unending love, Amazing Grace.
We sang this every time we had a meeting in the Washington Tacoma Mission. The gorgeous WA-TAC. And I have sung it so often to myself or quietly in the Argentina streets while I've been here. I express often to our less active members and investigators that "musica es una ventana a los cielos," "music is a window to the heavens." It is so true for me! And this song expresses what I feel in my heart so profoundly. Unending love, amazing grace.
This week was beautiful. It started with rains to make us feel like Noah would be coming around the bend in his arky-arky any minute, and ended with rays of AFRICA-HOT, as Dad says. I once thought Utah weather was bipolar . . . I'm certainly not going to claim I'm as tan as Corey gets in the summer time, but . . . I'm getting there :) I'm excited to see a green Christmas here in the Southern Hemisphere! Also, Corey, you would love the stars. They are different constellations than the northern hemisphere, and I catch myself still looking for the Big Dipper at nighttime. Sometimes we can barely see Orion's belt on the horizon, but nothing more is familiar in the night sky. I wonder what kind of star pictures belong in this part of the atmosphere. Aren't the creations of our God and King magnificent?
Lots of teaching the past days, one of my greatest life joys and passion. 9-year-old-Brisa now has the whole story of Joseph Smith's first vision memorized and often reads and recites it to her Mom. She is a shy girl, but we're trying to help her feel more confidence and realize the angel that she is and the divine potential that she has.
Alfredo, the Argentine-Bill-Cosby, came to church again this week and wants to be baptized! If all goes well this week with teaching and understanding, and as his conversion process continues, he will be ready to enter the waters of baptism November 30th as well. The other Sisters Here in Cañada (Hermanas Rane y Carlson) have two investigators with baptismal dates for November 30th as well. If all of them come through, we will have 4 wonderful, strong new members of the church confirmed with the gift of the Holy Ghost on December 1st in the Cañada de Gomez branch. How exciting!
Our recent endeavors have also included contacting every family that is on our ward list that doesn't come to church. In our area alone, we have more than 45 houses to visit. GAH! We've met many and have fixed appointments with several. We're hoping to get these good sheep back to their fold.
The other day we were walking to visit one of the less active homes when Hermana Martinez suggested that we take another route. I agreed to have a change of scenery, but it turned out to be very inspired. We encountered a motley group of people chatting outside a lovely home in the summer shade, about 11 am on Saturday morning. We stopped to talk with them--A darling Grandmotherly woman named Victoria, A young, hip, 25 year old mother named Vanessa and her baby, and three friendly kids named Gabriel, age 11, Amilcar, age 13, and Fiambra, age 9. Come to find out, none of them are related except two of the children, who are siblings. They are just neighbors, Gabriel lives with his family down the Street, Vanessa lives in the house next door, Amilcar and Fiambra had ridden there bikes here from around the corner, and Victoria was sitting contentedly talking with them all on her front porch. This is what I love about Argentina. All kinds are friends. They had all just stopped to spend some time together and talk. They gladly invited us to join, and Hermana Martinez and I gladly sat down and began to talk with them. We struck up conversation about families, and expressed that their families are a forever thing--that through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will live with those that we love forever. Victoria seemed squirmish at first at the idea, like it was too good to be true. She kept shaking her head and saying "No es verdad, no es verdad." But Gabriel piped up, "Yo lo creo," he said confidently, "I believe it." And something changed in Victoria's countenance. A little hope struck, from that confident pureness of her young, neighbor boy. She promptly began asking if we missionaries were well taken care of, who feeds us and if we had enough to eat, and then went inside to fetch us two bananas. I was overcome by her kindness, and she then invited us to come back whenever we could to gather some bread and cheese from her another day. Soon, Gabriel, Amilcar, and Fiambra began asking me a flurry of excited questions about speaking English and the United States--Gabriel was particularly interested in the Spurs Basketball team--and we began exchanging words in English and Spanish back and forth. Gabriel generously gave me two Bon-o-bon chocolates. All the while, Hermana Martinez is sitting with Vanessa teaching an in-depth conversation about the importance of Baptism by proper priesthood Authority. It was incredible. We left with a prayer, a thank you, and an invitation to return promptly. That moment was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father. Sometimes I wish that every day as a missionary could be that easy--sharing the gospel with such willing, listening ears to people of such sincere hearts.
Learning much and loving much. Remember always that you are loved on High, and loved from here in ARGENTINA!
Ty guy and Jordan, Happiest of 15th birthdays! I LOVE YOU THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS much!