Querida Familia de mi corazón,
MOM!!!!! I am so so so so so so proud of you and the missionary experience you prayed for--and had! Taxi contacts are one of my favorites because it's a captive audience. Thank you so much for your example, for following the spirit and talking with Abdul from Afghanistan, and offering him a Book of Mormon after sharing your testimony about the reality of a loving God in heaven. Good golly, I wish I could have been there, but what Xenia said is TRUE. I am so proud of you and the missionary you are, in word, conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, and in purity (See Timothy 4:12). Onward Christian Soldiers!
There's a favorite song of mine that has come to my mind over and over and over again this week. I know you're familiar with it,
"I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason,
Leaving something we must learn. And we are lead to those
who help us most to grow if we let them, and we help them in return.
Well I don't know if I believe that's true, but I know I'm who I am today because I knew you."
Galinda sings this song in one of my favorite musicals, "Wicked." This is what I feel towards every one of you, and towards every person that I encounter in the mission field. There aren't coincidences! God plants people in our lives who shape us, help us become better, have wisdom to offer us. As we pass hundreds of people on the street and talk to hundreds of people each day in Paraná, I can't It was a joyful week. This week we had divisions with Colón, a little tourist town about 4 hours drive from Paraná, on the River Uruguay. And guess who is serving right now in Colòn . . . wait for it, drumroll . . . HERMANA ALICEA!! Oh my goodness it was such a delight to see her. There are four sisters in Colón, and I didn't have the opportunity to be her companion for a day (I had the privilege of divisions with her Companion from Ecuador, Hermana Macias) but I did have a few moments with her while I was with the other companionship of sisters, with Hermana Maza and Hermana Calderón. They have neighboring apartments and the four sisters in Colón are like a family. Hermana Alicea truly has become one of my lifelong verybest friends and seeing her and the miracles they are working in Colón gave me a new energy to keep working and loving and serving as they are ever doing. We sang our favorite hymns together "Come Thou Fount" "Be Still My Soul" "Homeward Bound" "We Thank Thee o God For A Prophet," etc. I am so blessed that she is from Las Vegas and won't be too far away when I return home. Family, I can't wait for you to meet her. You will love her so much too!
Hermana Diorio and I keep on keeping on here in Paraná, doing a lot of searching for new investigators and a lot of nurturing the recent converts. Gabriel, Eric, Soledad, Giovanni, and Stefano are all facing trials that come to many recent converts after their baptisms. It is hard to leave the world and enter the Church, they leave behind a lot of the customs and unhealthy relationships behind, having to stretch and grow to fill their new lives with the wholesome of the gospel. Pray for them, they have strong testimonies but need blessings and strength.
During 500 baptisms contacting these past weeks (see my email from the past week to know what I'm talking about) We encountered a delightful couple named Pipo and Adelma. They are in their 70s, and Hermana Diorio felt very strongly that we needed to talk to them. They were getting out of their car and entering their garage on the other side of the street at the end of the block, but we went with the prompting and scurried over to talk to them. They were just a delight, invited us into their home--Pipo held the door open for us like a classic gentleman--and had us sit in their soft chairs in their front parlor next to the garden. This is in the uptown Paraná, there`s a lot of different scales of economic status here. As we began to share our testimony of the book of Mormon, Pipo piped up and said "Tengo algo a mostrarles," and headed into his personal library for a moment. When he returned, he had two copies of the book of Mormon that looked like they were from the 70's and 80's period, one was light blue with an angel Moroni on the front. Apparently two different members gave him copies decades ago. We were flabbergasted as he began to explain he needed a little help understanding who Nephi was and why his story is important. We gladly explained that that's our job as missionaries to teach. So we gave Adelma her own copy and began to also testify of the Restoration, prophets, How we have the book of Mormon through the Prophet Joseph Smith, etc. It was incredible to see their eyes light up! We invited them to baptism and they resisted because of their Catholic roots, but we hope with General Conference this weekend that they will gain a testimony of the Priesthood and Prophets. We'll wait and see. Miracles.
Humberto showed up to church yesterday. We hadn't taught him for two weeks because he wasn't progressing, but he explained to us yesterday that he has felt different--an absence of peace--since he stopped coming and we stopped having lessons. He wants to come back and still has a desire to be baptized. We have hopes that he'll keep commitments this time and will be able to be baptized April 19th.
I love my companion. Hermana Diorio and I have service wars--one morning I'll sneakily make her bed while she's in the shower, and the next morning, she sneakily makes my bed while I'm in the shower. When I left for Colón this week I left a note on her pillow, only to find that she had written "I LOVE YOU" in my planner a few weeks before. It makes life so MARVELOUS when we love others and are loved by others. Like Dad always chose to sing in family night, "There is beauty all around, when there's love at home." It's true! The Mission Field is no exception!
I hope you enjoy General Conference this week! Enjoy the words of the living prophets. They are true servants of our Heavenly Father with his Authority to administer his Church. I am more than just a little excited, General Conference is like a Christmas Present for me. And how special it will be to have the Sunday Sessions on April 6th, the anniversary of when the Church was Restored on April 6th in 1830.
In closing, I have been studying in Mormon this week, and was brought to tears when Mormon explains in Chapter 3 verse 12: "Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heartñ and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for themñ nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts." Mormon was truly the last line of righteousness that there was amongst the Nephites, along with his son, Moroni. He loved when it wasn't easy to love and prayed for his brethren, but they continued in wickedness. I was also touched to know that God did not abandon his faithful servant. Mormon was worthy to have a calling and administer to others, but there were none worthy to be his home teachers, bishop, priesthood leader. Mormon explains in Mormon 1:15, "And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus." When Mormon was utterly alone in righteous doing, the Savior himself visited Mormon and administered to him. We have a merciful, loving God, as you and Abdul discussed in your taxi drive, Mom. He never leaves us alone, to the point that if no one is worthy to be our home teacher, he sends his Son Jesus Christ to minister to us. I testify to that love. I have been blessed all my life by worthy, Priesthood holding servants of the Lord, and they have been his hands in my life. I taste and know of the goodness of Jesus, too.
With much love and a hug and an Argentine kiss-on-the-cheek (p.s. prepare yourselves for those!)
Hermana Mikayla Boren