Querida Familia Mia,
You'd better believe it. We went to an all-you-can-eat buffet today for P day. We live right off the river Paraná and I thought, well, it's now or never to try the weird water-creature food. My last Birthday I decided I wanted to have 25 adventures before my next birthday. This week I have completed many new adventures--Principally eating an octopus tentacle, but also included is becoming the ward choir director, teaching music in a foreign language, teaching a 14 year old Argentine boy named Elías English, and wearing a Grandma Shirt to church from an Invesitgator in Santa Fe, her name is Sunilda. I am so grateful for the mission field! It actually wasn't too bad. Tasted like chicken.
Miracles, miracles, miracles. It doesn't matter how long I've been in the field, they never get old. Recent Convert Soledad had her twins two weeks ago, and the Relief Society has completely taken over offering the best help! I have been so relieved, especially because as Missionaries there's not a lot of help we can offer--we aren't allowed to hold or pick up children as part of the Legality rules as missionaries. The Relief Society President, Bibiana Moretto, spent an over-nighter with Sole her first night. Nancy and Virginia, her recently called Visiting Teachers, have also taken shifts helping her out at the Hospital. Soledad's family has really stepped up as well--she had formerly been estranged by her parents, but after Sole was baptized, then began apologizing and offering to help watch the other 3 boys, etc. While Sole was recovering in the Hospital, they completely repainted, organized, and Cleaned Sole's small home and built an additional room for 11year old Stefano and 9 year old Giovanni to share. This is truly a miracle and I have seen how Soledad's relationship with her family, her self confidence, etc.Has completely taken a turn for the better since her decision to be baptized. I love her dearly and am so grateful for this shining example of a Single Mom leading her Children in the ways of the Gospel. I have a fervent hope that a widower member of the church will move to Paraná and will come into her life and they'll be married and sealed in the temple . . . .
Other Miracles--the reality of Revelation. I was on Divisions with Sister Van Wagnen from my MTC District. That morning in my Personal Study I read about Nephi and the scriptures that relate his marriage and later when he has children. Both scriptures are followed by how blessed he felt of the Lord. During Companionship study, Hermana Van Wagnen began relating how concerned she is about a few of her Investigators who are co-habitating without being married, and her desire to teach them the importance of Marriage and the law of chastity. I shared with her what I had just read in Nephi and she excitedly thanked me, excited to be able to share what the Book of Mormon has to say about this God given law with her Investigators. It was a miniature miracle of Divisions. The following two divisions we had similar miracles on both ends--Hermana Gudiel from Honduras taught me that we need to be WORTHY in order to be able to teach the Gospel to our investigators, if we aren't worthy the spirit won't testify of our words. Hermana Hawkes from Texas taught me that real Charity is an understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I am learning so much about companionships by serving with many different temporary companions--at times 2 or 3 different sisters in one week, aside from Hermana Rasband--who teach me from their own experiences and spiritual strength. I feel as though I have 32+ sisters!
Another Miracle: Finding Elías! Hermana Rasband and I were in Paraná on different days this past week doing divisions with Different Sisters, trading off the area and traveling to be with other Sisters in Santa Fé and Entre Ríos. It's always an adventure in Divisions because we don't know exactly where our companion went with the other sisters the day before, etc. Well, I was with Hermana Gudiel on Thursday in Paraná. When we prayed about where to contact, we both felt very strongly that we should go to the street named Tacuarí. We contacted and found the home of a 14year old boy named Elías, I had met him in the street 2 times before with Hermana Diorio but had no way to contact him again. He is an English student and wants to learn to speak fluently. It was a miracle to find him and we told him about the English Classes we'd be starting in the church on Saturdays. The very next day at the very same hour, Hermana Rasband was in Paraná with Hermana Contreras from Chile. They both felt very strongly impressed to contact the street Tacuarí. And would you guess who they met? ELÍAS. The very next day. This time they got his phone number, too. We've started teaching him English and are hoping to teach him and his Family about Jesus Christ and the Restored Gospel soon. I have a testimony that God is concerned about the One, and He is very aware of his son Elías. Paraná is a city of more than 380,000 people. He directed us to the same door two days in a row, without any communication between my companion and I. Miracles!
Emiliana is another young woman we began teaching this week. She is 27 or so, is a lawyer, and was fascinated by the idea of another Testament of Jesus Christ. We invited her to baptism but she said she'd need to think about it first.
Recent Convert Dora who was baptized in Hermana Diorio's and Hermana Aragon's time is doing fantastic. She is a little forgetful, we think she has early stages of Alzheimer´s (she's only 63!). She came to a lesson at the church way too early this week, we were still in District meeting. She came with her non-member son Damian who has a few learning Disabilities, and our District Leader Elder Alderetes invited them on in to our meeting to be part of our practice. We set up the chairs to be like a colectivo bus and had Dora and Damian be people on the bus we had to contact. It was so much fun and out of the box! Dora forgot it was a practice and began bearing her testimony to me on the imaginary colectivo, and how she came to a knowlege that this is the true church. It was a divine, supernal moment. Damian told Elder Alderetes and I that he knows this is the true Church, he's just not ready for the committment yet. He's getting there. Afterwards we went to the Family History Center and Damian and Dora loved it, they began telling the members there all kinds of stories about their grandparents and the history of Paraná, etc.
One of our latest favorite friends in the Ward is Priscila, a 17 year old laurel who accompanies us one evening of each week to our lessons. She wants to serve a mission in two years and is doing fantastic testifying and even contacting a few doors. We're proud of her, she's like our little sister.
Hermana Rasband is just one of my bestest friends. We started singing Hope of America songs the other day during breakfast and began cracking up because we're from the EXACT SAME CULTURE. "We're the hope of AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERICA. Rise and shout for AMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERICA. We're the brave we're the strong where the dreams belong!" During morning excercises we sometimes share our childhood crushes. I told her about Cody who bought me a christmas present with his own money when I was 5 and she told me about Reese whom she fondly watched on the elementary School playground from afar. This is probably way too much information, excuse me. But I just wanted you to feel how real the friendship is :) She has taught me to make Yogurt cake and I have made her her first tapioca pudding. Thanks for the Tapioca, Mom. We are a united, hard working team striving to show the Sisters their Worth and to value exact obedience in the mission field. Companionship studies are my favorite time of day because we both share our testimonies of the Book of Mormon and answer each other´s prayers with the truths we share.
I made NO bake cookies for the Elders this past District Meeting with the Peanut Butter Aunt Kristen sent me and they have since declared war, they want to make cookies that beat mine in quality. They're still working on their secret recipe. :)
I love you forever, my family. I like you for always. As long as I'm living your MIKSTER I'll be. This is God's Church. He lives, and he loves you! He hears your prayers! Never forget this truth.
Con muchisimo amor y cariño de todo mi corazoncito,