Thank you for the updates, as always. I love to hear your adventures from Bike rides to weekend movies to what you learned in Sacrament meeting. My heart and prayers are with you. And Soon, I WILL BE WITH YOU TOO! Gah! Isn't that exciting?
Two tuesdays ago we head over to Naty & Dario´s home. There is always A TON Of people there, the family situation is a complicated one. But all the neighborhood kids feel very welcomed over there, very loved, so on top of the family there are a whole bunch of Friends that are always there. Naty and Dario had traveled to Cordoba, the 20 year old daughter Belén was in charge but Had company over and was less interested in letting us stay to teach. The kids--the numerous group of 12+ kids or so--were outside jump roping. I had a flashback in my mind of the scene from the Joseph smith movie, when he has the running race with all the little pioneer boys. I felt impressed to take a moment to play with them, so sister Briggs & I placed our bags onteh side of the yard and I shouted "¡Me toca a mi!" I jumped in to the twirling rope as the kids chanted "uno, dos, tres, cuatro . . . " I got to 16 jumps or so and then hermana Briggs and the other kids took their turns. I paused a moment to think about How we could turn this moment into a teaching experience, and then made a deal--if I jumped more than 25 jumps then we would all pause and read from the Book of Mormon. They all heartily agreed and twirled the rope faster and faster to try to get me out. I prayed to just make it to 26 because at this point my wool tights were slipping down and I felt like Bert in the Mary Poppins Penguin Scene. I got to 26 and we dropped the rope. Tito, age 8, Joana, 12, and Pamela, 15 went running inside to look for the Book of Mormon copies while Ale, Milagros, Dillan, Facundo, Micaela, and other neighbor kids gathered with Hna Briggs and I on the outside carpet. We prayed and read for a while in Alma 40 about the Resurrection. Some were a little riled u from the Jump Roping but Facundo, age 9, and Micaela, age 12, were eating it up and beaming when we spoke of Christ.
This Work is SO worth it to me. Many of the Kids--I'd go to say ALL of them--come from dysfunctional families and broken homes. Many of them have said that they want to learn more and come to church with us. Hermana Briggs and I are hoping to teach them soon, in their families with their parents. There is no balm so powerful as the atoning power of Christ! I have seen families grow, heal, laugh together, cry, and start to make lasting memories as they have learned and applied the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The people, the FAMILIES of Galvez are no different. Great miracles await their families too. I pray that the Lord will soften the hearts of the parents of these cute jump-rope kids.
I wrote in my journal on August 6th, "It was an interesting day. Hermana Briggs and I have felt uner the weather, I have a bad chest cold and she has all the symptoms of the flu. We headed out after she'd gotten some rest aas we knocked in front of a little blue house when she whispered to me, "I NEED A BATHROOM." WEll, just as she said this a little gray-haired woman mosied outside the front door and to the gate to speak with us. I was very cordial, "Somos las misioneras de la Iglesia de JesuCristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días . . . Oh, ¿Cree en Cristo también? Maravilloso . . . " I was trying to be formal and respectful but also knew that my Companion needed me to take action. Before the woman ended with a "Chau Chau" I asked "Podría dejar pasar mi compañera para poder usar su baño?" or "could my companion please use your bathroom?" I was so grateful when she smiled and said "Si, pasen." While Hna Briggs glede to the Lou I began to chat with this kind woman and her 30 year old daughter who is pregnant, Both are named Nelida. THey are humble, sweet women and began sharing wtih me their concern in raising well-mannered, good-valued children and grandchildren in today's world. I opened to Moroni 7:12-13 and explained about the way we can discern in order to protect our families. They enjoyed the message we shared, had a prayer, thanked them for the use of their Bathroom and wouldn't you know, we set a return appointment for Saturday. It was a tender mercy. :)
In The evening we headed to Sergio's to see how they were doing, a stop-by visit, nothing more because we didn't have any sisters that could come with us. Hermana Briggs gave Sergio and Gabriel pass along cards with Jesus on them to share with their friends and family. Sergio began to explain that the day before he had been in the Doctor's office for a bad headache and began talking with a woman in the waiting room. She began to explain to Sergio that she didn't attend any church any more. Sergio began to bear His testimony about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints. She expressed that two elders had visited her years before. Sergio asked if she had felt happiness and peace when she had listened to their message. She expressed that she Had, and Sergio smiled and told her that She can feel that way again, and if we (the Sister Missionaries) could come by and visit her. She said yes! Sergio has to double check on the address but he was so excited to tell us about it. Hna Gallegas, a mini missionary that served here before us with Hna Dean, sent him a text a few days back and asked how church attendance was. He responded "Maso." (Mas o menos, or so-so). She then told HIm that within weeks the attendance should be 70+ people, and that He has a responsibility to make that Happen. HE took that invitation personally. Hes such an example to me, he isn't even a baptized member of the church yet and he's out sharing the Gospel. Then he goes on asking where he can buy a hymnbook and if we could please start teaching him about tithing, because he and his family want to start paying their tithes. Hna Briggs and I could Hardly keep up with Sergio's earnest questions and the three little ones who asked us for another time around singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes." Or "I belong to the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints." They are eating up EVERYTHING we are teaching in Primary and bring us so much joy to see them already living the Gospel with such Fervor.
We are overwhelmed by the tender mercies Heavenly Father is just POURING over our heads here in Galvez. Sergio & Gabriel & Aylén & ESteban are among the Tenderest of Mercies in my mission. Hna Briggs & I feel between them and Pichy's family, we have our own Gálvez family.
Friday was my last Zone meeting. Our zone leaders are absolutely sweethearts, they know that Gálvez is far away from EVERYTHING, like a land island, and so they bought us Peanut Butter in santa fe and gave us a whole container. HEAVEN. They shared incredible workshops on effective planning and how to develop Christlike attributes. At end of the meeting were the good-bye testimonies of the finishing missionaries, and it was a strange walk up to the front. I bore my testimony through smiles and with teary eyes the reality of this marvelous work. I shared that the only way we can truly love others is by asking, we have to ask God to fill us with the pure love of his son because there is no way we can create it without him. I explained that although I have to take off my missionary plaque in a few weeks, I am forever grateful for the missionary plaque that Christ has painted in my heart for me. I explained that the greatest sacrifice was leaving my family behind, but in doing so God opened my eyes ever wider to see and to love my spiritual brothers and sisters and serve them as the great big family that we are. We closed by Singing the Spirit of God, one of my favorite hymns. Hand shakes and kindly "Goodbyes" and "See-you-laters" were exchanged.
Sunday I awoke with so many attacks from Satan in my mind. Feelings of inadequacy, thinking awful things like "you're not good enough" "you've failed on your mission" "why didn't you learn that sooner?" "what kind of failure are you going home as?" and on again. It was awful. I prayed for relief and searched in my personal study for understanding and pleading to feel my Heavenly Father's love and acceptance and to cast out these unwelcome feelings of self doubt and fear. I know that faith can't abide when I feel that way! My sweet companion, Hermana Briggs, offered me words of love and support in comp study and I found some scriptures that helped me feel better. When we headed to the little chapel in the afternoon and I began teaching primary, a rush of the Savior's love washed over me as the children began singing "Amad a Otros," "Love One Another." I felt immediately relief, confidence, understanding that God loves me! And that he is proud of and pleased with everything that I have sacrificed and offered on my mission, and that I will NOT return in vain. The 4 kids in our little primary gave me smiles and laughter and wanted nothing more than to sing the primary songs--they're quite fond of Music and Sharing time, which is just fine by me, We're kindred spirits those children and I. The spirit surged in that tiny warehouse chapel primary classroom. I thank my Father in Heaven on High for the way I felt the Love of Christ in that sacred Moment in Primary yesterday.
My dear family and treasured friends, DO NOT DOUBT YOURSELF. God loves you. You are his child, he knows you perfectly, and YOU ARE ENOUGH. Trust in his commandments, follow them, and you will be happy. Of this I testify!
To close, I want to share something I've been pondering in Preach my Gospel under the section "The Power and Authority of Your Calling." It states on Page 4 "Missionaries are to go in the power of the ordination wherewith they have been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel. You have the authority to preach the gospel. If you hold the priesthood, you have the authority to administer the ordinances thereof. As you prayerfully and worthily exercise that authority, you will receive spiritual power, which is evidence of the reality of your call. Do not be afraid or shy about fulfilling this commission, just as the Sons of Mosiah, you are to teach with the power and authority of God." I would like to direct this message in particular to my brothers Austin, Tyler, Jordan, Corey and my cousins Matthew, Spencer, Josh, Tanner, Devin, and Brendan--THIS PARAGRAPH APPLIES TO YOU TOO. Each of you have the Aaronic Preisthood and have been ordained to the office of a Teacher or above in the Aaronic priesthood. Did you know that it is your duty to share the Gospel, too? It says concerning the responsibilities of a Teacher in D&C 20:59 "They are, However, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ." That is my same responsibility, there at the end, as a missionary my purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. Don't forget the power in your priesthood, as I must not forget the power in my calling that was given to me by the authority of the priesthood. Boys, I love you. Carry on doing a great work and a wonder in your corners of missionary work in Utah. I love you! Don't be afraid to share the gospel.
And keep on biting the moon :) It's a Hna Briggs, Hermana Boren Phrase. It came from a night when "Bite of more than I can chew" and "shoot for the moon" got samwiched together. Keep on biting the moon!
With love, ever so much love for all of you, For the people of Argentina, and for my Savior,