Not gonna lie, when we found out we didn't have changes, we were kind of bummed, especially with the whole situation with the ward, but we have seen so many miracles this week. I made a goal with myself to do something for my companion every day of this change. And it has made SUCH a difference. I began to make her bed, or make her breakfast when she didn't have time to make something, or little things like that, and it is so amazing to see the difference in our relationship. We are good friends now, and it is so much easier to bring the spirit into our lessons when we testify and support each other.
On the subject of Jacob 5 and the pure love of Christ, I was also reading there this week, and I was thinking about our ward. There have been so many disasters, so many people hurt or offended, that the people who have been here for a while don't really feel the spirit or see the true reason behind the gospel. The youth are amazing, and we have some awesome converts and some less actives with some great potential. I was reading in Jacob 5 and it was talking about how the main, old natural part of the tree died and the only things growing from the still living roots were young, tender branches (youth). In order to save the tree, the master of the vineyard grafted in wild branches (converts and less actives), that eventually gave the same fruit as the natural branches gave at first. So...we have to find people to baptize and reactivate. No pressure.
We had a lesson with a member couple yesterday, and it was on charity. We asked him, "brother, how would you describe charity, the true love of Jesus Christ?" And he said...tithing. TITHING! We were like...um, yeah, so you just failed that little exam, like big time. This same member has been like persecuting a less active..ready for this story?
So, about 4 years ago, there was a member lady who spoke to this brother about tithing, and apparently he began to talk about her tithing problems the next day in SACRAMENT MEETING: so, naturally, her daughter threw her shoe at him in the middle of sacrament meeting. What would you do? Anyway, for the last 4 years, they have been bothering this sister, like not allowing people to serve her, to the point that they told the missionaries that they couldn't visit her. So, we went to visit her. When we went, we clapped, she came, and asked us, "Do you know how to sing?" We said...yes? and she said "do you know the hymn Come, Come Ye Saints?" and we said...yes? So she let us in. We started to ask her questions, and she told us, "You aren't here to ask questions, just to sing." So we said a prayer and began to sing Come, Come Ye Saints. About halfway through the song, she just started to cry. We finished, said a prayer, and left.
We went back this week and just got blown away. Me not so much, but my companion was ripped apart. We went back and clapped, and then she came out and just started to rip into us. Not even us, almost everything she said was aimed at my companion. She called her an idiot AT LEAST 10 times, and began to tell the both of us that we were just little girls here and that the only reason we came was because we didn't have anything to do at home, and really no one was going to listen to us and just a bunch of CRAP. My companion began to cry...and that NEVER happens. We were like...okay...? We are pretty sure that she is just trying to put on a tough face to the world, as if to say that she doesn't need anyone else, including God. Flip. We were kind of a little traumatized, but we are going to go back and just love the heck out of her...can you say that? We just hope that we have the spirit and that somehow it can touch her heart.
This week got me thinking. Really, what have I done here? I feel like just another person, trying to do good in a world where they want the bad because they don't know any better. A sister finished her mission about 3 weeks ago, and when we finish we have to answer some questions, one of which is what have I left to Paraguay? And I thought...hmm. I don't even know. I feel like I haven't done ANYTHING. I am working, walking in the sun, sweating to death, and all for what? There are still so many people who need what we have, and every time someone gets close to being baptized, Satan begins to attack like crazy from all fronts. Not gonna lie, I was kind of depressed. But then I found a quote from Mother Teresa that says, "My work is a work of love, not statistics." I was like...WHOAH. We are working with lives here, almas (souls) y su salvaciòn (and their salvation). It doesn't matter what we do if we do it with love and the desire to touch the hearts of other people, and help them change their lives.
This week was rather psycho. We only had one normal day of work, and lots of other activities. We had a Zion's Rescue on Saturday in another ward, so we spent the morning over there. A Zion's rescue is when all of the missionaries and youth from the stake come to one ward and we do splits with the youth and go to the less actives in the ward. I was able to be with two awesome young women, and it was fun to help them make contacts with people. It kind of reminded me of when I was training and was scared to death of contacting...it helped me to see a little bit of progress:) We were able to find 2 less actives and had an amazing lesson with one of them. It was such a good experience to help these young women learn how to give their testimonies and help to bring the spirit into the lesson.
One awesome thing (okay, 3 awesome things) that happened this week was that we were able to teach Paula again, the lady with which we spoke last week about the Atonement. We finished talking about the plan of salvation, and how the things that we do in this life (like baptism, for example *cough, cough*) have a huge impact on our eternal progression. When we finished, she asked us, really quietly, "When would I be able to be baptized?" We were like...um...this has NEVER happened before...someone is asking to be baptized! We were on cloud nine for the rest of the day!
2nd awesome thing-our ward has been struggling with the whole unity thing for a long time, and this week, we had an amazing attendance at the ward family night, we almost had the whole congregation there, with less actives and investigators. We had lots of games, soccer, ping pong, Zumba...it was pretty great. And what was even better was that it wasn't because of us. Some of the members had called or texted some less actives and lots of members to come, and it worked, and now people are starting to build relationships with the other members, something that hasn't happened for a really long time.
3rd awesome thing-we had 5 investigators in church! Hilda Ojeda and Zaida Rodriguez will be baptized this weekend! Hilda is 67 years old, and has an awful open wound on her leg from diabetes, and she came to church, and in gospel principles, she totally bore her testimony, and for us as missionaries, we were so happy that she has begun to develop her own faith in the prophets and the Book of Mormon. We are teaching her to read by the Book of Mormon, and really, we can see the Lord's hand in her progress! Zaida is 13 years old, and we are a little skeptical with baptizing younger people, but she came to church by herself, and has really shown that she has a testimony and wants to progress.
My trainer was just called to be one of the sister training leaders of the mission...how cool is that? I was really blessed to have her as a trainer, especially as I hear of all of the horror stories from other people.
Oh yeah, I wanted to tell you, last week when we went to visit a new investigator and we started to talk about the Atonement, and this lady was so incredibly stressed about her son and his drug addictions. She told us that she had basically lost hope. And I felt prompted to share with her the story of the Atonement. That thanks to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, her son can repent and move on. It was SO powerful, and she just started to cry. The Spirit was there, and in this moment I was so grateful for my own personal testimony of the Atonement that allowed me to relate to this woman. It would have been so easy to simply judge her, but to have a testimony that fit her needs was a wonderful feeling. This was an amazing revelation for me...just that sometimes, when we have trials, they are just things that we need to overcome so that we become stronger and less judgmental, and become more like the Savior.
Anyway, it was an amazing week, and we will have two baptisms on Saturday, just the blessings of God arriving so fast that we just don't have room:)
I have been thinking a lot about how the mission has changed me. This is my goal, that I can permit God to change me so that when I return, I will be a faithful and useful servant to Him in all aspects of his kingdom. I hope that I will be changed, and that I will be someone that has charity for everyone. I found a quote from Elder Nelson, and basically he says that the decision to serve a mission and the understanding that we obtain will determine our spiritual and eternal destiny, as well as the eternal destinies of our posterity for generations. I hope that this experience will be like that: something that will change me so that I will be what God needs me to be. I have a LLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGG way to go. Dangit.
Also, I wanted to tell everyone thank you for the mountain of letters that I received last week, I had letters that were sent before Christmas...I don't even know how that worked, but it gave me a "heart attack!!":)
I love you so much, and I hope all is well at home. I hope you have a wonderful week! Be happy and be grateful in ALL CIRCUMSTANCES!!!
oh my heck i love you!:)