Monday, September 12, 2016
Hola,There is absolutely no chance I will be able to express a portion of my thoughts and feelings of the last 18 months of my life.
"16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent"
I will be forever grateful for the lives I was able to be a part of, and those of you at home who have made the load bearable.
Les amo. Les vere pronto.
One last time,
Monday, August 22, 2016
Haha ,I was surprised to open an inbox full of trunky emails from my family! I suppose it's allowed.. but honestly I don't think about the time, I am in denial, that's for sure. It always catches me off guard when someone reminds me.. In my mind this calling of mine is never going to end. Or so I will keep telling myself the next 10 days.. It does hit me at times though, hard. And when those times come, it feels like a stab to the heart. My companion has been so helpful and supportive though, letting me talk through my nerves when we get home for the night and finish planning and the name tags are off, haha.
(Back to ignoring the elephant in the room) This week was super great. The best part was taking Karina and her two kids to the temple open house in Philadelphia. Natanael was working and couldn't come, sadly. They're so great. The night before we went to the temple we had a lesson with them, we weren't planning on inviting them the next day in hopes he would get a day off so they could all go together, but we both felt we needed to invite her or she wouldn't go at all. We already had the trip planned to take another investigator (who ended up falling through anyway.) When we invited Karina she was like Yes! Wait... the kids have appointments tomorrow.. And Natanael was just like... Cancel them! Go! So she did.(: Before I talk about how awesome the temple was, another side note from that lesson. So we had a member with us who's a convert of 3 years, and bless her heart she was so excited about being there to teach with us she ended up spilling everything from the word of wisdom to three kingdoms to everything in between haha it was out of control and there was nothing we could do. Anyway, at one point she started talking about how as missionaries we "suffer." How we go hungry, thirsty...etc. Made it sound like we're poor and starving. (Because we don't get fed dinner here, we usually only eat one meal a day, haha. So somewhat accurate.) So we felt super uncomfortable. They were like "Why didn't you tell us?!" Natanael looked at Karina and just said "Las ofresca los macaronis!" (Offer them macaronis!) So they both ran to the kitchen and cooked us dinner, even though we tried to assure them we are just fine. She's huanaca (from El Salvador,) so everything they make is suuuper good. They're both super funny.
So because I came from Lancaster and had been told I could attend the open house back before the mission swap. Sister Christiansen took us. She is sooo incredibly kind. Even though she doesn't speak spanish, she and Karina's two kids had a great time. The temple is beautiful. When we were in the sealing room, her son who's 9 looked at his mom and said 'mom, you need to get married here,' after the couple giving the tour talked about how marriages performed here would last forever. Because the temple was open for the public and full of people, the only time it was completely silent was when they took us into the celestial room. Afterwards, Karina said that as she sat in there she closed her eyes and was praying and imagining that God was here with her, and when she opened her eyes she was surprised that the room was full of people, and even the little ones and babies were silent. On the car ride home, her daughter who's 5 just said 'mom, I like where we went today.'
On the way home we had a lot of time with traffic to talk with her. She has no doubts about the Book of Mormon or the church, her only hesitation is that she was baptized just 6 months ago in another christian church. They are so prepared.
Hermana Hart and I have worked so hard this transfer to figure out how to teach together in the way that these people need, and we seem to have finally figured it out. The spirit is so evident in every lesson- everyone we teach not only listens, but understands deeply what we are saying. It is evident in their questions, their comments, and their prayers pleading for God to show them "if this is the way He wants them to walk." We have had some of the sweetest experiences, and all while literally dripping buckets of sweat, hungry, and tired. Haha.
This week we've had one too many encounters with the prostitutes that are on every corner in the areas where we work. It is so sad. Sometimes we will be talking to someone, then while we're talking to them they'll flag a car down and be gone. One time this week we had found a less active member on the street by coincidence and were talking to him and a girl looked at us, sat right next to him and started trying to.. advertise. This is such a normal ocurance here the member did not blink an eye, didn't look at her, so she got up and walked away. These girls are persistent! Talk about motivation to make sure to talk to everyone before they get to them haha.
That's all for now.(: Have a great week!
Monday, July 25, 2016
WOW it's been an interesting week. First of all I made it to Baltimore. We actually live in the city of Towson, but spend 100% of our time downtown west Baltimore. WOW haha. That's all. I don't know where to start.. or what to share haha maybe I'll save details for in five weeks.
From the very first hour I arrived here I was already devastated my time is so short here. Honestly the biggest struggle has been struggling with being content with the short time I have been given here. Every day ideas run through my head how I could manage to extend another transfer, but I know plans have already been made.
Me and my companion had an interesting experience this week. By the way, her name is Hermana Hart, and she's the greatest person ever. From our first lesson together our "comp unity" has been through the roof, haha. I was definitely blessed to be given a companion like her, that not only works hard, but does things a lot like me. She cares a lot about being genuine with people, creating real relationships. Something I haven't always had. So anyway, we are both really looking forward to this transfer. Saturday night we sat and talked about everything we wanted to accomplish this transfer, everything we wanted to change, and made goals. Overall, we just decided to lose ourselves this transfer. Something that missionaries often do, but things don't change and it just becomes talk. So the next day, we put it into action. From the train, the metro, the bus, and chasing down families on the streets talking to EVERYONE, we were literally seeing miracles all day, it was amazing. So we have an early curfew here, we have to be out of the city before dark. So after visiting a member we're teaching, (and eating everything in her fridge- we each had three tamales, 5 taquitos, tomatillo chicken, and flan, but that's another story, ((you eat what they put in front of you))) we head to the bus stop. We're waiting.... and waiting... and waiting.. the bus wasn't showing up. The sun went down, and we both found out exactly why the curfew exists. We were stranded in the city. I started praying, and praying, and praying, and finally it decided to show up haha. We were saved. After watching some horrendous things happen on the bus, we got on the lightrail to head back, thinking we made it. Then an announcement comes on and announces that due to construction the last stop would be North Ave, still 45 minutes from home, STILL in the city. We had to call some sisters to come get us out. Anyway, we were pretty frustrated with the whole situation obviously. When we got home we were talking about it and and both realized what was happening. Basically we came to the conclusion that the harder we work, the more opposition we're going to have. It was like Satan saw we were really carrying out our goals, and was trying to distract us.
One of my biggest worries here is that six weeks wouldn't be enough to make a difference in the lives of the members here, or have a relationship with them. But this week we had a couple experiences, and with those few members I already feel like family. The people here beyond humble me. One day we decided to go see a sister we are teaching, and it turned out she was being evicted from the room she was renting in a house, and had one day to get out, with no help. She has three young boys, ages 1-7, and her husband left her a few months ago, forcing her to work for the first time in her life. We came back the next day and helped her get everything into the new place- a tiny dark room in the basement of a house, with ceilings no taller than 6 feet for all four of them. But she was thrilled to have it, and beyond grateful for the help. We got to talk to her for a long time as we helped her unpack. Everyone has their own time to return, and this is hers.
Side note- the roaches here are nuts. When we took a mirror off her wall in the old room, not kidding at least 200+ cockroaches that had been huddling in one big mass behind it immediately scattered to every side and corner of the room, and the ceiling surround us, hahaha. The worst part was when we came back no more than 60 seconds later there was not one in sight.
After we finished the job, you could tell she felt so relieved that everything was going to be okay. She took us out to get tacos after, and treated us to tacos de pescado, cordero, cabeza, carne, nopales, and carne de piel. Fish, lamb, cabeza (picking parts of the brain out of that one,) salted beef, cactus, and pickled pork skins. (Those ones are so chewy you just have to try and swallow them whole, hahaha.) I'm back to eating like a Mexicana, it takes a minute to re-adjust to habanero peppers a chile in everything haha.
The branch is amazing. It's a lot bigger than the Columbia branch in Lancaster, which had no families or young people. Little kids speaking spanish is my favorite thing ever, they're all my friends already. There are three sets of missionaries in this one branch.
It has been really interesting adjusting to the mission culture in the Maryland Baltimore mission. I didn't realize how different things would be. It was really hard the first few days. I was still waiting on a confirmation that this is really where I'm meant to be, but I didn't wait long. It came the very first time we sat down in our first lesson here, as I was reminded that it really doesn't matter how much the mission culture around me changes, or how different the missionaries are, my purpose has not changed. Every reason I decided to be out here is still the same, and it's the people sitting across from me as I teach. I have never had a hard time loving the people I serve on my mission, but here it has been immediate and overwhelming. There are days it will just hit me how short my time is, and that I can't do this forever.. and I just cry. haha. I can't tell you how grateful I am for a missionary like Hermana Hart, she has already helped me personally so much. She is also the only companion I have been able to speak spanish with all the time, which will mean huge things for my spanish, only having served a total of six months in spanish work. We are going to do a lot of good together. The best companions are the ones who are willing to work with you until you're so tired at night you're falling asleep in nightly planning. The longer you're out the more you're just drained, everyday. I read a talk this week that talked about how fast general authorities age, because of how much they are filled with the spirit, and their physical bodies can't keep up. That is honestly how it is as a missionary to a degree.
Anyway, things are very different. But I definitely got exactly what I had been praying for for the end of my mission- to be forced out of my comfort zone so I would continue to grow til the end. So much more has happened, but not enough time. I love you all, Baltimore is a serious adventure everyday, I love the city, and the people even more. Don't worry mom, the blue light districts aren't so bad when the lights aren't flashing. Hahaha
ps. the church is true.
Monday, July 18, 2016
So.. first things first. Transfer calls came- I'm heading for the
Inner Harbor Zone in Baltimore. My area is called Alameda, I know
nothing about it. Except that I will be serving in a spanish branch!
I wish I had more time today, hopefully I'll get to it next week.
Saying goodbye to yet another ward/ branch family was rough. I'll
always have a very special place in my heart for these people. I know
I was sent there because I needed them as much as they needed me. This
has definitely been the area I've had the most personal growth-
intellectually, spiritually, physically, haha. At times it's put my
faith to the test, tried my patience, and pulled tears, but overall
it's been the most growth I've experienced in all 20 years of my life.
This week we had a cool idea to go downtown and chalk out the
entire Plan of Salvation on the sidewalk so anyone walking past would
take a walk through the plan. It was a really cool way to talk to
people, and everyone was so much more receptive than I thought.
Unfortunately someone played me well and I stole my iPad as they were
pretending to be interested and took off. Luckily the elders are very
apple savvy and have the location tracking, so if the guy turns it on
it will sound an alarm, lock, alert them his location, and bring up a
message I wrote to him asking him to return it. I'm pretty bummed I
lost everything on it- pictures, but most importantly notes. All my
journaling had been in my notes, some really important stuff. Maybe
this guy will end up joining the church when he hacks into the iPad
and realized the only thing he can access is gospel library. Haha.
Packing time, sorry I don't have much time today.