I hit my halfway mark this week on the 11! Sooo crazy. Since Ididn't write last week I have a bit more to catch up on. This letteris going to be all over the place. First and foremost- Alivia andHannah's baptism! The day was great. So many people in the ward showed up, they had a lot of support. It's been so cool to see the ward get involved with their family and with missionry work. We had a lessonwith the girls three times a week for a month and each one was in adifferent members home, so by now they feel very much a part of thisward. The last one began like the first, at Bishop Bushey's After their baptism many came up to us asking if they could teach with us sometime. Win win. We made a little slideshow I will attach with some of their lessons with the ward that we showed at the baptism. Hannah and Alivia's mom is not a member, and she had a great experience.
MLC in Pittsburg last week was amazing. Being back in downtown Pitt made me miss the east side- that will always be home- but it was a fun weekend. We stayed the night with the Clarkson's- the senior couple from England. They're hilarious. Elder Perkins from the seventy came and trained us. He is a really cool guy- he is in charge of all the social media for the church including lds.org. The best part of having visitors at MLC is the Q&A we get to do with them at the end. Someone asked him how he manages to balance his calling as a seventy, his career- he works at the number one law firm in the world, and his family. It's kind of a miracle considering General authorities are traveling something like 48 out of the 52 weeks in a year for their calling. He read 3 Nephi 13:33 and stated simply that when you put the Lord first everything works out.
As always... Tuesdays are my absolute favorite days. All in one day we get to see the Reid's, the Remmington's, and the Kerns. Those days help me put my own problems into perspective, I learn so much from them. It has become a weekly tradition to sing for June before we go, and this week as we were leaving, after she listened to us, and we hugged her goodbye, she just said "I love you." My heart melted, haha. She is a lady of very few words, so it was so sweet.
We have been able to teach so much in spanish this week! I am in heaven. The hispanic people are just such a different culture- so kind and warm and friendly. It can also be a challenge figuring out which are actually interested and which are just being kind- they really can't say no! Haha. There is one family in particular I am very excited about. Laura and Juan. We taught them Friday night. We were on exchanges, and I was with an English missionary, so I translated for her- Sister Douglas. I absolutely love teaching in spanish. There is always such a different spirit as we teach in their language, we rely heavily, and sometimes solely on the spirit to guide us what to teach, and the words to say. This week I was thinking about my spanish three months ago, and four months ago, and nine months ago. I have been so so frustrated feeling like I was going nowhere, but I realized I had come a long way. The progression is very slow, but it is coming. I am nowhere near fluent, but I'll keep working. I have been translating the Book of Mormon from Spanish to English word for word since I have been out in the field, and that has helped a ton. Reading the scriptures in spanish and reading them aloud has helped me more than anything.
Anyway- Laura and Juan. We decided to read 3 Nephi 11 where christ comes to the people around the temple. They are just so sincere, they have been reading the Book of Mormon as a family- they have two little girls. As we were leaving Laura thanked us for coming and teaching their family, she said she is excited to learn more and they will be waiting for us to come back. It was so cool to be able to translate for Sister Douglas- the spirit came from her but the words came from me, you can't translate the spirit, but I know they felt it. This is the very reason Hermana Yolanda comes to church every single week even though she doesn't speak or understand any English.
The tricky part is that there is no spanish branch here, let alone a ward. There is ONE spanish branch in the mission. And like I said, it's attendance is struggling at about nine people right now. The branch is in Lancaster, which is north of me, where I think I will go next. But point is, if they come to church it will all be in english. It will take a lot of faith.. There is a possibility of us translating for them through headsets but I don't know if I am at that level yet to be able to. That's the problem with teaching Spanish in the states... I've got a lot of hope for this family though.
Sunday nights are up there with my favorite day of the week. It is the night Yolanda goes out with us to teach. We are still working on contacting our huge list of spanish referrals together. We met an amazing lady named Luz (spanish for light,) this week. She has so much potential, she is already living all the gospel standards including the word of wisdom- which is a miracle in PA and MUSIC to our ears, and is so ready. She just hasn't grown up going to church so it's the habits she's lacking.
We also got to teach Rodrigo and his family again this week. We had an awesome teamup- Courtney Baughman, an RM of one year from Brazil, and her fiance who she met in Brazil, Marcio. They both understand spanish but only speak portuguese. Marcio tries to speak spanish but I'd call it more Portunish- a mush of spanish and portuguese. It is so cool- whenever they talk to eachother I can understand everything! same roots. Portuguese is the weirdest sounding language, it's like drunk Spanish. But that's next on my list once I get spanish down.
Sunday night we also got to teach Mammaw with them- who happens to be Courtney's grandma. We taught about eternal marriage, and their added testimonies were so powerful- they have both lost parents in the last three years, and plan on being married in the temple in January, needless to say the temple is very important for them. Mammaw lost her husband three years ago, and until tonight she had not realized she could be sealed to him even though he has already passed away. She just cried, she had no idea, she thought it was too late.
It's been cool, we have met some new people by accident as we've contacted those referrals. One was Ken, the new resident in the home listed. We figured out it was not the guy we were looking for when he was an English guy, and started talking to him anyway. He told us it wasn't a good time, that his wife had just passed away. As he did, he just broke down and started weeping on the doorstep. We both couldn't help but cry watching him, and we were able to tell him we wanted to come back and tell him how he could see her again. It was on exchanges with Sister Douglas, but we both felt we should share something about temples- something that you wouldn't ever normally do on a first visit. I asked him if he remembered his wedding vows, when it said 'til death do us part.' At that point he said "yes and I always hated that, I always told me wife that I hated that. And now she's gone, and I'm heartbroken, I am never marrying again." We explained very briefly eternal marriage. We are going back to see him Saturday, but I've been thinking about him all week. The stranger who opened up to us like that, I cant even imagine what he's feeling.
Couple last things. We had zone conference this week, the best one of the year- December zone conference. All about Christmas. Sister smith and I sang Nearer my God to Thee in Spanish. We got to watch the PPM 2015 video. We're doing our best to fill our twelve days of Christmas with lots of service opportunities every day. So far it's full of caroling, food pantries, service for members, etc. It'll be a great Christmas. Christmas Eve we put together a singles Christmas Eve party for people in the ward who would be spending it alone, it'll be super fun hahah. Christmas Day we will be with the Atkinson's again where we were for thanksgiving, among others. (👇🏻Mi mama- Hermana Davis!)
I am warming up to this ward. Saturday night was our Christmas party, it was so good to go and be around them. I think they are warming up to me as well. Every time I see cute little Alivia in the halls she comes running up and gives me a big hug. Brother Cook, the first counselor in the bishopric just said 'a lot of people are really going to miss you when you go.' The ward surprised us by calling us up in front of everyone and having Santa give us presents hahah. It's a good ward. This picture is with the funniest lady in the world- granny. She's hilarious. Literally every time I go over to see her (She's sister sutherland's mom,) I just die laughing.
I am coming to love being an stl. After every exchange I feel like I've made a life long friend. I love that I get to know many more missionaries than I would normally. I have the chance to talk through whatever their struggles are and help them. Most of the time they just need someone to talk to about their comp that's driving them crazy, hahah but there have been times where I've felt I've been able to make a real difference in helping some with serious issues. And that feels just as important as the work I do with the people here. So although I spend much much less time working in my own area, I love my calling.
Last good news. This week we went to Faye's house to deliver her cards from the ward and by some miracle they answered the door! It was Christian her nephew and caretaker, but it was the first time we had been able to make contact with them in months. Later in the week we heard from Faye we may be able to go back and see her again. We would have to be scrubbed up and wear face masks because of her immune system, but I am so happy. I really hope to see her again soon.
Lastly, I wanted to give a special shoutout to my sweetheart.(: Hunter leaves this Wednesday for the Uruguay Montevideo mission. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. You're going to make a one of a kind amazing missionary. I'm so proud of you Hunter, I love you. Te amo mi amor, hasta ver.
Hermana Sears. 💜