President Madariaga came into town today from Asuncion, and he brought mail for us, and I finally got your package today! Thank you so much for the supplements, mom. I took 4 immediately. Most missionary moms send american candy and chips and stuff, but you send me fruits and vegetables in a capsule. :) You are indeed perfect and so perfect for ME. And dad! Thank you SO much for the CD´s! I think my companion and I are both grateful because we only have one (well, and hymns in Spanish which we listen to QUITE a bit). Good music really brings the Spirit to our apartment, and while I have been washing clothes and making FHE treats today I have been listening to those CD's, and it has been such an uplifting p-day because of it.
It sounds like you are really doing so much missionary work in the ward, both of you. And God is using your Spanish ability mom, to bless menos activos! I´m sure it´s not the end of you using your spanish to bless others. I can see you two serving a mission and I just get so excited when I think of it. Seeing President and Hermana Madariaga always makes me think how (even though you shouldn´t seek for such callings) I would truly love to be a mission president´s wife, because serving a mission is so fulfilling, and the only reason I am excited to go home sometimes is because I am so excited to get married. So, to serve a mission with your true love...preaching the gospel and having miraculous experiences together...I just don´t think it gets better. And to dedicate your lives to serving and helping other missionaries as a mission president would be rewarding. It would be a great opportunity to "wear out your life in the service of God."
A couple weeks before I left on my mission I was in the temple and a nice old man working in the temple asked me if I had served a mission. I said I was about to leave, and he shook my hand hard for a long time and looked me in the eyes and said, "It will be the happiest and the hardest time of your life so far." He was so right. Here is some of the happy and hard from this week:
Herminia was supposed to get baptized yesterday, but she´s kind of been avoiding us lately and still lacks one church attendance. Hard: seeing people who know the church is true postpone blessings or not act on what they know. Another example of this is Sulma, who seems to have gotten several answers to prayer, reads the Book of Mormon, prays, etc. We told her on Saturday we were going to pass by her house on Sunday morning and walk to church with her. We woke up extra early on Sunday, left the house at 7 to walk to the opposite end of our area where she lives, and she didn´t answer the door. I´ve never felt so rejected in my life than on my mission.
The Meza family is doing so well! They are becoming so integrated into the ward, making friends. We´ve started teaching their two teenage daughters and last night they both said they would get baptized the 11 of August. Happy: Watching your recent convert say a prayer in church, knowing that just a few months ago before your visits she never would have done such a thing. Happy: Hearing that the Meza girls played "missionera" for hours one night, arguing over who got to be Hermana Goimarac and who got to be Hermana Springer. Precious. Mercedes (she is going to turn 8 in September and is dying to get baptized) made us a precious card that I´ve included a picture of. That little girl is going to be a Paraguaya Pioneer here in Concepcion for the church. The next district primary president or something.
On Friday I made two loaves of homemade bread, and wanted to give one of them away but didn´t know who to (there are lots of options). Hna. Quispe said to just put it in my backpack and see who we find who looks like they need it. She is very good at finding opportunities to serve others. We were walking along and next to us a little girl was pulling a cart with her little brother in it. They were walking home from doing laundry as a job. After washing clothes all day she had only earned 7 mil (about $1.75). We offered to pull her cart for her, for which she was very grateful. Her house ended up being kind of far away, and everyone we passed watched very intently the two foreigners in skirts pulling this cart. We pulled up to their house to see one of the poorest families I´ve seen yet. We asked to talk to the mom and she came out with 4 little children in tow. Happiness: handing homemade bread to a sweet little hungry family in the middle of Paraguay. Hard: Having the real bread of life and not being able to teach it to these people who need it so bad, because they only speak Guarani. Por lo menos, I used my handy guarani phrase of "Ikatunanemboe?" (Can we pray?) and we prayed with them.
Hard: Expecting lots of investigators at church and having none (until Leida came the second hour). This happens all the time, yet I never ever get used to it or even expect it. It is devastating to me every time.
Happy: Yesterday Leida came to church! Man, can you say happiness?? I didn´t know if she was going to come again because we´ve been teaching her like crazy but she hasn´t come to church for two months. She seems to be really eager to get baptized finally. Yesterday when we were at the Echague´s for our traditional sunday almuerzo she called and invited us to her house for cake for her birthday. Her husband was in town and they were celebrating. It was so nice of her! Only, when we got there she had a whole lunch spread out for us, too. Two lunches. Whew. And it was funny because she thought Mormons don´t eat meat (guess we taught the word of wisdom real well).
Happy: Tuesday night we were way out far from home when it went from dry and hot to pouring rain. We tried to visit some investigators to wait it out but none of them answered their doors, so we just booked it and ran for home. We had just been talking with Sulma about things we´re afraid of, and Hna. Quispe admitted she´s terrified of sapos (frogs). While we were running home we came across quite a few huge frogs, the size of softballs. Nice shrieks from Hna. Quispe. :) I´m pretty sure that I would consider being caught in a rainstorm fun and not miserable only on a mission. Good thing I love being a missionary!
Happy: Having your very first interview with your mission president, and him telling you that you´re not an average missionary, but an outstanding one, almost perfect. Even though he´s way too nice, it was very encouraging.
Also, a little note: if any of you reading this think that you´re poor, just remember that if you don´t have to wash your clothes and your dishes in the same sink, you´re much better off than me, and I´m one of the most blessed in Paraguay. And if you don´t have to wash either because you have a dishwasher and a washing machine....well, then. Wow, you´re rich.
I bounced out of bed on Tuesday feeling great, thank you for all your concerns. I truly felt that it was an answer to my prayers and an answer to the prayers of my family. I hardly didn´t eat anything that day to make sure I didn´t get sick again. My testimony of prayer has grown so much on my mission. I KNOW that prayers are answered. I KNOW that God hears every single one. I don´t know a lot of things, but if there is something I know now it is this. Sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is that we have to wait, sometimes we don´t know what the answer is even, but I know it is always answered. I´m so grateful for the hard and happy experiences I´ve had that have taught me to rely on prayer and to recognize answers better.
Most people here believe prayers are answered, but they tend to think they can only pray for things like health, daily bread, or work. I love to teach them that we can also pray for answers to our questions, we can receive not only temporal blessings but information. This week I knelt to pray to really ask God something I wanted to know. Hna. Quispe was in the shower so I prayed outloud. It was different than the normal prayers I pray out of habit. It was a prayer really seeking something. And as I knelt there asking, I was overcome with the Spirit and a feeling of love from my Heavenly Father. I am so thankful for Him, for His listening hear. He truly is there to help us, to hear our complaints and our questions. He is our perfect parent. How I want everyone to know that THEY can pray to their Father, and He will hear and answer them! I love Him so much.
And, I love each of you-- Sabrina, Carrie, Jared, Tom, Paulette, Levi, Neal, Hope, Mom and Dad.
Your Sister Missionary,
1. Happiness is a sweet card from Mercedes Meza, with her testimony on the back.
2. Happiness is your investigator not inviting her other friends, but the missionaries for her birthday!
3. Leida´s daughter Ana. Does she not look just like I did when I was 4? She even loves dolls and loves to sweep the floor, just like I did when I was her age. Oh, so precious that family. Leida´s husband is Brasilero, that´s why she´s blonde.
4. A man who called us over to hear the "palabra de Dios" and actually just argued with us gave us some grapefruit, which we consumed Paraguay-style. Very nice of him.
5. This picture does not show very well just how drenched we really were. Also, I love Hna. Quispe.