Thank you so much for the wedding photos! Oh they are so great! I love our family so much. Paulette, thank you for the email, but mostly thank you for getting married to a wonderful guy and choosing to do such a great thing. I think you are a good example of something I have learned lately, that all we really need is love in life. Everything else is trivial compared to that.
Carrie, you look gorgeous! And mom, that CAKE! Way to go! And the little neices and nephews are all little jewels of sunshine in those pictures. So precious.
So on Tuesday at 11 p.m. we took a bus to Asuncion and arrived around 6 a.m. and I waited for a few hours, met my companion, and we came back and arrived back in Concepcion around 8 that night. My companera is Hermana Quispe (keys-pay) from Peru! She is amazing and I really feel this companionship was so inspired, it was a real answer to prayer. She has only been out on the mission for three months more than me. This is her first new area. And she doesn´t speak a lick of English. :) This has been a source of a lot of frustration at times, but it was what I wanted. Prayers are really answered. But I should write something new for once. I miss Hna Springer a lot, but it´s also been pretty satisfying to not just follow her around, to actually contribute. I am the only one who knows the people here, who knows the area, who knows the background of everyone to know what to teach them. I prayed to have productive days and not get lost, and we have had great days and not been lost for a minute.
She has an incredible story. She has only been a member 10 years, and her dad died shortly after she joined the church. Her mom was less active up until she left on her mission. She is one of four children and is the only missionary. She is 23 and studied architecture in Peru before. Her mom didn´t want her to go on a mission now, she wanted her to finish school first. But she felt she needed to go now, so she did. I am learning lots from her already and am sure this change is going to be miraculous. She already made some great Peruvian food, too. So it will be miraculous and delicious. And I haven´t spoken a word of English to anyone in almost a week, so I will be learning a lot. (Even our new district leader from Orem UT won´t speak in English to me. Sheesh.)
As you can see from the photos, we finally had the Meza baptism! It was so beautiful. Everything went great. The weather was nice, we had a great turn out, heartfelt talks and a tearful testimony from their member friend who baptized them, Alex. The third picture that I attatched is probably my favorite picture from my mission now. Isn´t Selene just glowing? She is 10 and she has been so excited to get baptized from the beginning. Right before the baptism there was discussion of who would go first, her mom or her. And she immediately volunteered to get baptized first. She didn´t want to do it just because her mom did, she wanted to get baptized no matter what. That made an impression on me. That morning I had read a talk by Elder Packer called, "A little child shall lead them" and this was such a good example. I think it is partly because of the Meza girls' love of the gospel that their mom wanted to get baptized even though her husband can´t yet.
It is also like the 5 year old daughter of our branch president, Arami Gomez. Her grandpa is the man we baptized in June. He had been learning about the gospel for 10 years and wanted to get baptized, but couldn´t quit chewing tobacco. But little Arami always watched him and asked him why he didn´t stop. She watched him constantly (when we asked him if was reading the Book of Mormon, Arami piped up and said, "Yes, he reads it every day! I watch him!). She had quite an influence on him, and he quit chewing and was baptized. Little children are so precious, and we have so much to learn from them. I can´t wait to have 12 little ones of my own. :)
I also had a new thought on trials this week. We visited a less active who I just really love, Gloria. She has been a member for 10 years but is a single mom of an 18 month baby, and feels embarrased to go to church with this baby since everyone knows she´s not married. Hna. Quispe has a sister who is pretty young and also a single mom. She was inactive for a while but has returned to activity. But because of this experience (and her fluent Spanish helped quite a bit), Hna Quispe was able to talk to her, understand how she feels, and touch her heart in a way we have never been able to before. Within minutes of sitting down and sharing a scripture, Hna. Quispe had Gloria in tears and committing to go to church. We have difficulties not just to learn and grow ourselves, but also to help us relate to others and be able to understand them and have compassion when they go through similar things. Christ himself suffered all so that He would be able to succor us "according to the flesh." As we experience and overcome trials, we become able to act as saviors to those who go through similar experiences. We gain the highest-quality type of knowledge, experiential knowledge, that enables us to say, "I understand." And at least to me, there are fewer words more comforting at times of sadness or hurt than to hear someone say, "I understand" and really mean it.
Speaking of trials, today I have been writhing in pain in bed all day with a stomach ache and nausea and dirrarhea. I don´t know what I must have ate or drank, but my companion is fine. I am pretty weak and miserable right now as I type this, but the elders were so kind to go get me some Gatorade so I had the strength to walk to the internet cafe. On top of this I have had a headache and sore throat the majority of last week. And with a new companion and not being able to connect very well with the language barrier, it was a hard-ish week. But bring on the nausea, the pain, the freezing cold days and the blistering hot days, the disappointment of investigators not keeping committments, the stress of not understanding perfectly. I would feel severely jipped if I had a mission full of roses and golden investigators and companions who were my best friends from day one.
Here is a quote that I invite all of you to take a few minutes to ponder: Love of God is the root of all virtue, of all goodness, of all strength of character, of all fidelity to do right." Gordon B. Hinckley.
I love you all so much and am so thankful to have you as my family. Carry on. Love God. Love is all you need.
Your Sister Missionary who could really use some Dear Elders,