Monday, August 27, 2012

"Fear not, I am with thee." (Photos at end.)

GAAAAAHHHHHHH the gospel is so true, my life is so great, God is so good, and I am so happy. If you`re pressed for time and don`t have time to read my email, that`s a pretty good summary.
I don`t really know where to start. I am sending some pictures because we took a bus to the next town over, Caacupe, to get better internet, tour the big Catholic basilica, and have lunch with the elders. The first picture is of a little girl named Sonya, in Concepcion. Then of the Meza girls, Mercedes and Milene. Oh, man, I miss them. And then the familia Urbieta, some recent converts of about a year in Concepcion who are going to the temple soon to be sealed. The next is of Piribebuy. It`s spring time right now and there are beautiful blossoms everywhere. and the last is of Hna. Greer and me just now in the Catholic basilica.
Last week I contacted a young man, who we usually don`t contact because they whistle at us and stuff, but I just did. And then I asked if we could teach him a lesson right then and there, which I usually don`t do. He said yes and we walked to his home nearby and taught him with his family, who turned out to be pretty Catholic. We didn`t plan on going back. But yesterday this young man, Nelson, showed up at church! It was the most pleasant surprise. That NEVER happens. He even stayed for all three hours. After church we asked him why he came, and he said very simply, "Quiero cambiar." (I want to change.) He said he woke up that morning and decided to read a few pages of the folleto (uh...pamphlet I guess) we left him, and then he decided he wanted to go to church. His family told him all these reasons he shouldn`t, but he said it just went in one ear and out the other and he left. He even had to walk really far to get to church. We ran into him a few hours later on Sunday in town, and taught him again and he accepted a baptismal date. It was such a testimony to me that there ARE people prepared to receive the gospel, people who DO want to change. And it is the best feeling in the world to find them, to offer them the one and only thing that can indeed change their life now and for eternity.
I love my new companion, Hermana Greer. Seriously, she is such a great friend. Not just because she`s my companion and we might as well be friends, but because she teaches me so much, she wants to work really hard, we have a lot in common, and it`s just enjoyable to work with her. I feel super blessed to be companions. I am already a better missionary thanks to her. And I think that is what a true friend is, someone who makes you better.
I have gained a real testimony of the scriptures in Doctrine & Covenants that talk about how God protects missionaries. As part of the PDFHAHT act (Prevent dad from having a heart attack) I won`t describe all the potentially-dangerous things that have happened. My point isn`t to make you think I am so tough and living on the edge of adventure, but quite the opposite--that I am so protected. It has become more obvious than normal to me lately. For instance, as you will probably read in Hna. Greer`s email, I tripped and fell one cold, dark night this week when we were running to an appointment. It hurt pretty bad at first, but I realize that it could have easily been much more serious and damaging. Instead all that I was left with were skinned knees and elbows. There are times when I can almost feel God`s arms around me. I feel like He also protects me from saying the wrong thing sometimes, and helps me say the right thing. A couple of times recently I have been saying something that I hadn`t planned on saying...the words just kind of came before I could stop them from leaving my mouth.
We are teaching the dad of a family with 10 kids that are mostly all members, and the wife is a member. The dad, Celso, pretty much only speaks Guarani, and they live way out in the boonies, like an hour walk from everyone else. We take a member with us every time to translate for us. This week we wanted to do a good FHE with them. I thought about how we could visually and creatively teach their family, and immediately I thought of a Sharing Time that dad did in the Sedona Primary once. He came in, as a visitor from the bishopric I guess, and pointed to Sean Libby and said, "How old are you?" and he said, "7" or however old he was. And then dad said, "No, you`re not." And then he asked every kid their age and then said, "No, you`re not." Then he had a long rope and said that only one tiny little centimeter was our life on earth, that we lived long before this life and will live forever after. We did this for a lesson on the plan of salvation with a jump rope and it was great. Another night this week we wanted to plan a fun FHE and I thought of David and Goliath (because you know me and my new-found love of Old Testament stories) and I thought of how once in seminary Brother Sorenson had a big Goliath that he drew on a huge piece of paper, and we shot marshmallows at him with a sling shot. So, Hermana Greer (she`s an awesome artist) drew a Goliath and we bought a little sling shot and shot beans at it for another great FHE, that we are going to do again tonight. I am just so thankful to have been the recipient of so much creative teaching that I now can use with others. I want to be a missionary who knows how to grab the attention of even the most dazed if you ever come across ideas, send them my way!
I really haven`t thought about what I am going to tell you in my email this week....I suppose I should include that we went to Asuncion for a zone conference on Wednesday, but that seems so long ago. 
Mom, thank you for your sweet emails. I read them and just can`t help but say out loud in the internet cafe, "Ahhh....I love my mom!" You are so supportive. I live for the words of the emails from my parents. To you, it`s just a weekly email, but to me it`s so much.
Carrie, I really felt the spirit as I read your email. First of all, you are everything BUT a failure, and second of all, I know exactly how you feel, and third of all, yes! the Atonement does fix everything. The atonement is like a computer. We don`t understand how a computer works, but we use it anyway. I love that everything that is unfair about life will be made right through the Atonement, even if we don`t know how.
HOPE! Thank you for filling me in on Spain a little bit! I have been thinking about you all the time! I am so excited for you! I wish I could look at your blog. Link my blog to yours and they can be sister blogs. :) Hold the rod of the word of God in Spain, Hope. Really study your scriptures and conference talks or church magazines to remind you what is most important in life and where you are headed in the grand scheme of things. Use your study abroad as a time of spiritual growth. And, the scirptures use 'vosotros,' so that is good practice. :) I love you, girl.
How do you like having both your daugthers oceans away speaking Spanish, mom and dad? We are honestly sooo blessed I can`t get over it.
Well, sorry for a fairly lame email. My mind has been very involved in the work I haven`t had time to think of what to say. I love you and am so thankful for your emails and support.
Your Sister Missionary,


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