First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Neal and Sabrina! I don´t have your email addresses, so here´s a public felicidades. I was thinking of you on your birthdays, en serio, and your names are on my nifty missionary agenda. I am sorry I forgot to include this in my last email, but I hope your birthdays were special. Neal, I love you and miss you. I think of you and pray for you often. Sorry it is so hard to communicate. Sabrina, I also think and pray for you and hope school is going great. I love you and am so thankful to have you both as my siblings. I am not just saying that because it´s your birthday. Really, I should let you know that more often and include examples of why, but I just don´t have much time at the moment.
Mom, happy birthday this Sunday! I hope you have waited to open the card I sent you so that you can hear from me on your actual birthday. I love and cherish your emails so much. I am excited on Mondays to check my email even if I only get letters from you and dad. Letters from my parents are really such a joy. Thank you for your endless support and love. I really have the best parents in the world and I thank Heavenly Father for sending me to you.
Thank you for the pictures! It sounds like fishing was such a blast! What an adorable pic of Matthew fishing! You are such fun grandparents. Speaking of which, there was a story in the July Liahona (Ensign, for you) called, "I want to sit on Jesus´s lap" and it sounds like you wrote it, mom! The author is name witheld, but it could easily be you except for a couple tiny details. The grandchild´s name is even Katie. Was it you?
And I am so glad you met with Hermana Springer! Seeing that picture made me so happy! She emailed me and told me about it and said she enjoyed it so much. You are really so great. And thank you mom, for telling me about reading my letter to papa. That made my day to know that he read and understood my letter and even teared up. Sometimes I wonder if I will see papa and grandma again, if they will be alive in 18 months. I need to keep in better touch. I will try to send more letters soon.
Jessica Meza was baptized on Saturday. She is such a good example to me. So sincere in her desire to repent and follow Christ. Her family told her she should wait (they all seem to think you need to know the Bible really well before you should get baptized) but she kept saying, "I don´t know why but I just don´t want to wait! I want to get baptized this Saturday!" She is single and 19 and has a 5 month old baby. After being baptized she bore her testimony and said, "I feel like God is giving me a chance to start from zero again. I am so thankful I have this second chance. I want to be a good example to my daughter. I know this church is true, and I want her to be baptized into this church, too." Hearing those words makes a sister missionary´s heart pop. It was a perfect baptism and really spiritual. Juan Angel, her dad, even came! And her sister, Nila. They both said they want to get baptized soon. Jessica wants to be a good example to her daughter, but really she is such a light in her family. The whole Meza family is progressing so well, and they are so special to me. I love them with all my heart. It would be the most beautiful thing I think of to watch them be sealed in the temple.
Leida was going to get baptized on Saturday, too. All the way up until 11 a.m. on Saturday we were planning on it. But her husband came into town from the Chaco and...for some reason she couldn´t. I don´t really understand, but I´m hoping it isn´t that he isn´t supportive of it. We have met with him before and although he has Word of Wisdom problems, he seems like a great guy and very open to the gospel. So we shall see.
Today I finished the Book of Mormon again. I have read it 15 or 16 times I think, but never has it meant so much to me as it has on my mission. Moroni 7 is by far one of my favorite chapters of all time. The verse about charity hit me so hard this morning, the verse that says, "Charity suffereth long, is kind, is not easily provoked," etc. I felt the spirit so much as I read that verse, and became extremely grateful for the difficulties I have on my mission. I realized that every opposition and temptation is an opportunity to respond as Christ would and to become more chartiable. When I miss certain people or things and realize that I still have 14 months to go....I can choose to suffer long. When I see that my companion got to have lunch with my parents and be in wonderful USA I can choose to envy not. When every group of men we pass calls me beautiful I can choose to not be puffed up (not like it´s a temptation considering they´re probably drunk and I am a sweaty, dusty disaster). When people feel a need to tell me my Spanish isn´t as good as my companion´s or when the people at the baptism complain that I didn´t bring brownies (I took banana bread and carrot sticks instead....being the public health major I am), I can choose to not be easily provoked. When investigators don´t keep commitments or I feel like I´m going to pass out from heat exhaustion (true story) I can choose to bear all things and even hope all things. And if all else fails I can choose to endure all things, knowing that I am doing what God wants me to do. Reading the definition of charity in the Bible Dictionary for some reason brought tears to my eyes and I was filled with the most earnest desire to be a more charitable person. It is a lifetime pursuit. Somedays I feel so far from charitable. I look back on the many opportunities I had to show love and didn´t, or the times when I should have listened more than I spoke, or a million other faults I made...and it is the worst feeling. I feel like every weakness I have is rising to the surface and then even some weakness I didn´t know I had. It is a terrible feeling having sacrificed so much to help people, and feel like you´re not really helping at all. When you think about who you want to be, and realize you are so far from being who you wish you were. But thankfully charity and hope are sisters. As my friend Marc Jay wrote to me this week, "Lleva tus cargas a los pies del Senor, y te ayudara." (Carry your burdens to the feet of the Savior, and he will help you.) I do believe that. As we take our burdens to the Lord, He will help us. Oh I am so thankful for Him and His ever- outstretched arm.
Mom, you will like this. I made a green smoothie this week. Half a head of lettuce in a glass. It was awful just like I remember. But I think I´m going to try and drink them more often. We have a blender that I never used before, so I might as well use it. I also bought some black beans this week to make at some point.
This week on Wednesday my comp and I fasted as part of an effort to purify ourselves, to be more pure instruments in the hands of God, more able to let the Spirit work through us. We have goals for the next 40 days to help us be more focused and more exactly obedient. I hope some spiritual experiences come as a result of it.
One day this week we found out some shocking news about an investigator from some members. It is complicated and unneccessary to explain, but to say the least it was really hard on me. I didn´t want to think about it so I didn´t write in my journal that night. The next day we got mail from our district leader (yippee!) and I got a letter from a friend who said, "If you are slacking in your journal writing, I would exhort you to recommit yourself, because it does indeed bring the Spirit more into your life." I wrote in my journal right then, and realized all the good things that had happened the day before when all I could think about at the time was this depressing investigator. Journal writing makes you reflect, and when I reflect I realize how blessed I really am. When I look back on my life or on my week even, I am literally overcome with gratitude. Why me? I don´t deserve all I have been given. Journal writing does truly bring the spirit into our lives more.
My nephew Ethan sent me a letter that began, "Dear Aunt Faith, How´s the gospel?" Well, Ethan. Let me tell you. The gospel is beyond description. It is the good news that no matter what we have done, we can repent. It is the teaching of Jesus Christ that with faith we can have power to do all things. It is the beautiful knowledge that this life is not all. I am so thankful for the gospel and mostly for Him who taught it. May we go and love as He does.
The Most Blessed Girl on the Earth
photo 2--To show you both my great tan lines and to BEG you to send me some socks like the ones I´m wearing. They are nowhere to be found in Paraguay. Black are best. Not the thin nylon kinds, but the thicker sock kinds. I know they are expensive, so I´m sorry. Thank you so much.