(From Faith's Mom--sorry to send this out so late. Just forgot!)
Carrie, I got your Christmas package this week, and since you said you sent a Christmas CD I went ahead and opened it and have been listening to Christmas MoTab all week. :) I love it! Thank you so much! And those "Soy un Hijo de Dios" pencils?! I was so excited!! It was perfect, and so thoughtful. And I`m always going to remember that you are my sister who always sends me a 20 dollar bill with every letter. I will send your boys 20 bucks in every letter on their missions, too. :) In about 12 years. :) Thank you, really.
Hope, your email had me laughing and crying. (I know.... I am a little more emotional than I used to be.) I loved your line, "Mom and dad have turned out to be quite the entertainers! They have people over all the time!" I don`t know why, it just really made me laugh. And your description of the food and just of home life...haha. You are such a good writer. I am SO excited to read your mission emails. :)
This week, a line from Elder Holland`s talk "The Inconvenient Messiah" came to mind, in which he says, "My mission was not easy." For some reason, as I thought how the mission of Elder Holland--probably one of the most powerful missionaries in latter day history--was difficult, perhaps my mission is not difficult just because of me and my failures, perhaps it is difficult for more reasons than that. I am truly a rough stone rolling, and am grateful for the polishing getting done here on my mission. If I came on my mission just to be a better person this wouldn`t be so hard. But I didn`t come to just learn and have experiences and leave better than I came. If I wanted to just be a better person I would just stay at home and read emails of other missionaries study church magazines and apply what I learn. But I came to help others, to change THEIR lives, to help THEM learn and change...not just me.
I think I have mentioned it before, the BYU devotional titled "Patience" by Neal A. Maxwell. It has helped me so much this week and throughout my mission. I am so thankful for my RM friend Emily Larson for sending it to me when I was in the MTC. Hay que buscarlo y leerlo (you should find it and read it). He talks about the connection between faith and patience and also God`s deep commitment to our free agency, which makes patience necessary. 1 Peter 2:20 is wonderful, too.
I heard that my freshman roommate Rebekah Seastrand got called on a mission to Spain?! Can someone facebook verify that for me and give me her address? I am so excited! That is 5 out of 6 from our freshman dorm with mission calls! Whoohooo! Any other mission call announcements you can tell me about?
The hermanas from a nearby area just arrived in Piribebuy and are going to sleep in our house tonight (hermana pijamada! Sister sleepover!) to travel tomorrow with us to zone conference. We are going to do divisions tonight, which means two FHE`s with members and investigators! Yippeee! We are leaving at 4 a.m. to travel with our zone to a zone conference with Elder Jorge Zeballos of the Seventy (you can look for him in the Conference Ensign!). I am so excited! I am going to attend with plenty of questions in mind and know it will help me a lot. I think Paraguay is getting quite a few general authorities because it`s not doing so hot baptisms-wise, that`s my guess. There has to be some reason we get so many from high up visiting us. There is a perception that missions in South America baptize easily. I think in Mexico their main worry is the elders getting pneumonia from being in the baptismal font all day. But in Paraguay, the fields are a little harder to harvest. There was a day this week when literally every person we contacted told us they're not interested because they are Catholic. It is hard to convince someone to leave their Virgin-worshipping roots. But I truly believe God is preparing people for us. I just need to find them. Pray that we do. Please.
Since you all asked, I will tell you what we did for Thanksgiving. It was a normal day, but since we didn`t have a lunch cita (appointment) that day I made mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, and fruit salad at home. Yep. That`s all I have to tell. And that I have been working on my grateful list. Really, writing a list of blessings I have received throughout my life makes it impossible to deny the love of God. If you ever meet someone who doesn`t believe in God (I`ve only talked to one my whole mission), tell them to make a list of their blessings. After that, for me it would be impossible to deny the existence of God and His love for us.
I have to tell you about Marian and Jorge`s little boy, Kevin. He is three, I think, and the cutest little boy ever. I just love him to death. I have never met someone who literally bounces off the walls until him. They don`t have furniture or toys in their house, yet he finds a way to be in constant motion, and that includes running up to a wall and flipping off of it. I always tell Marian that I want a little boy just like him and she always says, "No you don`t. Kevin is like 5 kids in one."
Although mission can be difficult, I am, in the end, thankful for the difficulties as long as they don`t hinder the progress of the dear people of Piribebuy for which I am responsible. It is a huge responsibility I have. I feel like I have a taste of how bishops and stake presidents must feel....burdened as they hear about so many problems. But thankfully we are not alone. With faith in God, we are never alone. I know that, and for that reason I`m ok. Don`t you worry about me. Just pray for me. :)
I love our Heavenly Father so very much. I am so thankful for the opportunity to do all I can to serve him. Even if it just 1/12 of a teaspoon.
Your Sister Missionary,