Sunday, September 15, 2013

I've never been so profoundly happy to clean glass. (photos at end)

Dearest Family,

So many feelings, so many experiences...all from just the past 7 days! Where do I start? And I have like 20 minutes to try and fit it in. We used our p-day to clean the temple! Yes! The PĂ raguay Asuncion Temple of the Lord! I was in the celestial room just minutes ago. A lady in my new ward was asked to clean every Monday and invited us and we nearly leaped with excitement. It`s been like waiting for Christmas ever since we planned to go. Oh how I love the temple. Hna. Owen and I got to clean the glass that goes around the baptismal font and also go down and clean the 12 oxen. What a blessing. I haven`t been in the temple since April, and the next time I go will be right before I board the plane. Oh man, talk about emotions. 
Even though we worked for 2 hours in the temple, I can`t say I cleaned a speck of dirt. It was already spotless, but it needs to be cleaned anyway. That is the church`s method of cleaning, to clean before it ever gets dirty. That`s how they try to keep the MTC, too. It is a marvelous comparison to keep ourselves in constant analysis and repentance before we even feel dirty. Walking into the temple today, with my great companion, in PARAGUAY....I just feel more blessed than blessed can be. I wouldn`t rather be anywhere else doing anything else. 

Mom and dad, I can see that my comment about the 4-lane highway has you on the edge of your seats. I assure you that I am careful and I realize that missionaries are not invulnerable. I promise I will be careful. 

Hope, I am so happy you are living my dream life on a Colorado farm! What a perfect place for you. I just loved your emails. I hope everyone is taking advantage of the fact that postage is cheaper to Colorado than Brazil and are sending you lots of letters/packages. I will pray for your investigators who have a date for the 21st. What an exciting time. What a life we live. 
On Saturday we had some baptisms of our own. I kind of had 5, because we had 3 here and there were 2 in Isla Bogado---dear Cristian and Rosana! I sent a different email with their pictures. Oh man I am so happy for them. I was thinking of them all day. Through a miracle they got the 100 mil guarani (like 20 bucks that was impossible for them to save) to get married, showing that if you just put a goal God will help you fulfill it (they had a date for the 7th of September all along). My heart is just so full for them. All those lessons, all the fasting, all the prayers, even getting kicked out of their house and hit by their drunk dad is MORE than worth it to see them get married and enter the waters of baptism. Today I saw Pati Perez and Hna. Perez (what a blessing!) in the temple and they said Cristian's and Rosana's testimonies on Sunday had everyone in tears. Also, another Isla Bogado update is that Susan and Carlos Estigarribia were both called as counselors in Young Men and Young Women, and that Modesto Benitez has gone to church three Sundays in a row! Oh man I wish I could be there, but I`m mostly just glad it`s all happening. 
Here in Loma, Gloria and her daughter Milagros and another young woman Malena (Maria Elena) were baptized! From seeing their picture, it may just look like another typical baptism picture---three dressed in white with two sister missionaries in front of the beautiful chapel. But behind the flash there is so much more; this photo represents much more than the accomplishment of finding baptismal clothes for them. It represents the hard work of the hermanas of this area, how one Monday night they were just clapping houses and Gloria answered and listened to them. How she accepted the invitation to pray and be baptized if she knew it was right, how she went to church and gave up coffee. This picture is more than just another baptism. It is three souls who accepted their Savior Jesus Christ in the way that He taught; by baptism by immersion with someone who holds His authority. Is there anything more beautiful?
For Malena, behind the scenes is her 14-year old friend Arami, a member who invited her to seminary one day, and then to church. Malena`s mom doesn`t even believe in Jesus Christ, but Malena can feel the spirit and she followed her feelings and diligently goes to church and decided to promise to always keep the commandments by being baptized. 
There are just so many good things happening in the world. Getting emails from other missionaries and friends, and hearing about the success in the Sedona Ward just opens my mind to the vastness of this work. As we speak there are around 75,000 missionaries sharing the message of the Restored Gospel, inviting others to come unto Christ. 
I was reading the Bible Dictionary this week during my personal study, and I was also studying about the light of Christ. The light of Christ is what enables Christ to be in all things. Truly every good thing, all light, all life, everything uplifting and enobling and joyful and beautiful and all influence for good comes because of Jesus Christ. There is no joy without the Light of Christ (Alma 28:14). I think of all the happy moments I`ve experienced--the list could go on with cherished memories from playing in the treehouse with Hope to the day I got my mission call, from fun FHE`s and Sunday walks to the joy of a good cross country race to the beauty of a sunrise on the Safari or the sunset on the Holy City from my Jerusalem balcony--and I realize that every little detail is in my life because of the Savior. "I am the light and the life of the world" has a whole new meaning for me. The other morning we were exercising on our roof (it`s big and flat, very safe, just so you can breathe, mom and dad), and as I looked out over the houses and palm trees and people walking to work and school, and I saw a big beautiful sky---all that is from HIM. Him whom I am here to serve. Oh how I want to repent and keep my covenants so His suffering for me is not in vain. Oh how I want to help others do the same. I am so thankful for every happy moment our dear Savior has allowed me to enjoy. And I am so thankful to be aware of the many happy moments that are being created through missionary work all across the face of the earth. 
Other things we did this week: had a missionary meeting with our ward missionaries (our bishop is awesome and has called like 12 missionaries), organized a 40-day fast for the ward (thanks to your idea mom and dad! we started yesterday!), had a great FHE with Hno Flor who is recently re-activated and his non-member wife (sure love them), had a great lesson with Natalia whose teenage son and daughter are recent converts and now she is trying to quit smoking and drinking and prepare to get baptized and change her life, we taught Nicholas, a young dad who is separated from his wife, who came to the baptism!
On Saturday afternoon we walked past a house and I felt the distinct impression we should have clapped there. But then I started to justify why we shouldn`t; after all we had already walked past and it would be weird to just turn around. But I have learned from experience how awful I feel all day when I ignore feelings like that. I have learned how subtle the language of the spirit is, yet how sure at the same time. We turned around and sure enough it was a great guy named Christian Duarte, and we later went back and taught him with a member present and it was a great lesson. He had read the whole booklet on the restoration and understood it great. Just another example of how this is God`s work. Like I would know which house to go to or where the prepared people are!
Well I am short on time. But I sure love you. I love my companion Hna. Owen, too. I love my life and I love the Savior more than anything, because He is the source from which everything else I love comes from. 
Your Sister Missionary,
I can`t get my camera to work so Hna. Owen is sending you some pics. 


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