Escribo con un corazon lleno de amor por todo el mundo, toda mi familia, por mi misión, por el evangelio. La vida es tan buena. Voy a extrañar hablar en espanol demasiado. Mom, si, quiero ensenar ingles en la biblioteca con Nate the roller-blader. Quiero hacer la obra misional. Quiero ir a la casa de la familia Martinez y cualquier otra familia que hable espanol y enseñarles el evangelio, o hacer noche de hogar en español. Ya sè que mi corazón me dolerá con deseos de continuar haciendo lo que hago ahora.
(Translation: I am writing with a heart full of love for all the world, all my family, for my mission, for the gospel. Life is so good. I'm going to miss speaking in Spanish so much. Mom, I want to teach English at the library with Nick the roller-blader. I want to do missionary work. I want to go to the Martinez family's house and whatever other families speak Spanish and teach them the gospel, or have FHE in Spanish. Already my heart is full of desires to continue doing that which I'm doing now.)
If you know anyone who needs a baby sitter or a part-time help I will need money when I go home. Mention me. Although I won`t have much time to work, I could do something here and there. Also, dad, get ready to hike the Grand Canyon in October. :) Also, I officially decided while eating a lomito at 9:30 p.m. on Thursday night that a member bought us that I am going to go 100% vegetarian as soon as my feet leave Paraguayan soil. Ok, enough talking about the end of the mission. Yuck.
You`ll like this story. We reallllllly wanted to get our goals 7/7 this week. We had gotten our daily goals every day as of yesterday (we were at 6/7 then). It`s hard to get goals on Sundays sometimes because between church, lunch, and studying there is less time to work. We had two FHE`s planned at 6 and at 8 p.m. We were in a hurry at about 5 p.m. to drop off the banana bread we made for an FHE and then try to find a new investigator before 6. We started to job a little bit, backpacks on, bread in hand, on a classic Paraguayan rough cobblestone road. You`d think I would have learned not to run, if you remember the time I completely biffed it that night in Piribebuy and had elbow and knee scars for weeks. But alas, we started to jog and all of a sudden my beautiful companion`s hands and knees met the cobblestone. She fell hard. The poor girl, I felt so bad. I could almost feel the pain shoot right through me. Two young men watching came and helped. We were able to clean her up, but her knee is in a lot of pain.
This week we are celebrating Christmas, on the 25th. We don`t really have a reason. It just feels Christmasy when it is cold, and it`s been a little cold and rainy so we decided to take advantage of it. Hna. Owen says she doubts she`ll feel very Christmasy when it really IS Christmas because of the heat, so we had to aprovechar (take advantage). Do you know how hard it is to try and sneakily buy and make little Christmas gifts for the very companion you have to be within sight and sound of?
We are putting on a talent show next Friday, October 4th for the ward and for them to invite their friends to. They all expect us to do something. Any ideas? Hope has just been dancing and talent-ing it up but I`ve got nothing. Anyone have any funny skits about American missionaries or something? We can translate it into Spanish. Please give me inspiration! I`m super non-creative when it comes to stuff like this, I`ve realized. I need Google or Pinterest to give me ideas, and you all are the closest thing I`ve got to a search engine.
Yesterday was another rainy Sunday so I`m afraid I have no exciting stories about who went to church. Christian and Celia are doing great. They are reading the BOM and thinking about it a lot, and asking us fairly difficult questions ("What do you believe in as far as the omni-presence of God?" "Who are the governing judges in Alma?" and others I don`t remember). Christian said, "I hope you girls realize that your whole lives you have been prepared to come to Paraguay and bring the gospel to us, you just didn`t realize it. Just like we have been prepared for this moment, too." I thought that was a great perspective, one that I hadn`t heard a non-member realize. Celia thanked us profusely, too, saying our work is not in vain with them. Hna Owen and I were like, "We`ve hardly taught you anything still! Just wait until we teach you about eternal families! You are going to freak out with happiness!" And since then we have taught them of eternal families, and they indeed do love it, and they asked if we will come back to be in the temple for their sealing. I said I would do my best. :) I don`t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I would be surprised if they don`t get baptized soon. Unfortunately it`s impossible to happen before I go. Natalia should be getting baptized on October 5th, however. We are praying and fasting so much for her. She is so willing to change, it`s the most beautiful sight.
It`s funny how, here in the city, more people know some English. Everyone loves to try it out on us. Very few know sufficient to really carry on a conversation, but a lot know things like "How are you? I am fine." and "What`s your name?" and even more. Although, if you gauged the English teaching in the schools by what we hear in the streets you would think all they teach is, "Goodbye girlfriend!" and "Hey baby" and "you are so beautiful."
A couple weeks ago when we were in a zone meeting, I looked around at all us missionaries and the mission president, and thought about how we all work so hard, and sacrifice so much to get people to church. We were talking about some numbers, and realized that on average about 500 people attend church throughout the stake each week. It is a slow work sometimes. Hours and hours of work from so many missionaries, and only 500 people a week in a whole stake? But that is how God works, slow and steady. Just like any get-rich-quick tactic doesn`t work, conversion likewise cannot be done easily. We pass by churches here that have hundreds of people in attendance, shouting hallelujah or having Praise-the-Lord rock bands and people just flock to them. I thought, "They don`t send missionaries out. They don`t work hard all day every day to bring people to Christ. How come they have hundreds of people at their church, and we bleed, sweat and shed tears to get our attendance up by 5?" Well, they just hire a rock band. It`s a temporary thrill, it`s not lasting conversion I`m afraid. I don`t think that`s the Lord`s way. Have you ever heard the story of how to kill a frog? If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will just jump out. If you put it in a pot of cold water and let it gradually heat up, it will die. It is usually told to explain that Satan gets us by gradually tempting us by degrees. But the Lord also knows that consistant dedication is what is most effective, most life-changing, and it is the path to exaltation. I was not born again in one moment. I was born again by degrees and I am born again and again and again every day. My testimony grows every day of my mission, and I hope my life. God is a God of small and simple things, I have discovered. Through the small and simple and weak people of the earth (i.e., 18-25 year old inexperienced missionaries) God is bringing to pass his great work, just as he did in times of old with people like Enoch who said, "Who am I? I am slow of speech." "And by the weak things of the earth the Lord shall thresh the nations by the power of his Spirit."
Also, who is just SO EXCITED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE?! Here`s a little quote I just love to get you as stoked as a sister missionary:
Today and always I will be a missionary. Please help me remember that promise. Not because there is some reward, or because I feel it is my duty, or because I receive some satisfaction for it, as true as that may be. I will always be a missionary because I want the atonement of Jesus Christ to be utilized in the lives of others. I want His suffering to have "full sway" in their lives (Alma 42:16). Serè una misionera toda mi vida porque amo a Cristo. (I will be a missionary all my life because I love Christ.)
Your Sister Missionary Today and Always,