Monday January 3rd, 2011
Friends and Family!
Oh my gosh I don’t even know where to begin!!!! It has been such an amazing past few weeks, and I am sad because it has gone by so fast! So I will start with Christmas - Christmas is CRAZY here! Literally there are just people out in the streets everywhere, and everyone has huge BBQ’s and fire works are going off left and right. We ate with a member’s family and there were like 50 people there - it was such a party - and me and my comp were just like cracking up the whole time, because it literally was like World War 2, just bombs going off everywhere, and it doesn’t even phase anyone. Everyone was just tranquilo and like eating and loving life - haha - I loved it so much. Me and my comp also got to lay on our roof together and just look at the stars and talk about Christmas and memories, and it was just such a good day, one I will truly never forget.
So some funny things – always - from this week....
So this family that we are working with that I always talk about - there are just always tons of people at their house, and it is just so unpredictable what is going to go down when we arrive. One time we were just sitting outside about to teach, and the grandma comes up to us and just starts pouring water all over our feet, because it was hot - haha - and it was just so awk - we were like in the middle of talking and she comes and just throws all this water all over all our feet. Also one day we were all talking, and I just smelled something so gross, and I look down and there is this dog on the ground and it had flies all over it, and all this blood starts coming out everywhere, and the mom finally looks down and notices and freaks out and tells everyone in the house to clean up this dead dog. She just starts like sweeping it away with a broom – hahaha - it was sad but funny. Also there are always tons of random men there that help build this new house they are getting, and one day they were all out front and cooking an iguana!!! I was so freaked out - it was funny - we took pics. Then they asked us to take pics with their horse, and the grandma kept trying to get in thre picture, and they were yelling at her – hahahaha - it was so funny. This family is nuts, but I LOVE them.
We are working with their 2 kids who have baptism dates for Jan 15th - Claudia and Juan - they are SO great, and so escogido (translation: choice, chosen). We just need to get permission from their mom, who is stubborn and doesn’t want it, so we are going to have a fast with Claudia this week and just pray really hard her mom will let her and her brother get baptized.
We also found this family-the Toledos - who are an incomplete famiily and they have 9 kids! They have been inactive for a while, and for missionaries it has been SO hard to find the parents ever to talk to them, but it was truly a miracle - one day we got in and found both the parents and talked to them and invited them to the ward Christmas party and guess what....they all came on their own and had such a good time! It was such a Christmas miracle! We are teaching them now and they really do want to change and get the rest of their kids baptized so they can go through the temple when it is finished in a year or 2!!! This is so exciting!!! I love their family so much, and it honestly is a miracle that we are working with them. We are going to try and get their kids baptized by the end of January!
Another miracle is that one of our investigators got married and they stopped drinking coffee after we taught them the word of wisdom. They said they will get baptized this month!!! So we are really praying hard for them - it is a couple and their son who is 10, and they have progressed a lot - they just need to go to church, and its hard because she always works on Sundays, but she is going to try and find another job so she can go to church so we are really praying hard for them!
Also Lucy - my favorite and most precious investigator - she has been tough, and we haven’t been able to teach her in a while and it’s been really hard for me. She has also become more flojo (loose, non-committal) and just doesn’t seemed as pumped to get baptized...BUT, we had a really spiritual lesson with her a few days before Christmas and she was crying about how its hard - her family never has money this time of year, and it makes her sad and feel like a bad mom and it is hard for her to enjoy Christmas. We said that we understood, but then we talked about the true meaning of Christmas, and our experience out here in the mission, and how much it is more focused on Christ, and how happy we are, and it was just so spiritual we were all crying and filled with the spirit…….it was a miracle. So we are hoping she will go to church this week and we can get her ready for her date in Jan.
Also this week we have been really working with inactives. There is a family that I LOVE that lives below us named the Britos and they have been inactive for awhile, but have been in the church longer than any family in the area, and I just know they have such strong testimonies, and we had a noche day hogar (translated “night of home” - FHE) with them and the whole family, and it was so tender and spiritual and we talked about setting goals for the new year and they talked about how they really want to go back to going to church as a family. It was so great!!!
Also I taught a whole lesson by myself! We had a noche de hogar with my favorite family, the Barbosas, and it was honestly one of the most spiritual experiences in my mission so far. We went around and we all talked about our favorite part of this past year - our favorite and most memorable experience or what we are grateful for-and they all went around and its been such a hard time for them, but they just were all crying and sharing such powerful and tender experiences, and just talked about how grateful they were for the gospel and for their families. Me and Hermana Brown shared as well, and I went last. I talked about how I have been so lucky this past year - I have traveled so many different places, and done so many fun things, but truly the best experience of my year was when I first went through the temple and to have all my family there all dressed in white - it truly was like heaven to me, and I have never felt so close to my Heavenly Father and the heavens in my life. I was just filled with so much peace and so content, and in that moment I have never felt so grateful for my beautiful family and how families can be together forever and how in that moment I knew that this was true.
Like you all know, the mom in this family is deaf, and doesn’t really understand, but honestly her and I just have this bond, and even though my Spanish is not even close to that good - she was able to understand perfectly, and the whole family understood, and all of us - even the inactive dad-were just crying and so filled with the spirit. I am SO grateful for this experience because I know that it was only through the spirit I was able to give this lesson. In the end I talked about how fun and great our years can be but in the end......we always start and finish with families, and how important they are to us and our lives, and how we always need to focus on improving our relationships with each other, and always improving ourselves. It was so neat!
So we had New Years Eve last night in Bellville with 2 other sister Latin missionaries. It was SO MUCH FUN! We had all this food in their apartment and did cheers, and we sat on the balcony all together and watched fireworks……it was SO magical and such a great night!!!!
Today I am starting INTERCAMBIOS!!! I am staying in a different area – Bellville - for 5 days with another sister missionary who is from Chile and does not speak a word of English…...so I am nervous! But pray for me! I know it will be a good experience and will help my Spanish a lot, but it def will be a challenge.
There is sooo much more to tell, and I wish I could just write every detail, but I have to go! I cannot express enough that I know without a doubt in my mind this gospel is true, and can change peoples lives - it can truly make you HAPPY! Every day I am just in the streets, and its hot, I have blisters all over my feet, people are all asleep during ciesta or they are rejecting us, or I can’t understand the Spanish, but it doesn’t even matter. I am still like skipping in the streets just beaming with joy, so happy to be alive and sharing this gospel with people! I bet people think I am crazy when they see this tall awk white girl just with this huge grin on her face saying hola to everyone, and has a huge messy bun on her head - haha - but it does not even matter. I want the world to know what joy this gospel can bring to lives……what light and love and peace can fill the soul through coming unto Christ and following him. These past few weeks its been so hard, because I have seen so many SAD, SAD family and living situations, and it has just reminded me what an important role parents have for their kids, and how their example and influence will change everything. Be SO grateful for the lives you all live, and the wonderful families and parents you have. You are all truly so blessed to be in such homes filled with much love and appreciation and good morals. I am sooo grateful for my parents and so thankful for growing up in this gospel.
I just want everyone to know that I am so thrilled to be here. It is hard, but I am enjoying learning, progressing, and loving every moment! It is a new year, and so I hope everyone is thinking of the things they can work on, and improve this year! I know I am. Oh and I FINALLY finished the Book of Mormon in Spanish!!!! I am starting D & C in Spanish now, and reading out of the New Testament in English. I just finished Matthew. I love the scriptures and every day I read them I am filled ith so much inspiration! How lucky we are to have them!!! I hope everyone has a good week!!! Love you ALL!!! Feliz Ano Nuevo!!! Chau!!
Love Hermana Pond!