Elsa and Alejandra Rodriguez, and Normando Smith 6/16/2013
Karla and Marco Wedding
Happy Hermana Hansen
weekend was a weekend I will never forget. Alejandra, the daughter of
Esna, prayed with us about being baptized with her mom and there was a
huge silence that came into the room. She finished her prayer in tears
because there was an overwhelming peace when she questioned God if this
was the path for her. Her mom cradled her in her arms and spoke to her
in words that I will never forget. One of the things she said was,
"Right before these two missionaries came, we had been praying for a way
to unite our family and come more unto Christ. I am confident that this
is the answer and I have no doubt that this is the path." Esna and
Alejandra were baptized Sunday morning, the 16 of June. Along with them,
Normando was also baptized. It was a beautiful baptism and it felt as
if my own family was being baptized. My
heart is growing as people keep stealing pieces of it, it's kinda crazy
how my life has changed so much these past 4 months. On Saturday we
also coordinated the wedding of Karla and Marco. About 60 of their
friends and family attended and it was held in the chapel here. It was a
little crazy running around and setting every thing up, I even had to
play the piano when she walked down the aisle with her dad! But luckily
everything fell into place. We had planned for Karla to be baptized
on Sunday morning as well but postponed her date to this Saturday so
she could prepare a little bit more. Carlitos was also ready to be
baptized on Sunday morning but his mom ended up not giving him
permission. It was pretty discouraging but I know that his mom is seeing
a difference in him and he is starting to read the scriptures and pray.
We have transfers this next week and either me, or my companion, will
leave the area. We will find out Monday night and leave on Wednesday
morning. I heard the hardest part of the mission is leaving an area,
because you honestly don't know if you will see the people again in your
life. The people reading this e-mail are my family and friends, but the
people here have also become my family and friends. It's probable that
some of the happiest moments in my life have been out here during the
last four months; watching Alejandra waiting on the tops of the steps as
her mom was baptized, seeing people learn about a reason to have
happiness, and seeing them change their lives. I love the message I get
to share with the people here, and I love the people I share it with.
I'll write again on Monday, since next week is transfers.
This week is very exciting because this Saturday, two of our investigators are getting married. We have been helping plan for this wedding and it has reminded me a lot of when our family planned for Rachel's and Rebecca's weddings. These two people have become my family, their troubles are my troubles and their happiness is my happiness and I cannot wait to see them married this Saturday.
Besides preparing for the wedding, we have 4 baptisms on Sunday morning! One of them is Karlita, the woman who is getting married on Saturday. Her boyfriend still isn't ready to be baptized but he is preparing for a later date. Another is Carlitos, the 12 year old boy who prayed with us in the lesson and finally decided to be baptized. His date was originally set for the 22 but when he found out that we have transfers the week after, he moved his date up so that he can pass the sacrament to us. The third is Esna, the single mother of the two teenage children. We are still teaching her children and hope that they will join her in the near future. And the fourth is a man named Normando Smith. My companion is convinced that this Latino man is the direct great-grandchild of Joseph Smith, because it is the first person she has ever met with the last name of "Smith". She still doesn't believe me that Smith is probably the most popular last name in the United States and every time we meet with Normando, she asks if he has had the chance to look up his genealogy haha.
Every day, I learn so much and my views of the world have completely changed. This last week, my comp was telling me that there is an area in our mission that "has houses like the houses in the United States". When I questioned what she thought a house in the U.S. is like, she responded, "A house with carpet. The first time I saw carpet was when I was 14 years old." Little moments like this create a little pit in my stomach when I realize how much I have taken my life for granted. I am so incredibly lucky, and so incredibly blind that it has taken my so long to really realize that.
I am really happy here and I am so lucky to have an opportunity to be teaching people about Christ and inviting them to change their lives to a life with a better outlook. A recent convert told me last week, "Before my baptism, I had a lot of problems. And after my baptism, I still had the same problems because they didn't change, but my view has changed. I can be happier in spite of my problems because I have a new life." I know that we have a Savior who suffered for us, so that we can have the opportunity to change our lives by changing our choices, which brings a change of views. I love my mission and I am so happy to be sharing such a beautiful message with the people here.
Like all of the weeks so far, this last week has had struggles and miracles. I found out this last week that Reese's peanut butter cups don't exist here and that they aren't sold in any part of Guatemala...I'm not sure how people are so happy here without Reese's candy, it's one of the miracles! Also, I finally finished reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish, side-by-side with my English one. It is weeks after the goal I originally had set but it allowed me to have a deep study and a deeper understanding. Before my mission, I remember saying that I knew the Book of Mormon was true because it made sense to me and I could feel the truth. After what I have gone through the past couple months, I cannot see how this book could not be of God. I promise that any person who dedicates a little bit of time to reading even a chapter of it, will be able to see a greater purpose in their life. I see that almost every day here in Guatemala. And the volcano that we live close to is officially active! We had a warning of an eruption last week but it was pretty low on the chart of probability, and I think the warning is gone by now. It erupted about 3 years ago and hit La Mariposa pretty hard so we saw a few people buying extra groceries to prepare if anything were to happen. Time is starting to move a little more quickly, I realized yesterday that I only have 14 more fast Sundays out in the field. But I have so much work to do before then! We are entering June with 4 dates of baptism and the wedding next weekend. Esna, the woman with the two children, finally accepted a baptism date for the 16 of June. Her daughter who previously wanted to be baptized is now hesitant and her son still hasn't attended church, so we have been visiting them frequently. On Sunday, Esna missed church for the first time since we met her and we were a little nervous because she always looks forward to attending on Sundays. When we passed by later, she told us that the reason she missed was because she was watching a movie about families with her two children and talking about the church. She wants more than anything for her children to be baptized with her and we are working and praying for a miracle that her children can make the decision be united as a family and become members of the church. We have been teaching another 12 year old boy, who has been taking missionary lessons for over a year. He attends almost every Sunday with his Grandma but his mom isn't a member and so he has been scared to take the next step to be baptized. However, we all got down on our knees and he prayed to know if this was the right choice. The next day, he told us that he knew this was the right path and he is being baptized on the 16! I have to go but I love you all and have a good week!