Thursday, November 28, 2013

Volcano



This picture was taken while the missionaries were eating lunch in a little crepe restaurant on their p-day.  I guess it is not abnormal to watch a volcano puff while you eat!

Sick missionary :(

I have to keep this short because it's Wednesday, but we got permission really quick to write. Yesterday we went to the capital because I had to go to the hospital. All is fine, I just had bronchitis and the heavy cough triggered a nerve in my ribs and was causing a lot of pain. I'm happy to be back in San Pedro and not on the super crowded buses for 3 hours to get to the capital! I am wearing a pain patch and have antibiotics and all will be better in a couple of days.
One of the best things of my life happened on Sunday. We had our stake conference on Sunday and.....JORGE RECEIVED THE MELQUISEDEC PRIESTHOOD (I don't remember how to spell that in English). I am so incredibly grateful to have been in this area long enough to have seen this day. He literally feels like an older brother to me and a huge part of my heart will always be left here in San Pedro and San Juan.
I don't have much more time to write but I will write again next Tuesday. Love you all!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Caramel and cough drops

Sara is teaching M to play a childs game. LOOK at these joyful faces

Hello everyone! So a couple weeks ago was Hermana Larson's birthday and she loves caramel so I had planned to make the Hansen style rolly-ups (crepes) and include some with nutella and banana and others with caramel. I had seen caramel at one of the little tiendas up in San Juan so my companions and I passed by a few and asked if they had caramel. They all said they didn't have any but they offered me cough drops in place of caramel...After the third store owner tried to convince me to buy cough drops, I said, "No, I want to buy caramel. These cough drops are like medicine when people have colds." The man then roared in laughter and said, "These aren't medicine! They are mint flavored!" Haha it just makes me laugh because everyone here eats cough drops like they are jolly ranchers.
Yesterday for our P-Day, we played futbol with the Hernandez family and I understand even better why Latinos have a stereotype for being champs at soccer-they got SO competitive and the adults would push their little kids out of the way to get the ball. We played on a dirt field with two goals lacking nets and a plastic little ball but it was one of the most fun games I have ever played!
I am feeling my mission changing me a lot these past few weeks. Last week was a little rough with investigators and recent converts denying spiritual answers that they have already received. My heart literally ached for them. I have cried few times in my mission but for the first time, I truly felt like Nephi in the last chapter when he said he prays for the people in the day and his eyes weep at night. I wasn't discouraged, it was a feeling that I haven't quite felt before. But it was a feeling that inspired me to look harder for ways to improve to help the people more. It was a feeling of charity, maybe just a glimpse of it but I am trying my best to keep developing it.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to have our two planned baptisms this Sunday but we did have miracles happen on Sunday. Claudia, an investigator we first met in July was finally able to attend church! I had thought of stopping our visits for a while since she lives with her boss and she doesn't have permission to go to church, but I had the feeling that we needed to keep having patience and have continued visits with her. And after having two special fasts with her, she was able to attend this Sunday. She had saved money for weeks to pay as a fast offering and had it tucked in to her Bible. She had tears in her eyes and she told us how much she had loved the service, I am so grateful we were able to keep visiting her. Also, Juan was preparing to be baptized on Sunday but told us he had to go to the capital to meet with a lawyer because he was having legal problems with his finca. We explained how if he put God first, everything would work out, but he was still set on missing church to go to the capital. On Sunday morning, we passed by to pick up a family of recent converts and he was outside of his house, waiting to leave for church. He simply told us, "I am putting God first...and then I will go to the capital after church." He attended church and then in the tarde, we passed by his house and to our surprise, he was there! He called us over and excitedly told us, "I have decided not to go to the capital...I am not worried about my finca right now because I have a better lawyer" (he told us while pointing up) "And I am spending my afternoon reading the Book of Mormon. I feel so happy." It was truly a miracle to see him and Claudia both put Heavenly Father first, it's crazy how much pure happiness I feel when I see the faith of others working. I love being a missionary.

p.s. To answer a question that I have received from more than ten different people...yes, there are iguanas here but not hippos here haha. I have seen about four wild iguanas, and aparently there are North Americans that are hiding a pet lion and monkey living in San Juan haha.
 

M's dog posing in front of her home.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

a new Leader Misional and the story of J.

Another week of miracles. We are working with two brothers that have SO MUCH FAITH, they have a don to believe and their desire to follow Christ with exactness is incredible. They are both in their fifties and they are both preparing to get baptized together this Sunday. They were both contacts we had a couple weeks ago, one was in a bus and the other in the street. We found out they were brothers after the first couple lessons and now they are both preparing together. When we explained the Word of Wisdom, they both committed to never drink coffee ever again and I, the younger brother said, "I won't ever drink it again! And when Satan tempts me before, or after my baptism, I'm going to take my belt and give him chicote!" Every single thing we have taught them, they put it in practice immediately in their lives and we are very excited for this Sunday for them. I am SO grateful for the blessing that we were able to find them.

These last 5 months have been a little challenging with having such a small branch, it's often overwhelming because it feels like we receive little help. But with the new branch president, there have been many changes (new presidencies of all of the organizations!) Including.......A LEADER MISIONAL! We finally have a leader misional, which will really help with the work. And to make things even cooler, the leader misional is J! Being such a recent convert, he is so strong in the branch and is really leading it and helping it change. And he is super excited to help us work!

I haven't included many funny things in my letters recently, but I promise that we are having a lot of fun here! I thinks it's just because the things that I used to think are weird, are now normal (people cooking chicken heads, helping people make corn tortillas, the crazy buses and stories, the dogs sneaking into church, the funny things the members do, etc.) But I'll write something funny down and include it in my email next week 
 
I am including the story of J - I do not believe I posted it here and it is a beautiful story. These are Saras words - 

I first met J R C soon after arriving to S P. He is a single 40 year old man, with a Catholic family and a strong belief in God. He had recently quit drinking and received the pair of missionaries before me when they knocked on his door. He continued on with their lessons, preparing for his baptism and learning about the gospel. Unfortunately, two hours before his baptism, it was made known that he had been drinking alcohol the night before. When he found out he couldn't be baptized, he went into a very depressed state and fell heavily back into alcoholism. 
We passed by his house every day and even his own family didn't know where he had gone. About two weeks later, we saw a homeless man on the street, smelling heavily of alcohol, with eyes of depression. I turned around after we passed him, to recognize that is was our investigator, J. He was unrecognizable with loss of weight and with worn clothes, but he was still the child of God that had had the desire to follow Christ. It was July 17, 2013 when we found him on the street and, too intoxicated to understand words, we gave him a sticky note reminding him that "It's not the amount of times we fall, it's the amount of times we can get back up." 
 
Nine days later, we received a call from him and the following day, on July 27, we were able to visit with him again. He told us how he had never felt so alone during these weeks, but through it, he never wanted to be that far from Heavenly Father again. He acknowledged how Satan had attacked his weakest point and how only Christ was the way that he could return to the path of Heavenly Father. He started a dedicated study of the Book of Mormon, and regained his physical strength so he could fast for help to overcome his addiction to alcohol. Starting with this day, on July 27, he has stayed as far away from this temptation as he possibly could. He was nervous to attend church but quickly came back, despite the rumors in the small branch. He received a priesthood blessing on July 28 and also gained a testimony through the power of the priesthood. With the powerful stories in the Book of Mormon, he gained strength in his challenges and continued preparing to enter the waters of baptism.
 
I have never seen anyone trust in the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change their life so dramatically as he had. He realized who he was, and how he needed Christ in his life, and he gave up everything to make it through the process of repentance. He was dressed in baptism clothes 22 days later, on August 18, after going through the hard darkness and returning back to the path of Christ. He bore the most simple, sincere testimony, declaring how he had finally felt clean and forgiven through the Atonement of our Savior. When we went to his house the week after his baptism, I asked him how his study was with the Book of Mormon because of the questions he always has. He told us, “I actually haven’t read that much because I’ve been memorizing something…” When I asked what it was, he brought me his Book of Mormon and opened it up to Moroni, chapter 4 and 5; the Sacrament prayers. After receiving the Aaronic priesthood and after days of memorizing these scriptures, we were able to see him kneel down in our humble chapel and say the prayer to bless the sacrament. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him so tall as when he was on his knees, with the priviledge and authority to bless the sacrament. I truly love being a missionary here. I love this g√≥spel and I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the only way through which we can truly repent and return with honor. J has attended every week since his baptism, and is also helping us in the mission work. He is preparing to receive the Melchizedek in November and is a great support to our small branch here. 
 
He feels like my brother and if he was the only person that was touched in my year and a half of service here, it was worth every sacrifice I have made to be here.