Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Broken Heart... and A Contrite Spirit

Ive have never had my heart broken before.  An accomplishment that I am quite proud of.  No hombre has ever caused me to experience such a pain.... until I met Juan.

As a missionary, it is inevitable to love the people you teach.  If you dont love them, it means youre not doing your job.  But Juan made it easy.  We started teaching Juan the first week I arrived in Mexico... yeah, three months ago.  We didnt know where he lived so we taught him at his TostiLocos stand.  He was very shy, quiet, and I could hardly understand him then.  He hardly said anything and combined with little eye contact, I had the impression that he didnt really want us there.  We were taking up valuable customer time.  But just when it seemed like we were about to start making progress we found out that he didnt live in our area.  So with much regret, we handed him over to the Elders in that area to teach.

Two months later I had nearly forgotten about Juan.  But one day we were contacting some references with Hno. Montes when he told us that Juan had moved back into our area.  Score!  So we passed by once again to say Hi to our old friend.  He seemed the same.  Kind of figity and not super willing to listen, but we made an appointment to come back anyways.

This time we made sure that we were sitting at the table and chairs outside of his stand, instead of standing with him behind the counter.  And although there were cars driving by and customers walking up to interrupt, we got all the way through lesson 1, The Restoration.  We challenged him to read the Book of Mormon, to pray if it and our message was true, and accept a date for baptism.  The typical first lesson.  Then we made another appointment to come back.

Prayer works people.  

We came back when we said we would, but we came back to a different man.  He was excited to see us.  He was talkative.  He was smiling!  Hola hermanas!  Que mas cosas hermosas tienen para mi?  I was confused I wont lie.  So we asked him.  Followed up as some would say.  Ha preguntado Dios acerca de nuestra mensaje?  Yes he had, and he told us that something beautiful happened.  He prayed to ask if the Book of Mormon was true and felt something he couldnt describe, but something hermosa.  So he continued, and asked God if the right path for him to take was baptism.  And once again, the feeling came, even stronger.  More beautiful that he couldnt put into words but it filled him up. And he knew that this was true.  Hna. Torres and I just looked at each other with shocked smiles on our faces and responded that, yes, it is true.  And so we began to teach Juan.  REALLY teach Juan.

He ate up everything we taught.  Wanting to know more and more and more de la palabra de Dios.  He told us that he wanted to leave all of his old life behind him.  He wanted all of his friends to be members of the church.  He wanted to be someone IMPORTANT in the church.  The only problem was his smoking.  But we were working with him every day to help him stop.  He was ready.  He wanted to be baptized.  He kept asking us if we could move up his date.

One week before his scheduled baptism date Hna. Torres y yo had plans to stop by and talk with him.  But as we walked up to his house, we saw him swigging a big ole bottle of Tecate beer.  His eye got wide as he recognized us and quickly removed it from his lips and wiped his mouth clean.  

There are no words to describe how I felt in that moment.  At first I refused to believe that it was true.  They just happened to run out of clean glasses in the house and so he just filled up the empty bottle with milk....yeah... that was it.  But no.  That was not it.  He came up to us, said that we had caught him in the act.  We said that we would see him tomorrow (knowing that we couldnt talk to him drunk) and had to walk away.

I was of no use the rest of the day.  My heart had broken inside.  There is no other way to describe it.  He was so close!!!!  Just one more week!  Stupid Satan!!!  When we went back to our apartment at the end of the day all I could do was curl up on my bed and try to convince myself that it really was just milk... or mango juice perhaps.

But life goes on.  We have these problems and they help us grow.  We chatted with Juan the next day.  Reminded him of the power of the Atonement, and scheduled for him and new fecha bautizmal two weeks from the day.  And everyday for the past two weeks we have stopped by his house or TostiLocos stand to help him, teach him, support him.  Lots of work.  But totally worth it.  Last Friday
Juan's Baptism
Juan was baptized.  Cleaned from all.  And yesterday I got to see him confirmed.  Two small, short acts, but they mean so much.

I love my job.  I love this people.  And I will have a thousand more heartbreaks if it means that I can see the change that happened for Juan happen for others.  He said he is content.  So am I.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Por Fin

There is some news to be shared.  

First, MY SISTER IS GOING TO THE CHILE CONCEPCION MISSION!!!!  I know everyone and their dog knew that before me, but as a missionary, and as the big sister of a future missionary, I have a right to make my own announcement.

Second, I am no longer in training anymore.  We had transfers today and while I will be staying the the same area, I have a new compaƱera. No more excuses for not knowing anything.  I am a legit missionary now.... what have I been for the past four months I dont know haha

Third, as though to signify my leaving training-hood and becoming a real missionary, I have now experienced what every missionary needs to serve properly.  I have been bit by a dog.  The right of passage is complete.  

Now to get to the really good stuff.  BAPTISMS!!!!!

We had two baptisms this week.  First I will talk about about Miguel.  His story is short and sweet, how I would like them all to be.  He was a contact of the other set of missionaries in our ward.  We stopped by his house one night (after half an hour of searching for it) but because it was late we could only set up another time for us to stop by the next week.  But ever since then it was smooth sailing.  We would teach and he would listen and accept everything which was good because we basically have to walk up a mountain to get to his house each day.  But that was something that grabbed his attention.  That these two girls who hardly knew him were willing to walk in the heat very far and hard to to be able to teach him about the gospel.  It was so worth it.  And after overcoming the little obstacle of drinking coffee, he was baptized five weeks latter.  ONE MORE FOR THE KINGDOM!

Baptism of Gaby and Miguel
Now for Gaby.  She was a headache to handle.  We started to teacher when I first arrived here in Mexico... 3 months ago.  She was always very accepting of everything we taught.  Her husband had died 5 years before and as we taught the Plan of Salvation she said that she had known a long time ago that her husband was just fine.  She KNEW it all and said that she wanted to get baptized, but she would never agree to a date. Her 12 year old son was even a member. Talk about frustrating!!!!  And then, to add to the irony, when we finally were able to get her to start going to church, we were never able to see here again.  For the past two months she has never missed a Sunday at church, but as much as we tried to get appointments with her to teach, she was either too busy or wasnt there when we stopped by.  And she is our neighbor!  You would think it would be easy to meet with her.  But no.  

Gaby and her son
Finally, about two weeks ago, we were able to meet with her again.  But we never taught a lesson.  She just let out a lot of stuff that she had been keeping for awhile.  Stuff about her late husband, raising her children, work, everything.  So we just counseled her and at the end, when it was getting time to leave I felt that we should ask her to be baptized again.  We had asked her so many times before, I just thought, what could it hurt?  So as Hna. Torres was packing up her stuff to leave, I asked Gaby, once more, if she would be baptized.  She said yes.... but she always says yes.  So I warily attempted to set a date for the 22 of Marzo, thinking that she would want the extra time and that if we pushed for sooner she would shy away again.  But in response she paused a moment... and said,  yes, but I heard there was going to be a baptismal service next Friday.  Right?    

We were shocked.  Was she saying yes?  We jumped on that and told her that she was more than welcome to be baptized then if she wanted....OF COURSE!  She certainly had enough sacrament meeting attendances to make it work.  As soon as we were out of sight and hearing of her house, we began running, jumping, dancing, laughing for joy.  After 3 months Gaby had accepted a date!!!  POR FIN!!!!  And so last friday she and our dear Miguel were baptized.  I still cant believe that it happened

Just Two Hermanas doing their Thang.

Hermana Torres and I really love food!

Last P-Day with Hermana Torres
Last P-Day with Hermana Torres

My entire Zone.
A crazy Elder from the Zone.

Hermana Torres and my room.

Me and my apartment roomates with our matching blazers.

Well I am out of time and have to go.  Thank you all for your prayers.  I will write again next week!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Day in The Life

Because the manner of mission work is a little different in Mexico then in the good ole U.S. of A. Ive been asked a lot what our daily schedule is like.  I will tell ya right now, no day is like the other.  But I will try to give you a glimpse into what its like.

6:30 to 8 am:  Wake up, exercise, get ready, and eat breakfast.
8 to 9: Personal Study
9 to 10: Companionship study
Now here it gets tricky.  Depending on the day, we either have District Meetings, weekly planning, or some other reunion to go to.  But if there isnt anything else planned, and because Im still a tranie, we have an hour of entrenemiento followed by another hour of language study.  So usually we dont get to leave the house and teach until 12 in the afternoon.

From 12 to 8 pm we are out teaching.... except for 2 pm.  Thats when we go to members homes to eat.  Everyday a member signs up to feed us.  Its awesome how willing everybody is to just give us food.  Sometimes so much that I feel like Im going to explode.

But back to teaching.  Usually we try to have as many appointments as possible to fill the day because we cant fill up hours tracting.  But here is a fun fact about the Mexican culture.  Making an appointment with someone does not mean you have an appointment with them.  It means, sure, you can pass by around that time and if I am here we can have a chat...but no promises.   It is soooooo frustrating.  Everything we do depends on other people, no matter how hard we work.  We might have walked half way across the city to get to their house and then find out they arent there.  In this manner, a lot of our time gets eaten up with walking from place to place and waiting for people who are late and so on.  But the lessons with progressing investigators make it all worth it.  They never let us down.  They want to be there, they dont want to miss what we have to say, and I always walk away from those lessons with a big smile on my face.

So to answer another question I was asked, the amount we teach each day totally depends on other people.  On the members, investigatores, contacts.  We just do our best to be there on time and ready.  So each day differs.  It is very clear that we are not in control.  He is.

Because we live in Tijuana... and it is a tad sketchy at night,  us Hermanas have to be back in our apartments at 8 pm.  Then we plan and PRAY for the next day and go to bed at 10:30.

In two weeks we will have transfers again.  I will have a new companion and wont be training anymore so we will have to see how the schedule changes.  I will be sure to keep you updated.  But now when you are sitting at home with your bowl of ice cream watching Once Upon a Time  9 at night... you can imagine what Im doing :)

Oh!  P.S.  I have now learned what everyone who ever goes to Mexico needs to learn.  How to make legit tortillas!  We learned from one of the sisters in the ward last Monday.  Enjoy the pictures!!