The transfer announcement came and went and my stressing was in vain. No transfer for me! I have to admit, after I knew that I wasn't, I discovered that the smallest ittybitty part of me was disappointed. I would have been devastated to leave, but it must be interesting to see different areas. No matter. It's not where I am that matters. I have to love my area or else no work will happen. And I do love Daraga - cockroaches and all! The cool thing is that since I'm not leaving I might start helping the senior missionaries teach English.
We taught some incredible lessons this week, people. Like, wow. The week started out so hard because I felt sick and so tired and we only had one full day of work because we had a ton of meetings this week, but dang this week was good. We taught this woman named Josefina Buitre. She's in her fifties and her husband and son died years ago. She's confined to her house because of her knees, and as she was telling us all this, though this was the first lesson I had with her, I started crying. Like, not sobbing, but I was tearing up really bad and my voice cracked when I told this woman that I knew there was a way for her to see her family again. Like, I just loved her right away, though she didn't seem overly interested. All the sudden, I felt like I knew her, I loved her like I knew her - something I haven't really felt with a stranger before. And I just wanted so badly for this woman to know what I do - to know that families don't have to end, that there's a plan for us to live with the ones we love forever. I hope she felt that spirit I did. I hope we'll teach her again.
One night we were being slammed and rejected in this richer neighborhood, when we just sighed, stopped in the middle of the road and prayed for help. After that, we went to a house, and got rejected again. But at the same time we were turning from this house, two college-aged girls walked by. We started talking while walking, ended up in front of their house with one of their brothers, and we asked these nice kids if we could share with them. They grabbed a bench, and we sat down on the side of the road with them standing over us and gave them a lesson. That was an awesome experience of God answering prayers with his timing.
We had a "One Day Mission" this week with the members - essentially, we had a workshop in the morning about missionary work and then went out for three hours to work with a bunch of members. Even though the day started out really rocky (the elders were fifteen minutes late), the day was all in all a success. Somehow, by divine power, for real, we got six lessons in only three hours. Six. That's like a full days worth. It was a good experience for everyone, and the members really enjoyed the activity. The less actives we visited all had good experiences too. Progressing!
After the activity we went to Sister Bing's for her kid's birthday party. Ate way too much food, hiked down a mountain, watched the elders try to resist participating in videoke, which is essentially kareoke with random video backgrounds like nature and basketball games. I myself was resisting grabbing the microphone, so we hightailed it out of there.
Yesterday was a powerhouse of awesome. Like, so many amazing things. We met three new investigators in places I'd never think to look. Like, in one we were walking and I just saw through an open door a white, porcelain elephant. So naturally, I deemed that we needed to try the house. We met a girl and somehow convinced her to agree to a 10 minute, standing-up lesson. Turns out, she knows members and she said we could come back. The next house, which was in a place I'd never even considered but was chosen by my awesome comp, turned out to be a really nice house with a nice lady who also has member friends! Guess what she had in her house? That's right - three adorable green elephant statues. I was laughing so hard afterwards. God really does have a sense of humor.
We taught Mario for the second time, the middle-aged man who is unfortunately not Italian. He was going somewhere, so I employed my new favorite phrase, "10 minutes lang", which he agreed to. His lesson ended up being an hour long, he had so many questions. And he told us that after the first lesson last week, he hadn't been that super interested and he had been prepared to write us off. But then, he told us at the end of the lesson that during our talk he had felt the need to keep studying. He said he now felt like this might be the right time for him to hear the gospel. And in his closing prayer? He thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to him now that's he's ready to receive us. Man, Mario. I love that guy.
But the crowning moment was Annie's lesson. Annie is our other golden investigator who hadn't committed to a baptismal date since her kids' schooling is funded by another religion and she's afraid they'll pull their support away if she becomes a member. We took her to our Bishop's house and watched the Restoration video with her to help her envision Joseph Smith's experience. The movie started, and so did my anxiety, since in an attempt to be nice, people were putting food on the table and being a little distracting. I really wanted Annie to have a good experience, so I was just getting a tad irritated. But I didn't have to worry. Annie's eyes were glued to the television, all her children's too. And even when our Bishop's wife interrupted and told Annie to eat the snacks on the table, Annie told her "I'd rather watch. I don't want to miss anything." I nearly sang. Annie watched the entire video, and afterwards, she had the biggest smile on her face. She said she really related to Joseph Smith with trying to find the right religion, and she said that now she understands. She really believes and you could just see it in her eyes, how happy she was. The spirit was so strong and Annie just looked so happy - like she new her search was over. It was one of if not the most spiritual moment on my mission so far, something right out of The District. I felt like floating away, I was so happy to see her so happy. She's almost there. She understands it now. When we dropped her back off at her house, she clasped our hands in both of hers and thanked us again.
I love being a missionary. I love feeling like I'm helping someone find their home in this gospel. I love helping people realize that the pain and suffering they experience on the earth is so temporary - there is so, so much more for us. I love recognizing the Lord's hand in my life, how He is always guiding me to be better, to help bring his children home. I love this gospel, this church, the way that it gives hope and light to all it touches. If you want a home, if you want friends, if you want relief, if you want faith, if you want more than just this temporary world, I promise with the whole of my soul that there is room for you here. There are answers in this gospel. Trust me.
"I have never witnessed the removal of an actual mountain. But because of faith I have seen a mountain of doubt and despair removed and replaced with hope and optimism. Because of faith I have personally witnessed a mountain of sin replaced with repentance and forgiveness. And because of faith I have personally witnessed a mountain of pain replaced with peace, hope, and gratitude. Yes, I have seen mountains removed." -Richard C. Edgley
Stay excellent, my friends!
All my love,