...We have been working a lot with some of the YW (going super well!) and we were able to go to the temple with them on Saturday for baptisms! It was so wonderful. We almost never get to go in this mission, and it was so great just to be in the temple, which as far as I can tell is IDENTICAL to the Spokane temple. I felt so old and wise because I got to hand out towels :) It was great to be around the girls more and we're going to teach YW this Sunday. Also, a woman we've been working with, Esteffania, came. She is 26 but hasn't been to the temple in 10 years when she was in Guatamala. She is a very sweet and fun girl. She's married to a non-member who the elders have been working with a bit. His name is Jonny, and two weeks ago he was picked up by immigration (actually a quite common ocurrance with members here that I realized I've never told you about). So she's been pretty upset because he's been in jail, but just found out that he's getting papers and is going to be allowed to stay! Anyway, it was great to be in the temple with her. ... it was so awesome to listen to it all in Spanish. It is just music to my ears now!
But the experience I really wanted to tell you about was that night. We accidentally went to Mass. Yes, like catholic mass. One might ask how that happens accidentally. Haha, ok so my beginner english class is almost all from Mexico and for quite awhile have been working on a traditional dance (with the big colorful skirts and mariachi's) that they're going to perform at a christmas celebration, and invited me about a month ago. We've been working a lot with them trying to transition into also teaching them gospel messages, but not much has been working so we were excited to take a part in their culture more to build a little trust. Long story short, we get there and run into them outside and they ask us to wait to walk in with them. Turns out everyone gathers and then a priest comes out and is talking (remember-all of this is in Spanish) and they all walk in singing in Spanish. Some with candles. At this point I think maybe there's just going to be some short religious thing at the beginning of the dance. Nope. It was mass. And we couldn't leave for fear of being rude. Personally, I think it's fascinating to see how another religious service goes, ... You couldn't really tell from the outside that it was a church, and was pretty simple inside. But some alters in the front and a podium, and simple stained glass on the wall behind that. But Mary was everywhere. ... Anyway, obviously everything was just very different. ...There was music, and I saw a drum set but sadly they didn't use it :) But other than kind of a unique mission experience, ... At the end, Mariachi's came in! Ok, that was fun to listen to :) That kind of music or culture has never really appealed to me, but I just loved listening to them in their sombrero's! Haha! After it was over, we did go into the auditorium and enjoy the baile (dance) which was really neat!!
Other than that, Hugo and Vianey, along with their two boys, came to Sacrament yesterday!! They're doing really well. She was supposed to come to a RS activity on Friday but didn't because she was so upset about the shooting in Connecticut, she just couldn't leave her kids. So we took her a poinsetta.
Also, we've been having problems with our 10 year old investigator, Lucia. Her Mom is kind of losing it. These last two months, anything to do with church is on the very bottom of her to do list, making it very hard since they're busy. We have an appointment with them every Sunday. Two sunday's ago they weren't there, and yesterday when we got there she said she was too busy and had us leave. She's a very flighty, flustered personality, and it's a little hard. But obviously, what they need right now is help accomplishing all the things they're trying to do. So we're gonna go over this week and either help paint a closet, or finish her outdoor decorations. Claudia, the mom, said lots of things that were just hard to hear. She's exercising her agency in a way that we can't control and it's really affecting her sweet daughter, who has been ready for baptism for almost a year.
Do you remember the woman I told you about who's husband is a southern evangelist? Berta and Chris. We had a lesson with them last night. We went because she wants to learn and we taught it in Spanish and it went very well!! We taught the first part of the Restoration. She just has the light of Christ really strong. They attend different churches right now and she seems to just be searching for the truth. She said she doesn't go to his because she doesn't feel right with all the jumping, singing and dancing that goes on :) And when she asked how our services were, was happy to find out that they're reverent. He sat right there and as soon as he saw the restoration pamphlet (we had one in english) he took that and his bible and started flipping pages. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and he never could find what he wanted. And it actually turned out to be good because it let us really teach Berta, who said everything we were teaching about apostasy and prophets made sense. At the end we needed to go, but I just knew Chris wanted to ask a question. And his whole attitude wasn't attacking with questions but maybe more genuine curiosity. So I asked him. He said he just has so many questions, and asked if we thought God and Jesus were the same because of all the scriptures in the Bible that talk about one God. A narrow and picky view of certain scriptures. I didn't whip out my Bible, but just relaxed and listen to the Spirit. It was a really neat experience. I said I had a question then about when Jesus was baptized. Who was the voice that spoke about his Beloved son? I thought a really simple question, but I just said it and let it sit. He was quiet, sat back, looked at me, and said, "that's a good question. Huh." We left, and I realized how strong the Spirit had been leading us. What a neat feeling! I love it! There's nothing that helps me feel like a more acceptable servant to the Lord than when I can feel that I truly was an instrument in His hands and followed promptings, even when I didn't realize in the moment that I was doing that.
We're going to New Orleans to City Park tonight with Edy and Aura. They said the lights are amazing. Edy won't touch a church or talk about one, but a good family night should be good :)
I want you each to know that just the way you live your lives are the best Christmas gift to me! I see a lot of broken families out here, in more ways that one. And extremely poor ones too. I'm so grateful for each of you and for all that we have, most of all that we get to look forward to being an eternal family!
All My Love,