It was such a blessing to get on and read your emails! Especially today, I really really needed it. Thank you so very much. We saw so many miracles this week. All the normal hard/weird things (like a member just deciding at the last minute to not pick up our investigator, and not calling us. How is that even possible? :) but we also saw so many miracles. Like one day we went to the church at 1:00 for language study with our zone leaders. No one is ever at the church in the middle of a friday afternoon, but this woman pulled up as we were getting there. She started talking to us, telling us that she's been Catholic her whole life even though some of her family is Mormon. At this point I'm really confused. Then she says that she went back to Honduras for the holidays, and she got baptized! This is only 6 days before we met her!! Her name is Blanca and here she is at the church trying to find a bishop or something because nobody was answering the phone. Well, that's cool that we just "happened" to be there. We gave her a church tour and had a good experience. She lives in our area and we are so excited.
On the 1st of January, we tracted into a woman named Marta. She invited us back but none of those times have never worked. So we knocked on her door again Saturday night and she was there. What's funny is that the first day she opened the door, she only opened about 2 inches (people do that a lot here). I've noticed that each time she's opened it a little bit more. Well, she let us in and had time for us on Saturday. She is 75 but seems like she's 55. She's been Catholic her entire life and has worked cleaning houses downtown New Orleans for 20 years. We got to know her a little bit and just taught the Restoration. Completely in Spanish. Well, it's almost always completely in Spanish, but sometimes I have these amazing experiences with being able to speak way above my abilities in a lesson. I leave and I wonder what just happened. We have a return appointment with her this week.
But I'm actually really sad today because I found out last night that I'm being transferred. ... I can't really describe how just heart-broken I am. Part of the problem is that it completely blind-sided me (about a week ago president said that he needs all the Spanish sister areas to stay as they are for a bit because of how much crazy moving around there's been). We felt so safe that we would stay, and we were so happy to both be here this next transfer, that’s when I took the call from our District Leader (right as we were going into a lesson last night). I forgot that it could even be about transfers. I thought he was just calling about a combined FHE we were having later that night. So that's kind of a shock. The timing all feels completely wrong. I found out last week I was kidding myself, I've definitely given 100% of me to these people and this area. I just about start crying when I think of each person that I'm leaving. It feels like 50 different people broke up with me! I'm even gonna miss all those dumb, weird looking mutated duck things that live in the median canals on all the roads. I'm gonna miss New Orleans! I would have been happy to stay here for 7 more months. It also means I won't be singing at the NBA game, and I won't be here for the super bowl. Which I guess is kinda lame but it's really all about the people I'm leaving.
There's this woman I haven't told you about. She's one of the few strong members. Her name is Hermana Villanueva. She's in her 70's but she's so funny and sassy. She's from Honduras and she loves to dance and sing. She was diagnosed with cancer about two months ago. About a month ago she decided she wouldn't be taking chemo but that she was ready to go home. We've been helping her a ton.... She has 4 kids who have gone inactive and a while ago she told us that she wanted her passing away to be a missionary effort. So we've been trying to help her write her testimony in Book of Mormon's for her children, and we're singing at her funeral. She was supposed to last until March (for her daughters wedding) but she took a turn for the worse. Tthey moved the wedding to the end of this month, but that might not be good enough. The point of this entire story is that I'm not gonna be here for her funeral - awful.
Let alone telling Eddy and Aura last night. Aura, the most positive and funny person ever, just started crying. I was too. But I took the opportunity right there to bear my testimony to them that there's only one thing that would make me live this lifestyle of craziness. Because they really don't understand. I think it was good, although Edy is mostly just mad. I really will be staying in contact with them forever.
All of that being said, I still have my faith that transfers are inspired, I know in my mind that I serve where I do for a very specific reason. But none of that changes how my heart feels. I always thought I would finish my mission in Baton Rouge, but it looks like that's probably where I'm going. And I'm not gonna sugar coat it - I don't want to. The end of dad's email told me to stay happy. I'm trying. It's just so hard. What I wouldn't have given to be able to call you last night. So anyway, sorry to be depressing, but I just had to be real with what's going on.
I wanted to share in detail just one of the many miracles that happened this week, it's a simple one. Yesterday we were teaching our investigator Caroline. We got there and she didn't keep her reading commitment. So we began reading it with her (3 Nephi 27). We thought we would just read part and then go on with what we had planned. But we really wanted her to know how important this was so we read the whole thing with her and discussed it as we went. We each felt the Spirit so strong, just kind of a quiet something that was there. The Book of Mormon, with it's pure truth and doctrine, is just so powerful! I've always known that, and it was just really special to be able to watch someone else begin to feel it. As soon as we finished she told us she needed to start from the very beginning. Like right now! We just wanted to leave so that she could read like she wanted to! I am converted to the Book of Mormon. I've always wondered at what point one may say that they have gone from a testimony to conversion. But I am. It's the reason I'm here. It's the reason I do what I do. And it's the way I'm able to do them. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It is the way to peace and happiness in this life and the next, and I can't imagine not charging my batteries with it every day.
I'm gonna go, there are a lot of things to do today, and a lot of people to stay good-bye to. Please keep a special prayer in your heart for me that tomorrow I will have peace and be able to move forward with a smile.
I love you each dearly,