Happy Monday!!! I'm doing pretty good this morning. There's a senior couple here, Elder and Sister English. He serves as the branch mission leader, and she serves in the branch RS presidency. They invited us over for breakfast this morning, so we went early and had fruit crepes. Yummy! It was good to get to know them a little better. They have good hearts.
I'm doing better this week, it's taken conscious effort, but I'm being blessed for it. Thank you soooo very much for your awesome emails! They were so uplifting and inspiring really. So I need to give you a better taste of my life here in Baton Rouge :) ... There are 10 missionaries in our little branch, which means that yesterday when it was time to start, there more of us than members. :) Every companionship, except one in my district, is training. So they're all very new and very impressionable. I think we had 50 members in church yesterday!! I'm starting to see that very few people are active, but those who are, they're very strong. We went and visited this family last night, Los Haro and they are so amazing! They are the most put together family I've seen my entire mission. An active mom and dad! That's really exciting, I've known few of those. They came to the states 5 years ago, were baptized right away, went to the temple a year later, and have become nothing but stronger and stronger. They have 3 kids. The 14 year old is named Michelle; I told her that was my mom's name. When I asked her what she like to do she said, "dormir." sleep. Haha, come to find out, she is this amazing painter!! All of the art in their apartment was hers!! Wow!! It was fun to visit them.
I had real gumbo this week!!!! I feel like New Orleans was in the South, but is it's own style, and now I'm in more of the "traditional" South. Especially because I was used to a New Orleans accent, but now I can barely understand some people who are speaking English! Anyway, all it was, was rice, seasonings, chicken, and sausage and it was really good! A lady from Mexico, Patricia, made it. Sweet lady.
We taught five lessons this week, all to members. It looks like that's what this area usually teaches, and that needs to change. But we found some great opportunities for love and service. I found someone better to sing to than a bunch of fans and Jimmer at a b-ball game. We heard about an inactive family who has an 18 month year old in the children's burn unit in the hospital, so we went and saw them. We wracked our brains for what we could do for this little girl (she just had skin graft surgery the day before). We couldn't really bring her anything so instead we sang the primary song, "I feel my Savior's Love" in Spanish. It was really sweet. Her mom was holding her, and her eyes were just glued to me the whole time. When we went to leave, she just grabbed my name tag and wouldn't let go. So cute! The Spirit was so strong. Is there any other more powerful feeling than knowing that you were the Lord's hands and did what He would have done? I don't think so. And you know, the adversary didn't want us to go. We had a random flat tire that morning which made us late, but for some reason the family was ok to wait, and then it wasn't visiting hours, but somehow they let us go back and see them anyway. And then there was the language barrier problems. But it all worked out as we were determined! I'm so grateful the Lord gave us that opportunity. And we were able to translate a little for them too between them and the nurses, so that was good.
My gospel vocab and grammar are getting better and I taught Relief Society yesterday. It went well. It was out of President Monson's talk, Consider the Blessings, from last conference. Dad, I thought that your comment was really interesting when you said that you've noticed in your life that prayers are often answered through the accions and words of others. That's totally what I taught on! It was really fun. There's this quote from somewhere else I was thinking of, maybe a different talk by President Monson, where he says something to the effect, "we are the Lord's hands on the earth with a mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent on each of us." Full time missionary or otherwise, we are all the Lord's hands! He is in the details of our lives, and He does hear and answer our prayers. It is so often through someone else. That is why we must all follow promptings we have, and serve others, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Don't delay! Those promptings are special gifts and I know as we heed them we are trusted with more.
On another note, did you know there is a tiger on the LSU campus?! I did not! It's kind of far away but we had to drive over to campus to try to contact someone and we drove right by it. So naturally on the way back, after that investigator (who is from Cuba - was she speaking spanish!? :) brushed us off, we had to pull over and look at the tiger. Unfortunately, he was sleeping, but I saw him. He has this good sized habitat right there in the middle of campus. How cool is that that they have a real life mascot!? I think that might be the first tiger I've ever seen...
Ok, I saved the best for last. We play futbolito (soccer) every Saturday at these fields as a way to meet people and build some trust. I never have really played futbol but they're all playing for fun (even though some of them are pretty good), which means I scored! But there's this woman who comes named Claudia. I think she's about 25 and she brings her daughter who just watches. These last two Saturday's we've really talked it up with her. She's funny so we joke around a lot. And she speaks English so that helps. Yesterday she said, "when y'all do your missionary thing, what areas are you in or where do you go?" We told her, then I think the soccer ball came over by us so we had to actually play. We knew that today we wanted to ask her if we could visit her during the week, but a little while later she asked us if we would come over! "Would we mind?" she asked. Haha, it was only an answer to prayer!!! We're super excited because we already have this friendship with her, and there's just something about her. She told us a little bit about what she's been through. She walked here was she wasn't quite 17 (and her daughter was a baby). Then when she got here, the father of her daughter took Greysi, and Claudia couldn't find them for 3 years! How awful. But now she has her back. Greysi is 9, and the sweetest thing, she was helping me with my Spanish on Saturday. Claudia’s now married and her life is quite stable, and I think she knows we have something that she wants. She just doesn't know yet what it is. We're really excited because there's something special about her! She has that light!
I don't know what's going to happen to me in these coming transfers, well, or my whole mission. But did I mention to you that it's possible I'll keep training, only in English because there's so many new Sisters coming? We have 11 arriving in three weeks, and President said he doesn't have enough English sisters here that he'll have train... so we'll see. I've always figured a lot of my mission would be to my companion just as much as to the people here, but I'm starting to think that could be a main purpose of mine - helping shape and train other missionaries. I think the Lord knows that I need to learn hands on - and so the way He's training me for what He needs me to do is to train others. I've learned a lot about humility and prayer that way too. Anyway, we'll see. But I think this transfer in coming here is really preparing me for something. Who knows where I'll live in the coming months! Maybe here, maybe not. I wouldn't mind if I got out of a city for awhile. All I know is that difficulties in life aren't just for fun! I'm being prepared for something!
I better get going. Your emails were really what I needed this morning so thank you so so so much!!! Y'all are amazing. Thank you for being who you are. I love you dearly. As Bill and Ted would say, "be excellent." :) Or in other words, remember who you are, work hard, eat right, don't take no for an answer, sweat at least once a day, and find yourselves on your knees often throughout each day, and this week, individually and together.
Lots of Love,