Guess what I'm doing today?! Going to New Orleans!!! Sister Solorzano really wanted to see it before she left, and it just so happened that the senior couple in our branch is going down today, so we got permission to go. We're excited. I'm going to show them the French Market, which is right downtown and next to the Mississippi River Walk, so it'll be good. One day it'll be wonderful to see members and missionary friends and everything, but today will be a day just for us (and mainly Sis S) because I was worried that seeing too many people would make it difficult to come back to BR (almost like going home) but I do get to see Edy and Aura for a bit because they're helping us with part of our transportation!
We saw Claudia - finally!!!!!!!!!! Something has maybe subtly changed in her, in a good way. We had one lesson where she brought up concerns again about the prophet, so we did what we could with visuals and analogies to help explain again prophets. Then in our second lesson we watched President Monson's talk from Conference. It was great! She stopped and would ask questions about all sorts of things. Mostly about the commandments. By the end, she didn't think a prophet meant some crazy thing about some man who stood up and told us all what to do. She said she really liked it and it made sense. Also, somehow through learning about obedience, she said at the end that she felt like she understood so much better her relationship with God. That she's always known He's her Father, but now she could feel more that He's really literally her loving Father. It was really cool, and so imperative. That's the love we've just been aching for her to feel, because I don't think anyone here on earth has really loved her, except Greysi.
And speaking of Greysi, we saw her Saturday at the fields. It's the first time I've seen her in so long, and it was so great. She's stolen my heart! I gave her the necklace (a Spanish "I am a Child of God), and she LOVED it! I don't know how to tell you! Immediately she said to "tell my mother thank you so much." It was awesome because right there just while walking, and me giving it to her, we were able to have a mini lesson about God's love for her. I asked her if she's still reading the kids Book of Mormon we gave her and she said yes. She says she always has it in her bag and when her teacher gives them extra reading time, that's what she reads! She said if the other kids ask her what it is, she says she's reading stories by Jesus. She's accepts truth so readily and naturally. Why isn't everyone like that? I mean everyone, including myself. She has really shown me what it really means to be humble and submissive. Because Claudia hasn't really received love in her life, I think it's hard for her to give it, especially in a motherly way, and she's starting to see that it will have an affect on her and on Greysi. She can't treat Greysi like a best friend or kid sister. Now that she's starting to realize it, I think she'll take the gospel messages in a different way.
We had a great lesson with Nancy, following up on conference. It was neat because we were talking about obedience and commandments and really helping her see that it's a way God shows He love her. And we hadn't planned it, but while listening to her I kept feeling we should turn to 3 Nephi 27:20 and invite her to be baptized again. If there's anything I’ve learned, it's to follow any thought that comes to my head while teaching, so we read it. There's nothing better than letting that invitation flow from Christ himself, and not from us, which is how that scripture is. It was so cool, because we let Sis. Solorzano do the actual invite, and that is not a common occurrence here! It went along perfect with the training material we'd been doing this week. Anyway, Nancy accepted, but still for "later." We talked about it for awhile, and found out it's because of her husband. She wants so badly for him to do it with her. We've taught him once when they called one night and asked for us to come over and explain what the Book of Mormon was because he was off work. Anyway, I finally asked Nancy to step away from all of that, and just think about if she knew it was all true. There was the sweetest spirit when she answered yes, she knows. We understand and even agree with what she said about her husband, so we'll be trying harder with that this week, maybe even tag team it with the Elders. It was an awesome lesson, but it was a bummer because come to find out afterward, Sis Solorzano felt negative about it since she didn't know we were going to invite to baptism. Well, that' the great thing about missionary work: I didn't either! But the Spirit did, and I thought it was awesome!
Vanessa, an investigator, isn't doing very well. She's progressing amazingly in the Book of Mormon, but she is physically sick. We don't understand exactly, but she's still not sleeping and she has this continual migraine. She went to the doctor and they just gave her these drugs that knock her out and make it worse. I think she's developing diabetes and I just wish she could have payed a nutritionist to come help her instead of paying for those meds, because I think that's what would help. Anyway, she still has interest to learn, so we've been teaching. We went over to teach her Friday night and there were all these kids there (maybe 8) and she wasn't doing well, and the house (which in total is maybe the size of the mission home living room) was a mess. I just didn't feel like teaching the Plan of Salvation lesson we had planned would be very productive while she had so many other apparent needs. So instead we tried to do what we thought Christ would: clean! The state that that kitchen was in, it was hard to know where to start! But we rolled up our sleeves and dug in! My mission is teaching me to love, it sounds so simple but it's a lesson quite dear to my heart. If people in the world really did do what they thought Jesus would do (instead of just a phrase on a bumper sticker) it would be so awesome!
I feel like I don't know how to explain everything I'm thinking through this email! It's just that so many of these people have lived harder lives than I can imagine. Most were abandoned by parents at a young age who came to the states for work, but then never went back. And so I'm learning how to love people that are so thirsty for love, but maybe don't know how to accept it. Or they're just shocked when someone does something nice for them, that they are worth it! When I was struggling really bad with Spanish at the beginning, President taught me that, "who I was would speak way louder than anything I said." I don't think Vanessa would have heard one word of the Plan of Salvation (even though we planned so much for it), but I hope she got to experience that night what the Plan of Salvation is all about: God's love for us and our families. In no way am I trying to say I know perfectly how to love, but I'm truly learning and applying what it means to be "God's hands here on the earth, to strengthen the feeble knees and lift the heavy hands that hang down." I've never felt more fulfilled in my life than in this focused journey to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. I don't want it to ever stop.
Well, I better hurry and go because we're going to get on our way. Mom, I'm so sorry I didn't answer all your questions. I'm going to try and write a letter so I can address some of those. It's so hard to know they're there and not be able to answer. Know that I'm aware and I'm so grateful for your interest, love, and prayers for the people here. Just this morning in the shower I was wondering how RS was going there and so I loved hearing about the activity! That's awesome I have a VT!! We are two months in to implementing Visiting Teaching in the branch, and it's not going super well, so I might be the only one here who got "visit taught" :)
I also loved hearing about the chicks! Can't wait for more pics!
I love you all SOOOOOOO much!