Well, it's transfers week here in the great Louisiana Baton Rouge mission, and we got the call last night that Sis Carolan and Sis Sagers will be leaving. Sister Carolan and I have been together 6 months, 1/3 of my mission. It's crazy to think. We've had experiences together that bind us in a way that I think only those types of situations and special experiences could. So that's special, and we are now called to move on. We've helped each other a lot, and as much fun as it would be to stay together, it's time to go on, learn from others, and also help others. This is the only area she's been in, and is of course sad to leave, but is doing pretty good. We knew it was coming so it wasn't too big of a shock.
I feel like I can't even remember what happened this whole week because all I know is we had an AWESOME branch activity last night! And people came!!!!!!! It's one thing that our companionship has been trying to do - have regular activities. Whether people come or not, we were just gonna keep having them. And people came! We had a picnic at a park and played soccer. Pretty simple, but so great! I'm becoming a master of simplicity. :) It's what we do! The simple things are the best! Anyway, so we just wanted to do a simple taco salad and fruit dinner, and we even got a little budget approved for it so that was awesome! It was work but I found a member to go shopping with us who was able to pay and then get reimbursed. Which was a miracle in and of itself because, Dad, you pretty much hit the nail on the head - almost everyone here is tending to the basic business of survival. It's usually why they came to America, and now they're just doing everything they can to survive, and help their families who are in different countries survive. Anyway, we went shopping and we cooked and prepped everything (we tried to involve people with that, but no one did) and took it to the park. Despite a little rice fiasco (where we had to throw it all away at the last second) we did it! And it turned out so good! Actually, it was so hot that despite being hungry I couldn't even eat anything besides a few strawberries, but people said it was good! It's a weird thing about the heat. Y'all know what that was like cause it would happen sometimes when we worked a lot in the heat at Now and Then, but here it's so bad. It's so hard to eat when it's hot, I'm not sure why. Anyway, people were even there when we started (last game night there was one couple when we started, :) but here there was like 25! And all in all we think we ended up with maybe 60 or so, and a TON were non-members. Claudia and Greysi came! (If you say soccer around here - people come. :) That through our English classes and soccer on Saturdays and stuff like that, we know a lot of people. Most of them don't want to learn about the gospel, but we've stayed friends, so we had lots of people come that way. We haven't seen Dunia and David at all lately and were wondering what happened. Why so interested and then they just dropped off the face of the earth? But they came! And our branch president had fun! Which is really just heart warming in and of itself.
I stunk at soccer. Haha, oh man, but I've learned that just trying endears people to you. I think President Estrada thought it was so funny just watching me be afraid to head the ball (uh, I don't like headaches ok? :) but I didn't mind. I just got right in there. I was the only sister, but it was so great. I wish so badly that I had a picture to send you but I don't (which actually is probably good because I sweat out more water than I knew was possible to have in my body!). All I know is that as I was dying of heat, I realized several things. One, my lungs are getting a lot healthier because you're forced to here. Just sitting in the pavilion people were dying, and running around, the heat was crazy, and yet I could breathe! Second, it was the happiest, most fun night I've had in awhile. You don't get to see many sunsets or stars here, but there was a little bit of color in the sky as the sun was setting, and I just stopped for a second, and looked at all our members and non-members running around playing, and I looked over at the pavilion and people were talking to each other! And I saw a group of kids filling up water balloons (we brought some, and they got me good later, :) and I saw friendships being made. And my heart was so happy. So. HAPPY! In my mission, I look for the very simple joys, and that was one. It was so amazing. (also great because waiting to get the calls for transfers was starting to wear on my nerves so I just got to go play and let someone else take the call. :) Also Dad, I didn't have to embrace a skirt during that one, :) I got to put shorts on! haha
The rest of this week was normal. I actually don't really remember it. Mele came to English class but didn't like it and hasn't answered us since. But we think something might be a little... off with them. Different things happened like that. The thing is we didn't teach many lessons, but the ones we did teach were solid. Three people committed to baptism. We have a crazy full teaching pool right now. I've never known what that's like. Our problem has been getting anyone to progress, but those three people are at least heading in that direction. They won't commit to a date yet, but If they keep their commitments, they'll feel when it's right. Those people are Christina (who I've taught), Lorny (who I've only taught English to), and Carlos. Sorry that you probably don't really know the stories behind those people. It's just too much to try and tell. We've actually only taught Christina twice, and so I'm still trying to get to know her! She came to us by way of an inactive. Cool, huh?! Maybe eventually that inactive will come because Christina will need a ride or something! And the biggest miracle happened yesterday when we got to see Judy! The first time since everything went down. She's doing well. She's reading the Conference issue still and I think she may read more of the Book of Mormon than most members. Not everyday, but when she does read, she reads a lot. Judy just has this incredible. incredible relationship with God. When I go there I feel like I'm going to learn from her. That's true with lots, but especially her. I have quotes written in my planner from her. She's just a wise woman. Plus, we ate this yellow watermelon with her. It was maybe the best fruit I've ever tasted. No joke!
Ok, this brings me to the last miracle of the week! Saturday night I was teaching a lesson, and when I got back, the sisters told me that they'd got a call from some lady named Laura Kissel looking for me. Laura is from Costa Rica, and I knew her in New Orleans. She was inactive when I got there. We helped her to become active, and receive a calling. She and I were close, but honestly not that close. She's someone who has had a lot of things that happen in her life that she's let make her bitter. Things like her Dad held really visible callings when she was a kid. He was endowed, he did all the right things, they always had the missionaries at their house, etc. Until one day he just left. He had another family somewhere else or something. That happened when she was 16 or so and it really messed with her. Anyway, she went for a visit to Costa Rica and was still there when I was transferred. Since then, I'd just heard through the elders that she was less active again, and I wondered what had happened. She was the one person I saw become mostly active again down there, so it was especially hard to hear that she went back to inactivity. But it turns out that was false information because she called to tell me she's going through the temple!!!!!! She's going and she wants me to come and to be her escort! I was completely shocked! I had a vision to help Laura get to the temple and we tried to work with her on it, but her issue was basically that she was afraid to go because of her background of having watched people make those serious covenants and then break them... So we had one lesson, maybe two visits where we talked about the temple, but she told me when she called that I "planted a seed for her." When she got back from Costa Rica and she couldn't stop thinking about some of the things I'd said (I don't know what that was). She got someone to teach her temple prep to help her get ready. Then, she said, something really weird happened. Well, she said I wouldn't think it was weird, but that she really started to read the Book of Mormon when she got back and all her anger went away. She said, "you know how the scriptures talk about new and converted people? I feel like that's me!" I only talked to her for 10 or 15 minutes but she just sounded like a completely changed and different person. She said she thinks that missionaries may, unfortunately, sometimes think they haven't made a big enough difference but that I would never get to say that because of the difference I made in her life, and for her family. I had absolutely no idea. No idea any of those seeds were planted. My dream is being fulfilled of getting to see someone go through the temple. I'm sure there will be more, I have no doubt actually. I just don't think I'll see any of them, or maybe know about them. But here, the Lord has given me the biggest tender mercy of witnessing one. So I'll go to the temple with her Saturday. Just warms my heart.
Well, Dad, I will say that I appreciated your email more than I can say! Like usual. :) You too Mom! I'm so blessed to have such awesome padres! I hope you have a great week.
Lots of Love,