Mom, thanks for your email! Do I just have the BEST FAMILY or what?!?!?! I was so surprised to get your package! That was so fun! Oh my goodness, I loved reading everyone's letters! That was such a treat. And good idea on the food. What a blessing! We now seriously only have to go to the fruit market today for groceries and we should be good! I'm so grateful, thank you. And I don't think I've had Captain Crunch since...well probably last Christmas. So thanks for letting it go in the box Dad :) We're totally going to make fettucini alfredo with broccoli. mmm, it'll be so good :) ...
I absolutely loved reading about everyone's trek experiences. Thank you for taking the time to write them down. Those are special. I'm so grateful it was a good experience for you all. I'm so proud to call you my family!
We went out with our branch president and his wife one night this week and we were able to see both Rob Wade and Myra. It was so awesome! Rob Wade is just a rockstar. We always call him by his first and last name... not sure why haha. It just sounds legit. He's out of town for the week, but is committed to read one chapter a night from the Book of Mormon, and I think he'll do it. We went over and saw Brenda last night. Did I mention they are getting married? Yup! The date is September 6, and Brenda is pretty much making and doing all the decorations and food. She wants to do a lot of it this week so we're going to help her, and she's also asked to be retaught the lessons. It's a great opportunity because with Rob, we sometimes have to Spanglish it, and she really doesn't speak any English. Rob speaks Spanish, but gospel terms are so new, even in one's native language, so it's just a bit of a challenge. We're excited to spend some time with her this week, teaching and helping. Her two little kids are quite the handful, and she hates being alone, so it'll be good.
And no one came to church yesterday but Greysi and Claudia!!!!!! We saw them this week, finally! Poor Claudia lost her dog that was basically like her child. That dog was with her even when Greysi's Dad had stolen Greysi from her. And she just let Greysi's dad recently come and see her, but it was stressful because her and Carlos (her husband) won't allow him to know where they live because it's too likely that he would one day try to take Greysi again. So they all awkwardly had to go and stay in the same house so he could see Greysi. He just did so many awful things to Claudia, and yet she sees that he's not a horrible dad to Greysi and Greysi wants to see him so... she's trying to do what's best. I met him at soccer and it was so hard just knowing what had gone on. But Greysi's doing great, and she even convinced Claudia to let her stay for an hour of primary so they stayed for two hours yesterday, which is a first in a long time! We're trying to set up a lunch lesson with her and Patricia Hernandez this week. We'll see how it goes.
Last Monday we met this AWESOME family while tracting (because all our appointments fell through again :) The mom's name is Mari and she's from El Salvador. As I walked up the stairs
to knock on her door this guy came outside. He immediately looked at me and asked if he knew me. His brother came out and said the same thing. We realized that several months ago they came to soccer a couple times and I know them from there. Turns out Mari is their mom (even though she looks so young!) She is just the happiest person ever! Her husband and her were in an accident 5 years ago, and he passed away, leaving her here with 3 kids who would have been around teenage years at the time. But she's just amazing. They had us come right in as though we'd been friends for years. There's always so many people in her house, it's crazy. But it's a good crazy, like it reminds me of when we're all at Grandma and Grandpa's. Mari's daughter has 2 kids and lives there too. And Mari has actually met someone knew, his name is Simon. She had us over for Papousa's last night and we got to know her (even though there once again seemed to be a 100 people there!) We found out that Simon actually does not live there! That's... HUGE! It was such a good surprise. He's just a really good guy who still has his own place. He wants to marry Mari, but she’s not sure. It's just a big step, and it's just been five years. He actually ate dinner with us, and was so nice. I know it probably sounds like such a small thing, but we just rarely ever meet decent Hispanic men. Ever. Let alone one's who are good around family. It was so awesome! As we were eating, Mari suddenly opened up to us and told us that her mom passed away 5 months ago. Ah hah. There it is. With people like her, the one's who welcome you in when you have no idea why - there's usually some burning question behind it all. For her it's, "where is my mom?" So we began to teach her about that until her niece got really sick. I think it's appendicitis. Anyway, they had to leave to the hospital, but she set a return appointment with us!
I'm to the point in my mission that when I meet people, especially a family like that, I just quickly have such a strong vision for what they can become that I don't know how I'm ever supposed to leave these people. I know that I won't see it come about while I'm here, and I just feel like I have to stay until it does! It's a hard thing. I only have 3 transfers left and it's totally freaking me out. Three transfers!! That's no time at all. None. You always just feel like you'll always have more, and then they're just gone, and you're being put on a plane. People think you're the seasoned missionary when really you literally feel like you know nothing and just got here.
Maybe the hardest thing for me this week (although I suppose it's been coming for awhile) is that I realized that I won't speak Spanish like I want to when I come home. I don't want to be fluent, just proficient, but I'm so far away. You know, your whole mission you work and work on the language and you see how all the older missionaries seem to finally get the language and you think that with time and hard work you'll be there too one day. Then you're just four months from going home and you find you still often, very often, can't understand people, and you can't express things the way you want to. Then Satan likes to get in there and sow little thoughts of, "what have you been doing for a year?" Uh, I've been struggling to do the best I can! "Have you?" he says. "Yes!" I think. But it's so far away from what I thought that it seems like surely it can't be my best! I can still study it after the mission, but if I can't get it speaking with people every day, how am I ever going to get it? I feel like I bang and bang my head against my grammar books and I still don't understand concepts that I should fully understand. So I thought I might be a learner who just needed to learn by listening and talking, but ... I don't know anymore. This week Judy told me, "tu no hablas espanol. tu no hablas espanol." "you don't speak Spanish. you really don't speak Spanish do you?" It was so upsetting! She's the nicest lady on the planet and didn't mean a thing by it but oh! It's just so frustrating! ... Sister Burns is quite fluent and I humbled myself enough to tell her my weakness and concern and ask her for help. She of course graciously agreed to help. We don't have a plan yet but we're going to make one. She's the first companion I've ever had who knows some Spanish!! Like there's two people to pull the handcart in the Spanish department for the first time. All of the rest of our transfer together, we were just focused on helping Sis Tanner not lose it about Spanish. So we'll see what happens!
Mom, that is SOOOO cool that you did that race! That sounded so hard. And you did it!!! That's so amazing! Three tires?! That's crazy! Way to stick with it, that would have been so difficult. You're such an awesome example to me!
WHOA!! Lightning just struck RIGHT above me! Holy schnickies. There was no gap between the lightning and thunder. Ok, it was sunny when we came in the library. Gotta love Louisiana! I'm about to get soaked! Of course, my rain jacket is safely in my closet. :)
I better go! I love you all TONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
p.s - I forgot to include the news about the toe torture... it's totally fine! Although it's kind of a funny story... the podiatrist I was sent to is from Vietnam, with broken and hard to understand English. Numbing one's big toe these days includes 3 or four needle injections. The first one that this lady put in my toe, my whole foot started convulsing as she injected the numbing! It felt like fire. What the heck kind of numbing was that! At first it wasn't funny, but it is now. Just picture me sitting there, helpless, in the conversation room. No, my companions did not come back with me. The doctor puts these needle so far in my toe I swear the needle is going to poke out the other side and then as my foot starts shaking she's yelling, "no move! no move!" Uh, what?! I'm trying! I literally was holding my shin with my hands, gave myself a bruise. It was like she thought I was just shaking for fun while she had the needle in there. And it just felt like fire was shooting through it! It got better by the time we got to the third one. But it did make me cry (I didn't cry at all the last time!) and then she started incredulously asking, "why you sweating?" "why you sweating?" I tried to jokingly respond that, yes, my eyes were sweating, but she didn't get it. So finally I said, "I'm crying!" "Huh," she said. "I no know why. Maybe have sensitive foot nerves." Yup, I guess that's it. Haha anyway, the rest of it I hid behind my Book of Mormon reading a favorite verse. But she got right in there and got the deed done. Since then I've been diligently on my antibiotics, creams, and soaking in epsom salt twice a day! It'll heal great I bet. She only ended up taking maybe the outside 1/3 of my nail. It won't grow back, or at least hopefully. On the way out the door, the doctor chimed in that that deadening stuff works 90% of the time. We'll see :) By the time I get home though it should look great!