Weird time to be getting an email from me, right? Well, yesterday my email wasn't working so President said we could stop by the library for me to let you know I'm alive and shoot you an email :) We have a lot to do though so I'll be keeping it short! It's just hard because so much happened last week!!
1. Esmeralda's baptism!!!! Do you remember her? She's the one that I found and the sisters started teaching her two transfers ago right when I left the all Spanish area. Well, she's awesome!! I've probably not met a better person. I didn't have a part in teaching her, but it doesn't matter. I played my small part and it was so awesome so see her take that step!!!! I wish I could give you more details. Suffice it to say - awesomeness.
Side note: Do you remember Tanya from months ago? Like 10 months ago? Shaky investigator who then called Sister Carolan and I one night saying she wanted to baptize and really change. So we went, taught her, set a plan, and then we never heard from her again. Her aunt said she'd moved out of their house, she said she was young and wanted to club and do whatever she wanted. Kinda confusing, a total 180. Some months later I learned she was pregnant. A few months after that I saw her at her aunt’s house (who's a less active member). Well, Tanya showed up at Esmeralda's baptism, now 7 months pregnant, and afterward told me she needed to talk to me. She said she wants to get baptized. Well, I've walked down that road before. Two stories come to mind. Boy who cried wolf, and return of the prodigal son. My nature says be wary, but I'll go ahead and pick the return of the prodigal son. She came to church, and we've now taught her twice. She's motivated by fear because she's having dreams that her son will only be born with one eye because of her sins. But today, when we taught her, she'd kept her commitment, and she told me that she realized this was for her too, not just him. Sometimes its hard for us to believe people can change, but I know through the gospel she can do it!
I'm putting this sad one in between the two happies. Judy sent a text to the Hermanas (Sis Burns and Sis Judd) on Friday. She texted them and said she'll be Catholic forever, don't come back. Literally, that's what it said. Most likely because of her husband. You can guess how I felt about that. She's tried to drop us twice before, but this one was for real I think. She's told me in the past that she knows the Book of Mormon is true, but because of a whole lot of reasons, she's decided to give up on doing what she knows she should. Mostly it's her husband that's keeping her from it. Her husband who I actually translated for at one point to help get out of jail. Oh man. I sure just love Judy, though! One day she'll get there, although it may be in the Spirit world, I won't give up hope! One of the biggest miracles of my mission is how we found her, and I know that the last 9 months she's spent with missionaries wasn't for nothing!
Here's the big one. And I am going to take time to tell you this, although words won't suffice at all. It's about Claudia. I was asked to teach Gospel principles in the Spanish branch. Elder O’Donnell asked me a bit late in the week and said to pick my own topic. But then I forgot, so I actually prepped it Saturday night before bed. I picked faith, knowing that Claudia was going to be there. We've been working a lot on faith with her and her commitment right now that she's been working on is reading Alma 32. She told us at soccer earlier on Saturday that she read more of it and was actually understanding a little bit. Anyway, that lesson on faith was probably the easiest I ever prepped. I don't know why, it was like someone told me just what to do. I pieced in a bible video, Preach My Gospel, a scripture, questions. No stress. Then I woke up early Sunday morning with the idea to take a bunch of little pictures of Jesus (the one in the read robe) and give one to each person, along with having them write some feelings about faith in their Savior. Anyway, then the class was packed!!!! Holy smokes, but everything went awesome. And then in the middle, even though I hadn't planned to, we turned to Alma 32. I wasn't exactly sure where to start, or what it was leading to. Claudia is usually the instigator in the class; the one with a million questions. But that's how she's always been - I always study a lot when we teach her, :) After reading a few verses, she raised her hand, and said she wanted to share something. Share... not question? Ok. She started to say that she'd been reading this chapter more the previous night, and suddenly she began to cry. I don't know how to explain the spirit. When she opened herself up right then, this powerful force entered the room. She was speaking through her tears, but I don’t remember really what she said. Something about how she'd once refused to read this book (BoM)... and some other stuff when all of a sudden she just said, "I believe that this church is true." Those are words we hear a lot in America on fast Sunday's. But wow, in that room when she said it - so many suddenly started to cry. It was absolutely one of the happiest moments of my mission. And I've rarely felt a spirit like that in my whole life. I stood at the front just smiling and yeah, crying a bit. Everyone, some knowing what she and I have been through, just kept turning back and forth between the two of us. A missionary asked how she knew that. She said she just felt it and knew it because of what the scripture said about the seed. We have read Galatians 5 with her about three times I think over the last 10 months, in response to how she'll recognize truth, but she hasn't ever been happy with that answer. All of a sudden, she was experiencing it. It was amazing. That morning I'd jokingly told Sis Paulson, "this class is going to be so awesome, I'm just going to commit everyone to baptism by the end!" If we had been in Claudia's house, that's exactly what would've happened. While I wanted to commit her, I didn't because of the pressure of all those people. I instead asked her what she wanted to do with her faith. She responded, "continue to grow it." And that's what we'll do. Wow!! Just such a huge step!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My heart hadn't been filled with that much gratitude and joy for a long time. And every person in that room felt it, it was perfect.
Ok, I'm sure some of that didn't make sense, but I'm not really gonna take time to read over it. My miracle week! (well, the actual week was pretty lame because almost every person blew us off, or lesson’s dropped. Statistically low. My district leader wasn't happy with the numbers... but who cares. None of our miracles came from any lessons we taught, but through just sticking in there!).
I love you! Sorry I don’t have time for anything else, but thanks so much for the messages you sent me! Next week is transfer week. My last one!!!!!!!!!!! I'm freaking out!!!!!!!!! But it's the time I have to deal with waiting for that nerve-wracking call to see if I'm going or staying.... so I guess that's good. Every 6th monday night for me is the worst! And that's one thing I won't miss. President said a little bit ago that he thought I should be taken out of the ward and just be in the branch again. We'll see!!!!
LOVE YOU TONS!!!!!!!!!!!!
p.s. - Also, Erika had her first date!! woo-ee everyone be growin up!! Craziness. I was really bummed to hear that dad couldn't meet rob at the door with a shotgun... :) Haha