THIS WAS THE BEST WEEK EVER!!
Like... I could not imagine a better week.
It started (obviously), we hung out as a district and then we split up and went with the sisters to try to go thrifting when we discovered UNFORTUNATELY that the thrift shop we wanted to pop tags at actually wasn't even open for like... Who knows how long. So we just went to the mall, which was slightly uncomfortable. I mean, I've never been a big person for malls or shopping anyway, but just take that feeling of awkwardness and magnify it by a million and that's how I feel shopping in a mall as a missionary. It's not a pleasant experience. But it's what the gals wanted to do, so we did it. I love those sisters so dang munch. They mean everything in this world to me. I was feeling a little bit trunky/homesick and they just talked me through everything. It was so great.
I think it is so funny how the devil and his little minions work so much harder on you when something incredible is about to happen in your life or in the work... But if you just persevere then the Lord will reward you. Just because you're currently surrounded by darkness, doesn't mean that the light will not come. So, I pushed through and this is how the week went.
The first miracle was night. We were supposed to go on an. Exchange with our STLs. They were going to meet us in Lancaster at so that we could have our exchange review. Our dinner appointment was at , but we hurried out of there so that we could get to the chapel on time to meet with the sisters. Well, after about 15 minutes of waiting there for them, we decided that we should check our phone to see if something had come up because they obviously weren't at the chapel.
When we looked at our phone we saw we had a couple of missed calls and missed texts from them. We found out that one of their recent converts was having a hard time trying to quit smoking, so sister Jarvis had given up her P day so that she could go sit with this convert, and hold her hand while she went through withdrawals. Meanwhile, sister Oliver had been staying with the Fergusons because she was sick. So the sisters were not going to be able to come to Lancaster. They called and asked if it would be possible for us to meet them in Elizabethtown. So, after a rockin lesson with one of our less active families, and after going to a members house to get to know her a little bit better, we headed on our way to meet up with the sisters.
When we got to the address that they had sent us, we walked up the steps, swang on their tire swing outside for a little bit, and then went in for our exchange review. The sisters were seated at a table with some of the members who lived in the house. At first, I was looking at one of the girls to try to figure out where I had seen her before, but I couldn't figure it out. I just couldn't quite place where I had seen her face before. All of a sudden, the mom walked in and I literally just fell to my knees with shock. Talk about a blast from the past! It was sister Ferguson, who I had talked with so long ago when I was on an exchange one of my very first transfers with sister Wade in Lititz. Way back when, we had just had the opportunity of teaching one of the Isaiah chapters in Nephi in the book of Mormon class that sister Ferguson used to attend, but has since stopped. I distinctly remember the first time I met her I had this deep impression that if I stay true and faithful to the Gospel, that someday I can become as faithful a servant as sister Ferguson. I had since forgotten the impression that she left on me that day in Lititz, but it quickly came back to me as I sat at the kitchen table in her home and exclaimed that I knew her!
Not only was she alarmed by my exclamation, but I think it also threw her a little bit off that my first reaction was just to fall on my knees haha. She told me to sit down and asked when we had met. All I could say was, "I met you in Lititz on an exchange with Sister Wade and you told me things about this gospel that BLEW MY MIND."
I couldn't stop freaking out. I couldn't believe that I had actually run into that family again. What are the odds!?
Anywhoo, while we were doing exchanger of you, she took the liberty to interrupt to give us a talk about being better at identifying with the speaker is speaking to us. It was such an answer to my prayer. I have read the talk several times over since I received it. It will greatly bless my life.
The exchange was great . We visited some wonderful people. We even went back to the ferguson home to help weed and then I got to talk to Sister Fergusons son, who is leaving for his mission this month. He's gonna be in the CCM! I'm so dang jealous!
Anyway. We exchanged back that afternoon. I was so happy to be with Hermana Tolman again. Exchanges are fun, but sometimes you just want to be in your own area with your own companion, you know? So we are happy to be back. We got right back into work. We had this awesome active member lesson with one of the members in our branch that we didn't know super well and now we're like best friends with her. We sat down with her and got to know her life story and shared a message and now she wants to come out with us and teach people! Like she literally quit one of her jobs so that she could have more time available to go out with the missionaries! It was so cool. This branch is just getting stronger and stronger.
Speaking of strengthening the branch... Salvador was baptized!! It was incredible. Unfortunately, the water was freezing cold haha. We tried calling a bunch of people to come and fix it, but it would not be fixed. So we ended up just boiling a bunch of pots of really hot water and pouring them into the font to help bring the temperature up a little bit. When he was getting baptized, he wasn't bending over far enough (he probably didn't want to go in any farther into that freezing water) but anyway he wasn't getting submersed, so they had to try three times haha. But he was a trooper and seemed really happy.
when he was confirmed I was just crying and crying and then they stood up and had him sustained as a member and then like literally immediately after that President Gogna said that he also interviewed him that morning to receive the priesthood and found him worthy, so he gave him the Aaronic Priesthood right after church. It was crazy, and definitely did not help me with the whole crying issue. It was just an emotional day.
Then, to make matters worse, I was prompted to bear my testimony. So I hopped right up and bore my testimony and, of course, I just kept right on crying. It was so crazy.
I just want to share that testimony with you guys right now, though. was a seriously incredible experience for me. It was the coolest thing... as I knelt down to pray that evening at , and realized that in Utah it was , which is right around the time that I was set apart to be a missionary exactly one year ago, I took some time to account to my Heavenly Father some of the incredible lessons and experiences that I have been a part of over the past 12 months, and I was overwhelmed with this incredible feeling of gratitude. I was literally brimming with thanksgiving that the Lord had seen fit to direct me in serving a mission. I thought of that person I was at that time last year... and then I took time to think about the person that I am.
Those two people are completely different. I'm still me... but I'm new. The Lord has slowly been taking the weak and unworthy parts of me and making me into someone who is qualified to do His work. I am sincerely awed at what the power of Christ's atonement has done for me in my life. That is the miracle of what Christ did for us - that we don't have to hold on to who we used to be, and that we can move forward and become new people. I am so grateful for that knowledge and the joy it brings to my life...
IN OTHER NEWS.
We had some seriously fantastic times this week.
WE GOT TO DO SERVICE ON AN AMISH FARM.
I literally spent like 4 hours just hanging out with the Amish people! Can you even believe that!? Because I can't!!! It was so incredible! They even gave us a buggy ride and then made us Amish pretzels and Amish cheese sauce!
They were seriously the coolest people in the whole world. Hermana Tolman and I got to be inside washing windows and stuff, and so we just got to sit and talk to Becky - she's 18 - about like... what being an Amish person is like and what it's like to live on a farm. Hopefully we get to go back soon and have another service day with them! They rock!!
I would send pictures but... you know how the Amish are about that kind of stuff ;) haha
Second, we had a bumpin dinner appointment with the Martinez family. First off, Ruth Martinez is like seriously the best human being on the planet, and her husband is the funniest person I've ever met. So we went over and had dinner with them and the elders. Not to mention, this is one of the very few ALL SPANISH dinner appointments that I have been privileged to have on my mission. We talked and laughed and shared a spiritual message. It was such a good time. I don't really know why I'm including this. It was just a highlight from my week.
There were so many highlights from this week.
Like our Branch fiesta on the 4th of July. That was great. It was raining and so we all had to cram into the little garage but hey! We're Latinos and none of us really care! It was actually really good because it brought us all closer. We were able to meet some really cool people from the York side of the branch!
Another highlight was a lesson that we had last night with a less active that we've been teaching for a while. I think we finally had a break through moment with her and it was really cool. The spirit was super strong and I could feel God's love for her in the room. Wow. So hopefully she comes to church!!
More good news - we finally OFFICIALLY have a branch mission leader! It's the same person as before, but he just was finally actually called and set apart! so that's great! He has so many awesome ideas for missionary work that we're excited to implement.
I have just been blown away by the love and blessings that the Lord is constantly showering upon our heads. I just want to close with one story from this morning.
So when Hermana Tolman was my trainer many moons ago in Lebanon, we taught this guy named Hector Guzman. He was super cool and one of my best friends. HE OYM'd US. He was totally prepared for the gospel. So we were teaching him and had him set for a baptism date and everything and then he had a stroke and he dropped off the face of the earth and ended up moving to West york.
Hermana Tolman and I were placed back together 5 weeks ago (obviously) and we just KNEW that one of the reasons we got put back together was to find Hector because the new Spanish branch covers York and so that's our area!! So we have been looking and praying and fasting for FIVE WEEKS to find this man because Hermana Tolman goes home in 9 days and so we really wanted to find him.
Literally THIS MORNING.
THIS MORNING YOU GUYS.
The Lebanon sisters got a text from this number saying that it was Hector and he was trying to find us. Well, basically we've had everyone on the east side of the mission on HIGH ALERT looking for this man with us, so of course they text us the number... we call the number... Hector answers.... we scream... I start crying.
Anyway. We have an appointment with him .
It is the biggest miracle.
The Lord is so good.
I can't believe we just found Hector Guzman.
This week literally rocked.
That is all.