Mom, I did get the ipod package. I realized right after P-Day ended last week that I had forgotten to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! I've been listening to MoTab and Prince of Egypt in the shower and while I get ready in the mornings, and it's been great. It's funny how songs like "May It Be" from LOTR suddenly take on new meaning when you look at them from the perspective of a missionary. It was especially great to listen to MoTab sing about the Savior on Easter morning. Thank you for the iHome as well. I didn't end up bringing an alarm clock with me, and those aren't provided in the apartments, so the music, alarm clock combo is an added bonus. I just got my Easter package this morning! The office is supposed to call when a package comes in, but they don't usually. So we just went and asked and they had it there in a pile. Thank you! I'm eating a Reese's egg as I type and I'm enjoying it thoroughly. I love the thank you cards. They're super cute. More especially, I love you and I really appreciate the time you took out of your hectic life to throw that together for me.
This week for our district meeting training on Tuesday, we did an activity where everyone wrote a teaching scenario on a piece of paper, and then they were passed around and we came up with a brief teaching plan based on the situation. To preface, I love the senior couple that serves in our area, but this example highlights to me what I have heard all my life from adult leaders and never really understood. They always tell us "your generation is so much better than mine was" and I didn't ever understand that because I always looked up so much to my leaders and their experience, and I still do. So, Elder G. was given a scenario where he was teaching a woman whose husband was 75ish, had smoked all of his life, and had liver cancer. This woman's goal was to see her husband baptized before he died. Elder G.'s lesson plan was "well, this gentleman is at the end of his life, he isn't likely to change now, and so I would just teach this good woman about temple work for the dead and wait until he kicks the bucket to get him baptized." When all is said and done, that may be what would have happened, but none of the junior missionaries were content with that answer. We all felt that this man deserved a chance in life to accept as much as he could and to have the opportunity to pray for miracles that he could overcome his addiction and be baptized if he would choose to do so. I think the difference is that we have grown up in a different generation where all of us have had to rely on our testimonies of the Atonement to make it through to this point. The world is harder to navigate than it used to be, and because of that, we have had to withstand buffetings from all sides for as long as any of us can remember, and that has made our testimonies stronger. I see a difference from what I had to go through to what Aidan will have to go through, but I do know that because the world is getting harder, the youth of the church are going to keep getting stronger as they hold onto what they believe and stand firm in the faith. I loved Sister Dalton's talk about that at the YW broadcast this weekend. Everything she said is true.
This story just bugs me. We have the opportunity to visit every week with our ward mission leader and ward missionary. They're both good guys, but this week at our first correlation, they were making generalizations about women, how "every woman is just so flighty and flaky and scatter-brained" and "I don't know what they did. It was one of those weird girl things that you guys do" and just saying things like that, that I'm sure they didn't even think twice about. It made me SO MAD! Because even though they were just tiny little comments, and I'm sure these young leaders will grow up and be just fine, we do not have room for stuff like that in our world. Although in a minor way, this is an example of "unrighteous dominion." These guys feel like because they are men, because they are returned missionaries, they have the right to criticize women, to criticize non RMs (meaning all of us that they work with who are serving missions now) and to criticize members of the ward that don't do things the same way they do. We do not have room for this kind of attitude. I will NOT let my children grow up to think that way.
Anyway. On to happier things! Easter sounds like you guys had some fun. The Easter Bunny seems to have maintained if not upped his standard of hiding excellence, and Dad had a unique forray into Biblical Acting.
Dad, you asked about my companion. Hermana B. is the best!! She likes to say she grew up in Albaquerque, New Mexico, which is true, but really that means she doesn't want to be in the 90% of missionaries that are from Utah. Her family lives right now in American Fork, and when we were watching the YW broadcast, she knew about 10 of the girls in the choir, and the closing prayer. Before her mission, she was at Utah State studying early childhood education because they have a really good program up there. Hna. B is really fun. She likes to be spontaneous, so when it rained for the first time in a long time in Del Rio yesterday, we ran outside and got ourselves pretty soaked. At the same time, she's a really hard worker, and I love teaching with her. She loves the scriptures and has a lot to say about them, so sometimes lessons end up being a little lopsided, but it works out great. As my Spanish is getting better, I'm more able to jump in and participate. She's really good at turning contacts into Quality Gospel conversations (QGCs), so while we don't ever contact the mission standard of 120 per week, we do pretty well on our QGCs, and we're teaching the mission standard of 15 lessons per week, which is why we don't have time to contact 120 people, besides which, the population density isn't as high here as it is other places. Hna. B likes to run and also has eating challenges like me, but that didn't stop us from going to Rudy's and eating 1/2 lb of turkey, the biggest smoked potato I've ever seen in my life topped with butter, cheese, sour cream, and 1/2 lb of brisket, a pint of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream, creamed corn and some cole slaw (I'll include a picture at the end). I feel like we're a really good combination, and yet again, I feel so blessed to be with another companion that I love so much. Oh, I also found out that she plays the Viola quite well, and is vaugely aquainted with Aunt Kristine from one orchestra or another that she was in in the valley area. Maybe Timpanogos?
The flavor of Del Rio. It really depends where you are. "In town" feels about like Pocatello if you took away the mountains and added a lot more Mexican and BBQ. There's a mall, but there's not a lot in it as far as we have been told, and a WalMart which is where we went shopping today. Closer to the border, there are areas that feel more like you're in Mexico. The houses are slummier and packed closely together, the roads are dirt, and most people speak Spanish. Then, there's the airforce base which has it's own flavor. I imagine it's about the same as Wright Patterson with government issue housing with tile floors and lots of rules about what you can and can't do and when and where. A lot of the members of the 1st branch are young families from the airforce base, and I've been told the turn over is pretty quick because of that. There's also the regular residential part of town, and further out of our area, there are ranch style homes spaced far apart on large pieces of dusty, cactusy property. The biggest problem we have with our investigators is church attendance. Growing up Catholic by inheritance but not belief, most people love their families, but just don't get what that has to do with them going to church. Catholicism is also the most common and convenient excuse not to listen to the missionaries.
This week at church, we actually had three investigators!! We spent a lot of time helping N and her family move on Saturday and packing earlier in the week, and we actually didn't invite them to church, but one of N's member friends had, and since it was Easter, she came and brought all of her kids. Woot woot!! They only stayed for Sacrament meeting, but it was still really great to see them there. We also met a guy on Saturday named F. He's about 5 feet tall, old and wrinkled, and the cutest man alive. He lives alone after the death of his wife about five years ago, and he told us that he loves to hear the word of God. He came and stayed all three hours and I think he made a lot of friends among the members who just scooped him up and showed him what to do.
For Easter Dinner, we were invited over to the W's (a young family on base) and they fed us a delicious dinner and Sister W sent us home with an Easter basket. It was such a fun dinner appointment. We taught their boys about prophets by playing Prophet Says No, Prophet Says Go (Red light, Green light), and then we sang follow the prophet, read a scripture, and talked a little bit about general conference. By the way, I am SOO excited for General Conference. Our big thing is inviting people to invite people to come, because it's a great opportunity for non-members to feel the spirit and see the restoration in action.
Friday, we had a really cool experience that testified to me that Heavenly Father is mindful of his "lost sheep." We've discovered that as we're contacting, we actually seem to bump into a lot of inactive members as much as we find non-members willing to listen. The other day, we had about two hours and couldn't decide where to knock, but finally settled on Hodge street. The first lady we talked to was named R. She was like "yeah, my daughter got baptized Mormon about 12 years ago, but hasn't been to church in a while. You should come back tomorrow and we can sit down and talk for real." We haven't been able to catch her at home yet because of the Easter holiday, but I'm really hoping we do and that we're able to find out more about her daughter. She didn't want to talk then because she was about to go make dinner. So we kept knocking doors and ended up knocking at a door that looked empty. While we were standing there, the lady in the house next door came outside and was trying to turn off the lights in her car. We weren't quite sure what to do, but we went over and helped her as best we could. She didn't seem like she wanted to talk, but after we figured out how to get her lights off, she walked into the house, wiped fried chicken grease off her hands and invited us in just like that. She sat us down and we talked to her, and out poured this story about how she had lost her son about 5 years ago in an accident and since then, she had just been totally numb to feeling anything. Tears were shed and we testified to her of the power of the Atonement, that when put into action, it has the power to heal her and to help her feel again. Her response was "yeah, I know. I'm Mormon too." What?!?! Hermana B has been in this area for 6 months, knows everyone in every house and had never heard of her before. The craziest thing, is that she doesn't even live in the house we were at. She was just there visiting her granddaughters and we happened to stop by at the right time. Right after she said that, she gave us references of people she wanted us to teach and then her son walked into the house. I had no idea who he was, but Hna. B did. He's also an inactive member, and this whole time she thought he lived in the Elder's area where we aren't allowed to teach. So, I'm not sure what will happen next because Hermana R lives in the Elder's Area, but we'll see if we can't help her out as much as possible.
We taught M and J and A again this week. The lesson went great, but then they didn't come to church, which means we have to move their baptismal date back a week, and that's kind of frustrating, especially because she didn't seem that broken up about it. I'm a littl worried and praying that we don't start losing them, because they're doing so well!!
We also found this really cool guy named A. He's probably about 60, we've taught him twice, both good lessons, and he told us when we asked him to be baptized in the first lesson that he'd had a thought about three months ago that had persisted, that he really needed to be baptized again, but wasn't sure why. So he has a baptismal date too, and from things he told us, I really feel like he has been prepared for this. He told us about dreams he has had where he was told that he needed to be looking for the true church, so he has been, and felt really good about what we taught him. The only problem is, he didn't come to church this week, and we're not sure why. He told us he was nervous about the social aspect of it, and not knowing anybody in the congregation, but we brought some friends for him to our last lesson, and the seemed to hit it off pretty well. It might also be his work schedule. As a plumber, he doesn't make a lot of money, and he said that sometimes he gets called in on Sundays. So that was a little frustrating as well, but we'll keep on him and see if we can't get him baptized yet.
Steven! I know somebody you know!! We were at dinner this week with the Rogers family, and I found out that one of their sons, X, served in the Cleveland mission with you. He says hi. Small world in the church. Even smaller in Del Rio, haha.
I think that's all the biggest news I have for you guys. The title for this week's email comes from one of the hymns in the Spanish hymn book that I love. It means "pleasing to us is the work" and was written by a missionary (possibly not LDS) that was thrown into prison (I think in Chile) as he was preaching. While he was there he wrote this hymn about missionary work. I picked it, because this week I have started to feel more and more that "pleasing to us is the work." I know that feeling will continue to mature right along with my sun tan lines, but I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who has answered my prayers and helped me to feel that when I needed it. The church is true which is why we can testify of it boldly. There's no need to be afraid because the message we have can only bless the people we share it with. I love it. I love being able to teach people how to have happier families, and I learn more and more every day that all of these blessings are given to us only because of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love him for it, and he loves us all right back in return.
I hope you all have a marvelous week. Thank you all for your letters!!