Who has the cutest niece in the whole wide world? Sister Christensen does!!! I can't wait to get pictures of her! Every time they show up in my email, I show all of the other sisters and we have an "awwwww" moment, and then remember we're in the library and ought to be quiet. Well done Steven and Lisa.
Glad you all survived the great move-a-palooza. Everyone is off safe and sound, and hopefully for the better. This week I actually used the nail file Sister B gave me at my farewell and I thought about her for a few minutes. Sad to see (figuratively) the Es go, but this means I'll get to see them more in the long run when I'm back at school!! Woohoo for me!
Transfer news . . . 10 points for me for guessing everything right. Sister L and I are staying together in Del Rio for another transfer (yay!!!!!!!!!!!), as are Sister I (who is also the new Sister Training Leader on the Border) and Sister A. Elder Cl is flying home on Wednesday (that one wasn't so hard to predict) and Elder Cr is being transferred. Elder H and Elder S (their companions respectively), are both staying here, and we will have a new district leader. I'm excited for the change. I've always liked changes, but I think they're really important in missionary work to keep ideas and motivation fresh. You learn a lot from the people you work with, so if you get more chances to work with more people, it makes sense that you would learn more.
I also realized that this week, I will be 25% done with my mission. At the end of this transfer, I will hit my 6 month mark, which means I'm basically done. Oh my goodness, where has the time gone?!?!?!?!? It's crazy! When you're working hard, you feel great and the time just slips through your fingers. Before I know it, I'll be facing the same fate as Elder Cl.
I'm not sure where to start this week. It was a weird one, because we celebrated Hermana L's birthday on Tuesday, and then she was sick on Wednesday and we had to stay home the whole day. I learned some things from that experience though. First, a missionary is happiest when they are working their tail off. Second, Heavenly Father really loves us enough to arrange even the insignificant things for our good. Tuesday night, I was feeling so great about being a missionary. I couldn't wait to get up the next morning and go out to work and teach the whole world. When I woke up, I was not feeling it at all. Honestly, I think think this was a tender mercy to help me be patient with a whole day of being at home and cleaning/studying/cooking. Sister Lalso got sick not on her birthday, but the day after, and because we were home, we were able to receive a package with perishable items in it that came later than it was supposed to, and that would have been a disaster if it had been left out in the heat. All in all, it was still a good day, but when we got back out on Thursday, I realized how much happier I am when I'm working. Even when your investigators drop you and your RCLAs don't come to church, Heavenly Father blesses you with satisfaction so that you know you're still doing ok.
He also blesses you with chastisement when you need it. Friday, we had the marvelous opportunity to participate in a live mission broadcast with Elder Tad R. Callister of the presidency of the seventy. He's the one that spoke in General Conference a few times ago about the Bible and the Book of Mormon and used the analogy of two dots on a page to talk about how they support and clarify each other. I used that analogy ALL THE TIME to explain to people that we really do believe the Bible, but the Book of Mormon is also the word of God. Anyway, for his closing remarks, Elder Callister talked about how to become a consecrated missionary. I took detailed notes about everything he said, the whole time feeling acutely everything that I should be doing better to become a better missionary. Chastisement is great, because it helps you to progress. But Heavenly Father knows we are still human. Right before closing, Elder Callister talked about the difference between Elders and Sisters. In essence he said "I'm sure all of you sisters have a detailed list of all the things you need to do to improve (I did), and all of you Elders, if I asked you, would scratch your heads and say, 'Well give me a minute. Maybe I'll be able to think of something I can do better.'" I realized again that yes, I can always improve, but as long as I'm doing my best, as long as YOU are all doing YOUR best, Heavenly Father is proud of you and will help you to be better. Before I was done, "patience with self" was added to the top of my list. :)
I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We are trying to focus more on reading it with our investigators from the get-go and having them read it themselves to receive their own answers. As we have done so, we still don't have anyone getting baptized, but the quality of our investigators has improved. Saturday, we stopped by and visited I (the one who did the quinceanera for her daughter) and asked if she had been able to read the Book of Mormon or not. She said no, that she isn't convinced it's true because the language is "so modern." We read in 2 Nephi 31:3 and talked about God and how he wants us to be able to understand, so he speaks in simple language. I love that! I love that the BoM is so simple and understandable. Heavenly Father really and truly does not try to complicate things. He wants it to be straightforward and understandable, so he gave us the BoM. Don't complain because of the "easiness of the way." I's desire is to find faith and for God to be able to use her. She said she prays every day "God, show me what I can do. Use me!" but that he never answers her. We told her, "I, this is your answer. God sent you two white girls that can barely speak Spanish to give you this book so that you could read it and know for yourself that it's true. The reason that nothing else you have tried works, is because it's all the same. The fact that this is different should be a sign to you." We told her she's not allowed to give up on the Book of Mormon until she has read and prayed about 1 and 2 Nephi. If she hasn't felt anything then, we'll talk some more. That was enough to get her to church on Sunday. She came for all three hours and still wasn't convinced at the end, but she had read a lot of the BoM overnight. We told her that we can't convince her, and we won't even try to. The Spirit has to testify that what we are saying is true, and that is the only thing that will make a difference. I'm praying every day that her heart will be softened because I know that the BoM is true and has incredible converting power from the spirit it invites as we read, but it won't make a difference if she doesn't give place in her heart for that seed to grow.
On a similar BoM note, we found out that J believes the Joseph Smith story, but hasn't ever read in the BoM. I'm sure that's why she doesn't feel comfortable coming to church, because she hasn't experienced the converting power of the BoM. We're going to start reading with them tomorrow as a family, and I just pray that she will gain a testimony as well. Her son, A, who is 8 still comes to church with us every Sunday and loves it.
We've started teaching a woman named C and her twins S and S (who are 12 and adorable!!!!) from the BoM. We only ever have about 15 minutes at a time to teach them, but they are all reading from the BoM and C always says "seems to me like it's the same kind of stories and teaches the same things as the Bible." Finally someone who gets it!!!! What a breath of fresh air.
Today's title of the week is sponsored by many of the less actives here in Del Rio, and really everybody else we teach as well. Whenever somebody knows they need to do something but doesn't want to do it, they say "I'll try." That means no. That is the biggest self deception I have ever heard in my life. "I'll try." Yoda had it right 100%. Do it, or don't do it. None of this "I'll try" business. If you know you need to be at church, get your lazy rear out of bed and get there. If you know you need to read your scriptures, open them up and read them! It's a skill most of us learned by 1st grade! If you know you need to pray more, get down on your knees and do it!! If you know you're miserable and the gospel will make you happy, live it!! It's not that hard. Heavenly Father makes it simple and easy to understand and possible through the Atonement. Just do it! And stop making excuses. Do it. Do it, Do it!! Live your covenants. Keep the commandments and be happy! J and B G- know this works. Every time we're over there, they bear us their testimonies of how the gospel has blessed their family, and I have seen miracles happen in the 12 weeks I have known them. J said he knew he needed to change when he thought about his kids and the life he wanted them to have. He quit drinking, they started coming to church, now they're paying their tithing and starting to read scriptures as a family and pray together. Every time they start keeping another commandment, the blessings come more and more. They love it! They love going to church and are preparing to go to the temple as a family. J tells us about the sacrifices he has had to make, but that it is so worth it to him. It makes me think of my ancestors and the sacrifices they made so that I could grow up in the church and serve a mission. I am so grateful for them for making those choices. If your testimony and your conversion aren't where they need to be, what are you going to do to fix it? It's worth the sacrifice, and that's a promise. So do it!
I love you all. I love the gospel. I love being a missionary, and I'm so grateful that Heavenly Father trusts me enough to have this opportunity. Be examples. Live what you know to be true. You'll be happier and so will everyone else around you. Just do it! I pray for you all the time, and I love hearing about what's going on.
All my love,