Happy Independence Day to everyone back home! It is hard to believe that this time a year ago all of us Americanos sang the Star Spangled Banner in the comedor of the CCM while all the Latinos took videos of us haha and the staff made us really good American food and apple pie with vanilla ce cream. Well I just spent a really fun day at el guarda. It felt good to drive through my old area again. I will be heading up for a baptism in two weeks of someone I taught and who the Elders there have been working with. Her name is A R and she is awesome.
Okay well my week was crazy. We went to the Temple twice -- once to do baptisms with recent converts of the ward and branch, and the other for our P day. We also went to the Los Reyes and Paraiso zone conference on Thursday. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday it felt nice to just work in our area. Tonight I will be going on divisions with Hermana Pacheco who is an hermana temporal here and is waiting for her visa to go to the Trinidad de Tobago Mission where she will be speaking English. She is so cute and will be finishing up her training in a month. Yesterday, my companion (who I dearly dearly love) and I had a fun time seeking to be guided by Spirit since all of our plans fell through. We had a great day in the little branch -- the attendance continues strong in the 40´s/50´s so if we can keep this up construction of a capilla will be underway hopefully soon. Also my comp and I taught the relief society about the importance of las maestras visitantes and we had five investigators come, three of whom have plans to be baptized on the 30th of July. After Church meetings, we were ready to hit the streets and visit a few families. Our plans fell through so we found other things to do. We stopped by real quick with two new investigators who are a reference from a less active member we are visiting. They were really grateful for our visit. The last time we visited with them they shared with us that their 6 year old daughter wrote everything completely backwards, from right to left, all the letters mirrored the opposite way, everything. They shared their concern with us because the teacher doesn't help and gives her bad grades and their daughter doesn't understand why she is different. In that moment the scripture Éter 12 came to my mind where Moroni is writing about how he is weak in writing and is worried that those who read what he has written will mock his words. The Lord then gives him the famous promise that those who are humble will have weak things made strong unto them. I have always loved that scripture but have not ever understood why Moroni included that part about his ability to write being weak. In this moment, I realized the application of that scripture to this family and, like many other times in my mission, my testimony of El Libro de Mormón was strengthened. That book was written for our times and its words can be applied to our lives. In this particular occasion, I was able to share this story with a pair of worried parents and help them feel some comfort. Okay, so after we visited this family we started back down the street and I felt the impression to turn back and go down another street. At first I questioned "why?" but then I felt the impression again and told my companion we needed to go back. She told me that she had felt the same thing (by now I have learned to not question and just do it when I hear or feel something -- that is what I am here for. I have also realized that I don't need to be shaken on the shoulders or smacked in the face to know that El Espíritu Santo is communicating with me; it comes in very subtle passing thoughts) so we headed down a street that we have never been through, just walking and kind of waiting to feel or hear something again. Nothing in particular came so we knocked a random door just as it started to rain. HARD. As my comp says, "Está cayendo el cielo!" We ran to a little tienda next door where a woman named S told us to come on in and take shelter from the storm haha. We began to chat and she shared with us that she is Christian and is worried about her two teenage sons who are in this difficult time of making choices and avoiding temptation and all that, as well as her parents whose health is declining and she is taking care of them. She also shared with us that for awhile as a teenager she left the path and fell away from having a relationship with God but she eventually came back and is searching for more peace in her life. We were able to hit on a few good points of the Restored Gospel and teach her about El Plan de Salvación. It was really nice. Then it stopped raining just as our conversation was ending. She is interested in coming to Church with us and we will be looking for her this Friday. I don't know what will happen with her; all I know is I am grateful that my companion and I both followed the Spirit and met this lady. It is an incredible feeling to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I am just a small part of the huge plan He has and I am happy to do what He asks of me. Later, after a random joven contacted us in the street, we decided to stop by the home of a few ladies who had asked us to teach them. Once again, it started to rain hard and we huddled under the awning by her their house and had a great time talking about Mexican food. One of my favorite things is to rave about the food here -- I really do love it -- and then these people practically fall over themselves telling me about this and that and other family recipes they want to cook for me. This particular señora (her name is Y) wants to send me home with una prensa para tortillas and a molcajete -- the awesome rock bowls they use to make salsa. The people here are incredible, so kind and so loving. When you show them love, they give it to you right back. I love that about this culture and it is something I will miss. Other experiences...we had a great meeting with the first counselor of the obispado of the ward Izcalli, his wife who is la presidenta de la sociedad de socorro, and Elder Olson and Elder Camarillo who are working with us in la casa de oración. Some great things are in the workings for this little branch. This Wednesday we will be starting a weekly lectura of El Libro de Mormón where we will read and touch on parts of the assigned chapters that were given the week before. It will be a chance for the members and investigators to get to know each other and to hold to the rod of iron and make sure that these people are studying the key to our religion. We will also be starting a calendario of noches de hogar where families sign up to have us and a friend over during the week for family home evening and have a noche de hogar as a ward on the 23rd. The Elders, who just got here together starting this cycle, are so on top of it and the members are very supportive.
Okay, another experience we had a few weeks ago with two of our investigators who will be baptized on July 30th. They are brother and sister, L A who is 12 and D M who is 14. They have been to church two times now, have friends there their age, and absolutely love it. We are also teaching their mom A who is working on finding a testimony. Well during this lesson we were reading Mosiah 18: 8-11 with them about how the pueblo de Alma were getting ready to be baptized. They loved it and it helped them to better understand what the convenio del bautismo really is. Then it came time to extend them la invitación bautismal. L happily said yes right away with a big grin on his face. Then his sister began to tear up as she explained to us that she has done things in her life that she wants to change and be clean of. She said that now she understands that baptism and the Atonement is the way to do that. That was one of the most special experiences I have ever had in my life, to see someone who truly wants to come unto Christ and be forgiven and change. I love them so so so much and love being a missionary so so so much. It is the best thing I have ever done in my life and I am so happy to be here and give it all I have for these next five months que me falta todavia. I love the Savior. Okay I have to go now but I love you all back home -- have a bleeeast in Chicago :)
Love Hermana Honess (the sweet temple worker who greeted me called me that LOVE it)
(Parent Note: the Following email was sent on July 11, 2016)
Hey there! Thank you for sending all of the fun pictures from Chicago :) You all look so great! This week went by so fast. I have no idea what is going on with the time. I wake up, go walk around for awhile, and come home at night. It is crazy! I am so excited for our two adorable investigators who will be baptized on July 30th. They love coming to Church and are developing strong testimonies. This morning while reading a talk by Elder Rasband from the last General Conference I realized how important it is to strengthen the youth; they are the future leaders of the Church. I am so blessed to be a small part of D and L's lives and help them discover the blessings of the Gospel. A couple of cool experiences this last week. I spoke on sacred covenants yesterday in the casa de oración (which continues to have about 50 people consistently every week) and used the example of when Mom brought home the old smoke damaged dressers and, with a little work and polishing, uncovered the beautiful woodwork and made them like new and usable again. I related that to how, at times, we may feel so imperfect and that we do not have potential, but Heavenly Father sees something different in us. He knows our potential and what we can become; therefore, He has blessed us with covenants such as el bautismo, la recepción del don del Espíritu Santo, and La Santa Cena cada semana para renovar nuestros convenios. These make us clean, come closer to Christ, and reach the potential that God knows we have. I think this is one of my favorite Gospel principles of all time -- tenemos un amoroso Padre Celestial y somos Sus hijos. It is such an important truth. Yesterday, we met with a new investigator named G, his wife V, and their daughter X. Very chosen people. My companion found them during divisions this last week because she had been knocking another door across the street very loudly and finally G came out to tell her that no one was home haha. She and Hermana Sic left but my companion felt that she needed to go back so she did and he accepted an invitation to be taught. When we talked with him yesterday he really opened up and told us that he wants to stop drinking but needs help to do it. He asked lots of great questions and wants to know how he can feel the Spirit more in his life. I am very excited to teach them. The divorce process is underway with another couple we are teaching. They are living in union libre and one of them is still married to their ex but that should get done within a month where normally it takes a long time. They are truly repentant and want to do things right. They cannot wait to be baptized and take the Sacrament. I may not be here next cycle to see that but I am so grateful that they are progressing and making changes in their lives. That is one of my favorite things about being a missionary. I love you family. Thank you for your love and support. You all look so fine! The Schwartz Family has been in my prayers every day. Take good care of Sister Schwartz. Love you :)
Today (July 11, 2016) we played fútbol as a zone at the church :) My companion
and I bought a rotisserie chicken and a can of chipotles
Zone activity and a good day of fútbol at La Guarda on July 4, 2016.
We enjoyed smashing our zone members in a combi! Some of the best people I have ever known!
You see a little bit of everything here :)
Us with the assistants to the President and Elder Cervantez
(he went to the same high school as my cousin Brayden)