Wow, I can't believe I'm already back at the computer writing another email at the computer. This week was nuts and we are scurrying as fast as we can to get these people baptized before Sister Stephens leaves this next week. I will be getting a new companion on Feb 2. In some ways I feel so ready to take over the area and in other ways I feel completely insignificant and am praying with all my heart God sends someone to help me take care of these wonderful amazing people we are teaching right now. We have some very prepared people right now that need loving tender care and I know without the help of the Lord and my next companion I'm not going to be enough. Yet God always gives you the resources you need right? I have faith!
So this last week was probably the hardest week of my mission. Sometimes I sit in bed at night and just think to myself, "Wow, I can't believe I'm on a mission in NY right now." I'm having experiences here I would never have dreamed of and I know that the Lord is in all things. This is unlike anything I've ever done but I would never trade this time in my life for anything else. I know this is exactly where Im supposed to be right now. That God is with me and he really does watch over me. I feel it and I perhaps even see it.
I was asked a few weeks ago on my 1/4 way mark what my favorite part of the mission was. There are lots of things I love about the mission so narrowing it down is really hard because everyday brings new life experiences. Yet more than anything I love watching the atonement of Jesus heal souls, families, and lives. I have always had a testimony of the principles I'm teaching to be good and taken them as truth yet here in New York my depth and perspective has changed durastically. These people have been put in situations and experienced things that I never even imagined to be a reality. God is an idea in their minds that might possibly exist, but an idea that isn't quite tangible. As they put these principles into play in their lives, as they experiment upon the word, they find joy they never thought they could feel in their own life. It becomes more than just faith but a reality as they see it work. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us. I know that the atonement of Jesus Christ is real. I know that the Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world and that he really did suffer and overcome the bands of spiritual and physical death. Its through our committment to Christ that we are able to start our lives anew and follow the example of Jesus Christ. This step of baptism isn't just the symbolism,it is to be spiritually reborn and begin again. Our sins are washed away and we committ to a new lifestyle and way of living. We have a God of miracles. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Last night we went back over to teach with Yolanda and Napoleon. They are from Equador. Hermana Stephens knocked on Neopolen's apartment before I got here 4 months ago. They scheduled a return appointment with him but he had to cancel and everytime they tried to go back he was never able to follow through. About a month ago when we were making calls to invite people to church my companion decided to randomly call him and invite him. He said he would come and he did. Ever since then he has been coming to church. He works a LOT in Jersey (not unlike many other spanish folk) and it was really hard to meet with him. Yet he expressed to us a desire to meet with us after church and a desire to change. He related how he was having some marriage problems along with his family and that he wants to change. We told him the importance of families in the gospel and that we would like to get his family in on this goal with him. He didn't seem to thrilled about the idea which seemed strange to us sisters so we arranged for a noche de hogar (FHE) with another Equadorian family in the ward and invited him over. We asked him to invite his spouse but a few nights later he came alone to the FHE yet listened very well as we taught the restoration. The members established roots with him. We had to leave while they visited, but by the end of the night they had arranged for a return appointment at his home for the following week. Little does Napolean know all the tricks up our sleeves to help him and his fam overcome whatever they are trying to overcome. So last Friday we went over with Darwin, and the Bueno Family to Napoleon and Yolanda's. Hermana Bueno was the Bomb.com at establishing roots with the wife Yolanda. right off the batshe went to the kitchen as Yolanda was cooking when we arrived. It was of course nothing like Napolean had described his wife to be, yet we all know how hurt feelings grow, and as they do, the perseption of pain seems to deepen. Napoleon and Yolanda have 3 boys of ages of 14,17, 21. They seemed polite yet a little less receptive last week when we met them and wandered in and out of the room. Yolanda fed us delicious Ecuadorian food which is becoming a tradition. Every time we stop by for anything, they feed us, even if it isn't a full out lesson. Walking away a couple of friday 's ago just seemed like exactly what missionary work should be about. The love and spirit and forgiveness. Yolanda is awesome. She talked about how we were an answer to her prayers for Napoleon. She wants to do this change with him and is willing to do anything to restore her family. We found out a little bit more of the history. No wonder their family is hurting yet it doesn't matter because through the miracle of forgiveness all things are possible. Yolanda said the closing prayer which was beautiful. She gave a very heart felt prayer and forgave her husband for everything and prayed that they would be able to move and grow together in this new light. She is anxious to learn. They have both been attending church now for the last couple of weeks. It's really hard to teach them together because their schedules are pretty much opposite and they are always working. Yolanda goes to work late on Sundays just so she can come to church but she thinks and knows it a good sacrifice. The only other day we are able to teach them is Fridays. Hermana Stephens prayed yesterday that we would be able to teach them more this week before she goes. We felt like we should go stop by Napoleons last night to drop off the containers they had given us for food the week before even though we knew Yolanda had left striaight from church to work the rest of the night in Manhatten. When we went we found Yolanda there and it was almost like she was expecting us. It was so weird yet cool at the same time. She said she had just gotten home about 5 minutes earlier because it was slow at work and she had wanted to come home. We enjoyed some good food and talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We almost had a baptismal committemnt from them but the silence was broken by one of the members which changed the subject. Hispanics do not like silence P.S. The kids were really warm to us last night and I'm thinking next lesson they will even be willing to sit in. They realize we are helping their family and that it is good for them. Well I g2g. Pray that these investigators will find strength in their lives. All my investgatiors have tough stuff this week yet they can do it. Pray for them to have the strength.