Wow, so much to say and, as always, so little time!!
I have waited all week to tell you guys about the best thing in the whole world. Wednesday, during one of my lessons, I looked out the doorway (most houses here don´t actually have doors, just doorways) and saw a little girl sitting on the back of a parked MotoCar, eating an apple. Totally normal. Then, no joke, a monkey came out of a tree, grabbed the apple, and took a bite. She pulled it back and took a bite, and then the two both grabbed the apple and started yanking it back and forth. Then, the monkey started pulling at her clothes. Her mom looked up, then back down as if it was totally normal. I stinking love the Jungle.
Also, I have a new favorite sport: Jungle Boarding. Okay, it´s not actually called that, but I miss wakeboarding, so I´m pretending. For our P-Day hike, we ended up at this one spot where there is this swing type thing that goes out over a little cliff. So, if you stand up on it, you´re basically boarding over a bunch of trees and it is so ridiculously fun. Don´t worry, it´s not as dangerous as it sounds, but the zone was still impressed that the one and only "Gringa" was the first to go. Yup, you can sure bet that I shouted "Fur Ammmerrica!" as I jumped on. At least I think I´m funny.
We didn´t teach a whole lot of lessons this week because my companion has been sick, but it was still great. Our investigators are progressing, we set a new Baptism date, and are teaching 5 families and a whole bunch of Single women all over the place.
So, I accidentally lied to you. I don´t actually live in Tarapoto, it´s just one of my proselyting areas. I live in Shilclayo, but because we´re in charge of all the single women in our zone and the adjacent zone, we do a lot of travelling to Tarapoto, Morales, and Aeropuerto. I love it! We had zone conference this week and it was really cool. But guess what? I had to conduct. I was definitely nervous to get up in front of all of those Latinos with my pathetic Spanish, but it went well. My Companion said I need to get used to that anyway because she heard that I´m going to become a trainer at the end of this transfer. Yikes! I really better learn Spanish, especially because I found out that all of my companions will be Latinas--it´s a safety thing and I think it makes a ton of sense!
Remember Bessy, the girl that had a Baptism date for this last week? Well, can I just say I hate Satan? I was so stoked for her Baptism because I had only taught Jade one lesson, but Bessy had only had one lesson before I arrived, and we´ve taught her everyday since I got here. The night before her Baptism, we went to teach her the last commandment she needed to follow, and before we started the lesson we handed her the invitations we had for her Baptism. She held them and stared for a minute, then started talking really fast with a quivering voice and I couldn´t understand anything she was saying. I kept feeling inspired to ask her certain questions, but I suppressed it because I didn´t even know what was happening and if they were relevant.
Then, I had a strong thought: The Spirit understands all languages. Listen to it. So, I did. I don´t even remember what all I asked, but I think it came down to if she knew the church was true, if she wanted to live the commandments, and things like that. She thoughtfully answered "SÍ" to each question. I just bore my testimony about how if she understood all that, nothing else matters. She then turned to her mom and handed her an invitation and said "Mom, you´re invited to my Baptism tomorrow night at 7 oclock sharp."
After, Hna Vasquez explained to me everything that had happened. Bessy was saying that she talked to her boyfriend (who is in prison) that morning and he said she shouldn´t be baptized and she was starting to change her mind, but after my questions she decided to stick with her plan and be Baptized. I was ecstatic and had more confidence in my ability to follow the Spirit than every before. Because we spent that night talking about Baptism, we didn´t teach her her last principle, so we made plans to meet with her the next morning-the morning of her Baptism. We got there and I instantly knew something was wrong. She told us that she talked with her boyfriend again that morning, and he said he wouldn´t marry her after he was released if she got Baptized (his family is active in the church, but he despises it).
She said she wasn´t going to be Baptized. Hna Vasquez went dead silent and I thought "Great, it´s up to me today." I just went with my nature and told her it´s okay, it´s her decision, we love her no matter what, etc. etc. Then, I remembered two PMG principles. 1. Be bold and loving...and bold. 2. "The first thing you are going to do if someone isn´t keep their committments is be devestated! Salvation is at stake!" -Elder Holland
Even though it was completely out of my comfort zone, I decided to be bold. I changed my tone a little bit and asked her to read a scripture about Baptism and how we are clean afterward. I told her that I remembered her telling us she wanted to be clean and explained that without Baptism, that just wasn´t possible. I talked about how I knew she loved her boyfriend, but I asked her what he had done for her. She really couldn´t come up with anything. I told her that her Savior died for her, isn´t he more important? I told her that I wasn´t being honest early when I told her we were okay because we weren´t. It wasn´t because we wanted the numbers to report to our President, it was because we loved her more than she knew and we were devestated for her loss.
She took everything very well and hugged me very tight at the end. With all the child-like hope of a new missionary, I told her we would be waiting in the chapel for her that night and we really hoped to see her there. We arrived at the Chapel that night and found our Elders standing outside. They too had an investigator that was supposed to be baptized that night, but had a change of mind an hour or so before and they just couldn´t make it happen. Still, the four of us sat in the church and waited.
Finally, Elder Gondara got sick of watching Hermana Vasquez stare at the ready, empty font, and closed the doors. The Branch President showed up and we had to explain to him everything that happened. He was so shocked--this had never happened before, especially with two investigators in one night.
Hermana Vasquez had been really sick and looked like she was about to pass out. She asked the Elders for a blessing. After, I was in the Bathroom waiting for her, and I noticed that the entrance to the font was still unlocked. I couldn´t help but walk up the stairs and stand above the font. Even though it was almost 12 years ago now (I hope that makes you feel old) I had a perfect recollection of my own Baptism and the joy I felt. Also of the joy I felt every Thursday when I stepped into the font in the Temple to do work for the dead. My heart broke as I realized that someone I had genuinely come to love wasn´t going to feel that joy.
When we went back to the room where the Elders were, they informed us that they had felt impressed to call the Zone Leaders, who were on their way to take Hermana Vasquez to the Hospital. She went and laid on a bench, and I plopped down next to Elder Turley who said, "Wow, when it rains, it pours." Elder Gondara heard us (I think we´ve underestimated his English abilities) and came over and said, in his very best English. "Yes, we are sad for the Salvation of our friends, but when we´re sad, we can´t have the Spirit. Let´s be happy so we can have the Spirit and realize we did all that we could and have faith that they will change their minds one day."
Elder Turley then started to hum "There is sunshine in my soul today" and we all joined in. As Hermana Vasquez and I headed to the hospital, we found a whole bunch of members standing outside the chapel, whispering about what had happened. Elder Gondara stepped out and told them all that since we had food and everyone was all together, they should play games and make a Branch Activity out of it. They all did.
While I sat in the Hospital with my companion, Elder Gondara called me and, bless his heart, told me that he had called and invited Bessy to the "Branch Activity" and she showed up and was laughing with her friends. This gave me so much hope that one day she really might just change her mind.
We were stuck up in our room for a few days so Hermana Vasquez could heal, which actually turned out to be a blessing for me because I really needed that study time! Despite everything, I really did have a great week and I still just love being a missionary!!!
Love you all very much!
|Hermana Simonson and her new District|