July 22, 2013
Wow, things sure can change fast! Hermana Vasquez was sent to Pulcalpa Tuesday Morning. I didn't realize how hard it would be to see her off in the airport. It was like one of those typical end of movie things where you just remember everything you've been through together and somehow even the bad parts are touching. It is hard to say goodbye to someone that helped me so much. I sent her off, and while I was in the Motokar on my way back to clean our house before my new companion arrived, my phone rang and Hermana Vasquez informed me that she already missed me. She was talking like a typical mother "Clean the house well to make a good impression, update the area book, don't forget our recent converts, send me pictures, and Gringa...please, please don't let anyone push you around. I don't care that you're a 19-year-old American. You know what you're doing."
My new companion is Hermana Alvear, Hermana Price's old companion. We have a 7 year age difference, and about a 20 year energy difference. She always asks me if she can "Rest her eyes for like 5 minutes before we head out." She's also really afraid of heights, which wasn't a problem in Iquitos, but here she is sure she'll die. Needless to say, I have to hold her hand whenever we have to climb or cross a river. But really, I think we balance each other out well because she's really good with the paperwork and preparing details, and I'm good with the leaving and working stuff.
Well, Ericka was married and baptized this week!!! It was awesome, but, I'll be honest, the wedding almost killed me. There's quite a bit more stress when I can't hide behind my trainer anymore. The night before the wedding, Ericka informed us that her husband didn't know that she would be baptized the day after the wedding. WHAT?? We had permission to teach her and sometimes he even joined us in lessons (politely saying that he is not at all interested and please don't ask). She was nervous to tell him, but our District Leader gave her a blessing and then she left telling us that she was really to talk to him and she felt at peace.
Well, after that stress was gone, it turned out that her Branch hadn't done a single thing to prepare for the wedding, so I was on the phone, visiting houses, and almost dying of stress all day long. This was our first wedding with this Branch and the Elders serving there hadn't done a single thing. Well, as always, in the end everything turned out okay. Although things didn't fall into place until an hour before the ceremony, things fell into place. God sure loves to try our faith and patience!
The Baptism was beautiful as well. She was super emotional and came out of the water and hugged me and cried and thanked me for everything. It's funny how they always do that, because in reality, we don't do much as missionaries, we just open our mouths and love. I really just love this woman to death and it was so satisfying to see her Baptism, and, best of all, her husband ended up telling us that "He won't be too far behind her."
AHHH! So great. Sometimes it just takes one person, like Ericka, that is brave enough to set an example. Her daughter, who was Baptized just before I got here, was thrilled to watch her mom be Baptized. She's only 11, but she told me how happy she's been watching us teach her mom and that she wants to be a missionary one day too! :)
Alex had his interview with our Mission President this week. We were nervous to hear what President thought of his repentance, but I just kept thinking "I KNOW he's changed. I have SEEN it with my own eyes. He has to pass!" Well, Alex left the room and our President was in there just smiling with a big thumbs up. I just immediately took off sprinting (my poor companion, this was in her first half hour with me) to find his wife Alexia and his in-laws Tania and Edwin (our Branch Mission Leader). We rejoiced, and rejoiced, and rejoiced. We are planning his Baptism for this week!
We taught him again last night and invited him to prepare to receive the Aaronic Priesthood the day after his Baptism. I felt inspired to ask Alexia how she felt knowing that, after all that has happened these last few months, her Husband would have the Priesthood. She just started to cry and cry and talk about how proud she was of him and how much he changed and that after she got pregnant she never thought she'd have a good "Gospel Life" but now here she is married to a future Priesthood holder. The two just cried and held each other and Alex looked at me and just said "Thank you. Thank you. I really am different." Ya, I'm sure you can guess I cried quite a bit as well! I can't wait for his Baptism. It is amazing to see the light in Alex's face.
Things have been crazy because I am officially that "Oldest" Missionary of the four of us in the Branch. It's kind of unreal when people are coming to me to ask where things are our who they can call. I just love these people. I was asked at the last minute to give another talk in Sacrament and I talked about God's promise to Ammon and the importance of faith and patience. While I was talking, I realized that Hermana Melis, a sister in the ward that comes off quite intimidating, was avidly taking notes and following along in the scriptures, and then out of nowhere she just broke down in tears. She came up to me after just crying and told me how I'd answered her prayers. It was such a great feeling. I don't understand why the people look at me and love me the way that they do.
In one of the Sacrament talks last week, a sister was talking about the way the Gospel brings light and she said "For example, look at Hermana Simonson. Look at the light and energy she has and the way she brings us relief. The way that she teaches all day long without resting. This is the light of the Gospel." Wow, this really made me think twice about how I'm acting and made me want to make sure that I really was bringing them relief and really was working without resting.
I am stoked for this week, especially this Baptism!! This work is so great, but I wish I could just send this message to the whole world: THE WORK IS NOT YET DONE. Not even close. So many people think that there are so many missionaries in the field and that everything is perfect. They even think that one person can't make a difference. This work still has a long way to go.
My heart broke when I taught some of Ericka's relatives and we invited them to pray to know it that it's true and the husband said, "I will pray, but I already know that it is true. I can feel it. I know this isn't the first time I've heard these things, I knew them before I came to earth." Well, guess what? The church doesn't exist where he lives. Here is a child of God, ready and prepared, without the opportunity to go to church in his city. And, the RUSH of sisters? It's still not enough. We had to shut down one area this transfer because we are short one sister. I can't remember if I told you this already, but if I hadn't arrived exactly when I did, they also would have had to shut down the area where I'm serving, just because of being short ONE person.
ONE PERSON can make a difference in the mission field, and in the world. Keep praying for even MORE missionaries. They're needed!!!
Love and miss you all!!!
|Hermana Simonson and Erika at Erika's baptism|
|Stalin (Erika's husband), Erika, Hermana Simonson, & Hermana Alvear|