This weekend was one of the most fruitful in my whole mission. Sometimes as a missionary, you feel like you're just working and working and working in circles without accomplishing anything. Well, this week all those circles we walked finally paid off!
Remember Ximena, one of my very first Baptisms? Well, this weekend we Baptized her mom and sister as well!! It was so special. Patty is the mom and she had so many great questions in the time that we've taught her over the last month or so. She was...honestly I don't remember how to say it in English! An Evangelist? Something like that. Anyway, she was "Evangelica" before but when she finally got a Testimony of the Book of Mormon (that was the biggest obstacle for her), she was sold and showed up in Church the next day and started publicizing her Baptisms date (before she was keeping it secret because she didn't feel totally sure.). She has changed so much in the last month.
Astry is her 10 year old daughter that is just such a sweetheart. Their Baptism was so special to me. My sweet Ximena was just crying her eyes out. She told me that she never, ever thought that her whole family would be united in a church. It just warmed my heart so much. I just kept telling her "Ximena, fue por SU ejemplo. Todo paso porque USTED decidió ser bautizada." They will be such a strength to the church here in Tarapoto.
Another really special moment was yesterday when, for the first time, Alex blessed the sacrament. He was super nervous and I think he was a Little bit mad at me at first for making him do it, but it all turned out super well. The best part was that, while sitting up front, he was able to watch his wife take the Sacrament for the first time in months. He even cried a Little while watching! It was so incredible for me to watch this moment. After he watched Alexia take the Sacrament, he just looked up at me and smiled and it just made everything so worth it. SO worth it. He was holding his Baptism pictures and looking at them during the meetings that day and I just can't describe the joy it brought me.
We did a Family Home Evening with the Amisifuen Family (our Ward mission leader, the father in law of Alex) and Alex brought his little nieces and nephews over and I had the funnest time playing with them. It is so surreal to just have these cute little kids calling for Hermana Simonson. We played for a Little bit and, you know what, all three of those cute little kids showed up at church yesterday, and we are now teaching their family...with the help of Alex!
We also had more people in church yesterday than the Branch has seen in a really long time...if ever. We had a cute little family walk to church with us and they were so happy to be there. Sometimes I watch the District videos for missionary training and I just look at the missionaries sitting on a nice couch, teaching people that really understand the scriptures, having help from the members, speaking their own language and working in a Ward or in a stake and it honestly makes me jealous sometimes to just see a "normal" mission where everything is a lot more organized and business like...and there's hot water and air conditioning!
But, as this family got ready to go to church for the first time (wearing shorts and t-shirts with holes in them) and I sat in their tarp hut fixing their sweet daughter's hair, I realized I wouldn't change my mission call for the world. It's hard sometimes. It's hard to live how I'm living. It's hard to see the trials of these people. It's hard to be reminded again and again that we're the rock of the church here. It's hard to have to be perfectly put together while I feel like my whole world is falling apart. It's hard to see people who don't care about their salvation. It's all so hard. But honestly, I wouldn't change a thing. I am finally seeing the fact that I can really make a difference here. I know this is where I belong. I was meant to be a Jungle Missionary!!! :)
Maybe sometimes I only write the negative, but I want you guys to know that I'm happy. I want you to know that I love what I'm doing here and that I have such a strong testimony of this work. I hope you guys are doing all that you can for the work there in St. George!! I so wish that you could all come live my mission for just one or two days to see the ups and the downs and the stress and the joy and the sadness and the joy and the stress and the joy and the joy and the joy.
I love you!!!
PS-Also, will you send me a copy of Brady's farewell talk. I'm bummed I have to miss it...but I'm a little far away. :) Also, I have more pictures but PLEASE don't mention anything about how fat I am...I already know it!
|Patty and Astry's Baptism with my sweet Ximena who was so happy to see her family get baptized.|
|Just a normal proselyting day. The mountains I climb everyday to bring the Gospel to God's children. :)|
|P-day Soccer! My companion doesn't play so it's always just me and the Latino boys and it's a blast!|