September 15, 2013
Well, I want to introduce you to Danixa, a sweet little girl that we baptized on Saturday. She is a daughter of a less active family that we started working with about a month ago and it was sweet to try to help them come back to the church and to bring 9 year old Danixa into the waters of baptism.
I decided to refer to Danixa as "Brady's Convert" because of a sweet experience that we had with her Friday night. We were getting things all ready for her baptism when her family found out that her older brother, that lives two hours away, was going in for an operation on Saturday, the day of her baptism. The family was pretty distraught and wanted to cancel the baptism to be able to go be with the brother, but they left the decision up to sweet little Danixa. She didn't know what to say.
We knew that the family was scared, but we also knew that they really needed the blessings of the Lord. I felt impressed to share a little bit of how I've been feeling the last few weeks. How hard it is to know that someone you love is suffering, but that you can't be there with them because you're on the Lord's errand. I told a little bit of the story of what's been happening with my brother, and there was not a dry eye left.
Brave little 9 year-old Danixa looked at everyone and said the she would be baptized the following day. She then ran up and hugged me and didn't let go for literally almost 5 minutes. It was so sweet. When we arrived at her baptism, she ran up and told us that everything was okay and her brother was perfectly fine. Everyone knew that the brother had been saved for the faith of this sweet 9 year-old girl that I've come to love.
So, I forgot to tell you guys this a couple weeks ago. . .but we received more sisters in Tarapoto! At least I can see other Sisters without taking a 2-hour flight to do so. We had all been praying for this to happen, but it seemed impossible--we haven't received a single Hermana since the day Hermana Price and I got here. We've been politely informed to look around and see that it's "not a sister's mission." But, God always has a way. He sent one of the Sisters that was serving in Pulcallpa to serve here in Tarapoto, and although there wasn't a companion that could come with her, a member that is getting ready to leave on her own mission is October accepted the call to live with Hermana Rider as a "mini missionary." So, we have been released from serving in all of Tarapoto and can spend almost all of our time serving in our own little Branch. Such a tender mercy, and an opportunity to find families!!!
When I was set apart, I was promised that I would see miracles. I see plenty of little miracles every single day. This week, I also got to see a grand one. Remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that we had thrown aside a morning's worth of appointments to help the daughter of an investigator? 6 year-old Akemi had fallen down concrete stairs and had a fracture in her skull.
After 2 days in the hospital, Katty (our investigator) was able to bring Akemi home, but she couldn't do more than just lay in bed. Katty had asked for Akemi to receive a blessing, so we brought the Elders with us. Katty had to carry Akemi to put her in the chair so that she could receive the blessing. Elder Lopez gave a blessing that promised her that she would heal completely and return to walk and play. After the blessing, Akemi STOOD UP and walked over to her bed. Within minutes, she was playing with her dog. She still wasn't completely normal, but she was miraculously better.
Later, we found another problem as a result of the head injury: blood clots. Katty was going to have to leave town to go to Lima in order to get appropriate care for her daughter. She was getting ready to go, but decided to take Akemi in to the Doctor here for just one last time. Well, she went in and the Doctors found......absolutely nothing. No more fracture. No more blood clots. She was absolutely normal. It was such an amazing miracle and it really strengthened my testimony about the power of the Priesthood.
I also regained a "Testimony" of something that I had been passionate about before: exercise. No, I'm not kidding! Hermana Gomez (our mission President's wife) was worried about my companion being overweight because its been causing her some health problems, so she put her (which means us) on a diet and exercise program and we've been going to the gym and I LOVE it. I feel so much better everyday and honestly, it rejuvenated me a ton to get me working harder.
I think that the easiest problem in the mission is falling into the pattern of apathy. It's so easy to just accept that ya, this is my life right now and this is what I'm doing and I just need to get through each day. But, I will NEVER be a completely effective missionary with that attitude. I really am trying to remind myself each day of how privileged I am.
I make myself remember that moment that the age change was announced, the moment I got my call, the first time I entered the Temple, my farewell talk, my first day in Peru, my first baptism and just all of these amazing moments to keep me going strong and enthusiastic. The fun thing about serving in the jungle is that you have to be really creative to be able to teach the people in a way that they understand.
Our old mission president, Presidente Blunck, said that in Lima, you learn to be a missionary, in the Jungle, you learn to be a "Maestro del Evangelio." It literally means Gospel Teacher, but it's cooler in Spanish because Maestro also means Master. I'm really trying to focus myself in being a better teacher. I had some cool ideas this week and made little paper bricks to build a house with different elements of the church that Jesus Christ established to be able to demonstrate better the Restoration. I also have gotten a little crazy with the booklets and started cutting them up and adding things to make myself my own little booklet of each lesson to use when I teach. I'm having quite a lot of fun getting creative and my companion and I can really teach a whole lot better just by using these small, simple things.
The church has started putting a new emphasis on working with less actives and I LOVE it. After all, our purpose doesn't say to invite investigators to come unto Christ, it tells us to invite OTHERS, which includes people who are already members. It's easy to think that if someone isn't attending church it's just for irrational reasons and they just need to pull their head out and do it, which is true, but that doesn't mean that we can't help them. It is absolutely amazing to see how one hour out of your week, and a little bit of love, can change someone's life and bring them back to the fold.
The Baptisms I've had have been great experiences, but want to know what's a better feeling that watching someone be baptized? Watching them keep learning and growing. It's the little things like Ximena sharing me something that she learned in Seminary, Patty inviting her mom to take the discussions, Alex being called as the Young Men's Secretary, Ericka being put in the Relief Society Presidency, Luzclarita walking to church alone carrying her toddler, etc.
I hope that these people that I love so much won't turn into some of the people I've found who are nothing more than an unknown name on the Branch Directory, don't remember why they were Baptized, and haven't so much as prayed in years. It breaks my heart to come across these people, and it really helps me focus on conversion more than Baptism. It take more time (and more angry calls from zone leaders :)) but it is SO worth it.
This is why I love my calling so much. I wouldn't trade it for the world!
Lots of Love,
Hermana Meghan DeLee Simonson