July 29, 2013
Hola Familia! (and anyone else reading this!)
Well, I'm not sure if I've gone crazy, am subconsciously extremely homesick and seeing figments of my imagination, or have just forgotten what white people look like, but this week I saw Peruvian versions of Dad, Grandma Phillips, Bishop Matheson, Dustin Jackson, John Powell, Kilisi, Keila, and Uncle Bob. I swear I thought it was them each time...and then I realized they were Latinos...yup, crazy it is!
Well, it's official. ALEX WAS BAPTIZED SATURDAY NIGHT!!! I can't even express my joy. The Familia Amasifuen is super great and helps us so much, but they were in so much pain when I got here because their oldest daughter is living in Lima, their son doesn't want to serve a mission, and their other daughter is "pregnant thanks to some punk kid." Well, as I had the opportunity to work with this "punk kid" I have seen so much light brought to this family.
Edwin Amasifuen was so happy to see Alex and Alexia get married, and was almost in tears as he Baptized Alex, his son in law who is not at all just some "punk kid" anymore. He is a new person. And, while all of this was happening, it turns out that the "Missionary Excitement" as we taught Alex and watched him change his life animated Junior and he has started his mission papers!!! It is so amazing to see what missionary work does. The Baptism brought just about every one to tears.
Honestly, my other Baptisms came pretty easily, but Alex was a different story and it just made this day so special. Saturday was super amazing as Peru celebrated the opening of it's 100th Stake of La Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Ùltimos Días, Alex was Baptized, and I completed 4 months in the Mission!! I was so happy that I didn't even care that the members kept telling me how fat I'm getting. Yes, the people here are VERY open about these things and don't understand how it could be an insult. I'm learning to just go with it! Plus, I'll be honest. It's kind of true. I'm going to have to run A LOT when I get home.
Yesterday was one of those days that was super great, but at the same time almost killed me. The four of us me, Hna Alvear, Elder Burleson, and Elder Lopez, always eat lunch in houses of the members, but they try to keep us with the less poor people. Basically, there's like an unwritten rule that we only eat in the houses (I don't think I would have called them houses 4 monthes ago...) and never in the huts. We always teach in the huts, but never ear there.
Well, something happened yesterday where we didn't have a lunch appointment and this one member heard Edwin talking and jumped on it and asked if we could eat with him. He was super animated to bring us to his house after the meetings and he drove us in his motocar to where he lived in a tiny little hut. His wife was already working super hard cooking for us and his sweet little girl saw us and put her hands on her cheeks and ran up to kiss me. The only had a few seats, which they offered us while they stood or sat on the dirt floor.
After we ate, the brother said he'd drive the Elders home first and then return for us and asked if we'd share a little something with his wife because she wasn't in church today because she was home with their sick baby. We started sharing a talk from conference that we were reading in Relief Society and as we talked about the light of the Gospel she just began to cry and at first wouldn't explain what was wrong but after a moment she shared with us that they'd been robbed the day before of what little things they had and that she didn't know how she was going to feed her kids and her husband can't work as much as he'd like because their generator isn't working and he's a carpenter and can't work without light.
Oh, how my heart broke! They had just fed us this beautiful meal and still aren't sure how they're going to eat. More than that, they ASKED us to come eat with them.
When the husband returned, he was slightly embarrassed to see that we knew what had happened and we just promised him blessings for his help and obedience and after he dropped us off at our house, he told us "The blessings already started to come. I had the missionaries in my house today. I finally got to share my food with angels from God."
I don't understand how these people have so much love and faith. It's funny, this week I started noticing that it literally hurts me to love these people and I was trying to figure out why it hurts so much. I literally feel pained with certain people and I have tried to hold back this love. Well, as I thought about why it was so hard to let myself love them, I realized a few reasons:
1. I knew that any moment, that phone could ring with an emergency transfer.
2. I knew that these people will never, ever have the life that I've had.
3. There's always a chance that these people won’t accept the true Gospel.
4. My mission is not permanent.
5. I watch them suffer
But, I also remembered some of my favorite song lyrics...I'd type them if I had time, but you should look them up. All of Me by Matt Hammit!
I just realized that it hurts to love, but I am not going to help them if I don't love them with everything that I have. I will say a lot of goodbyes and I will watch these people suffer, but I can't "give them half my heart and pray it makes them whole." I won't help them if I won't just let myself be brave and love with ALL that I have.
That being said, people always say that after a super special, hard Baptism, we end up leaving an area because we've completed are work there. After Alex's Baptism, the Elders all started telling me that they're sure I'm leaving this area in the next transfer. Wow, I sure hope not! I would serve my whole mission here if I could! People keep looking at me excitedly saying "Maybe you'll get to serve in Iquitos!!!" and I just want to explain that I'm perfectly happy here in the "hardest area."
But, funny story, it turns out that I'm already famous in Iquitos because, long story short, when I was there for a few days one of the Bishops had 3 letters from "the church" that were in English and he asked me to translate so that he could read them in Sacrament. I started reading, but it turns out it was a bunch of Apostasy from the FLDS church and in a moment of frustration I ripped the papers to shreds and shouted "Este es Apostasia!" The Bishop thought it was hilarious and started telling everyone and apparently now they all want to meet me.....oh dear. Hahahaha.
Well, the work is moving forward, I'm becoming a better person, and I'm learned how to really love. I've never had so many hard times in my life. There's a lot more rejection than acceptance and failure than success, but the few little successes make all the rejection more than worth it. Solo tengo que seguir adelante!
Love you all so much and keep you in my prayers all the time. 4 months down, 14 to go!!!