Hey everyone! Man, it's hard not to read the emails I get. I scanned through the one you sent, then printed it out. I'll have a chance to read it more in detail tonight. It costs a peso a page to print. The exchange is 13 pesos to a dollar, so not too bad at all.
Once again it's been a great week. Four weeks in the field already. On Thursday I'll hit 3 full months. Crazy. I've said it before, but time is flying. Feels like I was home just yesterday.
So, the news from this week.
We put four baptisms as our goal for the weekend of the 5th of December, and early last week we found a family that we hope will be ready by then. Also, we ran into the cousin of a member while at that member's home, and she's already heard most of the lessons and is pretty much ready to be baptized. It's amazing how much faith can do, and how much the Lord had helped us in the work. So, all of that's pretty exciting.
I had the chance to eat fish for the first time in the field last Friday. We had the usual stuff - shrimp cocktail, normal shrimp (cooked with the heads and stuff still on. That was a new experience), and some other type of fried fish. But we also had some oysters (cooked in this weird sauce, not bad exactly, but just different) and a giant fried fish apiece (they just fry the whole fish and put it on your plate. In some places they expect you to eat everything - head, fins, etc. - but the members we were with said they just stick to the normal stuff, so we did that - no fish head for me, thank you). We also had empanadas de tiburón - shark! Those were extremely delicious - probably my favorite part of the meal. All in all, everything was really tasty.
That reminds me. Yesterday... no, Saturday I ate cow tongue, heart, and intestines. Also not too bad. Not something I'd eat every day, but pretty good. So, those are my food adventures for the week. Last night we had a lesson with a Seventh Day Adventist that we had talked to once before. She has a lot of faith in Christ, she reads the Bible diligently, and she really understands concepts like "faith without works is dead" and so on. Her belief in the Savior is really strong. The problem with that is that she's so cemented in her faith that it was a struggle trying to get her to accept Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon. We kept trying to leave a copy with her, so that it can do the real converting, but she kept refusing. We had a great talk with her despite that - it lasted almost an hour and a half, and we covered lots of topics. Toward the end, I kept feeling the Spirit tell me that I should just testify to her and leave it at that. That's one thing they taught us in the MTC - if you don't know what to say, just testify of the Restoration and the Spirit will take over from there. So, at an opportune time, I read the last two paragraphs of the Introduction of the Book of Mormon and testified to her about what that says. I talked for a few minutes, just bearing my testimony, not trying to convince her or anything, and then my comp did the same. She finally accepted that we leave a copy of the Book of Mormon with her. We did so and left. Who knows what will happen with her, but the real lesson of the night was for me. I felt the Spirit prompt me very strongly and testify to me that what we're preaching is definitely the truth.
Even though nothing might happen with the investigator, my testimony was strengthened. That's why it's such a blessing to be out here - even if we don't have any success with other people, we can always have success with ourselves and our own testimonies. In short, the mission is wonderful.
Something kinda cool - my comp said that last night I was preaching the gospel in my sleep. I didn't say much, just something about how God loves us and listens to our prayers. I thought that was cool. Practically every night I have some dream in which I'm preaching the gospel or contacting or something. It's almost like I never get a break! But it's cool - seems like the missionary life - and the Spanish - is really starting to sink in.
One thing I've been focusing on the last few days is my Patriarchal Blessing. I'm really starting to understand parts of it more and I'm learning a lot from it every time I read it. It's such a blessing to have (no pun intended) and I want to remember to read it more often.
Lately I've been reading in Mosiah. I've been studying in chapter 4 (I think...haha) where it talks about having the name of Christ written in your heart. I read that talk of President Eyring's again, Dad, and I've been looking up some other scriptures about it too. Sounds like that's what your talk is going to be on? I really like that scripture, and the talk as well. Another thing I really like from Mosiah is in chapter 13, which is where Abinidi gives the 10 Commandments to King Noah. Afterward, he talks about how you can't be saved by the law - that you must understand that only through Christ can salvation come. He adds how all the prophets - and he gives some examples - testify of Christ. Everything always points to the Savior. He really is the focus and the key to everything. There's a real power in reading the scriptures - I feel it every time I study, and it encourages me to improve and work harder. What a blessing.
Okay, so I'm going to answer (hopefully) everything that I missed last week from last week's email. First, Miranda. You asked about what it's really like being on the mission, and what it was like the first day. Well, the first day was a mixture of the emotions you mentioned - nervousness, excitement, fear. Once I got into it, though - once I started talking to people and everything - everything left but the excitement. I think that's the way with a lot of life. We're afraid of the unknown - but once it comes, we realize we can handle it. The mission really is so much fun. In one of his letters to me, Mike (Lanham) said that the mission is great. There's no worry, no stress, no guilt. You just focus every day on Christ and on talking about Him, and it leaves you with a sense of peace and love. Of course there are still challenges, but really, that's what the mission has been like for me so far. I'm just happy pretty much all the time. I love being here. I love preaching the gospel every day. Even when people don't listen, I still love it. It's a blessing to be here - every day a blessing. I'm glad you're studying the scriptures so much. I've been doing that too, really trying to study and learn from them, and I truly have learned and felt so much. They are very powerful, and it's important to learn as much as we can from them, because they really do help us in real-life situations. You talked about learning by experience, and that's also very important. Studying is crucial, so that we're prepared, but we learn the most from what we experience. In his email this week, Dad talked about how spiritual experiences are the most helpful to the person who actually experiences them, and it's true. We learn a lot from personal experience, especially when we can apply what we've already learned and studied. Keep going with your studying and experiencing as well. I can tell from what you write that you're growing and progressing, and that's awesome. Sounds like you've got some exciting things coming up (ie New Moon movie-ha), and that's great. Keep telling me about school, friends, music and movies, your daily activities - that sort of thing. I enjoy hearing about that as well. I love you! :) I miss you as well - I miss the whole family - but I do love hearing from and writing everyone.
Mom - That's pretty much all I can think of for Christmas. Surprise me! :) I really like reading what you've written me - about the things you've been up to, about Reagan, etc. I forgot to say this last week, but wish him a happy birthday from me and give him a hug and kiss. 8 years old already. Wow. Not much more to say but that I'm working hard, trying to improve every day, and just loving the work. Thanks for all the support you've given and still give me. I love you.
Dad - Sounds like all is going well - except with your infection thing. Yikes. I bet the chance to go to PEC
and have those visits is fun. Josh emailed me, and it was a great letter. Just like you said, he sounds like he is doing so well. I'm really excited for him and his calling and progress.
For your questions - our area goes past Libramiento Sur in some places. It's like our area is the shape of a Ping-Pong paddle, with the tip of the handle being where we live and then extending out to the southeast. We actually go out to the city limits in that direction, though we've never gone that far. From where we've been tracting and teaching it's probably an hour's walk from one end to the other. That's the most populated part of the area. We take the colectivos and stuff, though, so it's maybe fifteen minutes from one end to another. We do walk a lot, but not overmuch. Sundays are lots of fun. Church is great. We get to interact with the members and talk to people and everything. After church ends at 3, we eat and then go out to contact and teach some more. It's nice to get a bit of a break though.
All in all, everything is going great. As always, there's more I'd like to say, but I'm always pressed for time. Thank you very much for the email - I'll read it tonight and I'm sure half a dozen times more in the next few days. All is well here. I'm loving the work and really just very happy. It's a great life. I love you all very much, and I'm so grateful for the chance to be a part of this family. Truly, I have been very blessed. Can't wait to hear from you again next week. Until then, as always, you're in my prayers. I love you all.
P.S. If you could send the Ensign, I'd love that. We get the Liahona, but not too promptly or anything.
P.P.S. Gabbie! Don't worry, I didn't forget about you. I love you lots and hope you're having lots of fun. Give Nikka and Regs a hug from me. Love you. :)