Hey! Well, surprisingly, it's a drizzly, chilly Monday afternoon here too. Actually, it's pouring rain now. We're safely inside a cyber - but our clothes are outside "drying." I really really hope the bishop's wife brought them inside for us; when we remembered that our clothes were outside, it had already been raining long enough that it wasn't worth it to go back right away, because we had already started reading emails and everything. I'm crossing my fingers. :)
Anyway, it was great to hear from you, as usual. This week has been a little tough. I got the flu (or some type of viral infection) on Friday morning. I awoke with a fever, dizziness, headache, lots of pressure in my head, congestion, and complete loss of strength. Oh, and some general malaise thrown in there too. :) It wasn't too fun. We called the doctor and he said that it was probably the flu, that I should just treat the symptoms and rest rest rest. So I slept pretty much all Saturday as well and drank a lot of Powerade and took some Tylenol. Let me tell you, not working is pretty rough - it was relaxing, but also very boring. Elder Jackson, one of the zone leaders, stayed with me Sunday in place of my companion so that he could go and do a few things in our ward and area. It was cool to get to talk to him and at least have something to do. Today I finally left the house; we went to the bishop's house as usual to wash clothes and eat, and I basically just sat on a couch and wrote letters. I'm steadily getting better, but still lack a lot of strength and get tired really easily. I'm hoping that tomorrow we'll be able to work, but if not, by Wednesday I should be strong enough. No big deal, really, but kind of frustrating. And that's my sickness story. :)
We did have some good things happen this week though. When we met with Maritza, she told us that she had set herself two goals. The first is to read the Book of Mormon by the end of March. The second is to be baptized immediately after she finishes it - either the last weekend of March or the first one in April. My companion and I were pretty pleased with those goals. :) It's really cool to see her testimony grow. Her baptism is a little further off than we would like, but we want converts, not just baptisms, and she's going to be very well converted by the time she finishes the Book of Mormon. We're going to keep teaching her and preparing her in the coming weeks. I'm really excited about it.
Other than Maritza, we don't have too many investigators who are really progressing, and so we're going to be contacting like crazy this week, working with members, and really stepping up the work as best we can. If we leave with the Spirit and keep it with us, we're going to find people who are ready to receive us and receive the ordinances of baptism and confirmation. It's definitely an exciting time to be a missionary. :)
A few days ago, before I got sick, we had the chance to eat cream of mushroom soup, lasagna, green salad, and brownies and ice cream for lunch. Italian food is pretty popular here, but lasagna's not very common and it was really cool that the sister fixed it for us. The members treat us really well. Yesterday and Saturday the bishop's wife brought over chicken noodle soup for me - and a cheesecake, too, which was a surprise but very appreciated. All in all, being a missionary's pretty good. :) (can you tell I've been sick for three days, all I can think about is food now!) But the spiritual and temporal blessings are just poured out upon us. There's nothing in the world I'd rather be doing right now. Granted, I'd rather not be sick, but hey, that's life. In the face of adversity, we just keep moving on.
As Mom mentioned, I hit the six-month mark on Friday. It's so weird to me that I've been gone for six months. I'll be one-fourth of the way through my mission. Where in the world did the time go? It's almost like a dream. I know I still have a lot of time left, but it passes by so quickly, which is why we absolutely must make the most of the present. I'm really learning the value of doing things and not procrastinating (just do it, and then it'll be done! - right, mom? haha). There's so much to do - on a mission and in life - and there won't be time to do everything we want to do anyway, so why would we waste time on things that don't matter so much or delay the important things? This is one of those lessons, though, that needs to be learned over and over, because it's easy to forget it and be lazy. It reminds me of the scripture "Rise up from the dust, my sons, and be men," and also of how Nephi says, "Awake, my soul!" The time is now! (also said in Newsies hah.) Really, though, the time is now to pick ourselves up and be men (and women), to do the things we need to and want to do, to face life head-on and make the most out of this mortal experience. This doesn't necessarily mean doing huge, astounding things, either - spending time with loved ones, sharing a testimony, studying the gospel, enjoying a summer afternoon or a hike in the mountains are all things that bring us a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment and growth out of life.
Well, that's my sermon for today. Haha. I blame it on the sickness. But really, I've learned so much in the past six months, and I'm working hard to make the next six even better. With the Lord's help, they will be.
Okay, Q & A time. Well, mostly just A. :)
Gabbie - Man, that was a good letter! You'll have to send me a picture of your Camp Half-Blood shirts. That restaurant (The Pie) sounds pretty fun - do they only serve pie there? Hey, guess how you say pie in Spanish? It's exactly the same, actually, except they spell it "pay." Funny, huh? I've heard that "gullible" joke since I was in first grade, but I've never actually heard it where it was real (actually written on the wall). That was pretty funny too. Nickel City!? Man, everything's changing! :) That's cool that you still remember the Lord of the Rings on the piano; I'll teach you the rest in about 18 months. Oh, and you're actually further than me in the series! The Last Olympian came out right before I went into the MTC and I never had a chance to read it. Is it good? I bet it is. What are you going to read once you're done with it? How is school and everything going? How's ol' Nikka? Run around the yard with her a couple times for me, huh? Oh, and the next taco I eat is dedicated to you (it'll probably be tomorrow). Gabs, as always, thanks for writing and telling me all about what you've been up to. You're an awesome sister and I love thinking back on the fun stuff we've done together - mean man, playing the piano and acting out that story with Miranda, playing games for hours and hours, and lots of other things. Keep being awesome and having fun! I love you very much! :)
Miranda - Yep, it's been a long week for me too, what with being sick and all. I laughed at your description of dodgeball in lifetime sports. When we played, it was always in the gym; I liked that better because it gave us more room to move around and dodge. Oh, that reminds me - and Dad, you'll think this is funny - you know how they have the curtain in the middle of the gym? Well, once it was down and I was hanging out by one end ( while dead in dodgeball, I think) and I remembered Dad's story, about how he pushed the curtain screen hard, swaying the 10-ton bar at the bottom to see if he could tap the far wall with it. With him it came back and slammed him into the wall, so I sat by the end of the heavy pole at the bottom and started pushing it back and forth (keeping out of the way, of course, so as not to be crushed like Dad). I met with some resistance, but it didn't seem like I had hit the wall, so I looked down at the other end and saw someone sitting there! How would it be to be smacked in the stomach by a heavy pole when you were least expecting it? Haha. I thought it was kind of funny; I'm sure the person didn't, though. So, next time you're bored in dodgeball....
The Percy Jackson movie sounds cool - especially that Percy! :) I didn't really need all that detail on his hair, skin tone, etc, but hey, it wouldn't be an email from Miranda without it. :) I never had Brother Frost - I think Mike Lanham did, though, and I think he liked the class. What's he like as a teacher? How's school going this term? What are your classes? Do you have any teachers I had? Well, Miranda, you seem like you're growing up (finally! haha) and it's weird to think that you'll be 17 soon, and 18 when I get home. Crazy. Keep up the good work and remember to trust in the Lord and listen to Mom and Dad (they really are on your side. Haha). Have a great week! I love you! :)
Mom - It was interesting to hear about Lisa's mission split and the other missions that are being split. Let me know when you find out who the new mission president for Villahermosa will be. All the questions help, because sometimes I don't know what details to give or what people want to know about, so keep 'em coming! :) The way that transfers work is that between Thursday and Saturday of week six (the last week of the transfer), the district leader receives a call from the APs letting him know what changes will be made, and he in turn calls the missionaries to let them know. I'm fairly confident that both my companion and I will be staying here in Grijalva for the next transfer, but after that, who knows. I'll likely stay here and receive a new companion, and then be tranferred after those six weeks somewhere else, but really anything could happen. It's always a surprise to see who stays and who leaves. Next week I could be writing from somewhere entirely new! :) Okay, as for the money. We're given a card and we withdraw our money on the first day of the month. We receive $100 U.S. every month. It seems like the dollar has been going up lately, which is good news for us because it increases the exchange. :) We also receive money to pay the rent and the utilities that way; in our house it goes straight to the zone leaders, so I don't really have anything to do with it. That's basically how the money goes though. Pretty easy and efficient. The cookies and the rest of the Valentine's candy were delicious, and I loved the cards. It was funny to hear about Reagan's cards and writing his name. Has he learned any more sign language this week? Nice work on the storage room - send me a picture when it's complete! (Otherwise I won't believe it. Haha.) We don't have a microwave - they're not very common here, actually, which kind of surprised me. Most people don't have one, though - not because they couldn't afford it, just because they're not that popular. But if Laura sends something that requires one, I'm sure I can find one in some member's house. :) Our house is two floors. We study on the bottom floor - simple desks and chairs, nothing fancy. We have a sink, a fridge, and some cupboards, and that comprises the kitchen - but it works for us. I think we have a hot plate somewhere too. Three bathrooms, which is nice. We sleep upstairs. There are only two beds, so I sleep on a couch and my comp on a mattress on the floor. No complaints, though; I sleep fine. We also can go up on the roof, which is pretty cool sometimes to get some fresh air or look around. It's a pretty nice place to live, all things considered. My comp says he's okay (his parents just sent him a package, and anyway, he leaves in six weeks) and I'm pretty sure the zone leaders are too; I'll let you know, though. :) The chili seasoning story sounded funny. Anything Reagan can open and pour out is open season. (Reagan and the Seasoning Stratagem?) Thanks again, Mom, for everything you've done and do for me. I learn a lot from your example and I love you very much. Have a wonderful week! :)
Dad - Oh, I guarantee it, you'd be here. Haha. Stake Conference sounds like it was really good. I liked what you said about thinking about the effects of missionary work - it's cool to picture the people I'm teaching in 30 years and think about the effect it can have. I had forgotten as well about being taught by the Temple President, but now that I think about it, that was a really neat experience. It's too bad neither of us wrote anything down. The insights about Lot and the contrast to the people of King Bejamin was interesting too. I also believe the pillar of salt to be more metaphorical, but it works both ways and has good application too. All that reminds me of something I think President Hinckley said (remember Mom's prayer? :) oh, and I hope no one's actually checking all these sources, because I probably get them all wrong) - he said that if you start off your journey and you're off by only one degree, in the beginning you won't notice, but by the end you'll be in a totally different place than where you intended. He used an example of throwing a switch on a railroad track, and how a few inches off in the beginning leads to arriving in New Orleans when you were heading for New York. (Hey - Mardi Gras vs the Sacred Grove? That was a metaphor by accident!) Bringing it back to Lot - it all depends on where you start out. If your tent faces Sodom, well, that's where you're going to end up. But if your tent faces the Temple - well, likewise. Life depends so much on starting out in the right direction, and on maintaining that direction for the duration of the journey - because you can't just head out for the Temple but give up halfway. You have to keep making those corrections along the way, checking your course (based on the Lord and the gospel, not on your friend who's swimming beside you, like Bishop Johnson's story) and continually perfecting your aim, until eventually you end up at the destination. Pretty neat stuff, and it ties in with what you said about President Harding's talk. It truly is the little sins that get us. If Satan faced us in the direction of Sodom, it'd be easier to recognize than if he faces us just barely to the left of the Temple. I also liked that example from C.S. Lewis: it's a lot easier to overlook the small sins, but the truth is, even the smallest of sins makes us impure and unworthy to dwell in God's presence. That's why daily living of the gospel, feasting upon the scriptures, and staying on the straight and narrow thought small - but powerful - experiences are so important in life.
Ah, one more tie-in - do you remember the story where a person has a dream and finds himself in a room full of filing cabinets, and each one lists the events of his life? He feels ashamed to see how much of his time he's wasted and how few cards there are of the good things. Then Jesus enters and signs His name over that of the person's on each card. I'm going to stop there because the story is so much better than just a summary - see if you can find it and read it again (or for the first time); it's really powerful. The moral is that the person takes the resolve to live his life so that the next time the Savior looks at the cards, there are less sins and more acts of charity and obedience and love. It's a very powerful story and it brings home for me the importance of the little things, because they really do determine how our lives turn out. Ah! Another example just came to my mind, but I'll save that for next week. :)
The BYU symposium sounds cool. I really enjoyed the last one. I like what you said about mission rules, and Cameron's letter and everything. It just comes down to personal responsibility and making good choices. And yes, I'll be more careful about my eyes and my health (present sickness notwithstanding). :) Thanks, Dad, for everything and for always being there for me and teaching me things. I love you very much and hope you have a great week. Two taps!
Well, everyone, thank you for the emails and prayers and letters and love. I appreciate and love you all. I will write more next week. Until then!