Oh boy... this is gonna hurt my brain. I haven´t spoken english for... I dunno... something like 8 days... which is, obviously... a record for me. I don´t really feel like my spanish is much better.... but for sure my english is worse. I can´t pray in english anymore... which is... good for the purpose here. I did find an english ensign in the bottom of our Liahona box... which was like... better than Christmas- I teared up a little. It was like seeing a long lost childhood kindred Spirit. Though Hermana Bautista and I are getting along miraculously well... like... really really well (I still cannot believe how well we communicate and work through very very sensitive matters and affairs in spanish... it blows my mind how united we can be when she doesn´t speak english... and my spanish is laughable..)... sometimes I selfishly pine for english. The scriptures in english are truly such a comfort.. and more than ever... they speak the language of my heart. I am studying in spanish too...but the moments that I can read in english... are so so so nice. I can understand spanish. I mostly know what´s going on now- hallelua- but spanish is not the language of my heart. ....yet.
Though I understand... sometimes I get frustrated that I don´t have the exact words to express myself. Twice this week... I had moments when... even if I could speak spanish... that wouldn´t be enough. We were in a lesson with a woman named Espiranza- whose family were members... but she had many obstacles to overcome before she would even listen to us. The first time we vistited... she hardly looked at us.. and was very cold. Yet... we weren´t defeated. ;) The next time we came... we showered her with love... love love love... love and some more love... and she started to melt. Yet... when it came to discussing the church... wow she was fiesty! She was SO determined that we didn´t believe in the bible or Christ... and we really couldn´t get a word in... she just went on tangents. I started to become filled with a determination that if she was not to accept the book of mormon right now.... we would certainly at least leave her without a doubt that we believe in the Bible.... and undeniably... that we know our Saviour Jesus Christ. When she was taking a breathe.... I nervous interrupted (a definate plus with being the slow kid on the block... is people listen. I mean... the have to listen close to get what I´m saying... but especially- how rude is it to walk over the delayed child? - this is my role. To get people to listen... even if it´s out of sympathy..) - and said something like, ¨Espiranza... I wish I had the words to explain to you how I read and believe in the bible, and how deeply and truly believe in Christ. I know the Atonement is real... and I have learned so much more fully of this and how to appy it... through the Book of Mormon. But... I don´t have the words... and you can tell- I can´t speak. But.. I do like to sing.¨ - and I sang Ï Believe in Christ¨. We were all choking back the tears.... and she couldn´t talk... and finally- the Spirit could settle over her. She agreed to come to church and read the Book of Mormon after.
The next day... we contacted into a family... very cool... very positive. The father is Evangelical- which I am super stoked when people have a foundation of the bible and faith... because logically- they´d be more ready to accept the Restoration when they already understand the words of the prophets in the bible! Yet... similar experience... he went on tangents and tangents... and we could hardly get to the Restoration. Finally... the ¨slow child¨ spoke.. and I tried to tell about the first vision... and the hymn ¨Joseph´s First Vision¨ rang through my head and body SO strongly... like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was right there in my chest... and though I felt a little silly... I just had to say, ¨There´s a better way to testify of this.¨- and while showing a picture of the first vision... I sang that song. Truly... this is not me- purely the power of music. Again... he couldn´t talk during the song... and had to listen to the words... but especially- the Spirit. He commited to reading the Book of Mormon after that.
So.. I´m finding ways to communicate- whether in song, charades, or spanish. Yet... sometimes people really can´t understand me. I get so frustrated when in lessons... people continue to smile and nod their head... but then can´t respond to my questions- and when I ask, ¨me entendio?¨... they smile guiltily.. and say no. Hermana Bautista swears that they can understand me... but it´s easier to pretend not to understand than to dig deep and answer personal and ponderous questions. Or... they just don´t expect a gringa to speak spanish... so they have a mental block when the listen. - so says Hermana Bautista.
Speaking of being a gringa... I am! Purely! Well... actually... I feel like my heart is much more at home here in a lot of ways... I can smile and greet EVERYONE with joy and enthusiasm here and not be considered drugged- aspects like that... I fit in better than America. Yet... I am SO frustrated that people only see me as ¨that gringa¨. I feel like I´m not seen as a representative of Jesus Christ. People are must more enchanted and interested that I am white, from America, and have blue eyes. Many people have never seen a gringo woman before, and most people have never seen blue eyes before. These mundane traits become distractions from my purpose with the people here....and I really struggle with the attention sometimes. I want to be different because I have the light of Christ and this calling... not because I´m white! I´m trying so hard to turn it around to focus on Christ... but it´s hard for some people to grasp.
Sometimes I feel like part of my biggest problem to fit in is my perspective of time. I struggled with this in the city... but here in the country... time doesn´t exist! I feel so out of control of most situations here... I kind of recognize that its likely healthy for me... but I hate it. Hermana Bautista says almost every day, ¨be patient!¨... but in my head... I want to respond, Ï don´t wanna be patient- I want to be on time!!!¨ haha... gah! Plus... everything is so far apart. It takes us 30-40 minutes to walk to appointments sometimes... and then the people aren´t there. Patience... patience... ahh!! The other day... we ventured through the mountains to find recent converts and innactive members. It was SO beautiful. I wanted to just... camp there... stay there... meditate there... but that was not my purpose there. Yet... it was SO SO SO gorgeous. We definately came out looking like we had camped up there for a week... so.. it was close enough. Did I mention how beautiful it is here? We have orange, coconut, papaya, banana, lemon trees... pinnapple and fijole fields.... and... a volcano... and... lots of cool things here. The other day, my companion wanted me to try a native popsicle... WOAH. NOT WHAT I EXPECTED! It was a lemon popsicle. She was in hysterics over my reaction for the next 20 minutes. It was a sour surprise.
I´m learning a lot from Hermana Bautista. It makes 2 years since her bautismo and her faith and strength blows my mind. She is so elect and SO perfect for me right now. She was catholic before, so she has such a great perspective and connection with so many of our investigadores. I love her so much. I´m teaching her how to do pushups and blow dry her hair... and she´s teaching me how to eat frijoles and platnos in the morning and to use tortillas as eating utensils. haha. We laugh A LOT.
I am constantly humbled by the humlity here. I love that the ward has a program to teach people to read- because there is such a need. It´s difficult to teach people that can´t read- because the need to gain a personal knowledge and witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon from personal study is so GREAT. Yet... there are people that can´t read... but are endowed and devoted in the work- like our ward mission leader. He is studying and trying to learn... but we are having to adapt our strategies for this obstacle. Yet... Hermano Dias is so pure and wonderful and willing to serve. For our investigadores... there are hurdles like... women not wanting to come to church because they don´t have a skirt, or because they´re afraid it´ll all be reading... things like that... that I have never thought of before. People will say things like, öh! I´ve heard of that church- I heard it has really nice bathrooms!!¨ (when we might be able to compare the bathrooms in this chapel to those of a clean but small gas station in the states) ---I can´t express the purity and greatness in these people. It is such and honor to be here... and especially to serve them.
Yesterday in sacrament meeting.. bishop had the brilliant inspiration in the middle of the meeting... to ask me to come bear my testimony. I was already feeling the Spirit so strong, and honestly a little overwhelmed with emotion from reflecting of the week and working through things..... that when I got up there... I could hardly speak. I can´t really describe it... it was this tiny tiny chapel, with about 70 beautiful people... and I was trying to express to them the reality of the Lord in my life... and my love of life with this knowledge. It was such an honor. Then... in relief society... We were learning about Gifts of the Spirit, which includes the gift of tongues. So... the relief society president asked me to bear my testimony of this...... I guess as a demonstration of the gift. No pressure. ;) I am here to testify... and I love that. Love it.
We had a little interview with our dear bishop... and it was so beautiful. He is SO SO SO humble. He is in his late 20´s or early 30´s, and told us, ¨I lack experience and bountious knowledge... but I am here to serve. Please, tell me what more we need to be doing to help you. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for being here- we can already feel of your strength here- and we need you.¨ - I may have wept a little.
I think the HARDEST thing this week... and probably will continue to be THE HARDEST part of this calling... is witnessing so intimately and repeatedly... the pain from not living the commandments. We visits innactive members that stopped attending and living the gospel because of offense, distraction and/or apathy.... and how different their life is now. My heart hurts for them so deeply. I am anxious and quick to invite others to be baptized- for that is my purpose... and I know that the Lord won´t send those prepared to come unto Christ if I am not prepared to invite- yet.... I have this ever growing fear... that they won´t be prepared for baptism when they are baptized. I read in Luke 14;27-30 about the man that was to build the tower... but never finished. There is a quote from Bruce R. McKonkie that talks about how converts need to fully know what they are commiting and embarking into. It is so serious to break these convenants... and I am so afraid that these converts won´t fully understand.. whether it´s a lack of time or teaching from me. I am seeing too many people that were converted to the friendship of the missionaries... and were baptised without seeking to receive their own personal testimony of Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the reality that this church is the only one on the earth that is exactly the one that Christ himself established. They HAVE TO KNOW THAT!!!
Oh boy I love this life and this work. I love wanting to collapse at the end of the night... and waking up to do it all over again! ;)
We have a few people so so so close to the waters of baptism! Thank you for your prayers!