We continue on working this week... and loving every moment of it... almost every moment. This week... was suposed to be the baptism of ¨Pablo¨... but it didn´t happen. He didn´t pass his interview. My fear of him entertaining us, and reading, and praying... just for his son- was right. He knows everything... he understands the doctrine, the need to be baptized, the commandments- he gets it. - almost. He just... doesn´t want to let go of his problem with chastity. He told our district leader that he prefers fornication to the gospel... and that he doesn´t want to be baptized because he knows he´s not going to try to live the gospel. ---this was very hard for us to hear. Not incredibly surprising... but a struggle nonetheless. I love that man. SO MUCH I love him. Yet... I can´t force happiness upon him.
On a happier note... we were also suposed to have the baptism of Juan Carlos this week... and though that didn´t happen... we´re not out of hope! For a few days he avoided our calls... and because he is so far away... it´s hard to find him. Yet... we just decided to show up at his house (the hour and 1/2 travel) with hope that he´d be there... and he was! Yet... he was very distant... and we just couldn´t figure out what was up... what the grand change was. He allowed us to come back the next day.... and we taught the Plan of Salvation..... and that spiritually hungry and prepared person returned. He undeniably felt the Spirit... and said, ¨Wow! This is SO clear! This totally makes sense! YA!¨.... and asked us if we could hold a baptism the 25th. ----duh.. of course we CAN!! woohooo!!! SO.... we are anxiously awaiting the 25th!!!
Also... Gudiel is progressing adelante and we´re on the brinks of water with him. He is so mentally hungry for knowledge.... we´re working on engaging the faith and heart part of the deal- for that is truly the most important and powerful.
Thank you again for those gifts for the kids. We distributed them yesterday and it was definately some blissful moments. We entered this area of poverty and went shack to shack singing carols... and kids flocked to us- running to find the missionaries with the treasures! haha... it was so fun- I wish you all could have seen their faces when they received these simple humble gifts. Thank you family.
We still don´t know about transfers.... but I am selfishly still hoping to stay here. I know we can´t really make bargains or deals with God......... but I am determined to be more dilligent and effective in teaching her english if we are permitted to stay together! I love Candelaria... and I don´t feel ready to leave this sleepy little town just yet. There is such a charm with the mountains and volcanos.... with the men and their cowboy hats and horses... waking up to roosters and cows every morning.... so many idiosyncracies... that I´m still enjoying... but especially- the people. There are so many astounding spiritual giants in this ward- so many valient youth and old.... people that really GET IT... and are hanging on to the iron rod... and eager to help others on their way. EVERY WEEK in sacrament meeting... I feel like I´ve just walked into the Clark house... to shake hands and kiss everyone... I can almost hear Jared squeeling and Morgan telling stories..... I feel so at home. The Spirit is so universal.
My perspective is changing- too slowly... but it´s starting to happen. I used to be slightly traumatized to see how dirty my hands were by the end of the day....... but now I relish seeing the nearly black water stream down the sink- knowing that is a sign that I traveled a lot... shook a lot of hands... hauled some corn... whatever- now I need to have dirty hands. Blisters are no longer so much of a bother... but almost an honor! For a while... I was a little frustrated to be covered in tortilla dough.. because I´m not yet very good at hand washing clothes... but now it´s a sign that I slacked off that day if my skirt isn´t covered in mesa. haha... I don´t know what´s happening to me... but I´m turning crazy in a different direction!!
I´m also learning more skills that I didn´t expect... but am enjoying. I´m learning to strip corn, wash clothes BETTER than a washing machine, eat with my hands (ok...so I´m not enjoying that one as well.... but it´s borderline offensive to eat with a fork for some things...), and make tortillas. We have taught many lessons over a fire slapping tortillas in our hands. These wormen work HARD HARD HARD ALL day! I have more and more respect for their strength every time they allow us to work by their side. They are amazing.
I have to tell about the Marinksa family- my inspirations. There are these two kids in the ward- Stefani and Maucori... that are always SO HAPPY and SO enthused to see the missionaries! Their mother is a return missionary, and so solid and firm in her faith... this family is SO joyous in the gospel! I had no idea that they had recently ¨lost¨ their father- because they speak of him- his charity, faith, love- as if he was still walking amongst us. They radiate a faith and understanding of the promises of the temple... and are relishing their mortal lives with anticipation to be with their father again.
We went to their house to teach their friend... and I felt the Spirit SO strong the moment I walked into their humble home. They have so little of material wealth... but as I sat on a cardboard box on the dirt floor and taught this sweet woman about Joseph Smith....... I felt like a guest in a palace.... for truly I was in the presence of royalty. It has been strangely ¨chilly¨ here this last week (I won´t complain to you all about that.. haha)- but people here think it´s FREEZING. So.. when we walked in... they ran and grabbed their little blankets and so sweetly wrapped us up. When we went to leave... Hermana Marinksa came out with 2 turtlenecks for us- saying that we´re going to get infections in our lungs... and if we do- we can´t do the Lord´s work! So.. she kindly demanded that we keep her daughter´s sweaters. I can´t express how deeply this gesture touched me. She said, ¨We don´t have much... but we don´t need much.¨ My husband taught us this through his example- he never owned ties- not because we didn´t buy them... but because he was always giving them to others that needed them at church. ---this family is SO rich. SO wealthy. SO gracious.
Another one of my many heros is Hermana Blanca. I see her at church- and she GLOWS. She is always expressing love for others... and completely enthused about... EVERYTHING. She shared experiences with us from her mission... and I was so enchanted by the powerful Spirit that she carries with her... and her perspective on life. She invited us to her home to teach her brother in law. She comes to church with a flock of neighborhood kids every week- like snow white with animals! She becomes an instant aunt, or even mom to them- because she can´t have kids herself. Again... I felt like I had entered a castle as I walked into her home of tarp and sticks- and AGAIN had that familiar warm peace wash over me- as if I was home.
After the lesson... she told us of the miracle of her home. I´m not sure what happened... but somehow they had lost their other home... and the ward quickly pitched in to get sticks and tarp... and make this home and dig their well... and help them get back on their feet. Her eyes welled with tears as she expressed the miracle of it all... and how much she loves her home... and knows that it is because of the law of tithing that they have what they need. She told how wonderful it is not to need an alarm.. because she gets to wake up to the roosters and cows around... and how everynight is like a symphony with the crickets and goats... and how she feels like she´s in heaven... when she´s in her beautiful home.
I want so badly to be like these bold, valient, humble, and gracious women. I have so far to go... but I am SO grateful for these opportunities to know and experience such greatness.... to taste of royaltly. Like the hymn ¨call to serve¨ says, ¨Called to know the richness of His blessings¨- I am tasting and trying savor every morsle.
P.S. I have NO IDEA about calling on Christmas. No clue! Sorry! Just.. if I catch ya´ll home... that´ll be great fortune! :) Love you all! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!