Hello! I`m with Hermana Woods again, who has her P-days on fridays, and since I don`t know when I`ll write next week... I`m writing now! They pulled out all the missionaries from our West misson from San Salvador, and I`m here in Santa Ana, Trebol area for the week before I fly out to Belize. Leaving was hard again... lots of tears were shed from oth parties... but I`ve been blesse to so quickly fall in love with this area in Trebol... and to be with Hermana Woods (I love her so much- she`s basically a glorified and perfected version of me. We have so much in common... but she`s SO much better htan me... she inspires me every day). We`re definately not in the city anymore... and I feel so much beter here. We`re back to making tortillas and washing clothes... and being filled with the light and purity of some beautifully humble people. I feel so much more at home here amongst the neighborhoods of hundreds of tarp and stick houses. I am slapping myself for daring to have a bad attitude for not having water for one measely little week without water... when every day for their whole lives it`s a fight to haul barrels of water on their backs or heads from the far away little faucets. Beng here kindly but bluntly reminds me of the princess that I have been... and how much I truly have to learn.
There is a beautiful little branch here that I have instantly adapted as mine in these last few days. We went to ^the chapel^ for ward counsel the other night... and it was such a good experience for me. First of all... their chapel is otside of a little house up in the mountainous jungle. I feel like I`m in a secret tree hut... but with a hint of the traditional church with wooden blackboards and plastic chairs. When I got there.. something felt SO familiar as I started to meet some of the ward members and the family of the home of the ¨tree house¨. These people had so much light, enthusiasm, and joy... and I was having major dejavu... as if I had already met them before. I met the father of the family... and as I shook his hand... I was penetrated with the Spirit, without words, and on the verge of tears- but didn`t know why. A son of the family told me that he served in the Guatamala North mission and that his younger sister served in the same mission and in the same area. I told him that that`s so funny, because that happened t the wife of my bishop in my old area! ....the it started to connect... that his sister was Claudia- the bishop`s wife from Candelaria... and that I was there with her whole family!! They told me that their father had just been ordaned as the stake patriarch- which makes so much sense why I felt like I was with grandpa and so overwhelmed with emotion in tat moment. During the meeting... I was replaying all the gospel principle lessons that Claudia had taught- all the stories that she had told of her families conversion- that her father drank and smoke... that they had SO many struggles and obstacles... but that she recieved her testimony and answer from God when they knelt together as a family and asked God together. Being surrounded by these radiatingly pure and spiritual giants... and remembering all that I ahd learned about their struggles and triumphs... knowing a little bit of who they were before they learned the gospel... and seeing them now... and seeing how they are building up the kingdom of God here... and are on their way to being an eternal family... just filled me up with so much love and appreciation for the gospel, missionary work, the ordinances of the temple, and the purifying and enabling power of the Atonement. Looking at this patriarch... a truly beautiful man.. it was hard to imagine the hardened, drunken, and addicted lost soul that once existed.. because he nows carries such sacred keys and responsiblity so worthily. This is what the gospel does.
Yesterday Claudia came to visit her family, and I got to see her. It was such a sweet reunion... and again, my joy could not have been greater to hear of the successes of the families we baptized, reactived, and loved. The family Martinez and Cardona are just blossoming- both the wives have callings in the primary, and the husbads are the first and second counselors of the Elders quorum... and they are happily working towards the temple. :) There s another family that we had found that are getting married and baptized THIS WEEK! It is so sweet to hear about hese seeds bringing forth such sweet and eternal fruit. The attendence has continued to soar.. and they`re starting to build a new and bigger chapel- because they`re now busting out of the seams of the chapel that was only half fll my first unday there. I love love love this work.
Even in these last few days here... we have been having such sweet experiences... and are recieving such clear answers to our prayers! They have an investigator named Pati- and she is my inspiration. She is finally movnig on from a painful and dark past of prostitution, alcohol, smoking, witchery... basically any dark method of Satan... she ha fallen victim to in her life. She has quit smoking and drinking alcohol, and this week she has given up coffee. She is fighting and winning living the law of chastity... and is clearly a changed woman. We have been working with her to help her ee herself with the hope and love of God.... and I get giddy to see the light enter her eyes as she is really starting to believe that she has divine value, and despite the past... she has limitless potential. She is so humble and eager and willing to make these sacrifices and changes... and it just makes me ask... if she can use her faith to leave behind all that she has ever known to follow Christ..............what reason have I to not change in such a drastic fashion also?
Yesterday... as I was praying... I was filled with an even greater hunger and thirst to find a family. I recieved a weet confirmation that if we listened and followed His promptings.. that we would find one of the families that was waiting for us that day. So... as we were walking through these neighborhoods... I saw a man moving junk ouside of this tarp house. I asked him if he needed help... and he refused... and we told him we would do WHATEVER task he needed done... and he sent us to the neighbors to wash clothes. We went... but she didn`t have clothes... nr interest in the message. When we were walking back... the same man beckoned us over. He said, you said any task, rght? We quickly answered, ¨Whatever you need! We`re here to serve!!!:) ¨... and then he asked us if we knew how to take lice out of hair. I can`t deny... that Hermana Woods and I paused.. and looked at each other with hestitancy and a little doubt... nearly loosing our enthusiasm... but when apparently clean daughter whipped open the door and denied having lice... we started to realize that maybe he wasn`t serious. We still don`t know who or if someone had lice...becasuse all this kids came pouring out of this little shack... and we found ourselves pulled into this whirlwind fo chaotic excitement that we were american.. and when his wife came around... it really hit me SO STRONG... that THIS WA THE FAMILY. I found myself yelling over everyone, ¨WE HAVE A MESSAGE FOR YOUR FAMILY!¨... and before they could started jumping and screaming over us again... we whipped out our hymn book and started singing ¨Families can be together forever¨... and the mom totally melted. They finally realized that we sent from God for them... and they started to listen. The mom said that that has always been her dream for her and her 6 kids and her husband... is that they can all follow God and be together forever. There is no better feeling than to tell a mother fighting to feed her kids every day... that it`s all for a reason... and that the celestial inheritence that she has always wanted... can be hers. The Lord SO CLEARLY answered my plea.
Welp... I fly out El Salvador tuesday morning. It`ll be a change... but change is so great when it`s the will of God. It`ll be weird to be with just one other sister all the time. I`ve gotten acustomed to changing companions almost every ay... and living with 5 or 6 sisters in the house. It`s been such a good experience to live with SO MANY different people with such different cultures, opinions, work ethics, ideas, histories.... but all united in the same cause and fight. I`ve learned a lot from every single sister I`ve been blessed to work with... and have come to love them so indivdally and deeply. It`s hard to imagine being one of 4 sisters in the whole country... but I`m down for whatever, right? Probably my only apprehension is riding a bicycle again... I still get flashbacks of my near death incident just to think of bicycles... but despite my inclination for disaster... I know the Lord will take care of me. :) (funny that I have more temor of a bicycle than of the rampant gangs here, huh?)
Ok! Love you all! Bye bye!
Hermana... soon to be: Sister Clark