Sorry dad for the delay and confusion. We do have our P-days on monday, but we plan to write on tuesdays because that's when we're together as a zone for our weekly meetings- and it takes some missionaries 3.5 hours to meet us, or other that are out on the islands and it just costs so much to take the boat in... so with many factors.. sometimes it doesn't always go as planned. Yet... I should usually be writing tuesdays.
Have I mentioned we have just gotten a new mission president? It was a sweet and emotional goodbye to President Lopez. It's ridiculous and so beautiful the relationship one develops with their President- the trust, respect, mild temor, and reverence that one quickly develops for these leaders called and inspired of God. The way they can read your souls, pierce the most dormant parts of you...and help you see the person that you want to and CAN become... it's surprisingly hard to let them go. Yet... it was so neat to meet our new President Cordon and his family... and feel all the same things- because now he has the exact same keys, authority, and power to lead the mission and receive revelation. President Cordon is also from Guatamala and served in the El Salvador mission. He started out in Miramonte like I did, and served in Santla Tecla too. He is very intellectual- speaks english, spanish, and mandarine- but most of all... he is very humble and driven. I am so excited to learn from him...but a little saddened that I may only see him a few more times.
I loved loved loved Joel's letter... and am determined to have the best family home evenings with nonmember families with him after the mission! woohoo!! I am still just relishing my assignment.. and as I explained it to President Cordon, he got really excited too and they're waiting to see our results to see if they'll start similar programs in other areas of need. I feel like, and hope and pray... that I will be given a lot more time here in Belize City. We are finding SO many people teach and so many needs... and we are teaching almost 40 lessons a week- and pushing to do more. The thing about Belize is that it's still so new to the gospel. There are cultural and economic factors that really fight and challenge the priesthood leadership... and I am amazed by the triumph of the few solid priesthood leaders here... and have so much hope in the future. My appreciation and understanding of the vitality of the priesthood has really grown. I have seen that despite the obstacles with the people here... that the capacity to have the priesthood is truly in the divine nature of every single man- that is their calling and duty to have it... and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ... they can become worthy and able to use it. I am learning so much from one of our branch presidents that can't read... but through his humility, diligence, and love of the Lord... is serving and leading the branch so wonderfully. I have met some the most mighty men... that are so humble and so meek.. they have no idea how great they are in my eyes. I have heard prayers of such great faith, intimacy, reverence, and awe with the Lord... that I feel like we can just close the meetings and leave just with that one prayer. They leaving me so deeply touched, emotional... and in greater realization of my own pride and inadequacies. They are teaching me every week what it truly means to be like a child and to come unto Christ. I am learning so much.
I know I'm supposed to be here. We have been having so many awesome experiences- people finding US on the street and saying, " Hey! I'm a member, but things have happened and I haven't been for a long time... and..." .... and we started teaching them... reminding them... and they're coming back. No... we won't break any baptizing records... but this is still defiantly soul saving work. As the church was being started here... many people recognized the truth, made the right choice... but the understanding of the gospel and the programs were so new and undeveloped... with the raging drugs, immorality, and violence here.... they got caught up again. It opens up such a perfect opportunity to truly dive into the importance, purpose, and application of the Atonement... and my appreciation for Jesus Christ as my Savior and advocate is really starting to develop. There is so much abut the Atonement that I don't know and so much real understanding that I lack...... but a surety of it's reality... I will never deny or forget. There are so many invitations from the Savior in the scriptures to "come unto Him"... and maybe just as many to "come back". We mess up all the time. We are nothing without Him. I love love love how it is put in Helaman 12- that even the dust is greater than us... because at least the dust obeys the Lord's command.... but we so often refuse to do so. As I have worked with teaching others about the commandments, the importance of obeying and turning our will to the Lord... I am feeling changes and miracles in myself... and realizing how far I personally have to go to really succeeding in this eternal principle.
I am totally with Joel on the home teaching and visiting teaching. I am so grateful for parents that showed the example of obedience to this commandment of God... and the love of service and of our brothers and sisters. I know that we will not be able become a Zion people....without diligence to these inspired programs. We are working on really teaching the members how to do it... as we're doing divisions and starting trainings to get these programs functioning. This church is so perfect... everything is so inspired.... and it all works... as long as we as the members don't get in the Lord's way. :)
Another focus we have been hitting hard with families... is celestial traditions. I love and we so a lot... the conference talk on having a "Christ-Centered Home". It helps me appreciate where I come from, understand the home I want to have... but also regret things that I have done to impede my family from always having a Christ-Centered Home. As we work with these families on having family prayer and scripture study every night and family home evening every week... I promise over and over again to my Heavenly Father not to become a hypocrite... and my excitement to establish these celestial traditions with my own family just takes off!!
Did I mention how awesome Sister Rodas is? She has helped me SO much with my spanish- she is an elementary school teacher and totally knows her grammar. Just to clarify mom... we still teach in spanish- it's about half 'n half- thank goodness. I really do understand and am understood better in spanish than their english here. It's a struggle sometimes. I've been having a random run of people asking me if I'm from Nicaragua, Honduras, Puerto Rico, and many guesses from El Salvador. It's totally the tan. haha... I love love love my latins. I feel so at home with them. Still trying to figure out Belizians... but love them so much all the same. They really are so special.
Welp... I love the mission. May never come home. Hope that's ok!