Quick note from Mom: I read today that Carnavale (Mardi Gras) starts on Friday and asked if she's ready for another round. Her response? "Carnaval=stupidest holiday ever. They're already throwing water balloons at us in the street!!!!" That reminded me of last year's Carnavale email where she said, "I´m pretty sure that it´s the dumbest holiday ever and that I hate it." (Feb. 22, 2010) Well, it will be over in a week.
Hola de . . . . . . MACHALA!!!!!
No, I didn't get emergently transferred!!! I'm just here for the capacitations. Last night the zone leaders called at 9:30ish to inform us that we had to be in the terminal at 9:30 the next morning so that we could go to Machala. So here I am, companions with HNA Moran again because my compy stayed in Loja with HNA Salmon. When I informed her that I would be going and she would be staying, she looked confused and said, how's that gonna work?? Neither of us can speak Spanish!!! Por favor. She's gonna rock it and when I come home they're probs be 10 people with fechas. But I am sad that she's not with me.
On to more important things. So this week we had a way cool experience. We had contacted this lady, Maria, outside of Lady's house like forever ago. This week we came around the corner and bumped right into her. We asked her if we could come visit her the next day and she said yes. The next day we didn't have a lot of time to teach her so we just whipped out the Book of Mormon and started talking about it and shared a scripture from it. The whole time the Spirit was way strong and she was staring at the BOM looking like she was gonna cry. We asked her if she would read it and she said yes. Then I thought-we've taught her pretty much nothing about the Restoration . . . . . but I´m gonna see if she wants to be baptized. So I asked her-if you come to know that these things are true, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?? She was silent for awhile and finally said-I believe so. It was so incredible-I cannot even describe how strong the Spirit was in this moment. We set the date and left, feeling incredible. Although we haven't been able to get in there to teach her since and she couldn't come to church this Sunday, HNA Robison and HNA Salmon have an appt. to go tomorrow and they're gonna rock it. I just know it.
We also had a breakthrough moment with Isabel this week. We read the intro to the BOM with her and just asked her how she was feeling and if she had any questions. She said, you know what?? I don't have as many questions as I did, and I don't know why. But I am convinced that Joseph Smith was a prophet. This was so unexpected that we just looked at her for a second, and she continued saying, I had an experience that I think could be an answer to my prayers, but I have to think about it some more. I was talking to Diego and all of a sudden something just crossed in my head, it was like a flash, I don't know how to explain it. But I think I need to meditate about it some more. We were just like . . . . . this is AWESOME!!! We explained to her that when we get answers from the Spirit, sometimes we can't explain them very well, but we know that they're answers from God. She smiled and looked really happy. We are so happy for her too-she is progressing really well and although she still doesn't have a baptismal date yet, I think she'll be baptized soon. She came to church this week and even said the closing prayer in Relief Society. We love her!!!!
Last night the sisters from Argelia had a Why I Believe fireside. We brought Isabel and it was amazing. The Spirit was sooooooo strong and I just felt an incredible feeling of happiness and joy to be around so many people who were strong in the gospel. For those who don't know, a Why I Believe fireside is when people share their conversion stories. Isabel really liked it and I think it will really help her in her progress. Afterwards we ate delicious tamales and got caught in the rain looking for a taxi. A delightful way to end the week.
I had a cool experience on Saturday too. We went up to Zamora Huayco to look for someone, and he ended up not being home. HNA Robison looked at me and asked, now what are we gonna do?? I had no idea, so I asked the Lord, where do we go now?? The answer came to me right away-Chela. We walked up to her house, knocked on the door and her 20 year old daughter Gabi came out. Chela wasn`t home. Another thought came to my head-contact her. So we told Gabi that we were missionaries and that we had a message about Jesus Christ and we wanted to share it with her sometime. She said, right now?? This was so unexpected to me that I was like . . . . do you have time right now?? She said yes!! Come in!!! So we went in, sat down and got to know her and her friend Jenny that lives there too. I had no idea what to teach, but then remembered that I had a copy of Finding Faith in Christ in my bag and asked if we could watch it with them. They said yes and we put it in, sang I Am a Child of God, which they loved, said a prayer and started to watch the movie. About halfway through, Maria Fernanda, Gabi's little sister, walked in and asked, whatcha guys watching?? She sat down to watch too and at the end they all said that they loved it and that they wanted to hear more about the Restoration. Although they're going out of town for 3 weeks and we can't go back until then, it was an incredible testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost and it's importance in the work. All three of them are super cool and we will definitely be going back!!!!
So lately a lot of people have been asking us how we knew that the church was true and we've been sharing our experiences with getting answers to our prayers about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I thought I'd share mine with you all. I think I was about 14 or 15 years old and I don't remember very well exactly what happened but I remember that I knelt down to pray at my bedside one night and asked Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon was true. I remember feeling peace and tranquility but what I remember most was a feeling of happiness. I remember that I had a big smile on my face afterwards. And that's how I knew that everything that my parents had taught me for all my life was absolutely true. I always tell the investigators that I was born and raised in the church, but even I had to kneel down and ask Heavenly Father if it was true. I know it is-there's no doubt in my mind or heart that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was His prophet.
Week highlights: Walking dogs for our Wednesday morning service. Going up to a new part of Zamora Huayco and finding a lot of great people. Making no bake cookies in our apartment. Going to the zoo with our district leader, his companion and the other sisters. Eating pizza. Teaching HNO Carlos, the nonmember husband of HNA Maria Luisa that comes to church every Sunday but has never wanted the missionaries, for the first time. Finding out that he's really cool. Hearing him say-I hope you can come back soon. Seeing Lady in church again when we hadn't visited her all week. Visiting the district president and getting to know his family. Waking people up to tell them to come to church. Getting yelled at by a crazy old (and possibly drunk) man. Finding nine new investigators. Developing Christlike attributes. Realizing that I am in love with Loja and everything about it-the people, the food, my companion, my district, the scenery and even the Virgencita. Finding out that I am a daughter of Mary because my palms have M's in them (long story). 6 hour bus ride to Machala. Talking to Elder Johnson the whole time. Seeing HNA Laime again (she goes home in a week!!! Can you believe it??) Not worrying about leaving my companion in the sector by herself. Knowing that she's gonna rock it. Pea and banana soup. Empanadas de verde. Lentil menestra and rice. Feeling the Spirit. Loving life. Being a missionary!! (HNA Robison's one liners did not make the list this week, not because they weren't funny, just because I can't remember any of them. Stay tuned next week.)
Well, time to go again. I'll be hanging out here in Machala until Friday or Saturday to be capacitated. Pray that I don't die of heatstroke-it's so hot here that I kind of feel like I can`t breathe. But I`m dealing. Hasta la proxima semana, les amo mucho y hagan lo correcto!!!