So remember how last week was really cool??? This week was definitely not a repeat. In fact it was one of the most difficult weeks of my mission. A lot of really bad things happened and it was really hard emotionally and spiritually for both of us. However, I am grateful to my companion for reminding me that although a lot of not so awesome things happened, a lot of good things happened too, so instead of depressing you all with an account of all the horrible things we had to go through this week, I'll focus on the good ones.
First off, we found Mari Carmen again after looking for her for a couple weeks. Turns out she had been sick and wasn't coming into work, but one day we walked down there and there she was, grilling her chicken wings like she had never left. We taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ and asked her to be baptized on the 23rd of April. She looked at me and said, but that's after you leave Hermana!!! I looked at her and said, it's okay Mari Carmen, the only important thing to me is that you be baptized and receive blessings. She accepted the date, and although she couldn't come to church this week because she had to go to the doctor in Cuenca, we are gonna get her there if it's the last thing I do!!!
This is something that I realized-I'm way too selfish. I was dying to have a baptism before I left, just to finish off strong (or mejor dicho, strong in my own way of thinking, and maybe not the Lord's) so I've been freaking out because people don't progress as fast as I want them to. This week I realized that it didn't matter when they got baptized-just that they did. Even if they send me a letter the week after I get home telling me that they got baptized, I will be thrilled. You want to know how I figured this out?? Let me share with you.
So we've been teaching Isabel, Diego's girlfriend from Germany. We had invited her to be baptized and she accepted but afterwards felt like it was too early for her still. When she told us this, I felt completely calm and was totally okay with it. That was a couple of weeks ago. This week (today actually) she went back to Germany to finish her thesis. On Saturday we were trying to find someone to go to the elders' baptism with us and to come with us on an appointment afterwards. We had called everyone we could think of and no one could come. We were sitting there trying to figure out what to do and all of a sudden HNA Cochran said, what about Isabel?? Do you think she could come with us?? I called her and she said she would love to come. So we brought her to the baptism with us and she LOVED it. It was the first time she had ever seen a baptism and she said it filled her with an inner peace. Then she came to an appointment with us and shared her testimony of the Book of Mormon and it was as good as any member could have done and probably better. She said, I haven't been baptized yet but I think someday I will be. Hearing that made me so happy that I can't even describe the feeling. We exchanged information, took pictures together on Sunday and now she's on her way back to Munich. I'm pretty sure that we will be lifelong friends, and I am positive that she will be baptized, if not soon, then someday.
And that's when I realized that even though maybe it seems like I haven't had much success here in Loja, in the Lord's eyes I've done something incredible. Or better said, He's done something incredible through me. Who cares if I won't be able to see her baptism-I was able to help her find the truth and that's what matters the most.
So this keyboard is horrible and is making me want to shoot myself in the head, so I'll skip to some week highlights: Seeing a kid poop in the middle of the sidewalk. (Seriously, it really happened.) Getting my eyebrows waxed (yep, still vain after a year and a half on the mission.) Eating dinner with Alexis and Paula and being some of the first to hear their good news (they're having a baby!!! YAAAAAAY!!!!) Getting rained on. Having a random guy take a picture of me on his cell phone in the street. Answering questions about the Book of Mormon from a very Catholic man named Carlos, who then proceeded to tell us that he was going to continue reading. Finding a less active lady named Jackie and her not baptized yet son, Jose Pablo. Singing I Feel My Savior's Love with Elder Johnson in the zone leader's baptism. Feeling the Spirit hugely strong there (right after something horrible had happened.) Seeing a guy in full out gangster gear (baggy jeans and t-shirt, chains, nikes, only missing diamond earrings and a doo-rag) get up and give an awesome talk about faith and repentance and talk about how much his baptism meant to him. Swapping life stories with my companion. Hearing her ask Elder Saban, our very quiet and shy zone leader, if he was a breakdancer before the mission (he said he wasn't but I think he's lying.) Hearing her plans to ask him this week if he was a ninja. Talking to some NUNS!!!!! Going just inside the door of a Catholic cathedral to see a wedding. Knowing that Heavenly Father loves me despite everything. Having an awesome companion and awesome mission leaders. Loving life. Being a missionary!!!
One more cool experience. Yesterday I was sitting in church with my Book of Mormon open to Alma chapter 35. All of a sudden a gust of wind came through the door and blew the page over to chapter 36. I looked down and the first scripture I saw was this one: I know that whosoever putteth their trust in God shall be supported in all their trials and afflictions and shall be lifted up at the last day (paraphrased a little, don't remember exactly what it says and I don't have my scriptures with me.) But in that moment I knew that Heavenly Father was very aware of my situation and would help me to get through it. I know that He hears and answers our prayers and that He is always with us.
Les quiero mucho y sigan adelante siempre. Nos vemos pronto . . . .