HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST MOM IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you so much.
This week was super weird because we only had 1 full day to work in our area. But it was awesome.
Tuesday, we had half the day to do p-day things and then we had the baptismal interview for Luis! He passed it just fine. We were so happy. It's not like we were worried, but if you have been on a mission, you know that the interviews before baptism can be a little stressful. haha.
We worked on Wednesday really hard to find new people to teach. We did divisions with two sisters in our ward that always come out and help us. We were able to find several new investigators which was a blessing because like I mentioned, we didn't have much time in the area the rest of the week.
On Thursday we had planning in the morning and then had an appointment with Luis to teach him about the priesthood and make sure he didn't have any questions before his baptism. He told us that some friend of his brother had been texting him anti Mormon things and telling him that the church was just going to make money off of his baptism and a whole bunch of lies. He said that at first he got mad and wanted to text back mean things to him but then he said, 'I came to the conclusion that if I got mad or tried fighting back, I would not be in the right path any more. I would not be able to feel good about myself or be a good example to other people. So I decided to just not pay attention because now I am SURE this is the true church!' I wanted to cry. We explained that it is normal for things to happen like this before baptisms...because Satan obviously doesn't want him to make a covenant with God and be clean from sin. We also explained that this is the reason why it is important to have a testimony of the church and why we insisted that he kept praying and reading and going to church! He was so excited and nervous for his baptism.
After we ate on Thursday, we met up with the sisters in another ward here and Hna. Garcia went off with them because Hna. Skonnard and I were going to Cuernavaca for her follow up training as a new missionary. She only had a week and a half, but the rest of her generation has about 4 weeks. We stayed the night with the STLs in Cuernavaca and the next day had our training meeting.
We had the follow up meeting with President Kusch and the other new missionaries. It was good, as usual. I felt like I had déjà vu because I was just there about a month before in the same training only with other missionaries. But it was good and I learned new things. I feel like the missionaries in this group are super powerful already and it makes me happy.
Now, this is where the good stuff comes in. When I went to Cuernavaca two weeks ago to pick up Sister Skonnard, I was with President and Sister Kusch in their car on the way to meet her. Someone had told me once that there was a Thrifty Ice Cream in Cuernavaca so I mentioned that to President. He said 'YES THERE IS!!!' He is from Southern California so obviously he has a fondness for the Thrifty just like me. He said that the next time I would be in Cuernavaca that he would take me there and I said, 'Well, I will be coming back next week for the training!' Then HE mentioned that they had just opened a Carl's Jr. there too that is REALLY good (probably because the oil is still fresh...hahahaha) and so I just tried my luck and threw in 'Well, maybe we can go to Carl's Jr. first and then dessert at Thrifty' and he agreed! So after the training, Hna. Skonnard and I hung back at the house with President and Sister Kusch and headed out with them once everyone else had left. They took us to Carl's first and then to Thrifty. I WAS IN HEAVEN. When we got there, I asked him if I could get two flavors and he said I could get whatever I wanted, so obviously I got the waffle cone! President and I ordered the same flavors...Mint Chip and Rocky Road.
The best part (besides the mint chocolate chip ice cream) was being able to be with President and Sister Kusch one on one. How many hermanas or missionaries in general get to do that unless you are in a leadership position like AP. I felt super privileged and grateful for the time that I was able to spend with them. They are truly extraordinary people. I loved hearing about their life and stories that they have. There was a lot of traffic that day so we actually almost missed our bus back to Iguala, but the time I was able to spend with them was priceless. (sounds like a mastercard commercial, huh?) But seriously, I am truly grateful for amazing and inspired leaders that help me and so many reach our potential.
We got back on Friday night and then we had Saturday until 5 to work because we had the baptism of Luis and Mayra. I am not sure if I have mentioned Mayra in my emails. She is the wife of a member. They have been married for 7 years, and she was a member of the 7th day Adventist church all her life. Her husband is a returned missionary and active member of our church. Several years ago she started going to church and liked it a lot, but never had decided to be baptized. Well, she was super prepared when we got here, and we have been teaching her all the lessons and helping prepare her for her baptism. She already knew the church was true, she just needed the baptism.
This week had been super good, so of course we needed a little ‘hard’ thrown in there. On Saturday morning, we had Mayra's baptismal interview with the district leader. Before heading over to her house, we passed by the house of Juan and Marta...our two investigators that were progressing and coming to church. Juan is the one that was super rude to us in the beginning and then ended up crying in the lesson after we prayed. We hadn't been able to set a time with them for the last week and a half and every time we would go by, they weren't home or had some excuse. We found him in the house on Saturday and it was like the same Juan that we met in the beginning. Super rude. He told us that he didn't want to meet with us any more, that he doesn't think the church is true and that he is happy with just reading his Bible. We bore our testimonies and tried figuring out what had changed but he was very rude, even almost laughing at us as we tried expressing what we believe. I started crying because I was so frustrated, mad, sad, disappointed, etc. We shook his hand and walked away. In that moment I remembered what Mark Calvin told me before the mission...that there would be days, hours, or even minutes in which I would experience the whole range of emotions...and that I should enjoy every minute of it. I will be honest, I could not really enjoy it in the moment. We got to the house of Mayra, and her husband was there. He could tell something was wrong and I explained what happened and started crying again. He tried consoling us and reminded me that the hard parts of the mission are what make the sweet parts even sweeter. I tried not to cry too much and just reminded myself that two people would be baptized today. One family will be on their way to being eternal. Mayra showed up a little bit later and the Elders came for the interview.
In the end, people, everyone has their agency. And if it hurt me that much to see someone blatantly deny that he felt the spirit and the truthfulness of the gospel, I can't even imagine how Heavenly Father feels. Agency is the worst. Just kidding...it is the best and I love knowing that I can choose for myself, but it is just hard to see people not use their agency in the right way.
BUT...the day ended beautifully. The baptism went great. Both Mayra and Luis were so prepared and so excited. I was very happy because they had invited their families, and people came to support them! Luis even invited a friend from work that he wants us to start teaching! They both expressed their testimonies and feelings at the end, and both of them said that they couldn't explain exactly how they felt, but that they felt happier than they ever had in their lives.
I wish I had a picture of Luis the first day I met him so that you could see the total difference that has taken place. He looks like a totally different person. He was glowing. It is such a privilege to be a missionary because I have the amazing opportunity to help people change for good. The change in Luis was huge. I have never had an investigator who had a big problem with the Word of Wisdom. It was so hard in the beginning, but it was amazing to see the change that took place. It was worth the struggle that we had because now he is super strong and excited to stay on the right path.
Yesterday they were both confirmed members of the church. Luis asked about getting a Book of Mormon with a D&C and PofGP and said 'I can have one now because I'm a member!' haha...little did he know he could have had one before, too! I didn't tell him that, though. :)
I can't believe that I will hit one year IN MEXICO tomorrow. Some days I think...I live in Mexico. When did this happen? I am so eternally grateful for the decision I made to come on the mission. I have learned so much and I love being able to help others come unto Christ. I know this is the church of Jesus Christ. I KNOW that He lives. I am so grateful to have His name over my heart every day as I try to be a worthy representative of Him.
I love you all. I hope you have a wonderful week.