Dearest Family and Friends,
Can you believe I've been out for 4 months already?? Time is truly crazy on a mission. I can't even believe how fast it goes!! So, I have some news about transfers. Sister Gallardo will be leaving and joining another companionship to make a trio, and Sister Stewart and I are staying here in Chamblee and we will be training a sister coming in who is waiting for her visa. Her mission call is for Ecuador, but she's here until her visa comes!!! The Lord is really loving trios in the Spanish areas! ;) I will be sure and tell you more details this week after transfers. :)
Juan....so this week we brought the first counselor in the branch presidency and his wife to a lesson with Juan. It was such an incredible lesson!! You can always count on Hermano Portillo to be bold, but loving. He did such a great job! It was such a powerful lesson. Juan reads the Book of Mormon, and he loves it. He is basically living his life like he's LDS, he just isn't baptized, and won't get baptized because he was baptized in the Catholic church. After this lesson, we asked him again about baptism and gave him a date. He said yes, but only if we kept teaching him and helped him prepare....of COURSE we will!!! It's why we are here! We were soooo excited!! All he needs to do is come to church, and he is ready!!!! I am beyond excited!!!
Exchanges....so exchanges were kind of a turning point for me on my mission. As I said last week, I stayed in Spanish by myself and my companions went English speaking. I was really nervous, but I knew the Lord would help me. I went into exchanges with a lesson that I wanted to learn. I wanted the Lord to help me see through this exchange that I CAN speak this language eventually, and that if the Lord ever needed me to train someone down the road in my mission, that I would feel like I could be there for them. so that's what I wanted to learn. Exchanges were the most amazing experience I've had on my mission so far. I now know what the gift of tongues is. The Lord didn't suddenly make me fluent for 2 days, he just simply helped me to understand Spanish, and be able to remember what I had studied. it was incredible. I really put my trust in the Lord. I am HIs instrument, and this is His work. I simply needed to put my trust in Him and let Him use me how He needed. It was amazing!!!! During the exchange we were able to do service, visit investigators, less actives, and members, and even go knocking. We found a sweet lady named Ana while we were knocking. She basically told me that she knew God sent us to her door. She actually took the Book of Mormon out of my hand and said, "can I have this? I'd like to read it." It was AMAZING!!! She has been reading the Book of Mormon, and we are going back and visiting her this week. What an amazing experience. I simply loved exchanges. I learned that this is the Lord's work, and not mine, and that if I put my trust in Him, He will do whatever necessary with me to ensure the work going forward - all I need to do is stay in tune with the spirit and be obedient and TRUST. So, exchanges were amazing!!! I think they really prepared me for this next transfer. :)
Service.....so we were able to do a LOT of service this week, which is rare. Our district was excluded from the last zone service project (apparently we were the farthest away and they didn't want the whole zone there) and the Hispanic culture isn't really good at accepting help. BUT this week we had a lady in the branch ask us to come and clean her carpet. So, Sister Creech (the STL) and I were able to go to her house and vacuum, and clean her carpets for 4 hours. It was nice to have an opportunity to serve. Hopefully she'll spread the word around the branch so that more people will ask us to come and serve!! So, since our district was excluded from the last zone service project, they found another one for just our district. So, our district and the zone leaders went to this church in Lithonia and we helped out with their "Disaster awareness seminar" thingy. At first we were just "greeters" but there wasn't a need for 12 greeters...so us sisters were asked to participate in their seminar. We sat through an hour long meeting about "Emergency Response" and then they made us participate in their "speed talk" activity. They set up two sets of chairs in circles around the room, and we just rotated in the circle and talked to a lot of the people there....it was like speed dating...but with people from various "disaster companies" I met a lady who works for Red Cross, another lady from hazardous materials company....etc. The questions were "what brought you to your organization?" "How will this seminar help your company and the community?" How on EARTH was this service? I had NO answers....I just bore my testimony and talked about being a missionary. You don't get to be a part of a disaster relief seminar everyday on your mission! ;) We then had the opportunity to serve lunch to everyone. The elders were done greeting, so they just got to sit there while us sisters wore aprons, hair nets, and gloves and served food. It was really fun!!! We helped load stuff in cars and clean up the whole event. Apparently the people who sponsor this every year always ask the missionaries to come! So, that was a great opportunity! :)
KFC miracle....so we ate at KFC one day, and there were two Hispanic families. We decided to give them pass along cards...sadly one of the families left. Then our companionship got in a small argument, and we just left the restaurant...then the spirit reminded us that we needed to give that card away. We were reluctant because we didn't have the best of feelings with each other at the moment, but we decided to do it. So we gave them the card and said, "we are misisonaries, here is our card! have a nice day!" and that was it....later that night we got a text from the KFC family!!! They said, "hey you this is the family from KFC, you gave us your card, where is your church?"" Holy cow!!! That NEVER happens. EVER. So, we are really excited to go and start teaching them!! Our testimony of pass along cards has really been strengthened!!!
So, our district leader challenged us in our next family email to share how the Lord has blessed us on our mission. So, here it goes. Where do I even begin? The lord has blessed me with many choice experiences. I get to be a part of people's conversion. It's amazing to watch. I also have the opportunity to be really close to the spirit, and see people the way God and Jesus Christ see them. I've also been blessed on my mission to realize JUST how important my family is to me. I've always loved and appreciated them....but moreso now that I've been away. The Lord has blessed me in countless ways. I can't even describe it. I am so blessed to be a missionary.