Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Tough week!

This week was hard in a lot of ways, but mostly physically. I was in the hospital pretty much all day Thursday being tested for various things, and everything came back negative. So the pain I've been having is, as of now, unexplained. But I'm moving forward. I know the Lord will support and sustain me until we can figure out what's wrong! But over the weekend I lost 5 pounds, so that's awesome haha. (We'll update everyone when we know what's wrong, right now she needs your prayers that the doctors can find the cause of the pain and address it!)

Her sweet companion did all she could to lift her spirits even thought she was in pain and got her smiling for pictures.

It's weird that over a fourth of my mission is already done. It goes by so fast!

I was "called" in the zone as the zone pianist and music coordinator :P  Everyone's been given a different responsibility and way to help uplift everyone else, so the unity is tighter and it's nice to rely on each other in that way.  Also musically, Elders McKee and Carter taught Noche de Hogar on Monday and asked me to do a musical number. So I figured out the chords to "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" and tried to improvise it ... it did not work out very well, in large part because I didn't think about the fact that I would need to read the Spanish lyrics at the same time haha. But the spirit was there, so that's what's really important!

Luis made some amazing progress this week. On Monday, he came to Noche de Hogar (Family Home evening). He's already come twice before, but what was so amazing about it is that he didn't come to the lesson. Let me explain - he got home late from work, and so often he's always complaining about being too tired to go to things after he comes home, that he just gets to his apartment and rests, veging out in front of the TV. Well, Monday, without any pushing from us or anyone else, he got home, immediately changed, and came to Noche de Hogar as soon as he could! He chatted with the members, and we were able to have a short lesson about el Dia de Reposo (the Sabbath Day) and the importance of church attendance. He was truly happy to be there, and it was fun to see him starting to feel more and more comfortable as part of the branch family (even though he's not baptized ... yet :P) On Tuesday we had a lesson with him where we continued to read the introduction of the Book of Mormon. We had a long discussion about the Joseph Smith quote about the Book of Mormon being the most correct book on the earth, because he initially said, "No me gusto," feeling like Joseph Smith was lessening the value of the Bible. So we talked about how they support one another, and how the Book of Mormon isn't enough on it's own, and the quote isn't saying it's more important than the Bible. It helped him feel some clarity and peace on the subject. Then, as we were about to end the lesson, he brought up a bunch of really personal questions and concerns. He's opening up a lot more than before, and he really wants to hear the answers from us. It's amazing how with so many of the things he's asking, we have no personal experience whatsoever, but the spirit can lead us to the things he needs to hear from the scriptures and from our own mouths. The spirit was incredibly strong that night, and after he said the closing prayer he kept looking down at the ground for a couple of minutes before he looked up, a smile on his face, and said, "The feeling gets stronger every time. Do you feel it?" I couldn't help beaming at him, and I just said softly, "Si." It's amazing to see him actually recognizing the spirit, but just feeling it!  And then, we saw an amazing miracle! He's always so hesitant to commit to going to activities and things, but as we were leaving Hna Cedeño suddenly asked him if he would come to a baptism with us on the 29th (this Saturday). I was sure he was going to say no, or at least need a lot of convincing, but he immediately said, "Seguro que si." It was so amazing! He wants to go to the baptism, and we know the spirit will be so strong there! Hna Cedeño confirmed with him last night that he'll be going, and he said yes.  Continue to pray for him!

 Also, remember Luis, the less-active we've been working with? Well, on Wednesday he told us he wants to start taking mission prep classes!! We were both sooooooo happy!! I know he would be an amazing missionary because of everything he's gone through, so we're going to continue to work with and support him. It was an amazing miracle, and something that definitely lifted my spirits. Those are pretty much the highlights from the week. There's been a lot more resting than I'd like, but I know it's better to rest a bit than push myself over the edge. I've received a lot of direction and comfort from the spirit about that through my scripture study.

Another quick note I wrote down to share - on Wednesday we had Family Home Afternoon as a zone and went to a member's house, the Porters. Mom, it was decorated EXACTLY how you decorate. The house even resembled our first Jersey house. She had the same pitcher, even! Also, she collects nativities, and they have a ton of things displayed from their world travels. So I basically felt like I was home. It was a little weird, and definitely made me miss you and want to see your fall decorations!!

So, it's been a hard week, but the Lord is always there! I've been telling so many people about how we can find joy in the midst of our trials, and now is my chance to really put that into practice. I'm choosing to be joyful and push through! One thing that stuck out to me this week was from my Patriarchal Blessing, which I'm reading a lot more often. It blesses me to keep the Word of Wisdom that I may be healthy and strong, and then adds, "That strength may be called upon in future years." I received a strong witness that this is one of those times that that strength is being tested. I know that as I strive to take care of my body the Lord will give me strength and support!

I was also reading a lot of scriptures about missionaries in the ancient church and all the trials and suffering they went through. One example is Paul - he was beaten and thrown into jail unjustly so many times. In Acts 21, immediately after a crowd tried to kill him, he turns around and starts preaching to them. He didn't let the pain stop him from fulfilling his calling to preach the gospel, and felt love and compassion for people even when they were literally trying to take his life. It's an amazing example of perseverance and dedication to missionary work.  Ammon, Aaron, Alma, Amulek, and so many other Book of Mormon missionaries had so many struggles as well. Alma 17:11 stood out to me: "And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites [or the people of Gilbert, AZ], thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." They were patient in their sufferings, and pressed forward with faith, which is exactly what I am going to do. When I was in the temple on Saturday, the Lord also gave me direction, guidance, and peace with D&C 10:4 - "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means ... but be diligent unto the end." So I'm going to be diligent :)

Love you!

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