Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last week of my first transfer!

This email is going to be shorter, because the week was shorter, our last p-day was on Wednesday. Next time you hear from me I might be in another area, I might have another companion, I might not even be at the Visitors' Center, any number of combinations. This Saturday is when we will find out about transfers, who's staying, going, etc. All the sisters have been saying that this is going to be one of the craziest transfers. There are 4 new Spanish speaking sisters coming in, which means some of those who were training this transfer will be training again. The older sisters think that a lot of us greenies will be going full-field next transfer. I guess we will all find out in less than a week.

This past Thursday we had exchanges so I was companions with Hna. Mancilla for 24 hours. She is companions with my MTC comp, Hna. Cochran, and they are in the area next to ours. She came into my area for the day and Hna. Blades went to an area in downtown Mesa. It was interesting to see how different sisters work, but I enjoyed it. A lot of the new sisters were terrified to be with a new companion, especially because your first transfer you stay in your area so you are the one in charge. Hna. Blades and I went on splits the week before, however, so I got the being terrified over with then.

One of the best things about the mission is seeing the change in our investigators. There is a mother and daughter who are investigating together, Leonor and Herlin. Herlin is only 17 but has a three month old son. They have been investigating for a few months and have been challenged for baptism a few times but each time they said they weren't ready, they didn't feel like they knew enough, etc. When we went on exchanges Hna. Blades went to visit them and while there Leonor said "well, I don't think that we can get baptized." Hna. Blades asked why they thought that and she said that because neither she nor her daughter Herlin were married, but they had children. I guess that she had been harboring a lot of guilt over that. Hna. Blades explained that we were aware that Herlin wasn't married and yet had a son, and that we were still inviting them to be baptized. She explained about the atonement and while they still haven't accepted baptism, we have seen a great change come over Leonor. She has been coming to church for weeks but last Sunday was the first time she had dressed up. They are diligently keeping the other commitments we have given them, so we know that they will be ready for baptism soon.

On exchanges Thursday I went and saw another one of our investigators and her husband. We watched the Testaments with Mirna and Eliseo, the one who is miraculously recovering quickly from third-degree burns. After the movie we started talking to her and asking about a Relief Society activity she had gone to the night before. We were unable to go because we were in the VC but it was a "spiritual banquet" and everyone that we have talked to loved it. Mirna started crying when she was telling us about it. She has been dealing with a lot of stress over the past weeks because of Eliseo's accident. There were many days when she honestly didn't know if he was going to live, and she was worried about what would happen to her and her young son. This stress has been giving her a lot of tension in her neck and back and she wakes up every morning in a lot of pain. Yet through it all she has tried to stay strong and keep it inside. At the activity, one of the sisters in our ward came up to her and starting rubbing her back (there was definitely some prompting from the Spirit involved) and talking to her to see how she was doing. Throughout the evening, she said that the Spirit she felt was so strong and gradually the tension went away and was replaced with peace. Thursday morning was the first morning in a long time that she had woken up with our any pain. Her husband was crying as well while she was telling us this. I know that they are spiritually ready for baptism, they have so much faith and I think they always have, but now that we have helped them know where to direct that faith, and what their faith should inspire them to do, they have grown a lot. Since the Spirit has gotten them spiritually ready for baptism, now we have to help them get physically ready. Mirna is married in Mexico and before they can get baptized they need to get married and before they can get married she has to get divorced (this is the same thing we are waiting for with la familia Mestre). At least we already know a lawyer who deals with this type of situation and our Branch President can start to work on that. Then there is also the wait until Eliseo has healed enough to go completely under water. I will keep you all updated on how things are going, but we sure would appreciate your prayers for our investigators. Oh, one more thing about the miracle of Eliseo. His right arm is really the only place that will stay scarred, as it is completely burned to the third degree. After we had been talked about the activity, Mirna was talking about his recovery. I was so suprised when I heard some of it. Since his arm was so severely burned it was pronounced dead, the nerves, circulation, everything, so with dead limbs the thing to do is, of course, amputate. They called Mirna to get her permission to amputate it. She gave her permission but said that if there was anything they could do to save it then of course she would prefer that. From what I understood this was early in the morning so we think this happened right before she called us and asked us at 3 in the morning and asked us to pray for Eliseo. The nurse later called Mirna and said that in the operating room, while he was on the operating table and they were ready to amputate, something happened and his arm reacted! It hadn't done that before, which is why they had pronounced it dead. When that happens it is the policy to retest and reobserve the limb for 24 hours before continuing with the amputation. Sure enough the blood started flowing in his arm again, he gained his strength in his muscles again, and even though the ends of the nerves are burnt he can still feel. This really has been even more of a miracle than we had previously thought.

We saw Juan again last night, with another member of our ward. He hadn't read the chapter we had given him in the Book of Mormon yet, so we read a little with him. Mostly we just let him and Hno. Reyna talk. He had many more questions as usual, but you cannot deny that he feels the Spirit while we are there. He was trying not to cry for part of the lesson. I think that he has been hardened by his life. He has had to build up a wall of protection around his emotions and when we are there are the Spirit is touching his heart, well I think that is something very new to him. After we left Hno. Reyna commented on what a great man he is. I know that he will get baptized one day and he will be a strong and immovable member, you can just tell.

I went back through and skimmed over some of my past emails. Sorry I repeat myself so much! I didn't even realize it, but sometimes it is probably deja vu on your end when you read the same thing 2 or 3 weeks in a row! I will really try to be better at that.

I said in one of my first emails that I would talk about some of the exhibits that we have at the VC, and I haven't been very good with that so I'll describe one now. We have a little corner that we call the Neighborhood. There are 3 little houses with TV screens on them and kiosks in front of them. You can watch some of the church commercials, watch President Hinckley read the Proclamation to the World, or watch grown-ups or kids answer some gospel questions. My favorite is when the kids are answering the question "What happens to us when we die?" There is a clip of a little girl and all she does is look at the camera, shrug, and then point up. It is so cute and I laugh almost everytime I see it. I don't think I've watched any of the ones with grown-ups; those aren't nearly as fun to watch. There are a few problems with the neighborhood however. First of all, some of the computers will turn off randomly and we have to get engineering to come down from the temple and fix them. Also, because it is set up like a little street front, we have a lot of kids that want to climb over the wall and see if they can go in the houses, or they want to play with the stuffed animal cats or dogs on the front steps. Parents are usually pretty good about keeping the kids off though, which is saying a lot because many of the parents assume that we have been called and set apart as babysitters, not as missionaries. Elder Burke even had to send around a letter to be read in all of the wards in the area, saying that children were not to be dropped off at the VC unattended. You would be surprised at how many drop their young children off in the vc while they go to the temple. We have a sign on the back doors saying the same, that children must be accompanied by someone at least 16 years old, and yet we see parents outside after they have read the sign, tell their 10 or 11 year old "if anyone asks, just tell them you are 16." If Sister Burke sees it she has no qualms about running outside after the parents, or calling the temple and having them find the parents if they aren't already in a session.

Some crazy stuff happens at the VC. Oh my gosh, I almost forgot the crazy story that happened last week! There was a woman who I think just walked into the temple, wanting to learn more (it happens a lot, especially with temples that have a VC). When the brothers inside explained a little bit and helped her out, she found a member and began to ask her a lot of questions. Just then 2 of the sisters on shift walked by and after talking to her a little they brought her into the VC. Hna. Blades took her into an exhibit called God's Plan for His Family and at the end, stayed in the last room and talked with her a bit. (I'm going to tell this from my perspective) There is one entrance to God's Plan which is open, and then the exit is closed by a door. I was standing in the back of the VC close to the entrance. All of a sudden this woman comes running back through the entrance of God's Plan followed by Hna. Blades. She runs outside and since we can't leave without a companion Hna. Blades yells for me to come with her. She tells Hna. Blades not to come close and she says thats find, she just wants to finish talking with her. She invites her to have the missionaries come teach her more but the woman says not right now, but that she would take a card. While Hna. Blades runs inside to get every pass-along and referral card we have, the woman comes up to me at the door, asks my name and says that she would like to shake my hand. I hold out my right hand and when she shakes it with her left hand she drops a twenty dollar bill in my and and runs back to the fountain before I could give it back. We try to explain to her that we can't take it she says that she won't take anything from us unless we put it on the ground and walk away. So we put the money (she had given Hna. Blades some too) and the cards on the ground, she grabs the cards, throws the money (a total of 80 dollars) into the VC and then runs away! I guess that what happened at the beginning is that after talking with Hna. Blades in God's Plan she told her she wanted to thank her for how well she had explained everything and reahes in her bag (Hna. Blades thought she was going to pull out a Catholic pamphlet or something) and threw 60 dollars on the floor of God's Plan and runs out. That is where I caught the story. It was really funny. We gave the 80 dollars to the Director with the story, and he has it in case she ever comes back. She was a funny lady and I am sure that is just the beginning of the crazy stories I will have on my mission!

De Mesa con amor,
Hermana Ladd

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