154 Days To Go!!
Bren- HOLY GORGEOUS! You look awesome! (Sent some prom pictures of Bren)
Jess- Congrats on the PERMIT!! SO awesome! (Jessie passed her permit test this week)
Justin- Finish strong kiddo. How`s your book of mormon reading? Don`t tell me I'm beating you? (She and Justin are having a Book of Mormon competition. I'm sure she is winning!)
After church, I am going to do the best I can to talk at 3:30 my time. My only problem is that I have to talk before 5. But don`t panic. If something happens, President likes me. He`ll help me out. This week, I called him with a question and as I was about to hang up he said, "Oh wait, Sister Thomas?" "Yes?" "I was thinking about you today. I think you ought to know that you are doing an excellent job. We could sure use more Sister Thomases in this mission." So that was cool.
It has been a fascinating week, as always, here in lovely Santa Maria. Thank you all for your letters. I can`t tell you how happy I am when I see that all of you have written me! Even if it`s just one little line. I live for it. This week I was frustrated and feeling a little... broken? I didn`t know what to do. And felt an extreme amount of pressure... nothing new... but still. I felt like the future of Santa Maria was weighing on my shoulders... and I felt pretty lonely. It`s true, many many people receive us... once. And then we never find them again or they commit to be baptized because I`m blonde or because they didn`t understand the message or because they feel bad saying no. And then they commit to go to church. And never get there. It`s all the same as normal, of course, but on top of it, this sector is EXTREMELY fragile, such that even if I had investigators progressing, I wouldn`t feel comfortable baptizing them, because nobody would care. And the members would leave them out and they would go inactive in about two seconds. I go to talk with the branch president, excited to tell him about our hard work and help him in the progress of the branch. And he doesn`t even look at me. He gets on facebook. And asks if I like to play basketball. And all the members hate each other. Again, nothing new for Chile. But I don`t know, I just felt stuck. Plus training... a 25 year old Latina. Plus I don`t sleep because I half freeze to death (p.s. sorry... I`ve sort of spent some money in things to keep me warm.) Can't believe she is apologizing for spending money to keep herself warm! It just felt like a lot. But two things happened. One, we taught a lesson to an extremely poor family. I`m talking shack with dirt floor and 10 people crammed in doing their best to warm their hands in a poorly built fire outside. They were sad and wondering why, if God exists, He would permit that their family suffered so much. And as I sat there, examining the fire as it began to die down, it came to me. Something that has come to me before, but never quite so beautifully. Carbon starts out black and dirty. But when it`s lit on fire and burns and burns, it turns white. Nothing impure can possibly enter in the kingdom of God. He will not tolerate even the slightest semblance of evil in his glory. And so we must pass through the fire, to be cleansed white, to be perfected in the blood of His son. So that our sins that were once as scarlet may become white as snow. So that our imperfections and weaknesses become strengths. So that we become perfect. Little by little God is helping me to become perfect. And someday, I will meet Him, and I will thank Him for every tiny problem, trial, challenge, however you like to call it. And I will report to Him that I overcame each one through the power of the Atonement. And He will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." And I will raise my head to look Him in the eye and will have taken upon me His countenance and He will recognize me as His daughter and welcome me home. But if I don`t take on the fire, there is no point. I will never be perfected.
And second. I got to work with Sister Arroyo for a day. Hallelujiah. It was so darn cool. I got to go back and see Nora and Exequiel and everybody else and work hard with someone who knows how to work hard. And we had a blast. The poor dear was also... DONE. She has been frustrated with some things going in in her area as well. Problemitas. But we worked things out. When I came back the next day, my companion and I talked about EVERYTHING for a very, very long time. It was great. I still feel like all is upon my shoulders. But that`s not true. The yolk falls upon the shoulders of my Savior. I`m just the tool used for the work to go forth. And if I`m obedient and open my mouth and do everything in my power to represent Him here on earth, He will open windows when all the doors have been closed.I love being a missionary. I feel that my time is passing way way way too fast. But then again, it`s not really my time, is it?
Love you all so much!!