Monday, May 19, 2014

Santa Maria








May 12, 2014

My Dear Family,
What an amazing time we had yesterday!  Right? She is talking about when we Skyped with her on Sunday.

This week was... interesting.  My companion was pretty much dead 4.5 days - throwing up all day, everyday (hence the reason for our crazy adventure Friday with diesel in a mini-van).  I did ten contacts this week... uhhh....  We sure got to know each other this week, my companion and I.  As happens with each of my dearly beloved companions, she got to a point in which she developed enough trust in me to open up and tell me her life story.  You would not believe the stories I have heard from my latina companions.  It`s just... unbelievable sometimes the things that they have passed through.  How GOOD we have it where we live, how nearly PERFECT our family is, how BLESSED we are to live together and go to church and read and pray and have family home evening together and pay our tithing and have the Spirit and serve our neighbors and our Savior.
This week will be the first of what I mentioned yesterday.  A revolution for Santa Maria.
50% baptizing.  50% reactivating.  It`s a little crazy.  It`s actually really crazy.  But it just might work.  And so we`re going to try it with all of the faith that we can muster.  Santa Maria is desperate for something.  It`s time to try something new.  Just baptizing won`t get us anywhere, because they WILL NOT stay active in this branch unless the members step it up a bit and decide to work.  We`ll have to see what happens with changes this Monday.  I`m wondering if he will change my companion... or me.  I don`t THINK so, but I`m not sure.
Either way, as some of you mentioned in your emails, I am happy.  So very happy.  So filled with joy.  Being a missionary brings the greatest joy that one can possibly find here on earth.  And the greatest part is that we don`t have to be "Called to Serve."  When each person is baptized, they make a promise to work EVERY SINGLE DAY of their lives to take upon them the name of Christ.  And that`s the beauty of the Sacrament.  That each Sunday He reminds us as we repent.
There`s one more part from my interview with President that I would like to share.  As you know from previous letters, Satan plays with our minds.  Telling us we are unworthy, telling us we don`t deserve our positions, that we shouldn`t be serving a mission, that we don`t have the right to teach and to bear the name of Jesus Christ and to represent Him.  Because it sure is hard to represent Him. He`s awfully perfect.  And I`m awfully not.  So, I felt bad.  I felt unworthy.  Unfortunately, I let him get to me.  And when I entered the room with my president and he asked me if there was anything I would like to talk about, I said yes.  After I opened my heart to him, he looked at me with such love and said "Sister Thomas, I`m not sure if the things you have mentioned are even sins!"  I had to laugh.    And I felt for so long that as I repented, the Lord was not forgiving me.  He helped me to see that it was actually me not forgiving me.  He taught me what I can do to feel the "miracle of forgiveness" in my life and help others to find it as well.  It was awesome.  And there above his head was a giant picture of Christ and I felt so relieved and like He was just loving me and forgiving me and so merciful. And I love Him. And I am so happy. 
Here is an excerpt from President`s letter to the mission today. It`s true.  

"Some missionaries work hard preaching the gospel and feel great joy and happiness.  Other missionaries work hard preaching the gospel but feel little joy and happiness.  Unless a missionary has a mental/emotional condition masking their feelings, such as depression, most missionaries who find little joy and happiness preaching the gospel need to increase their love of the Lord and of other people in order to find the joy and happiness.  When we do things out of love, joy and happiness come.  If we do things only to obtain numbers, position, the praise of others, or to say that we completed a mission, we will probably experience little joy or happiness."


With great love,
Sister Thomas

I asked about the van adventure and this was an additional email she sent.

It was so crazy!  Did I not tell you yesterday?  Oh and Sister Arroyo said Happy Mother`s Day. I forgot to tell you.  I meant to put this story in the main letter.  All was well Friday for interviews, my companion was finally feeling better so afterwards we went to lunch across the street.  She ate a giant plate of spaghetti and 5 minutes later threw EVERYTHING up.  I begged Sister Essig for either them or the assistants to take us home.  She agreed, seeing the unfortunate state of my companion and knowing she would not make it home in the micro (it`s basically the knight bus from Harry Potter but worse).  So we jumped in the back of the van and went to fill up with gas.  Got to a shell. The elder called the office to find out what kind to put in... and the office made a mistake.  3 minutes later we were on the road and the car died... giving us just enough time to pull into the church.  But now we had no money because we had spent everything the four of us had in filling up on gas because they never except credit cards anywhere here!  So we called the zone leaders who live near by and the four of them pushed the car through a crazy round about and rush hour traffic to the gas station where we waited for several hours as they tried unsuccessfully to fix it.  At one point, gas erupted all over Elder Jenson`s suit. It was all just so crazy.  In the end, a near by bishop came to the rescue, towed us to his house, and worked for several more hours taking the gas out and re-filtering the system until we could get on the road at about 10:30 at night.  The poor assistants got home to Santiago at 1 in the morning.  It was nuts.  And so fun.


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