And the conclusion is……not getting transferred!! Or married (to
the several proposals I had this week–ha!)
Woohoo! I am so grateful and excited to be staying exactly where I am
with my stinkin awesome companion, Hermana Card!!! I love the Bronx. I
never want to leave. It is so beautiful and crazy and fun and busy and
Ok–the Lord lives and loves us. Do you even realize that?! He does!!
The one who created us, who designed the universe, the all-knowing GOD
is our Father!! And he loves us!! Unconditionally and ferociously. And
I just feel so humbled by that. Wow. My heart leapt within me as I
listened to all the conference talks and speakers bear witness of
Thomas S. Monson as the Lord’s prophet today and of Joseph Smith. But
my heart broke a little as I wondered why this, of all messages, was
being delivered over and over again. This God, this true and loving
God, is ours! He is my king!! And it breaks my heart to think that
people are not remembering that He is real and loves us and is trying
to speak to us (through His prophets) and we aren’t paying attention!
Ahh! Pay attention, people! This is eternal life we’re talking about.
This is eternal joy and hope and glory and beauty for eternity!
Alright, miracles happened this week. They always happen, but my eyes
are just opening up more and more to the grace and goodness and mercy
of God each day. It’s incredible. We are continuing to make progress
down here, visiting a lot of less active members, and meeting
absolutely incredible investigators along the way!
We had so many lessons fall through this week. I think this is normal,
but we have just had such a rocking and blessed 6 weeks, it was kind
of new and a bummer to be cancelled on and juked over and over. But
the Lord has a plan and He has blessed us so much as we tried our best
to make back up plans for our back plans and stay busy and work.
Here are a few highlights:
We decided to go to Maria’s house for a visit. She is the ROCKIN 92
year old. I was really excited about the lesson, and it went haywire
when her husband came home. We were so stoked to meet him! But I
remember exactly how I felt when he walked in the room. I was
expecting the other half or this sweet, little, temple-going, faithful
sister. In walked a man–little, yes–but full of darkness. It was
tangible and eerie and so…unfamiliar. I kept looking at him to see
why I was distracted and didn’t feel good–was it his dark skin,
extreme underbite, skinniness? No, it was the darkness inside of him.
I remember it so clearly, it was tangible, it was legitimate. It was
frightening. We were reading in Moses and talking about how Satan came
to tempt Moses (we were going to discuss how Moses had to tell the
adversary to “get thee hence” three times). He sat down with us, and
immediately started disputing all our words. He was arguing that there
was no devil, only our own negativity. He went off on all his own
“philosophies” as he called them and cut us off every time we tried to
jump in. He was sealed in the temple to his wife, and they’ve been
married for 66 years, and I always wondered why I never saw him at
church. I think it is totally fine to have thoughts and questions and
wonderings, but the way he presented them and argued with us so
“innocently”…it made my mouth taste sour and I felt the Spirit
That was the worst part of anything. I felt the Spirit go. And without
that, I am completely defenseless! The Spirit is what brings the
words, what makes you not be confounded, what protects us. And to be
completely honest, maybe it left me. I couldn’t understand all of his
words (he was using philosophical terms, which I don’t know in
Spanish), so I felt like I didn’t know what exactly was going on for
sure. But I didn’t feel good. He and his wife started arguing about
this and I felt so guilty–the lesson was my idea, if the missionaries
hadn’t come then there wouldn’t be an argument between this couple,
if, if, if.
It is AMAZING how fast the adversary can get in if you let him.
Amazing. Within 5 minutes, I felt overwhelmed by darkness. It was
right in my face. And I wanted to get out, but I didn’t want to be
rude or misjudge the situation (I couldn’t fully understand). But this
isn’t the spirit. This was the adversary. I remember thinking about
this as I sat in the little chair in their living room/bedroom/kitchen
looking at the giant tiger blanket on their bed, and then almost
laughing out loud as I began to see right through this falsity, this
mirage that Satan had so quickly laid before me. How quick I was to be
discouraged! I traced my feelings of sadness and discouragement and
they all came from the adversary via the blasphemy this man brought.
He brought darkness, and I felt confused. Darkness is confusion, only.
So if you are ever confused–like really deeply, not just about a math
concept or something–there is darkness afoot. Approach with caution
and DO NOT proceed until you have applied James 1:5 and go to the
source of all truth and ask. I didn’t do this in this situation. I felt
intimidated and a little weak in my ability to counter his arguments
with my Spanish. But I have leaned that I should have. And
therefore, I will do so next time. And I will keep my chin up.
The worst part was how my heart broke as Maria and her husband argued,
and at one point, Maria went off about how she prays so hard everyday
on her knees for her children to come back to church. She got all
teary and shaky and when she said “rodillos” I wanted to cry with her
as I pictured this 92 year old woman pleading with her Father for her
family on her knees. It was so sad. She was talking about her kids,
yes, but I know she was weeping for her husband–so lost in darkness.
How grateful I am for Hermana Card. She took a moment between his
breaths and the argument between Maria and him to say that we needed
to go and that she was going to give her testimony. She did so, and it
was so simple. She said that God lives, and as soon as she said that,
I felt the Spirit return and bear witness. God does live. He DOES
live. I know it.
This brought a whole new meaning to the verse in James that led Joseph
Smith to ask of God. When we lack wisdom, we are to ask God. Do not
rely on secular sources to answer your questions. Spiritual
questions deserve spiritual answers. Go to the
source of all truth. Go to God. Ask him, and he will tell you–he
“giveth to all men liberally.” He will not upbraid. He will answer you!
And if you seek elsewhere, you will get lost in the
philosophies of man. “But as for me and my house, I will serve the
Lord.” It was an incredible learning experience, especially when he
practically recited the verse that says “all is well in Zion, for
there is no devil.”
Go to God. Only. And come to know for yourself.
The Lord blessed us with many with opportunities to serve. For example, the
elders asked us to teach the Bible class at a local adult day care…
The adult day care was awesome!! So funny and just so random. We
taught Matthew 3-4 and the class was us outside with three ladies, all
with cigarettes on the table and lighters in hand. After our short
class, we went back into the building, and this awesome Mark
Anthony song –I think it’s called “Vivir Mi Vida”–was playing and all
these sick people were dancing together! It was so funny. I wanted
to break it down and DANCE–no wonder we can’t listen to that on our
After that, we headed to Daisy’s for our lesson and when we got there
she didn’t really have too much time–or rather she had too many
distractions today. Her house is being repaired (where the holes are),
so there are workmen in and out and it’s loud. This was kind of a
bummer, but it was good because she said how she doesn’t want there to
be distractions or problems. So that means she is serious. We gave her
a picture of Christ to remind her of the covenant she is going to make
with God and the commitment she has made now to prepare to be
baptized. She held it close. It was darling. I really love Daisy.
After Daisy that day, we went to a visit with Yenifer. She wasn’t
there–the first time ever. So we waited a minute, called and left a
message, then decided to go somewhere else. Right when we got to the
bus stop, she called us and told us she saw us leaving (we were
walking a block or two ahead of her) and she said to come over. So, we
did. Ha, trial of faith! Anyway, we got in and chatted for a second
and then she said something like, “Alright, we’ll start. You’ll say
the prayer and we’re going to talk about how I can receive power and
help from God in my problems and afflictions.” Whoa. Did she have a
question prepared or what?! She even brought up fasting! Whoo! So we
talked about that. I thought it was great, even though I wasn’t very
prepared with anything to answer her question. But we had a nice
discussion and bore testimony. She needs to pray and read the
scriptures. She just needs to do it. It will bless her so much! We say
it over and over, but every one of us slips.
But prayers and scripture study is everything!
Miracle: After Yennifer, we hurried to Cesearia’s for dinner (like
every Friday night). It a so awesome and the Lord blessed us because
we always wait at least 15 minutes for the bus to get to her
apartment, which then takes an additional 20 to get there (usually).
That is if we take the normal bus. But if we are lucky enough to
catch the limited bus–which makes fewer stops and therefore is
faster–it takes us about 8-10 minutes to get there. When we saw the
bus stop, the 36 bus was there!! A miracle. And then, the lights
turned red, so we could cross the streets. It was perfect!! The Lord is
so good!! We ran a block ahead, then ran across the street and just
made it perfectly. It was probably so funny to see these two white
girls running down the sidewalk and then crossing super quick, while
trying to get our bus passes out of our bags. Oh man, it was such a good
time. Victory! Bronx: 374 Hermanas: 32. Boo yah.
We looked up another investigator, Marcia, when one of our
appointments fell through. She immediately invited us in and showed us all of the plants she has in her
house–tomatoes, peppers, all types of herbs, strawberries, cilantro,
etc. It was so awesome. I love that! It was kind of a bummer because
we, again, couldn’t really get a word in, but when there was a pause,
I was sure to try to rein it back in to gospel principles. It was
semi-successful. It was a great experience, though, to be warmly
greeted by a total stranger and to bear testimony to her. I really
want her to come to church, but she insisted that she couldn’t because
she doesn’t have any nice clothes and “[does] not want the Lord to see
[her] that way.” That kind of broke my heart–that she doesn’t have
any nice clothes, but mostly that she thinks she can’t come to church
because she doesn’t have them. I told her that the Lord does not care
what she looks like because he loves her unconditionally. She smiled
and said that she knows, but her mother taught her to always go to
church looking her best, and she didn’t have the money right now to
look her best. But she did promise us that she would come–she didn’t
say when exactly–but she promised she would come. I hope she does–we
will go over there and bring her!
Between conference sessions on Saturday, we had our investigators
bail on coming with us. This stunk. It did. We went over to Daisy’s
between sessions because we didn’t know she wasn’t coming, and she
told us that there was a shooting in the apartment upstairs (she lives
in the sketchiest of sketchy project buildings) the night before.
Someone shot their little boy and killed him. That breaks my heart. We
are going to bring the priesthood over ASAP to get her a blessing and
to strengthen and protect her home. The Lord protects us so much;
danger is always so close, but with Him at our side, we are always
protected. He is so real and mindful and careful and gentle with us. I
am so grateful to him for all the protection we have and with which we
Conference was awesome. The theme this time seemed to be prophets and
revelation. Protecting the sacred name of the prophet and having
testimony that he and the other leaders of the church are, indeed,
called of God. It was very powerful. I have a testimony that they are
called of God. I know it. I love them and I long for their words. An
apostle today said, “Do not take your love for the prophet and
apostles lightly. It is a gift from God and evidence of the realities
of their callings.” That is so true! How could I love them so, so
much without even knowing them or meeting them? Only through the power
of the Holy Ghost and the gift of love, I have received a witness of
their callings as prophets of God.
My heart is so full to the Lord, my God, for the gift of tongues and
the interpretation of tongues. Seriously–my mind is blown, often
during lessons, when I am speaking and using more advanced grammar
without even realizing. It is incredible and I know it is Him. I have
been approaching my studies this week with the prayer in my heart that
if I work hard in my studies, use all my time to study and work, and
really try to learn the gospel and the language through the Spirit,
that the Lord will be more inclined to bless me. Or rather, I will be
more receptive to the blessing that He is trying to grant me. He is so
good!! He is so loving and kind. I am so grateful to Him for all He
has given me. I want to understand more, and I know that as I do, my
heart will grow and be even more full. I just love the gospel! It is
so true. Truly, “in this there is safety, in this there is peace.”
We decided to drop in on an investigator, Eldemira, and have a lesson.
She is so awesome. She insisted on feeding us and made us sandwiches
with ham, cheese, and butter. Ha–I love that butter is so big here.
We shared Heleman 5:12 with her and testified of Jesus Christ as our
rock and savior. She believes in Christ and loves Mormons–especially
the missionaries. She really had only good things to say as she went
on and on about how we serve and live and don’t condemn and are kind
etc. She really went on and on. I was so excited because I thought she
would want to get baptized or come to church, but no–neither, in
fact. She made it very clear that she doesn’t go to church, but she
loves to listen to the messages. This is always so hard; many people
think that just believing is good and serving at home is fine. And it
totally is! But they restrict themselves to the downpour of blessings
the Lord is raining down on them when they do this. It’s like an
umbrella (President Uchtdorf said this in the Women’s Conference last
week). It makes me sad. But I am grateful that I got to meet her. She
really liked me and Hermana Card. She told me, specifically, several
times how she wants her son to marry me. He is 36 and she went and got
him from his room to come meet us. Ha! She brought up her hopes of our
marriage I think 5 or 6 times. Ha! Thanks. But it was
nice I guess because she said that she wants that because (besides
calling me white and beautiful a lot) we are good and modest and clean
and don’t have pounds of makeup on and are genuine. It was very sweet.
But…no thanks (ha!).
Miracle: a few days ago, after some less active lookups, we found
ourselves with two options: we could have gone back up to Grand
Concourse to walk down 7 blocks and then turn right to go down a
street, or we could continue down the street and walk along Gerard,
which is less busy but with which we are less familiar, and walk 7 blocks
down and then turn left up the street. I randomly felt like suggesting
the latter. And so we went.
As we walked, we passed a group of people passing the opposite way and
smiled and said hi. One of them stopped and said, “Oh my gosh! Elders!
I have NEVER in my life seen female elders!” She went on and was
literally yelling by the time she was referring to us (we were
talking) and as we stopped and turned, we saw a large black woman
exclaiming to the world that we were female elders (bless her heart).
She started walking toward us, and we started walking to her–with
caution because we’ve found out that, indeed, tons of people know
about the missionaries, and many of these people are totally
insane/crazy. But she wasn’t. Nope, she is AWESOME. Her name is
Kimberlah. She goes by Kim and has a booming voice and big, beautiful
teeth. She is awesome! She walked right up to us and shook our hands
and told us that she used to get taught by the elders and was about
“this close” (as she held her hand up to demonstrate a centimeter) to
getting baptized. She told us how she “even went to the temple down
there in D.C.” And how she “got right down there and touched that
beautiful wall.” She was so golden. We got her information and she
just went off about how her life was so much better when she read the
Book of Mormon and had the missionaries over and everything. She asked
for pamphlets on Joseph Smith (I only had Spanish). When I brought up
General Conference, she brought her hand to her forehead and said, “I
missed the conference?! I can’t believe it!” She has been living in
Manhattan and just moved to the Bronx 5 weeks ago. She said that she
thinks God is trying to show her a sign because she has seen the
missionaries about 4 times and how she felt like she needed to go into
a store two times on this street (Gerard), but she didn’t know why.
“And now I know! I was supposed to bump into you girls!” (Talking
about the timing of our encounter). I felt the same exact way.
Oh, I felt like my heart would burst. I am so grateful! It was so
awesome. The English missionaries are meeting with her. Oh, the Lord
is so good!
The Lord lives. That’s all I have to say about that. He loves us. And
He is always the answer. Seek Him–it’s not hard–and I promise, as He
did, that you will find Him.