Hola hola! How is everyone?!
I have met some of the most interesting people here in the Bronx. Today we met the elders at McDonald’s to head to the hospital to give someone a blessing and an old man started talking to us. He was from Ohio, and had gone to Haiti with some missionaries a few years back. He looked really rugged, and I was surprised about his story of missionary work there. Then he dove into his life story about working as a photographer for National Geographic! Whhhaaaa?! He told us about one time when he was in Kenya following and tracking a leopard there for two weeks. He was there when she killed a warthog and carried it into a tree and then a pride of lions came and took her out and won the warthog. He went on and on–it was actually super cool. Anyway, perfect example! You never know someone’s story until you just sit down and listen. And before you know it, you are traveling through the plains of Kenya, tracking leopards and running away from lions.
Anyway, I have met some of the most dear and kind and crazy and full people of my whole life during these short months of living here. The toughest lives, the scariest crossing-the-border stories, the careers and jobs and hustling. It is rich. This whole place is so rich in culture and stories. I love it!
This week was so great, and not even for any particular reason. Just because it was great. The Lord is good and He is mindful and this earth is beautiful. Aka–great week.
We had our first zone conference this week. It was marvelous. The big over-arching theme was “Do you know the Shepherd?” That question has been with me every day since. As we thought more about that, an elder in my district mentioned a talk he read that said that this question–do you know the shepherd–can largely be answered with the degree by which you are like the Shepherd.
Wow. That hit me and added much more significance to the Primary song “I’m trying to be like Jesus.” We are all trying–or we should be, at least (ha). But why are we trying? I feel like for most of my life, I tried because my parents wanted me to, or it made me happy, or it made others happy. My eyes are open more now. I’ve spent my mission “trying to love my neighbor” and “learning to serve my friends” because I love the Lord and He is truth and happiness. And I want to share that. I want everyone to know it and feel it the way I do! But now, I have tagged on another reason -because I want to know my Shepherd. I want to know and wear and feel and have the name by which I will be called written on my heart. I want it to be a part of me. President Morgan always says, “don’t just define the Doctrine of Christ. Let the Doctrine of Christ define you.” I love that. Anyway, I am learning and growing and loving the people here in the Bronx. They are wonderful! I just want them, to know the Shepherd too. We’re all working on that one.
On Thursday we said goodbye to our dear friend, Cesaria. She is off to Honduras for the winter. I am so grateful I had the privilege of knowing her! What a strong and wonderful and incredibly sassy woman! Her testimony just burns in her eyes. Her loyalty is fierce. Her love for the Savior even stronger. We got there a little early and could help make dinner–sopa de coco, AKA the best thing I have ever eaten!! It is a soup with lots of veggies and lots of coconut milk and meat and fish. We had it with mangoo–which I got to help make in a traditional….thing…from Honduras! It was so amazing and just a wonderful night of testimony and unity in the faith. Cesaria is fiercely loyal to the Church, to her family, and to the Lord. I want to be the same.
It has been outrageously cold here. I can’t describe how cold. Just bitter and frigid. Bone-chilling. But we carry on. Let’s just say I am thankful I only have to endure one winter here 🙂
I am such a baby, ha!
We have transfers next week and still am in the big fat unknown category of what is going to happen. I am kind of nervous–I don’t even know why. But I know that I’ll be wherever the Lord wants me. And that is enough. That is where I want to be. With this transfer, I will officially be out of “training.” Ha! Imagine, they are cutting me loose! Watch out! Ha.
Juana is so wonderful and is doing well. We taught her the law of tithing this week and it was absolutely wonderful. She had questions, but her sweet little testimony just shined right out of her eyes as she finished explaining her financial situation. She finally just looked at us, smiled, and said, “but if it’s a commandment from the Lord, I suppose I’ll just have to do it.” It was so darling and sweet. She is so incredible and we are so excited to be working with her!
Also, we have been working with another investigator named Derlin. She has been very interested in every part of the gospel except baptism for a long time. We had a long day on Friday–everything fell through. It was still a super awesome day, but we were a little bummed that we couldn’t meet with anyone and the tracting didn’t go super well. We went on Facebook that night to have a lesson with Derlin, and then she practically asked us to be baptized! I don’t know what changed, but it was just so amazing. What a blessing! The Lord truly does bless us so much when we just keep trying. He blesses us in ways we can’t see and don’t understand. I love Him and I love this work.
On our split on Monday, we found our way up to a rooftop! That was so much fun. It was raining and cold, but we celebrated the win with some pictures. We have been trying to get up on some roofs for so long!
The work is good. This world is lovely and beautiful. I feel so full. Read the Book of Mormon as a family. It ALWAYS and ONLY blesses you. I love that book. I love my Savior. I know He lives, and I am trying to be like Jesus.
Have a wonderful week!