This week has been such a week of stretching myself! Woo! I am so grateful for the time the Lord has given me to mold me into the woman I need to be. I had a lot of physical, emotional and spiritual trials.
Every time I thought I couldn't go on, I would give myself to The Lord and there would be moments where I truly felt like I was being carried by Him. I hope you all can find gratitude in your hard times, because that is when you will feel Christ the most and grow closer to Him.
That is where our faith grows.
Monday night we stopped by one of our member's friend Priscila's home and it was so awesome! The woman's nanny is someone we met at a Spanish Pentecostal church we went to last week and she fed us cookies until Priscila showed up. Priscila was really excited to meet us and they made a quick dinner for us and we planned a lunch for this week!
Tuesday was incredible. It changed my mission life. We had an awesome Zone Conference filled with the spirit! We learned a new way to teach lessons in a shorter time with the pamphlets and it's awesome! The missionaries who are leaving soon had to get up at the end and bear their testimonies and I was freaking out because that's going to be me next zone conference! How did time go by so fast?? Ah! After conference we went to our dear dear friend Alisa's for dinner and we sat and made goals with her as we ate some pizza. She has made the incredible goal to go back to church Easter Sunday! I am so excited for her!!!!
Wednesday contained one of my favorite memories ever. We went and had lunch with a family from Iraq that we met last week and it was such a sweet experience. At first they weren't home so we were super bummed but as we were driving away we saw them turn into their parking lot so we turned around and met them. The grandma took us into the home and started cooking as the mom, Walla, who we just met that day, and her cute son Ibrahim carried groceries inside and refused to let us help!
Walla is so incredible. She told us about losing her husband in her broken English and it hurt my heart to listen to her story. He was killed during the war in Iraq and she found him covered in blood and dead and just cried and cried. She told us this by pretending to hold him in her arms and said the word blood as she moved her hand up and down her jacket and said the word crying three times. She said "so much crying." We asked her about where she thought he was now, according to her Muslim beliefs but she didn't understand so she told us about how she sees him in her dreams sometimes. She said he always appears so happy and sometimes he brings her gifts in her dream and she always wakes up very happy and at peace. She then used her phone to translate how sad she was that he's not here and that she misses him so much. She had many offers for marriage but she turned them down because her son is all she needs now and she moved here to America to give him a better life. When she gave me the phone I was able to type in that we believe that families are forever. I wrote that we believed that there was a way that she could see her husband again and live with him and Ibrahim forever. After it translated I watched her face as she read it and she had the biggest smile on her face and she was overcome with a feeling of peace. I just felt the spirit so sweetly testify to her that it was true- that she could see her husband again.
It was such an unforgettable moment. We had an amazing feast of food from Iraq and they tried teaching is some Arabic words which I have already forgotten! Except for goodbye- it sounds something like mouse-Hama...if I remember correctly...but they use the back of their throat to pronounce things and I'm not very good at doing that! Before we left we gave them a Book of Mormon in Arabic and they said they would read from it. Walla told us that her mom is our grandma, she is our sister, Ibrahim is our little brother and that her apartment is our home. I love that family so much! We are going back on Wednesday to make pancakes for them!
Thursday was a treat! I got to meet my distant cousin Henry Livingston that I didn't even know existed before two weeks ago! What a great kid! He's super fun to talk to! He is going to make a great missionary! I hope we don't go to war with Russia and he makes it to Moscow! If not, he'll be a great missionary anywhere!
Friday was so fun! During lunch the Bellevue Sisters called us to tell us that a woman in their ward was planning on giving all of us haircuts that day- for free! Greatest news ever! I haven't had my hair cut since Madison- a year ago! My ends would literally just fall off when I blow dry my hair because they were so dead! She cut a lot of my hair off and it feels amazing! It was so fun being with the other Sisters and getting to know them! We went to Walmart to get something for an investigator and I felt prompted to buy chocolate rainbow chip M&Ms Keebler cookies....Well we were leaving and there was a couple selling newspapers outside and their little golden haired son was sitting on a blanket in the grass and I felt like i needed to give him the cookies. His face LIT UP and he shouted, "I love M&Ms!!!" The joy on his face was priceless- worth far more than the $2 that the cookies cost. We shared a Book of Mormon with his mother and it was a really special experience. That night we had an amazing lesson with a woman we met in Walmart our first weekend here! She is such an incredible person and hopefully I'll have more stories about her in the future! The night ended with cotton candy slushies, peach rings and driving the Sisters back home, another special treat!
Saturday was the tricky day. I woke up feeling okay, I had great studies and was super excited to write a new blog post that I had received revelation for. I should have known something was up when I said the prayer during companion study and just cried the whole time. I think Heavenly Father was preparing us for what was to come. We went to our sweet less active Olimpia's place to cook food with her from Guatemala that morning. It was great learning how to make soup and salsa and rice- and it was so great to get to know Olimpia better.....but something was up. Hna Schmit and I both felt like something had sucked ALL of the energy out of us. Like I could barely look at Olimpia and shake my head to agree with what she was saying.
We went back to the apartment afterwards to plan and just sunk into our couches. I just felt lifeless and like there was no hope in anything. We finally forced ourselves to go to the library to write our blogs but I couldn't concentrate and only got a little way through it. We finally texted our assistants here and asked for blessings.
Before we went to meet them we went to stop at Alisa's work- a cute Italian restaurant and she fed us gelato- the best pistachio gelato I have ever had- and gave us food to take home. We just wanted to go and give her a hug and she made us feel so much better. It was then that I realized that the people here don't really need ME, I need them! I love everyone on my mission and they have all meant so much to me. We received beautiful blessings from the Elders and we felt like we had new life! We went to the woman's conference with Olimpia and it was so amazing to be with her there. Because of work, she hasn't been to church in 6 years. She was raised in the church in Guatemala. She just was beaming the entire time we were there and it made me realize how lucky I am to be a member of the church. I felt the spirit so so much even though I couldn't understand 100% of it in Spanish. At the end of it I just wanted to shout to every woman that we saw that we are daughters of God! Do you understand what that means??? We are so lucky to be so loved by a Father in Heaven and have so much potential.
That's our new friend from Nigeria- we have him a BOM and invited him to conference, he's super excited!
Sunday was incredible because our ward leaders, especially our Bishop, are super excited for the work right now! We had several great meetings and are so pumped! We got permission from the Stake President and our mission President to start an Family Home Evening group here in West Nashville that will hopefully turn into a sacrament group- wa-hoo! We have been finding so many people who have been prepared and we know there are so many great things to come here!
One thing I realized from talking to a lot of people this week that have children in other countries still is that Heavenly Father misses us so much. If these parents from Honduras or Guatemala or Mexico miss their children so much, then how much does our Heavenly Father who isn't even here physically on the earth with us- miss us? A LOT. Do we miss Him like He misses us? What are we doing to feel closer to Him?
When we pray, do we truly understand that we are talking to our Father? I know I can be better at that. I miss my Heavenly Father so much and I know I don't talk to Him enough. I invite you all to join me this week and work in taking to Him more and letting Him know what's going on, what we need, what we love and how we are doing.
The gospel is so true! I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. I know that Christ has restored His true church and true gospel on the earth in OUR day and that is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I am proud to wear my Savior's name and His church on my chest everyday!