I have been having mixed emotions about leaving here. I am so sad to be leaving everyone here. I love them all so much! I am terrified to go to Argentina where I know the culture and the food and the people and the language will be so different but I'm also excited for the adventure and I'm trying to remember the excitement I felt when I first got the call. It's hard now that I've gotten so comfortable here but I'm trying to trust Heavenly Father. I know he has a plan. I've been here for a reason but I'm also supposed to go the Argentina for a reason. This is the right time. I know I'll probably go through a lot of hard times in the next little while though so please keep me in your prayers. Pray that I will have the gift of tongues and that I will be able to adjust to the culture and people and a new companion and not get too homesick again. I'm so lucky I have you to rely on and to know that I have your support. Thank you so much!
So yesterday we get this text from President Castro before church that says, "Call me when you are done with your church meetings." What the heck?! Does he know how much stress that causes?! Needless to say, we had a hard time focusing in church yesterday. When we finally talked to him that afternoon he told me my VISA had arrived. I am so excited and terrified.
I am so grateful for this wonderful opportunity I have been given to serve here in Solvang. I have learned so much being in the California Ventura Mission, from President Castro from my wonderful trainer and from the people here in Solvang. This mission and the people here will hold a special place in my heart forever. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and that he knows what is best for me, even when I don't. I know I have been here for a reason to help people here and to learn and grow personally. I now feel at peace about going to Argentina and continuing my mission there. I know it will come with many more trials and challenges to face but I know if I trust in the Lord it will all work out. I am heartbroken to be leaving my amazing investigators, the ward members and Hermana Cannon here but Heavenly Father has given me such peace to know that they will all be taken care of and that things will all work out.
This week I have continually felt that peace, knowing that Hermana Cannon will continue the work here as we've anticipated transfers. Our numbers this week have been considerably lower than we would like but the conversion and change in our investigators has been so great. I have truly come to see how the key indicators are just a means to an end. At week six last transfer we almost achieved the Standard of Excellence, which was a great feeling, but now, with dismal numbers, I feel such greater joy knowing that the people we did meet with are changing drastically and coming closer to Christ and the lessons we did have were full of the spirit.
On Thursday we had another great lesson with Andy. We wanted to keep it very concise and directed on the 10 commandments. As we went through each one we had great conversation with him and he seemed to enjoy the focus and structure we were trying to create in the lesson. The biggest challenge we knew he would have is with keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Andy has arrived at the point where he will come to church every Sunday unless his friend Barb comes down and wants to go to lunch. As we talked about keeping the Sabbath Day holy he didn't completely agree or understand the need to not spend money. He is changing so much, however, and he continues to soften his heart and be open to the commandments. He agreed that it would help him to focus more on the Savior by not spending money and committed to live the commandment. He really is making all of these changes slowly but surely. He is continuing to pray about baptism and is even starting to mention planning it out. I am so excited for him to make this commitment. He knows that it will be a lifelong change and I know it will bring him such happiness!
That day we also had an amazing lesson with Alisa. We found her by a miracle weeks ago as we were tracking. We also taught her daughter, Ashley, at one point but haven't been able to have a solid return appointment with either of them. Each time I have talked to Alisa or Ashley I have felt so guided by the spirit. They are both so ready to hear the message of the gospel and find the truth and Heavenly Father has filled our mouths to give them the words they need to hear. As we taught Alisa the plan of salvation she said, "This is like what I believe! No one has ever explained it to me this way before!" I am so grateful that Heavenly Father led us to her. If she continues to learn and pray and feel the spirit I have no doubt she can change her life and be baptized.
We also had a miracle moment with Carl that day as we taught the Word of Wisdom. He had talked to Hermana Bartschi and Hermana Cannon about tea on their exchanges a few weeks ago and had some questions about it. As we began teaching the lesson, however, we realized he had completely resolved his own concerns about tea. He decided the habit alone can be addicting, whether or not it has addictive properties or negative health affects, if it takes him away from God then it is a bad habit that he shouldn't do. This was such a wonderful tender mercy. He is now working on quitting coffee. He was able to attend a baptism with us on Saturday, which he enjoyed. We are praying that his soon to be ex-wife will cooperate so he can finalize the divorce and get married soon in preparation for his own baptism.
On Friday we met with Georgi. She is so incredibly sick but so full of faith. She really is an inspiration. She has such faith that her prayers and our prayers will help her to heal but also accepts that if she doesn't get better it is God's will. She was able to come to church on Sunday and meet with the Bishop to begin her process of returning to the church. She has no doubts the church is true and this is what she wants. It is amazing to see how she has changed in the past 12 weeks. The Lord really prepared her for us. She was just waiting for us to love her and help her see the light of the gospel again.
I have learned so much about trust from Georgi and from other experiences over the transfer and this past week. On Saturday evening we taught a lesson to a Spanish woman named Maria. She has not read the Book of Mormon because she knows it will change her life if she reads it and knows it is true. It was a really powerful lesson but I was having such a hard time understanding. In this past transfer Hermana Cannon and I have really only taught about two Spanish lessons per week and so I have gotten really out of practice. Saturday night I was tired and so frustrated that I couldn't follow along. As Hermana Cannon and I talked about it afterward I broke down and explained my fears about this next transfer and not being able to speak the language, whether I was here in Solvang training, in Argentina or transferred to another Spanish area I was terrified about what all the possibilities would mean.
|Connie, my favorite Grandma investigator.|
|The cutest ward missionary team ever.|
We were able to meet with Robert on Sunday and share a message with him about hope and comfort and the joy he will feel on his mission. It was such as blessing to be able to help in some small way. Just as Heavenly Father can't take away all of our pain and trials, we can't take away the struggles Robert, or Toni or any of our other investigators face, but we can hopefully help them find joy in the gospel and comfort in the atonement of the Savior.
I am so grateful to have you, my wonderful family to rely on. Everything in life can be dealt with when we know that we have a family who loves and supports us, but some of the people we talk to don't have that at all. Their family is their struggle. They really are completely alone. Thank you so much for being there for me so that even when I go through hard times I know I am not alone.
I wish I could express to you all how wonderful the people here are and how much I love them. I am so full of love and gratitude for them all right now. Here are the top ten things I love about Solvang:
1. Hermana Cannon
2. My investigators (who are all getting baptized this year!)
|Carl and his baby parakeets.|
|Carl and Woody|
4. The fact that they have Danish Days and Scarecrow contests and fairy festivals etc.
|Our favorite scarecrow in the scarecrow contest.|
6. The delicious Danishes and pastries and fudge
|Our last Burrito Loco dinner.|