Guess what time we woke up again today? YAY! 3:45! This last week it was a test of our health, but today I think I'm doing a little better. We got to go to capital today for my paperwork for my VISA. I am now officially almost legal! Can I just tell you Capital is beautiful! I LOVE Lujan and my area but it is extremely different than the states. Capital actually looked like a city and it wasn't full of trash and oh my goodness it was lovely. I also saw the ocean! YAY! In my mission I have seen the Atlantic and the Pacific. I also caught a glimpse of the street on my blog with the cool tower thing. While waiting in line for six hours we talked with a returned missionary from California that is here to study. He served in the Neuquén mission with Daren. His name is Elder Gonzales.
First of all, I want to let you all know how much I love the mission and how much fun I am having! I am afraid I don't always let that show in my letters. Email time is almost as much for me as it is for you, as it gives me a time to reflect on the week and therefore, time to review what I can do better. Hermana Castellanos and I are having so much success and so much joy right now at this time in our mission and I am convinced a large part of this happiness and success is as a result of our desire to constantly improve. I know that the Lord has blessed us with miracles due to our hard work and search to be better. He always expects more of us than we think we can give and when we push ourselves to be what He knows we can be that is when He gives us miracles which we are experiencing right now. Thank you so much for all your words of encouragement and love. I am so grateful for cheerleaders like you. Rest assured I am happier than I have ever been in the mission. :)
This week our focus has really been on our upcoming fechas for the month.
Oscar (the friend of Pascual) is as ready as ever for his baptism this week. He is so sweet and loves to learn more about the gospel. He is participating in the lessons at church and changing his habits to become more converted. The other day he had a bad day and after our lesson we told him to pray, that night he called us to tell us he had and that he felt much better. We are so excited to see him grow and progress and find happiness in the gospel.
Alicia is also doing well. She has a lot of health problems and can't seem to remember her fecha for the life of her but whenever we remind her she talks about how excited she is. To be completely honest, she will not be the most prepared baptismal candidate who remembers every principle and lesson but she has a desire to be baptized and come closer to Christ and for me that is enough.
Some of our greatest joys this week have come from working with the Fernandez Family. Every time we talk to them I am filled with more love than I know what to do with. I wish I could express to you how wonderful they are. Their process of conversion and repentance has not come in a grand miracle but it has come slowly in every lesson and every small decision they make to read the Book of Mormon, pray and attend church. Gabriela, who couldn't stop talking about her capillita and family traditions in the first lesson is now asking us how to deal with her family as she tells them about her decision. She saved facturas (kind of like pastry doughnut things) for our lesson on Sunday and their whole family is sacrificing their Sunday morning to come to church. Dionisio who told us he would listen to us but wasn't religious now knows in his heart that he will be baptized and has desires to receive the priesthood. He wants to invite us over to have asado and tells us how he never let anyone into his house to talk about religion until us. Each one of their boys came to church in white shirts this week and are praying about baptism. Their faces light up with smiles when they see us and ALWAYS shake our hands and call us hermanas (they are more well-behaved than pretty much every family in the church). Each morning and night we pray for miracles with this family and we are seeing them every day. I know there are many reasons that Hermana Castellanos and I have had the privilege of working together again this transfer but I am sure one of them was to find this family and see them be baptized together. It is going to take work on our part and theirs to see them until their baptism but I KNOW they will be baptized as a family.
We are talking with Juana right now about whether she should marry Miguel or not. She as her papers and is in the process of preparing for her marriage on the 4th but we are worried that she is only getting married to get baptized. Really, Miguel probably is not going to change. She is praying like crazy but he is still drinking a ton and is jealous and protective (he won't let her leave the house without him and locks her inside at night so she can't leave). We hate to tell her to leave after we've talked so much about the family with them hoping that he will change but we also hate to lock her into a dangerous situation without a light at the end of the tunnel. We are really encouraging her to pray seriously about her decision and be willing to leave if that is what the Lord tells her is best. The members are awesome and are willing to help. We will see what happens.
This week we were extremely protected by the Lord in some very obvious ways. On Thursday it rained ALL day long. We had plans to travel to Open Door (about 1/2 hour away in bus). Our only appointment told us she couldn't make it the night before and the member who was going to feed us lunch there called about an hour before we were supposed to leave and cancelled. We were a little disappointed and decided to change our plans. We were so excited to hopefully find more people there and weren't sure why our plans were falling through. Well, come to find out the colectivos that day stopped after midday and had we gone to Open Door we would have been stranded there for the night. Miracle.
We ended up going to another area that we hadn't yet been to that is a little bit farther away as well. Even though it was raining and no one was outside we ended up finding a less active member and her non-member mom as well as four more new investigators. Miracle.
That night we went to Ameghino to teach a lesson in the home of the Alvarez Family. As we were standing outside we heard gunshots just a block away (like we could look down the street about five houses and see everything) and then a bunch of people yelling and cars screeching. It was basically like we were in the middle of an action movie. These members told us that this is normal in their neighborhood, like right where we were standing it happens all the time! Well, we entered their house and taught the lesson and then had to leave to walk home. We had to walk past where all the action was about an hour before and it was super dark. Right as we were about to leave it started to rain a whole lot harder with lots of wind. We realized, however, as we began walking what a miracle this was. With the storm going on no one was outside to bother us as we walked home in peace. Miracle.
P.S. Don't worry, we don't have plans to go back to that neighborhood at night.
I have a special request this week. I would greatly appreciate your added prayers for our fechas for this month, especially the Fernandez Family. Dionioso needs to pray and quit smoking and Gabriel (his son 16) also needs to keep the word of wisdom and pray about baptism. Thank you so much! I know with added prayers and faith we are going to see more miracles with them!
I love you all soo much family. Thank you for all of your prayers and love and support. I am so grateful for the wonderful experiences I am having and for the opportunity to serve a mission. I love you!