March 24, 2014

Life As A Real Missionary...Part #34

Dearest Family,

So, first off mom, I got your packages, BOTH of them. I was right, customs had held and examined the one with my shoes in it, but I think everything made it back to me. I got my ballet shoes and new clothes and shower gel from Lush and lip gloss and a memory card with music...... I will admit I cried the whole time I was going through the boxes. I cried because for the first time in a long time.  I was overwhelmed at the thought of people thinking about me, and doing something nice for me. It hit me home. These past few weeks I have been so worried about getting my investigators baptized, keeping my companion in the field, solving the problems of the other two sisters in the house (they cannot get along, ever), making sure our key investigators are staying strong, trying to teach and train my companion, and I have dealt with people saying really mean things to me this week regarding my appearance (I am American and sometimes people can be cruel because of that), finding new people to teach, and all these other things lately. So when those boxes came, and I thought about mom shopping for me and buying things she knew I needed or would want, Courtney finding music for me and laughing at every song she downloaded, Hannah approving all the outfits, Dad paying postage (and hardly complaining), and the ward members writing those notes, I couldn't help but cry. Thank you! I really needed it. Especially this last week. Maybe that is why the Lord allowed that package to take so long (three months). He knew when I was going to need it the most. Thank you everyone! I really appreciate it.

Anyways...enough about my sob story. Second off, HAPPY NINE MONTHS TO ME!  I didn't celebrate my halfway mark.  No pictures, I did manage to find a Snickers candy bar and so I bought it and ate it.  Woot woot.  BUT WE HAD TWO BAPTISMS!!!! Absolutely no problems with the baptisms, everything went through perfectly and without a wrinkle.  I managed to organize the service without difficulty.  The ward members were supportive and so many were in attendance. Irene and Aaron were so happy. They were both glowing and when they shared their testimonies, they both cried. I cried when they looked at me and thanked me personally, I felt like my heart was going to jump out of my body. Really, it was an amazing day. They have overcome so much to become a member of this Church. But they stayed strong the whole way through the process. They will both be amazing and strong members of the church. The bishop has already called them to be visiting and home teachers! Hurrah! (: They are both nervous, but excited to share their testimonies with the ward members and grow from the experience.

Whew...Micheal passed his baptismal interview! So, there will be another baptism this coming Saturday! Words cannot describe my joy!  I was really stressed out about his interview because of the language barrier and his slow mind, but we worked hard reviewing with him and all went well The Lord helped him through it. He is a strong person and a special son of God.  Finally being able to be a member of the Church and having love and support around him will bring him joy.  He is humble and kind.  He is really excited about his baptism. He came out of his interview with the biggest grin on his face. haha! It made me smile.

Other than homesickness, a bit of stress and the baptisms, the week has been normal. I am so grateful for the help that the Lord gave us with our baptisms this week. We have been trying to focus on finding new people to teach, and to prepare those we are teaching for baptisms in April. But, finding is a little difficult right now with it being Holy Week and Fiesta! Fiesta is this city's yearly celebration, a lot like "Round-up" Days or Strawberry Days, except it lasts FOREVER.  It provides a lot of entertainment for the missionaries, but very few people interested in listening to our message. Even the most undevoted Catholics are now, suddenly, die hard religious for Holy Week. It figures (have you googled Holy Week yet? you really should. you will die when you read what I am witnessing and will experience here in Concepcion) that they are suddenly interested in being a Catholic, it will be quite the celebration, not very holy, but exciting for them.

The Filipino's are a funny people. I love them with all of my heart.  The culture difference can still be hard on me at times, but I am just trying to learn patience and love unconditionally like Christ does. I came across an interesting scripture in my personal study the other day. It is in 3 Nephi 22:8 "in a little wrath I have hid my face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer." I love this. I love the statement "everlasting kindness." That defines our Savior. He is kind and loving in ways we can't understand. But, I am striving to develop that characteristic. I want to become "everlastingly kind" like our Savior.

I know that he loves us. He has redeemed us. I know that He is blessing us daily and if we will just recognize Him the way that all of these recent converts do, then we will all be a lot happier.

I love you all! Things are good here. Wow...6 transfers down, only  6 more transfers left to go. This whole half way through thing is weird.  Time seems to have passed quick but at the same time so much has happened.  I am staying focused, I have so much still left to do.

I will see all your beautiful faces over Skype in another two months. (:  Yes, I am a bit homesick, but don't worry, I will get over it, it just means I love and miss my family!

LOVES!!!

-Sister Thomas


Baptism Day for Irene and Aaron!

All dressed in white!

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