Week 26: Feliz Navidad! (9 December 2013)
Wow the Christmas Devotional was AWESOME! I just cried the whole way through… it seems like that´s all I know how to do anymore!
ALSO, great news, Hermano D. got baptized this week! The love I feel for that family is a love that makes me feel committed to do absolutely everything I can to help them stay active their whole lives and get to the temple. The Spirit was so strong in his baptism, testifying to our hearts that this is what God wants for us. He told us afterwards that when he stepped into the water a dark shadow was behind him, but when he went down into the water and came back up again, the shadow was gone. In his mind, this was the shadow of who he was before, and the fact that it was gone meant that it wasn´t part of him anymore. He told us he felt truly forgiven. Yesterday as he walked up to the stand to recieve the gift of the Holy Ghost he was BEAMING. I was too haha it was a good day.
The miracles we are seeing here are incredible. Hearts hardened by sin and suffering are softening, including my own! For example, one of our less actives has now attended church THREE Sundays in a row after SEVEN YEARS of inactivity. like, HOSTILE inactivity. Throwing rocks at missionaries type inactivity. His story is so cool. The first time we met him he said, “I know I am not keeping my covenants. I served a mission.” But as we`ve been visiting him and ESPECIALLY reading the Book of Mormon with him (that book is so good!) we are seeing the Spirit is touch his heart. How do we know that this inward change is ocurring? Because of the incredible outward evidence! He is a different person everytime we see him! Kinder, humbler, more hopeful, just BETTER! Yesterday we read Ether 12 with him… wow it was a good read. A very good day!
I love the Book of Mormon. I feel real peace, real HEALING as I read it, ESPECIALLY those days when I feel low, confused, upset, or even when I am stressed (because that`s how I feel more often than I would like or probably should) But more than that I love the Book of Mormon because of what it teaches me about Jesus. I really do believe in Him. I want to do what He taught us, and I´m trying every day to learn more about what that means. I really do believe what He offers is real. I know He really was the literal Son of our Father in Heaven. I just feel it, and I feel it in a way I can not deny. I want other people to come to know it too. Luckily, the Book of Mormon with the Bible help us so much.
Week 27: UVASOL! (16 December 2013)
This week we went to the mercado here in Piura which is the closest thing I have experienced to like a Bollywood movie in my life. Not because there was music and weird dancing but because it was like exactly like what the streets in India look like in those movies. A bazilion people and carts with umbrellas overflowing with fruits and vegetables, huge bags of grains and spices. It was really fun, but I was really glad we had one of our investigators with us to help us find our way around. The different merchant-people were all yelling about their produce and one of my favorites was “UVASOL” (which came out sounding like wassail) and just meant that one kilo of grapes was going for one sol, which is like 25 cents or something in American money.
One really cool thing that happened this week was that we had a baptism of this little guy named Pierre whose uncle is an active member. One of our investigators came to the baptism which was so good because she’s been having a lot of doubts. The Spirit was so strong in the baptism and afterward when the Bishop gave the welcome he took Pierre under his arm and started crying as he was talking and said, “I feel so much love and appreciation for you and for your example of faith today. One day when I am no longer here, you will be the Bishop.” That was really powerful. There was such a feeling of closeness in that room, everyone just hanging on to every word the Bishop said. After the baptism my companion and I had a few visits to make and then we came back to rehearse a Christmas choir that we are planning and when we returned to the chapel like an hour and a half later nearly everyone who had been in the baptism was sittting on the floor in the Bishop’s office and he was at his desk telling them something, but still there was just a reverence and a closeness and a unity. It was so cool. They were all just crammed in there like cats or something, listening to Bishop. When we saw them, the ones who were in the choir came and sang and all the others went to go visit less actives and recent converts. I think the Bishop had given them all assignments.
It’s been a good week, a long one. I leave Miguel Grau and this awesome ward on the 30th! I am going to miss our ward mission leader and our Elder’s quorum president and our Relief Society President and our Bishop so much. Ward council Wednesday is like my favorite day of the week.
Week 28: Merry Christmas! (23 December 2013)
This week was AWESOME. I had my interview with President Rowley and his wife which was SO GOOD. I am going to tell you guys all about it on Christmas!!
One cool thing that happened this week was that one of the less actives we are working with finally accepted an interview with the Bishop! I was so happy I almost jumped out of my chair! In my experience here it has been kind of hard to get less actives to attend church but it´s been even harder to get them to interview with the Bishop. They think he´s just going to judge them or he can´t help them or that they don´t need him…. Maybe I ought to let them know how I feel about interviews! Because they are like one of my favorite perks of being a member of the church! Why try and duke things out on your own when you have an authorized representative of Jesus Christ who can light the way?? We have been praying for weeks that he would accept an interview because he kept saying no because he didn´t feel comfortable taking that step. But finally he said he feels ready!
I just have to tell you guys about how cool interviewing with President Rowley is. When you go in his office, there is a wall of pictures of all the missionaries, all paired in companionships. And they are all organized according to where we are in the mission. And all the pictures are well worn, you can tell he has handled each one of our pictures a lot. I know he loves each one of us so much, even though we are all imperfect missionaries. He calls us by our first names, which makes me feel so loved because no one here knows my name and I haven’t heard it in months. We talk about all the things that are happening, the assignments he has given us and how they went. One of our assignments was to read chapter 8 and to come to our interview prepared to tell him how we improved our use of time. In my interview he took my agenda, flipped through it and said, ¨You´re doing a great job. You just need to have fun. ¨ hahaha!! He really knows me! I just felt so understood and loved and ready to get back to work and have fun doing it!
That´s just a little bit from this week but I will talk to you guys in TWO DAYS!!!!!! Merrcy Christmas!! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!
Week 29: Happy New Year!! (30 December 2013)
I would say talking to you guys on Christmas day was better than I could have dreamed! Thank you so much for being the best family ever! haha but seriously. One thing that Sister Rowley told me was that if I gain NOTHING else on my mission but an appreciation for my family, all of this would have been worth it. At least I have definitly gained that!
So drum roll…. I am in Talara right now! we had a 2 hour bus ride in some jungly slash deserty stuff (me and six elders) and now I am here! It’s awesome, the coastal breeze here is heavenly. Saying goodbye to Miguel Grau was rough… even right now I am wondering if Sister H.’s new companion) has realized what a gold mine she has landed in! Some major highlights from my last couple days in Miguel Grau is that one of our recent converts who just started his papers to leave on his mission in April said, “Sister Cardon I hope that my trainer when I get out in the field is just like you.” That felt good. Also, one of our investogators wrote me a letter in Spanglish in which she said she finally feels ready for baptism and that she wants to serve a mission next year too. She’s 29 and still single so that is totally a possibility for her! She said (in English) “You are doing a FANTASTIC job for God. Look! After all that you have taught me, I am a new person. Different, and I like it.” I think I am going to frame her letter, it is so sweet!
I am so excited to get to work here in Talara. My new companion is the bomb. Her name is Sister R. from Argentina, her trainer and last companion was Sister P. from Texas who was my traveling companion when we left the MTC and Sister P. told me when we made the switch that she has been praying this past month that I would get sent to be here with Sister R. She didn’t tell me why but I guess we will find out!
This last week with Sister H. was the bomb. We worked and played and laughed and took a zillion pictures together. Lots of tears too, especially last night. One funny thing that happened with this transfer is that one of the Elders that has been in my district since I got here six months ago and who trained with me these past three months finally got transferred too…. to Talara! Elder A. and I will not be seperated! hahah everyone was joking, “Finally Sister Cardon and Elder A. are leaving San Miguel….” Haha now we’re hitting Talara!
I love you all and can´t wait to hear from you next week! I will take pictures of Talara so you can see it it is gorgeous!