Monday, July 6, 2015

Ode to America

- Buenos diasssss. So sad to hear about the death of President Packer. First Perry, then this rate there's not going to be any more apostles by the time I get back from my mission. I am so grateful for the service they have done and know they are just doing a whole lot more where they are now.

- So following up on the email from last week, I wish it was more uplifting and exciting but I don't make the stories.... Ruby didn't come to church again this sunday so unfortunately this probably isn't her time to progress right now. We taught Mariano and Marina the law of Chastity with Hermana Gazziro and it was a really powerful lesson. Mariano was all for it but the whole time you could tell that Marina was just like boiling inside. She has had a lot of bad experiences with marriage in the past and is having trouble forgiving. We invited them to pray about what they should do and the next day we got...the breakup text. Apparently there is some deeper stuff going on that just doesn't make living the law of chastity possible for them right now. We invited them to keep coming to church and learning despite not being able to be baptized right now but they aren't being too responsive. That was a big blow to the heart. I've learned a lot about agency and how it is by learning to use your agency the best you can and how to accept that of others is how we can find peace and happiness. If we try to influence or change the agency of others to try and persuade them to do what we think is right, its just going to make us go crazy. What we are called to do here as missionaries is to teach pure, simple gospel truths with the spirit, and invite people to follow christ by living them. We teach and invite. We don't demand and persuade. We can't control the decisions of others...despite how much I wish I could sometimes. And thats why Im not god haha. It must take a lot of love and patience to be Him. Charity really is the pure love of christ. If I could choose one christlike attribute to perfectly embody, it would be that. It is by having charity, and truly loving people that you come to know christ because you get to experience a little bit of how he feels for us. You can't help but love the people you serve as a missionary. You feel inexplicable happiness when someone does something so little as having started praying with their family, and feel so horribly sorrowful when despite everything you've done, someone decides to go the opposite direction. I was thinking a lot about this. About why I had to feel so sad for these people. Then the thought suddenly came to me " I am giving you the PRIVILEGE to experience just a small percent of what I feel for them." That stuck with me pretty deep.
-  So fourth of July was pretty great! We walked in a parade all around Sarasota the entire day. It was only a parade of two because Sarasota just loves us so much that they didn't want anybody else in the parade to distract from our stunning awesomeness. We literally did stay out and walked the entire day though, from when studies ended until when we got back around 9pm. A tender mercy that happened was we went to got eat lunch at subway and the lady in front of us just kept staring and staring at us. When we got to the register she turned around and said "I paid for your lunch, we are members from Jacksonville. Thank you so much for all that you do, we want you to know how much we appreciate this important work you are doing. Have a great 4th" then left before we could really say anything else. It was kind of ridiculous how much that simple act of kindness made an impact on us. Later on in the day we walked to this free BBQ that this christian church down the road was having hahah and it was hilarious all of our favorite hobos from all over sarasota that we have talked to a million times were there. So it was like having a big family reunion. Then later in the night we went to visit Luz, the 80 yr old cuban recent convert and walking home on the way back we got to see all the fireworks people were lighting off from their backyards. It was a pretty great fourth.

-Something that I have really come to cherish as being able to serve a spanish speaking mission in the united states is all of the amazing storeis and testimonies I get to hear from the members. They each have had to find a way to come from their respective countries into the united states, in one way or another. They come in the worst ways imaginable, with their kids, or broken families into a country where they don't know one word of the language and have to find jobs and ways to provide for their families. A lot of times, one member of the family comes over and then doesn't get to see their family in their country for years. I spent some time with two different members from Cuba this week and asked them about their immigration stories. As I've come to know the people from Cuba more, they absolutely amaze me. The things that they had to suffer to get here are horrible. One member told me about how when she was in elementary school, men with guns had come in and told them "start praying to God and ask him for candy. If there really is a God then He will give it to you." of course they didn't get it. Then they took candy out of thier pockets and gave it to them and said" there is no God. But there is Fidel Castro. Pray to Fidel Castro now." So she grew up being forced to believe that God didn't exist. The story about how she got out of the country is insane I don't have time to tell it but she got here with her husband eventually and then found the gospel. It was hard for her to accept at first, but eventually what she learned changed everything. This is just one of the many stories I've been able to hear. It makes me realize just how lucky we are to live here. It is amazing to me to look at the history of the world and see how God perfectly prepared everything- from the invention of the compass to the discovery of americas to the signing of the constitution to the establishment of freedom of religion- so that the gospel could be restored on the american continent. It had to be that way. A scripture that I love in 2 Nephi 1:6 says " I lehi prophesy according to the workings of the spriit that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord." I love being able to testify to all of these people that they have been brought to this land by the hand of the lord to learn this message of the restored gospel. Go 'merica. hope everyone had a good fourth
love hermana va

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