Monday, June 8, 2015

{Week 78} Polanco - June 8, 2015

Hi family. This is my last time to write to you all. It's been a crazy, amazing 18 months. I can't believe it's practically over. I think I honestly believed that this day would never arrive. But it has! And I'll be home on Wednesday!

First of all, can you tell Jaime that I love her and that the mail works? I finally got the Christmas card that she sent me lol.

This has been an amazing week... Both Carlos and Bertha were baptized! It was a really special baptismal service.
 - Bertha - her husband called us hypocrites the first time that we met, but we've become friends over the past few weeks, and we were so happy to see him come to the baptismal service to support his wife. Bertha has been such a golden investigator. From the moment we met, she was convinced that the church was true and that she wanted to be baptized. The day of her baptism she was sooo happy. She hugged us and cried, and thanked us for coming into her life. She told us that she wished she had found the church years ago. She said ''I would have joined years ago, but nobody told me. I didn't know. If I had known, I would have done this a long time ago''. We found Bertha when her friend Lourdes who was baptized in October suddenly came up to us in church and told us that she had a reference for us. I am so thankful that Lourdes had the courage and the desire to share the gospel. There are so many people who are prepared and waiting to hear the gospel, they just don't know it, and they won't know until we open our mouths and share our testimonies and invite them to come unto Christ. 

Hno Ramon, Bertha's husband, Bertha, Me, Hna Ingram, Lourdes, and Bertha's kids Jonathan and Alison

 - Carlos - it was a miracle that we found Carlos. We contacted a lady, who gave us a false address, and we then found Carlos at that address. We taught him for about a week or two, and then we couldn't find him. But we kept passing by - and that is the miracle, because usually after a week or so of looking for a person everyday, we stop going by. There are a lot of people who will listen to us once or twice, but then they hide from us and avoid us. Eventually we get the hint and stop coming, but with Carlos we both felt like we had to keep passing by. Finally we found him drunk, we taught him, he stopped drinking, he started coming to church, and he got baptized! He was so happy the day of his baptism. He clasped our hands and cried as he thanked us for helping him to change his life.  
Gustavo, Carlos, Carlos's wife, me, Hna Ingram

On Sunday we had three confirmations - Alejandro, Carlos, and Bertha. When we got to church, Carlos and Alejandro were already there. They come every Sunday morning to church at 7 AM for a priesthood preparation class, which ends in time for our services to start at 8. So they were both there and got confirmed without a problem. I was so happy for them. I could feel the spirit strongly. But Bertha didn't show up. We called her about 20 times that morning, but she didn't answer. Before the sacrament hymn we snuck out and tried one last time. We had decided that if she didn't answer we would look for her at her house after the sacrament and help her get to church to be confirmed. But she answered! She had woken up late and was on her way. She got there right after the sacrament and was confirmed. It was so amazing to see these three people that I have come to love so much receive these sacred ordinances. I love seeing people's faces light up and their countenance change as they find and accept the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Alejandro was a huge example of that - after his baptism he looked completely different. His face was peaceful, when before it had always been full of worries and concerns. I love seeing people change. I love teaching people as a full time missionary. I know that the gospel helps us to change our lives, and I am so grateful for this chance I've had to be here.
Us with Alejandro on Sunday

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting. We bore our testimonies - as well as half the ward. The last testimonies finished 30 minutes late. There was a lineup at the pulpit. Many mentioned us in their testimonies and thanked us. Even though the testimonies stopped super late, they still sang the closing song. It was #88 - ''Placentero nos es trabajar''. I love this hymn. It doesn't exist in English, but it has come to be one of my favorite hymns. The first verse talks about the joy and pleasure we find in preaching the gospel and helping others learn about Christ. The second verse exhorts the people to listen to the word of God and to always remember the love He has for us. And the third verse says something like this - ''Farewell my brethren, the time to go has come. But if we keep the faith in God, we will see each other again on the other side, and we will dwell with God''. It was so appropriate, and I just cried through the whole thing. Then after church, everyone hung out for about an hour, and we took a bazillion pictures, and I cried a lot. I've been in this ward for 11 months, and it was so sad for me to say goodbye to everyone. They've all become so special to me, and it's hard to know when I'll see them again. When I said goodbye to you all 18 months ago, it was sad, but it was okay because I knew I'd see you again in a year and a half. But when I say goodbye to the people here, it is really sad because I have no idea when I'll see them again. But it's okay, because like it says in the song, I know that if we keep the faith and are obedient, we will see each other again. 
My last Mexican meal - pazole!

It's been an amazing 18 months. It went by so quickly - but at the same time I can't remember ever doing anything else other than full time missionary work. It has amazed me the love that I have come to feel for the people that I have met here. My testimony has grown so much. I know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ live and love me. I know that Jose Smith was a prophet. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet now. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and if we study it diligently everyday, we will find amazing answers and knowledge. I know that when we pray with faith, He hears us and He will answer us. I have felt His love and His guidance in my life, and I know that He will never forsake us. I know that we have a huge responsibility to share the gospel, and if we have the courage to open our mouths, He will give us the words we need to help others feel the Spirit. I came on the mission with the mindset ''I can do hard things''. But over time I have come to realize that I can't. I'm weak and imperfect. I have faults and I make mistakes. I can't do it... at least, not alone. But I KNOW that with His help, I can do ALL things. And that is maybe the biggest lesson I have learned in my time here. To literally trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not unto my own understanding. I know that He will direct my paths, and He will help me do all that He would have me do. I just need to trust in Him, and work with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and He will bless me and help me. One of my favorite scriptures is D&C 64:33-34. We must always have a desire, a willing heart and a willing mind, to do what He asks of us. I've changed in the mission, and I want to keep changing to become a better person - the person that God wants me to be. 

I'm excited and terrified to come home. I'm really emotional these days - I've been crying a lot... But I'm excited to see you all and I'm ready to come home.  I did my best.
Be good, say your prayers, and Trust in the Lord. I'll see you on Wednesday. I love you!

- Hermana Taylor

Countdown from Hna Stutznegger!

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