This week has been interesting for me. I have been switched back into Spanish work and it is the opposite of English work and 6 weeks is more than enough time to lose your touch. However, the Lord has blessed me with another awesome companion, Elder Sempf, and I can't be more grateful (although, I will admit that I was a bit worried coming here.) All the Spanish missionaries I knew told me that the 7th Branch was hard to work with: the members aren't that helpful in the work, the branch president is very difficult to work with, and the people living in the area are very stubborn. After being here for almost 6 days, I want to [go back to] every elder that told me those things [and set them straight]. The people here are wonderful, I love the branch president and am excited to work with him, and the members and their families here are beautiful and have such joyful spirits. We meet in a humble building that is very old, but I have never seen a brighter and happier branch in all my life. They are all so humble and willing to serve everyone, especially us.
We have been doing great work here so far. We have already picked up 5 people/families and one in particular, Elena Leyva, has already accepted a date for this November. Yesterday was a special experience that I'd like to share. While we were tracting, we found a girl named Kylee (another English one) and she opened the door excitedly. She said that she always wanted to know why we knock on everyone's door. We began to teach her about the Restoration that soon transitioned into the Plan of Salvation after she asked several questions about the purpose of life and the life that awaited after this one. While we were explaining to her that, after this life, we are reunited with our bodies in a perfect, resurrected state, she began to cry (uncontrollably). We were stunned. We had no idea what to say. My companion asked her if everything was okay. She then explained that she has chronic meningitis and is in pain almost every day. She used to be a soccer player and can't play anymore because neither her nor her family can afford the medication that she needs. She passes kidney stones frequently and gets very fatigued very easily and she just wants to be normal again. It was hard for us to hold back our tears. A thought then reminded me of Kim and I explained to her how I knew of someone that was in the same struggle as her. I told her how Kim, even though she was feeling pain that has sent her to the hospital numerous times and has passed many kidney stones, as well, that through all of her trials I have never seen her get discouraged, ever. She always presses on, never giving up. Seeing that really inspired me to continue through some difficulties I was going through at the time, as well. Kylee asked me, "How is she always happy?" "I don't know actually. I don't know how she does it. I'm sure she has gone through quite a few rough patches, but I guess, maybe, she got tired of letting it affect her happiness. She's just always smiling, as if she never was sick. It's incredible. One day, maybe I'll ask."
We ended the lesson sharing a scripture from D&C 122: 7-9. (7. And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
9. Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.)Afterwards, she asked us, "Can I get baptized?" We laughed and said, "What a coincidence! We were just about to ask you the same." She is set for Dec. 7th. We are very excited for what more we can do in West Sacramento.
I love you, Mom. As far as the Christmas list you wanted me to send, I wouldn't mind some guitar/ukelele books. I don't know what else to ask, really. Love you Mom.
(ties sound good, some vocal point cd's, $$ or gift cards, Spanish music that is uplifting is approved.)