Yes, I am still alive :) I love it here. I am finally starting to sometimes walk infront of Slla Hughes- being a greenie has been a very humbling experience. I have always been more of the leader type, and the first few weeks were very strange having no idea where we were going or where we were at. After the first day, I gave up asking and just followed. Now I feel much more confident and aware of thing... YAY!
The training on Friday went great. Slla Hughes and I practiced and practiced and it really paid off. We spent all of Friday at the church and I met alot of other missionaries and.... we were the first to present our training. It was exactly 40 minutes, miracle. I started us off, and there was a mosquito buzzing around my face and finally I smacked it and said at the end of my intro of who I am, I said something about "and I always have mosquitoes following me" and they called it the ice breaker of the year. Phew. At least I got some to loosen up. We were then followed by two other sets of Elders, and compared to theirs, I would have to say that ours was much more ... animated. We think everyone was very sincere when they expressed how well we did. So we are very happy- our fast paid off too. Moral of the story: do the work, put in the effort, and put OFF! on before presenting, and things will be ok.
Seeing we dont have much time, Ill touch on the highlights. (This morning we went to visit a woman who has lost everything, and she lives in the train station near our home...and the Elders asked us to go with them but Im a little confused with the whole thing. They havent even called President and yet, they are blowing ahead with their plans to teach her the lessons. I know its important to spiritually nourish, but right now she is wondering where her next meal will come from. Her story is alot like Ainuras, and I cant remember what we did for that....but Ive suggested we call President, but everyone seems against that. Hmmm.)
The day after I became Sorella Hughes comp, we set goals for our transfer. We set May 5 as the date that we would have a baptism, seeing that it was the last day she has here. We thought Laurent was our closest to baptism, the father of the family from Cameroon. Last pday, he said he would be baptized on Nov 29th, his birthday. We saw him yesterday, and we expressed our concern for the risk of rigressing if he waited that long, and that there is NO reason why he cant be baptized now. I shared with him a story, of a little boy who sat on his fathers lap and the father told him that he was sending him out on a trip, and althought the trip would be long and difficult, he knew that it would be the best thing for his son to do. It would give him experience and wisdom, and the father asked him to just remember how much he loved his son and to always choose the right. I related the young boy to Laurent- how I know that we all sat on our Fathers lap and he introduced us to the plan of happiness. We all chose and accepted His plan once: we told Laurent that this is something he has just forgotten and needs help remembering. After much more, he agreed that theres no reason to wait that long, so we whipped out a calendar and I pointed to May 29th (his half birthday) and said that we felt that that was the date he needed to be baptized and he nodded and said he needed our help along the way. So, we will be fasting every saturday with him for the next 5 saturdays, each fast for a specific thing for him. He asked how long we fasted for, and I thought 24 hours would deter him, but his reaction was "Only 24 hours? Ive done one for 9 days for my church" and my response was "9 days?! Im sure grateful Im Mormon!" Sorella Hughes isnt that optimistic bc she was so disappointed in his refusal of May 5th, but we know that miracles happen, even from solely the faith of others. He might lack the faith, but our prayers and righteous desires are heard and answered.
As for having a baptism on May 5th, I am so excited to announce that it will be for Margarita!!! The woman from Colombia, the one we are doing a chocolate fast for. She has smoked 2 since the 21 of March, and her sister who is a chain smoker, who never showed any desire to, wants to quit now because of the excitement and preparations we are making for Margaritas baptism. It was a miracle- we went to their house last thursday, and she asked what day she should be baptized. She thought of the 1st of May, but its a holiday and there wont be much transport...in the end, the 5th was the day that worked best for us all. Truly an answer to our prayers. We are so happy for her and for the influence for good that she will be. Itll be Sorella Hughes 5th baptism, so it will be a wonderful way to end the mission.
Talking about mosquitoes earlier reminds me: I woke up Friday morning (a little nervous because Sorella Hughes was SOO nervous and it was getting contagious) and I look in the mirror to find what? A mosquito bite on my eyelid!!! Ay ay ay. Ive become master mosquito killer in the apartment. I am now so skillful, that therell be a mosq flying at knee heighth and I will put my foot up and step down quick and kill it! Sorella Hughes discovered 2 MORE EGGS...which are now sitting in a little basket in our hall...waiting to be taken out. It kills me to hear the mom on the balcony, ranting. Once Sllla Hughes leaves, Im afraid that therell be a whole flock on the balcony since I dont have the heart to move them. Can you imagine how hard it would be to lay an egg? Just the fact that she can is enough to give me that admiration and respect for poor mamma pigeon. She deserves to keep them if she can come out with them.
We visited Lyuda, our Russian busy lady. She was very hostile at the beginning- standing with her arms crossed, as if "get out in one minute or else" but slowly she warmed up...after I invited HER to sit in HER chair. (aghhh awkward).... and by the end of getting to know her (She allowed us 15 min before we had to go) she gave us chocolate and some weird ukrainian marshmallows. I warned slla Hughes that the choc was probably alcoholic, and I was right. bahaha. But she is really nice and we have a return appointment for tomorrow. Another russian lady that I met on the bus, Vera,...I called and she was busy at the moment, so Ill try her again. We have to order more Russian materials from the office today which is a very good thing! Theres a Russian woman the Elders in Pistoia met, and she doesnt speak and Italian... but the distance is too far for me to go up, so I dont know what their game plan is.
Sorella Naslund e Maero moved in last Wednesday- its been interesting. I only have from 9:30 to 10:30 to write in my journal or to read my scriptures, and they are TALKERS. Which is nice, but also....very limiting. The biggest difference Ive noticed about having other roommates is how fast the toilet paper goes!
One day a few weeks ago, I was wearing a Jody dress and wrote in my journal "Only for the Lord would I be doing this". I had on a pink, floral print dress with puffed short sleeves.
Sorella Maero told me her first impression of me was "Oh. Shes the type who wears Jody dresses." (and I thought back to which dress I was wearing...and it was the best of the bunch! Agh!) Can you imagine what I must have looked like in a PINK dress with PUFFED SLEEVES?!
Dad, I saw a pheasant and thats about the only wildlife Ive seen.......and thats when we were outside in a village to go to correlation. No foxes, but maybe you can send me the one you saw?
The weather is going back and forth; we are still in sweaters and scarves, but an American family was at church on Sunday, and while I was translating for them, they said that Utah had a big snowstorm before they left. Im glad Im here! The Spirit does warm a soul. Sorella Hughes and I have often taught on park benches, and although it may be super cold and windy, I feel warm inside and dont care about my lavendar goosebumpy legs. (speaking of purple- Grandma, you would love Florence. I have always liked purple, but Florence is changing that. I dont think I ever want to see or own anything purple after my mission- theres just too much of it!)
I am so happy. I really was born for the mission life. I am healthy and am never very tired when the alarm goes off in the morning. Sorella Hughes has never been too sick on her mission, and scoffed at something shes been told by others that Sorelle fall apart on the 18th month mark of their mission. Hers was last thursday, but it hit her Tuesday. its something real! We think its the influenze though, and we spent a few hours back at the apartment so that she could rest.....and I experimented in the kitchen......could have possibly had something to do with mustart...............or cream cheese.....
Transfer predictions are due this coming tuesday, which are alot like the sheets for March Madness that you fill out for which teams will win. All the Elders are really into transfer predictions- we have to guess whos being transferred, new companionships, and who the new assistants and zone leaders will be. Everyones guess is still that I will be training, but ..... we shall see. There are plenty of wonderful, well-qualified sorelle out there who can train! ;)
Have a wonderful week. Look for the good in everyone and everything; attitude really makes the difference. Thank you for all your prayers towards having a baptism on May 5th- the way it worked our makes it obvious to us that the Lords hand is in all that we do.
The time is drawing to an end with Sorella Hughes. The addition of the new Sisters has really bonded us even more and I am already missing her and she hasnt left yet. She is a wonderful missionary and such a good example for me. I hope I can be a fraction of what she is like. I am slowly but surely working on becoming the person I have always wanted to be. There is much to do and I am still a very rough stone, but change feels and IS so beautiful. Seeing the changes that Laurent and Margarita and so many others are making...what examples! What faith and strength. If anything, I am learning more from them than they are from me.
Amanda, a Peruvian girl about 20 years old, is someone we meet with every Sunday (last week was in McDonalds) and we asked her if shed read 3 Nefi 11 and she pulled out her scriptures and had not only read much more, but she had written notes and summaries on what shed read! PLUS, we extended the invite to be baptized, and she accepted!!!
Miracles are happening everywhere and every day!