Monday, August 27, 2012

1 month mark. Crazy!

How crazy! I hit my one month in the mission field mark this week! que loco! 
So this was a little bit harder of a week. Take Friday, for instance... we had fantastic plans: 6 lessons, 4 of which were going to be members present. One by one by one every single one of them was cancelled. Likewise, one of our non-active members that we've been trying to visit left us a note basically saying that she didn't want us to visit any more and in fact, she wanted her records to be removed from the church. We had baptism dates set with this really sweet 8 year old boy, Jeremiah (I forget if I've told you about him or not) who was so happy reading his Book of Mormon and praying every night (and we were also teaching his grandma). We came over and the mom said she was talking to the preacher and she didn't want us to come over anymore because he said it would be bad for Jeremiah to become confused because he is at such a young age. That was just the icing on the cake. We love Jeremiah so much. He was one of those investigators that just made me happy. Like whenever something sad happened, I'd just have to think to myself "it's okay, at least I get to teach Jeremiah tomorrow." He was so excited when we told him "of course, you can be baptized!" He was so excited when we gave him a Book of Mormon. When we weren't able to visit the grandma for a while because her back hurt, he eventually told us, "even if you can't teach my grandma when you come back on Friday, can you teach me?" And now because of that preacher that talked to the mom, we won't be able to teach him. And that was devastating. We were so sad! We definitely shed a few tears. Basically it seems like everything that could go wrong did that day. 

But from having to go through that our companionship grew a little stronger. Likewise, I believe that I became more converted to the gospel. It would be easy to be disappointed because our numbers looked bad this week because of things beyond our control. And because missionary work is almost completely based on things beyond the control of our own agency, it is easy to get upset and feel like everything bad happens to you. But I realized that numbers and feelings like that are completely selfish. The numbers didn't matter at all. What mattered was that these people are making choices that are bringing them away from heavenly father and true happiness. And that is devastating. How my day goes doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. I could get that same type of day every single day for the rest of my mission and it doesn't really matter. I will have known that I did the best with my own agency in inviting others to come unto Christ. Hopefully my day isn't like that every single day for the rest of my mission, but if it is I will not be any less converted to Christ. I am not a fair-weather missionary: just being happy and working hard when you have the right conditions. I am a missionary that will keep working despite the conditions and despite how many people reject me. Why? No matter how many sad things I go through on my mission, it isn't even a fraction compared to Christ. I am a disciple of Christ. How can I be expected to call myself a disciple of Christ if I haven't gone through that infinitesimally small portion of what He went through during the atonement?

But yeah, last week was just one of those weeks. I'm hoping that all of that will turn around this week and we'll be blessed with miracles. 
Oh yeah, we're going to be looking for an apartment in our area to move into sometime soon. Since we don't live in our area we are wasting gas everyday having to drive to and from our apartment to even get to our area. Likewise, when we have to pick up the other hermanas for activities, we have to go way out of the way. So we're looking for something in our area. We're going to check out a couple after this today. I'm not sure when we'd be moving, but I'll keep you updated so you can have my latest address etc. I'm pretty sure we won't be moving this week at least and probably not next either, but I don't know. 
Hmm... I don't really have much else to share from last week, so I guess I'll say some random things about the mission... 
The apartment from the Karate Kid is not too far away from my area. On some future preparation day, we're planning to go there to take some pictures etc.
The roads and driving are very different. Like you can park on like any street almost (except highways obviously). The only time you can't park is a few hours for whatever time the street cleaner comes for that particular street. If you do that you get a ticket. You can take U-turns practically anywhere. The drivers are pretty crazy. Last Saturday we actually saw an accident right in front of us when we were walking back to our car. Crazy! But there is this one road in particular that I really like when we drive down. It is called Sherman Way and I'm not sure if you can look it up online or not, but it is lined with palm trees which is super pretty! There are palm trees randomly all over the place, but that street has them more organized so it is prettier. 
There are also different types of palm trees and to keep them looking pretty people have to scale the palm trees and cut off all the old dead palms. Otherwise it will just keep growing upward with the dead stuff piling on dead stuff stuck to the tree and it is like the tree has a big beard and it is just like hairy. 
The food here of the Latinos is really good. They serve corn tortillas with like practically everything. There are also some new stuff I've tried. For instance, they have a thing called horchata. It is a drink that is kind of like milk but with like flour or cinnamon stuff mixed in (depending on if you're doing the Mexican or El Salvador type). Papusas are delicious! It is like a kind of homemade thicker tortilla with delicious stuff stuffed inside it. There are bean kinds, meat kinds, cheese kinds, etc. They also do their tacos differently. They take the corn tortillas that are soft and just do little small ones that you fold up. You put the meat mixture, the chopped up onion, the chopped up cilantro, and the salsa in it and that is it. 
The vast majority of the members here are first generation converts. Like I'd guess even somewhere around 90-95% I'm in a Spanish stake, so that makes a difference, but it is really interesting dynamics because usually the ward missionaries can take over after baptism and help teach the new convert lessons etc, but they depend so much more on the missionaries because most of them are newer. 
There are also a lot of poor people here. There are people on carts who are food venders selling whatever. On Saturdays and Sundays there is someone outside our apartment who sells Tamales and they scream out that word for hours on end and most of the time it doesn't sound like that. It sounds like some type of horn or weird animal call. But it is pretty sad. There are quite a few illegal immigrants I've met too, both in the church and on the street just saying "no tengo mis papeles" -- I don't have my papers. You can tell the missionaries from the ward who were from illegal families because they are sent to a different mission in California and they can't use the planes so the family has to drive them to and from the MTC. 
All the apartments have gates so when we want to get in we have to wait around until someone lets us in going in or out. 
The children all speak English because school is in English so they are taught English from Kindergarten etc. None of them remember if it was hard to learn English or not because they were still young when they learned. 
The members are so extremely nice to the missionaries. They love us. They would pretty much bend over backwards for us. Maybe that is because most of them are first generation converts who understand how important this work is. But yeah it is really nice. We try to offer service all the time and most just won't let us. They scold us when we try to even take the plates to the kitchen. 
One other random thing that I've been learning a lot about. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say that they knew this church was the true church because of a dream even just this month. I never would have even thought of that as being a method of spiritual communication because I'm white and we're taught that dreams don't really mean anything. But they have the blood of Lehi and Nephi etc and so to them dreams are so big and are often the way that they find out the truthfulness for themselves. Crazy, right? But it is also pretty cool!
Anyway, I should probably go soon. But if any of you have questions for me about what it is like here or anything, feel free to ask! I'd love to tell you about it! 
Have a great week and may the spirit be with you! 
~Hermana Whetten

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