Let me tell you a bit about the past few weeks...
First of all, I wanted to tell Doodle that right now we have an 11 year old investigator and her name is Penelope. When I heard that name, it immediately made me think of Doodle. Hope she enjoys that.
Another random thing... the Friday before last our car was hit. We were driving down a clear turning lane. There were many cars lined up at the stoplight and some cars had stopped with enough room that someone who was originally heading in the other direction could cross all the lanes to turn into some of the businesses past the turning lane we were in. So they crossed all the lanes and just kept on going right into us. We didn't see them until right before we hit. It really wasn't that much damage done and we were hit on the back bumper behind the back driver's side bumper. I felt bad because our car is a 2010 Pontiac Vibe and theirs was I think something like a 2013 Chevy Volt or something like that, and they took way more damage than we did. But it wasn't our fault and no one was injured. It was kind of annoying to have to be running around doing all the paperwork and going to the body shop in Santa Clarita to get estimates of the damage, etc. But we are just really grateful no one was hurt or anything like that.
So a little about the person I'm training. Again, her name is Hermana Hardy. She is from Meridian, Idaho I guess close to Boise. She is 21 years old. One cool thing about her is that she and her little sister, who is 19, received their mission calls on the same exact day and they were both called to enter the MTC on the same day and they were both called stateside Spanish speaking missions and my companion was called here and her sister was called to serve in the next door mission--California Ventura Mission (which coincidentally both missions are having chunks taken out of to form the new Bakersfield Mission). My first impression of her is that we would definitely be able to get along because at the end of the transfer meeting we were singing a song and she can do both Soprano and Alto but she has a really pretty voice. So I was okay with her. But then not too many minutes later I was thinking I got the reject Hermana. When we got to talking about ourselves a little bit, one of the first things she told me was that she has extreme anxiety related with food. Basically she does eat and she promised the mission president she would eat. But any time she tries new foods she gets extreme anxiety to the point of crying or even throwing up. Thus, she only eats things that she's been eating for her whole life, and very bland foods at that. She eats plain rice. Plain pastas without any type of seasoning or sauce or anything. She will eat plain veggies if they are separated (she doesn't like textures mixing or flavors). She will eat bananas. She will eat cheerios. She will eat plain potatoes. She was listing off the things she will eat and there are maybe a total of 15 things on her list. She has had salt and cinnamon (on French toast) but she can't ever remember eating any other spices even. She said that she has troubles even eating through a whole apple because it is sooo full of flavor to her. When I heard about all of that my heart sunk a little. I was like "great, why did I get the weird one?" I remember mom telling me about a weird companion who would get upset if you didn't use separate knives for peanut butter and jelly. But I figured that my current companion is infinitely more weird than that. And worse than that, we are working in Hispanic culture where when people offer you food it is like they're offering you a piece of their heart. If you reject their food it is almost like rejecting their offering of their heart. I was thinking of how am I supposed to tell the members that I'll eat (and even LOVE the Hispanic food so much) but that my companion won't even try anything. I was telling you about how just a few months ago I was receiving so much revelation and was constantly being so inspired by how cool the word of wisdom is and how food is a way that God has provided to give us such great joy. As an example, Doctrine and Covenants 59:18-19 says:
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
To me, that is how food is. It is here to "please the eye," "gladden the heart," "to strengthen the body," and even "enliven the soul." Look at those adjectives. please, gladden, strengthen, enliven. Those are beautiful and even thrilling. And I have a companion who for her whole life has in a way rejected the word of wisdom in that way... because of fear?
So that was my first reaction. I felt like my trainee was someone who probably if she was standing in a line for sports would be chosen last every time because that is so weird. I was kind of stuck like that for a few days. I felt like I've been so lucky my whole mission because I've had only completely cool or completely normal companions. Especially my last few companions I have gotten along SO well with that the time has just been flying by. I was trying to be supportive and trying to explain it to the members that she just didn't want to eat their food etc. I was trying if nothing else than by words to say that I'm here for her and I am excited to be able to work with her, etc. But inside, I was stuck on how I literally just don't understand her.
Then a few nights later I decided to try praying to help me know how much Heavenly Father loves her. I got the image in my mind of this like ribbon kind of acting as a blindfold and I could only peak through a teeny bit. When I peaked through I found out that I had to have that ribbon as a protection because what I saw was a bright white light that was so pure and clean and white. I had to have the covering because otherwise it would blind me. That is how much God loves her. He loves her so brilliantly and purely even despite of her weirdness, or perhaps because of it. I began to see that some of the attributes I was seeing in her like pride and defensiveness were probably because all throughout her life she's been somewhat alone and in need of good friends. She has built up a little bit of a defense mechanism to help protect herself because people often think she's weird when she tells her about her eating habits. I began to see more and more that it was actually really brave of her to go on a mission despite her extreme anxiety, to be here despite of how her personal weakness is so obvious everywhere she goes. She knew that the Lord called her to be on a mission because he needed a missionary, not because he needed someone to eat the Hispanic food.
I was kind and courteous and trying to be as helpful and supportive as I could at the beginning, but since that prayer especially, I just decided I would try to hold inside me that pure love that Heavenly Father has for her and just love her no matter what her personal weaknesses are. I decided to take on Maria Teresa's advice of "if you just love people, you don't have any time to judge them". Since then, we have been having so much fun together. Honestly, besides her eating habit, she is one of the best people I could have received to train. She is excited to work, not afraid to make mistakes and just try Spanish (she's a beginner), she is full of great random ideas and is willing to work hard all the time to always be finding more people. She has all the theoretical knowledge that she needs to be exceptional so she just needs my help to put that knowledge into practice. I want to with our time together work hard to teach her the administration and show her the ministration. We have been having so much fun together. For instance, yesterday we had a few hours before we had to go home to study at the end of the day (there are 4 hours of study required of us each day 1)personal 2)comp 3)12 weeks 4)language) so she had the great idea of going to a park since it was Easter and the park had been advertising an Easter egg hunt that day. We were both so nervous because there were so many people at the park, but we ended up meeting a few really cool people who hopefully we can get to teaching this week. We have been blessed with so many miracles this week especially. For instance, referrals have been coming out of the woodworks. Two people have called us up on the phone asking us to visit their friends and several people at dinner appointments have been referring people they know. Those phone calls like never happen and the dinner appointment referrals are sometimes rare to actually receive one. We have been so blessed. Hermana Hardy is also super intelligent, so the last few days we've been able to get into really cool and fun discussions and we are having a great time.
I know I was not born an especially charitable person, but I know that as I continue to work on it, the Lord will continue to help me feel increasing love for my companions and especially for the people we're teaching and finding. I know I have a lot to learn from Hermana Hardy and so these next few months will be good for me. Who knows maybe I'll eventually receive from her, an additional chapter in the future book I may write about the Word of Wisdom haha
Anyway, tenga el spiritu consigo siempre!!!