August 28, 2013
Just kidding. It wasn’t total rejection. Just a lot of it.
I didn’t realize how friendly and open it was in little old Wauchula. Even the white people. But I am quickly learning that these big city people are a liiiiiitle different. “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Wauchula anymore….”
Example: We may or may not have gotten flipped off by a 7 year old this week after his grandmother slammed the door in our face…You sure you don’t want a message about Jesus Christ in your home?
Don’t worry about me.
I can handle it!
This week just took a little getting used to. LUCKILY Hermana Russell [my MTC district buddy] is letting us borrow her GPS for a few days til we get to know the area. I’m thinking I might have to buy a GPS of my own. I am perdida all the time, even with that thing. #bigcityshock And heaven knows I’m already navigationally handicapped. But it’s fine. We’re working through it.
This week consisted of a LOT of tracting. And unfortunately it’s not quite as easy here as it is back in Wauchula to tell hispanic houses from the white ones. But we’re learning: brightly colored house? some sort of sun or iron designy thing on the house? lots of plants? a cross? Virgin Mary statue in the yard? proooobably hispanic. But my discernment skills just aren’t quite as accurate as they used to be. Luckily one of the perks to being a Spanish missionary is the line, “Well who do you know around here who speaks Spanish?” that we can throw in right as they’re closing the door. We can usually get a couple referrals out of that.
Hermana Newbill is so great. I have never felt more frazzled or stressed than as a trainer. I feel like my mind is 7 different places at once. But she’s really patient with me, even when I get lost 4 times in one day. With the GPS. She is so sweet and so excited for the work. And she went to the Mexico MTC and I’m pretty sure her Spanish is better than mine. Which is a blessing and a half because Cuban/Puerto Rican Spanish is verrrrrry different than Mexican Spanish. But don’t worry… I. Will. Get. There.
The coolest thing about living in a big city is that I’m not in a Spanish branch….I’m in a Spanish Ward. I didn’t even think those could exist! And we have 5 companionships serving in the Tampa 5 ward. 3 pairs of sisters, 2 pairs of elders. It’s incredible to see this work being hastened so fast! The members here are amazing and so sweet. I’m stoked to serve with them.
I finally tried Cuban food! Those fried platanos? SO DELISH. It’s not spicy like Mexican food, but it’s great.
Despite the shock of a new area, the stresses of being a trainer, and the rejection of tracting, there’s been miracles. It’s amazing how Heavenly Father throws those in our path just when we’re about to give up. Miracles happen in the last 10%. Thanks Hermano Draper for that one. So true.
Last night all our plans fell through. [Typical missionary work] So we decided to explore a little in an area we’ve never been to before. We walked around and it seemed that we weren’t going to find anyone. We knocked on door after door, only to face rejection or worse…silence. We turned a corner and saw an older woman working in her garden. She was not Hispanic but I felt prompted to go ask her if we could help her with anything.
We went over and started talking to her. She asked us what we were doing and we explained that we’re missionaries. We leave our families for 18 months to go and teach people about Jesus Christ.
“Tell me….are you happy?” She asked almost hesitantly.
“I am the happiest I have ever been. This work is hard and there’s ups and downs but I have never seen more miracles or blessings in my life,” I testified, “I know that Heavenly Father knows each and every one of us and loves us and I’m grateful for this time I’ve had to dedicate to him and teach people about what I know.”
“Oh…well does He love those little children in Afghanistan who have been tortured and mangled and certainly haven’t been baptized?”
I paused for a second. “He does. He loves all of his children enough to give them agency, the ability to choose right from wrong. Sometimes people choose wrong, and those choices affect other people. But Christ loves those children and he will have mercy on them. All things can be made fair through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”
She looked into my eyes and it felt as though her soul was questioning my own. She looked so confused and lost. “Can we teach you something really quick?” we asked. We gave her a short summary of the Book of Mormon.
“That’s nice honey but…I’ll never read it.”
“Why is that?” She was silent for awhile. “Well I know you say you won’t read it but can I read a part of it to you?” I asked and opened up to Alma 7:11-13. I read it to her and testified of the Savior and that I know with everything in me that the Book was true. “Every page talks about Christ. I know He loves us and that He is so aware of you. I know there’s a reason we met you.”
She continued to stare at me, looking a little bit in awe. “I know that too………….And I think I’m going to read that book.”
It was one of the most spiritual lessons I’ve ever had so far out here. I felt like we were sent to her. Led by the hand to this woman who had been searching for answers. I don’t know what will happen after this but I know that we made a difference in her life and I know it’s not something she will forget.
This experience is one of the most amazing times in my life. And I know I’m going to miss all of it. Even the door-slamming part. So I’m trying to enjoy it all while it lasts. The opportunity to bear the name of my Savior and be a representative of Him every single day is such a blessing and I want to make each second count.
I know that this Church is true.
Love you all!