This week was extremely FULL. It was really fun, really busy, really spiritual, and at times really difficult. But I wouldn't have it any other way! One of the things that's been a huge blessing is to know that each day as a missionary is full of the things that matter most. At times it can be easy to forget that and focus on details that don't really matter, but this week was a good reminder of why all of this is happening--for the progression and salvation of God's children!
Last night there was a baptism in the ward for an investigator the elders were teaching and a little 8-year-old from a part-member family that Hna Osborn and I teach every week. Both stories are very touching. After the baptism, the convert shared about how the elders had knocked on her door at just the right moment in her life, and how their invitations for her to pray to her Heavenly Father changed everything. She thanked them for searching for the right words to say to her to help her accept the gospel. It's always humbling to hear someone express their feelings about how the gospel has changed their lives. The dad who baptized his little girl also shared his testimony. A year ago he was addicted to alcohol and receiving multiple DUIs. He had fallen away from the church for over 20 years, and just recently came back and received the Melchizedek priesthood. He bore the most humble testimony of the Atonement I've ever heard as he talked about how blessed he felt to be worthy again to perform his daughter's baptism. I had to get up and lead the closing hymn at the end of the meeting and couldn't help but cry as we sang "Senor, Te necesito" ("I Need Thee Every Hour") and I thought about the power of repentance, both in this brother's life and in the life of the sister who was taught by the elders. It was kind of embarrassing to cry in front of a congregation, but the Spirit was stronger than I was. :)
We've been extremely blessed this week with our investigators. We're teaching a woman named Nancy that just amazes me with how readily she accepts the gospel and how prepared she is. She accepted a baptismal date right away, was already living the word of wisdom before she even knew about it, and came to her own conclusion that working on the Sabbath is not right. We left her a chapter in the Book of Mormon as a reading assignment and when I asked her what her experience was like, she told me she'd read it 4 times just to make sure she understood! In the first prayer we ever heard her say, she thanked Heavenly Father for helping her to find the right religion. Amazing! She also came to sacrament meeting this week and loved it. She's truly amazing and understands the gospel so quickly and readily. It's a reminder to me that as we teach people about the gospel, we're really just reminding them of things that they already learned in the pre-mortal life. Her only barrier right now is church attendance because she works on Sundays, but she's already working on changing it. We're excited to see her continue to progress!
I also had an amazing experience with one of our investigators, Leslie. We were teaching her about obedience and the Atonement. She opened up and told us about some mistakes she'd made in her past and talked about her desire to repent. Instantly my love for her grew dramatically. It's so hard to watch people struggle with a lot of the pain that's entered into their lives because of their mistakes and the mistakes of others in their lives, but it's so wonderful to see them realize that there is hope through the Atonement and Gospel of Jesus Christ. President Holland once spoke about how we need to go with people into the "highways and byways" of their lives to understand them, and then take them to the Sacred Grove and Gethsemane to help them see how the gospel can help them. I feel like this experience was one of those in which that happened, and it strengthened my testimony of the Savior's power of deliverance.
On a more lighthearted note, this weekend we had a giant Latino cultural festival in the ward. The sisters from all different countries shared dances and food from their countries. It was so great and I realized how attached I've become to the Hispanic culture, even though I'm still in the U.S. :) It was sad when after the "party" they turned on the dance music and started the REAL Hispanic party and we had to leave. Haha. :D I'm hoping that their rhythm will rub off on me and I'll be a better dancer when I finish the mission and am allowed to dance again.
Anyway, I hope you all had a good week and that this week will be even better. Stay tuned for more adventures from the Chinese program and the Tagalog program in next week's letter! I love you all!