Email sent on February 28, 2011
I´m imagining only the worst. There was a freak thunderstorm that with one lightning bolt destroyed Utah Power and you have no way to contact me because there was also an earthquake and tornado that took out all the cell phone towers and wifi internet and whatever else iPods have the ability of doing....right?
Is everyone ok?
I´m doing MUCH better today than I was yesterday. There´s no way to gently break news of sickness in an email so I´ll just come out with it. I had a pretty bad case of food poisoning Saturday. The thing is, my companion ate the same thing and is FINE while I spent the wee hours of Sunday morning making friends with the toilet and the bathroom floor. Remember the time Ruth threw up so badly that her eyeball veins popped? Well....me too. I was throwing up so much (and all y'all know how much i hate throwing up and how I avoid it all costs?) that by 6 am I had nothing more to upchuck but my stomach heaved anyway. My eyes are red from the burst blood vessels as well as spots on my face that look a little like freckles under my eyes but also my neck just beneath my chin is pretty spotted too. Sad story but hey, it was bound to happen sometime. Might as well get it over with! And I´m feeling much better today. It was just the nausea and weakness that got me yesterday. I still don´t have much of an appetite but I´m not queasy and I´m keeping down crackers and chamomile tea.
PLEASE know that I am fine. I realize that my dramatic description might be too much but I only describe my face because I can´t send you pictures! It is only noticeable in my left eye and it´ll be kinda funny until it heals because there is a BIG drug abuse problem here among the youth.......haha oops.
With that, if in the next package you could include some alka seltzer or stomach stuff that would be lovely in case there is a next time :S blech
I didn´t bring one because I thought I would never use it but an ENGLISH hymnbook (baby size) would be lovely! I didn´t think about how all the youth investigating the church learn English in school. Fernanda, that was my first baptism down here, is VERY good at English that she learned and continues perfecting listening to English music! She loves reading the English liahonas we gave her and I’m planning on giving her one of the baby books of Mormon when they get to me. She goes on splits with us and is always asking bunches of questions because she also wants to be a missionary!!!!!! Oh sweet words that nourish the soul!
OK, so no journey to the ocean and flocks of penguins again this week. Oh well, the Lord must be protecting us from SOMETHING so I won't complain that it hasn´t worked out yet.
This week we saw major miracles but are still waiting for the investigators to see for themselves that their prayers have been answered.
We are teaching this wonderful woman named Sonia. She was contacted by Hna Salas and Hna Lyons when they were knocking doors on her street. She is amazing and loving and has progressed quickly. Last week we taught the Word of wisdom. We asked her to hand over any and all cigarettes she currently had. She laughed a little because she thought we were joking. We waiting with patient smiles and she stood up to go get them. She handed over the death sticks and before we said anything, promised us that she wouldn´t buy more. We promised her that it wasn´t US that she would be making this promise with and that her Heavenly Father was waiting to guide her to a happier, healthier life. Please keep her in your prayers as she tries to kick this habit cold turkey.
On Friday, it rained. But for real this time. It started out small, nothing to worry about. We were armed with boots and scarves and coats so I wasn´t worried. Then the wind started to blow extra hard and the rain came down harder too! So it was VERRRRRY cold and the water was attacking us from the sides! It rained which equals wet missionaries. And the wind didn´t stop so we were wet and the cold was seeping in deep. That was pretty bad but hey, we endure very little. What we endure, like E Holland once said, is what we NEED to endure. We endure it so we can know a little more about how the Savior felt. We will NEVER feel exactly as He did in the Garden of Gethsemane but we can get a taste of the suffering and feel evermore grateful for His loving sacrifice.
It is so hard to find a FAMILY here. Hna Peña taught me that we need to find FAMILIES. That is the central plan of God. Here in Rio Gallegos the families are torn apart. The most common thing I´ve found both here and in BS AS is that people just live together. They cohabitate, have kids and a house and everything together but then they can just split and go live with a new person and have more kids and still have to let the other father/mother have time with their children. Usually both parents work, and that leaves the kids alone a LOT. With all of these things and the little value on family togetherness, it isn't hard to see why there are so many sad people and so many errant youth. It´s a little scary but more sad.
But about that. It is our goal first and foremost to find and baptize MEN. The goal is to get a STAKE up and going in Rio Gallegos. In order to achieve that goal, we have to baptize 900 people AND reactivate the many, many inactive members. The finding of the MEN is what stumps Hna Salas and I. We are not timid when it comes to contacting women on the street and they are usually the ones at home who answer the door....but....when it comes to stopping to talk to men? uhhh....we get a little nervous. Mostly about how it´ll look, how they´ll take it, etc. We are making it a new goal to practice and try to contact the more normal looking men we find :) It´s much easier to teach women and children! haha
We teach a lot of women but also couples who are not married. Like I mentioned before, the conventional marriage is nonexistent here so to explain to people who have no value for the institution of legal marriage that they need to get married is VERY difficult. But it´s like President Gulbrandsen is always telling us, when we repent (meaning, we the missionaries) and humble ourselves to receive the will of God, He will prepare the hearts and the way that we may lead the souls to the waters of baptism. We are here to invite the people to come unto Christ to receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and the atonement, by repentance, by baptism, by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Uh i THINK that´s how it goes in English. haha (I realized yesterday that I have lost the ability to differentiate when some speaks to me in English or Spanish. I don´t notice the change. If an Elder speaks English on the phone or in district meeting, i don´t realize it until my comp asks me to translate what was said!)
I know that there is a lot of work to be done and we are slowly but surely honing in on the plan that the Lord has for this branch. We walk and walk and walk. We talk and talk and talk. And we will work, work, work until we come face to face with the Lord and HE tells us that the work is enough. Until then, we go on. In the heat, in the cold, in the rain....soon to be snow....haha. No importa. ¡Vamos que se puede!
I love this work, I love this gospel. I love that to be a true disciple of Christ requires that we trust in the Lord in everything, we turn everything over to Him and have faith that He will take us, form us and continue to improve us like we never thought we could change until we end up being what He wants us to be: His idea of our perfect potential. I love my Heavenly Father and I´m grateful every day for the opportunity to be here, for the blessing of my wonderful family and the amazing people who have had an influence on my life. I LOVE YOU ALL!
Love, Hna Gonzalez