Monday, March 17, 2014

Mexico Week 4 -- Colored Pencils and Learning to Love

Hola to my favorite people in the world!!  I can't believe I've already been here a month! Totally blows my mind!

So I had my first heartbreak this week.  I've never had a bad breakup.  I had a good dad growing up and now.  The first man in my life broke my heart.  Ouch!  We had a lesson with Carlos this week and we taught the Atonement.  I always feel the strongest spirit in their home, and so of course I was a flippin baby throughout the whole thing, but the words honestly flew out of my mouth.  My testimony of the Savior is so strong and I think the hardest part is that I saw it in his face a few times.  I saw his face change but then he gets all gruff again.  This week in the Book of Mormon I was reading about King Noah. He started to feel the Spirit, the truth of what Abinadi was saying, and he was going to let him go, but the priests ¨stirred him up unto anger¨ ... Carlos is a bit like King Noah.  I know he feels it, and I know he's unhappy.  I know how much he needs his Savior.  He says all the right things, but at the end of the day, he's not willing to start making the little changes.  Leaving that lesson was flippin hard.  I feel so much love for him and I feel like I promised him before this life.  Imm pretty sure the whole Contreras family teased me before this life about coming to their mission and having to figure out Spanish but they promised to help me out!  I feel like Carlos was just as hard headed before this life too but on the other team!   Haha!  Anywho, as we left, I literally felt terrible.  I felt like I missed a prompting, or maybe we could have planned or practiced more before, or maybe if I wasn't tired that night, or maybe if we had been more diligent during the day, cosas asi.  As we were waiting for the bus, I had this peace come over me.  I literally heard in my head, ¨Lex, I am so proud of you. He's just not ready yet, be patient and keep loving.  I promise I've prepared people for you.¨

It wasn't really until the next morning during studies that the lesson sunk in for me.  I understand the tiniest bit of what the Savior experienced.  People reject Him and His powerful love all the time.  He weeps.  He truly hurts every time this happens.  He understands and I'm so grateful that I get to feel a portion of His love for other people.  I want to stand proxy for Him.  I want to have an impact in people's lives.  I want to have this kind of love for every person here.  I want to be perfectly diligent and obedient.  Most of all, I just want to testify and help people understand His love.  I'm reading Jesus the Christ right now and there's a part where it talks about the apostles.  They were imperfect, they didn't understand everything, in fact they were children.  We're all children.  However, the best thing about children is that they're willing to learn.  They're trying to understand, and they're willing to change and follow.  It's kind of crazy looking back on this experience because I can feel how crazy it was that I let so many discouraging thoughts into my head.  We really have to watch our thoughts!  Satan is tricky!  I promise! 

So I'm using my journal to write this letter and it's kind of funny how everything is in Spanglish!  Haha!!  I'm really getting a kick out of this! 

We also had a lesson with Saira this week.  This is her basset hound and I love him.  I think I might be switching loyalties from labs to basset hounds.  Her mom had surgery and has been in the hospital.  Saira is taking care of her.  She was different that day, not as feisty, not as demanding, more just taking it all in and asking lots of questions.  Saira told us that her mom has cancer and is preparing to die and that all of this just scares her.  So many times in that lesson I just felt the Spirit so strong and then bore testimony.  Saira commented on how beautiful my Spanish has become so quickly, but I just told her that there are things her Heavenly Father wants her to know and so He gives me the words. She reading the Book of Mormon too.  It blows my mind to watch the Savior work in people's lives. I love Saira ... I really just love her. I want to help her increase her faith. 

Fun fact ... We were talking with people in the street and a man read my palms!  Apparently I'm very independent or something like that. I don't know...haha!

I've been reading the Liahona and the scriptures in Spanish during our language time.  I was reading an article about the Savior.  There was a section that talked about the word Atonement.  In Spanish it's not in the Bible at all.  In English, it was in there somewhere between one and three times.  In the Book of Mormon, the word Atonement appears almost 30 times!!  When they talk about plain and precious truths being taken from the Bible...ding ding ding.  This word is so crucial!!  It's everything, and it somehow was taken out of the Bible. My mind was blown.  I have a goal to read the Book of Mormon six times on my mission and the Bible from start to finish once. 

Now for the Reynaga family. In all honesty, I didn't have the strongest love for them the past couple of weeks.  Pedro Reynaga is in his fifties or sixties, I think.  He is less active and always asks the most bizarre questions, but he's been struggling in his faith lately.  His daughter is also less active and has so many kids that are always all over the place.  Then there's Juan Carlos.  He's pretty much all there but he had an embolism and there a few effects.  He's pretty religious, always wears his cross, but he wasn't understanding that there was only one true church.  I was honestly wondering why we hadn't left him.  Not to mention, I can't understand a word either of them says.  He changes his reason all the time for not wanting baptism.  He wasn't progressing, and then ... he started reading the Book of Mormon, and he's retaining what he's reading. 

We arrived at their house for a lesson this week and Juan Carlos tells us that he wants to be baptized.  He wants to buy his own clothes and everything.  His baptism is the 29th of March!  He really touched my heart.  Pedro is changing too.  The past couple of lessons, his questions have been changing and this week he told us he's confident in his testimony. My love is growing!  I was challenged to gain a testimony of my mission call.  I believe I'm supposed to be here but I don't have an unshakable knowledge yet.  This lesson was a time when I felt the Spirit so strongly that I'm helping people here, that the Lord is using me!  

Then comes Sunday ... all morning I had this thought that I needed to bring my colored pencils.  I was thinking what the heck, my bag is heavy enough with scriptures, why do I need my colored pencils?!  Anywho, I brought them.  We got to church and Pedro and Juan Carlos are sitting in the back, but two of the kids are sitting in the front row.  Guess who was pretty rowdy during the sacrament?  Hahaha!  Hermana Valdez and I moved to sit with them after the sacrament and then they colored so reverently!  Isn't the Spirit great? They were honestly so impressed with my 24 pack because there were ¨muchos muchos colores!"  Sometimes we really forget how blessed we are. Just the littlest thing we take for granted and even expect them.  After they colored, they both sat and read my scriptures.  Roxton is 9 and Elisa is 8.  Literally my heart melted.  Kids are so close to our Heavenly Father.  I feel the pure, simple love that Jesus has for kids.  In sacrament meeting, the thought came to me that these are some of the kids waiting for me.  We want to teach them if their mom gives us permission.  I am so excited, especially if they come to their uncle's baptism!  My heart is really opening up to some crazy love! 

I just want to wrap this baby up, one by letting you all know just how much I love you. And secondly, to testify of the Savior. His love is real, I know it.  There are so many distractions, so many thoughts that prevent us from feeling it, but He's always with us. This week I loved the song ¨Gethsemane¨by Kenneth Cope.  In all honesty, we watched the Atonement happen from before we were here.  We felt so much pain, but yet so much gratitude and determination to live this life right.  We wanted to come to the Savior and wipe away His blood, but we couldn't.  But now that we're here, He can come to us.  I just know it with my whole heart. Once we crowd out all the business, we can really feel it. 

I love you all to the moon and back! 

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