Dear family and friends,
This has been the most INCREDIBLE week! So many miracles and funny moments and tender mercies I don't even know where to begin.
The Lord blessed us with so many amazing new investigators this week. There is one girl, Emily, who we got as a referral 5 weeks ago. She is a teenager, and the English missionaries had found her and just sent us her address. We decided to stop by, and right as we did they were just finishing moving out of their house. We were able to help them move a few boxes and bags and get Emily's phone number real quick as we explainedwhat we do as missionaries, then they got in their car and drove away to their new house. It was crazy because if we had come five minutes later they would have already been gone and we wouldn't have been able to get in contact with her. We finally were able to set an appointment with her this week, and she is so solid. She has a lot of questions about religion, she has gone to a church all growing up, but doesn't really understand the doctrine, and as we were talking about the restoration she kept saying "wow! That makes so much sense!" And she was really excited to start reading the Book of Mormon, and wants to come to church and come to Young women's, and it was so exciting and refreshing to see someone so happy to learn.
We were very sad to hear the news this week of President Monson's passing. I am so grateful for his life of dedicated service and love for the Lord and for the saints. Yesterday, we were having a lesson with a returning to activity member couple. We watched "The Power of the Book of Mormon", President Monson's final conference address from April 2017. And I definitely started tearing up, because you can tell how old and fragile he was getting, but also because I love his powerful message. Read the Book of Mormon, and you will better be able to withstand the adversary and have the spirit in your lives. What an amazing last promise from the prophet of the Lord. Then last night at a member dinner we watched the video, Dare to Stand Alone, and we were all crying. President Monson will be missed.
I don't known if I've mentioned this before, well I know I say it all the time, but we have the most amazing members. They never cease to astound me. Saturday night, our ward mission leader and his family had a birthday party for me and Hermana Hopkins, because our birthdays are a week apart, and they still felt so bad about not doing anything last week. Holy cow, Hispanics know how to have a birthday party! I have never laughed so hard and eaten so much food in my life (including 12 course Christmas eve, mom). They had our whole district over and a bunch of other members from the ward. Hna Matus is an amazing cook, so she taught us how to make papusas, one of my absolute favorite foods, they're little pockets of beans and cheese that you put in dough then you cook them on the stove and they are so delicious. And then of course, it wouldn't be a party without at least 3 different cakes, cheesecake, and tres leches, both of my favorites. Tradition in many Latino countries is we all gather around the cake and sing happy birthday, in English, then after you blow out the candles, everyone starts chanting "que lo muerde, que lo muerde!" And if it's your birthday your supposed to take a bite out of the cake. Just lean down and take a big bite out of the side. We both got to do it, and I just went for it, but Hna Hopkins kind of hesitated right before she took a bite, so one of the elders and our members pushed her into the cake, and it was sloop funny we set dying, there was frosting everywhere. Needless to say, it was the best birthday party I've ever had, and there is no other way I would habe wanted to spend my 20th birthday, then with these amazing people I love so much.
The saddest part of the day was getting a phone call from the APs last night that President has asked that I move again, this time to go to Rochester to be a sister training leader. And Hermana Hopkins is staying here to train and I am so excited for her! These past six weeks with this ward have flown by, and I have grown to love them already, and I'm sad I don't get more time with them. However I am so grateful that I was here for Christmas and New Year's and my birthday and this wonderful holiday season, I would not have wanted to experience it anywhere else, and as hard as these six weeks have been, I will forever be grateful for them. For the miracles I have seen and the things I've learned.
We had an activity with the young men and young women this week where we watched "17 Miracles" And I thought two things: 1. I'm never complaining about how cold it is here again 2. The words of the hymn, "We are all Enlisted:"
Fighting for a kingdom, and the world is our foe;
Happy are we! Happy are we!
Glad to join the army, we will sing as we go;
We shall gain the vict’ry by and by.
Dangers may gather—why should we fear?
Jesus, our Leader, ever is near.
He will protect us, comfort, and cheer.
We’re joyfully, joyfully marching to our home.
In the midst of it all, the cry of the saints is "happy are we!" Because the joy of the everlasting gospel fills our souls and we know that Christ is on our side, lifting us, guiding us, carrying our pains and our sorrows, and yet he is the happiest of all, as he sees and helps God's children marching back to our Heavenly Father.