Our GOLDEN investigator Estela dropped by our house to ask for another Book of Mormon to give to her mom who was coming to visit. "Look," she said, "Have you two been praying for me or something?" We both looked at each other and answered, "YES!"
"I knew it!" she shouted, "I just feel like there's something different in my life. I feel happier, and I want to do good things," she said.
Prayer is real my friends. Sometimes it's so easy to wonder if God really is listening to the repeated list of names and needs. Sometimes its easy to wonder if they're just getting put on some sort of wait list in heaven. But let me just tell you, there is NO SUCH THING as a wait list in heaven. He hears. He answers. He cares.
MISSIONARIES PLEASE STAND:
This last Saturday and Sunday we had a big Stake Conference. We had to take a handful of buses, taxis, and motos to make it. About an hour of travel time and a lot of interesting people watching along the way. I tried to study my little notebook of Spanish vocab as we bumped our along. When we got to the conference on Saturday it was the coolest thing. They really involved everybody, especially the youth, and I loved it!
Everybody was participating, and there was a lot of visual aids and examples. Towards the end, our mission president spoke. He asked the youth, ages 16 and 17, to come to the front. They all - shyly and giggling, slinked their way to the stage, trying to hide behind one another. Our mission president then told them very directly and powerfully, "Do you realize that in 2 or 3 years you could be serving a mission?" They all looked at one another nervously. Then our mission president looked out into the very large congregation. "Would all the missionaries here in this room please stand." We stood. Our mission president then went on to say the kindest and most powerful things about how those youth should be living and striving everyday to become missionaries like those in that room.
I looked at that small group of youth and they all smiled right at me. It was so nice to be recognized. Sometimes its really easy to feel underappreciated as a missionary. It was an answer to prayer for sure. I had been feeling really down. Like I didn't matter. Like I wasn't making much of an impact or a difference. And then I saw all the kids looking to me as an example. Me? An example? It's like the thought had never even occurred to me.
I hope that everyday I can live in a way that I can proudly stand in front of all the young people everywhere and proudly say, "Come, follow me." Or even better, "Come follow CHRIST."
I was in a district meeting the other day when my district leader started talking about the difference between the word GO and the word COME. When you tell someone to GO to something it's usually not something that's really close to you. When you tell someone to COME to something, you're usually pretty darn close to it (sorry if that is confusing, it makes more sense in Spanish). We need to be standing side by side WITH Christ, and we need to tell people to COME to Christ. And there they will go with us. And together we will try a little more to be more like HIM. We will walk together. We will work together! And we will COME unto Christ.
HEAVEN AND BUSES:
For Stake Conference on Sunday a bus came and picked up a lot of the members. As we continued our journey to the Stake Center more and more people got on. With every person, we all cheered and they went down the line shaking hands and kissing cheeks and hugging. We all had to sit pretty close to smash everybody onto that tiny bus. As the bus rattled along, it filled with laughter and conversation.
I imagined for a moment that when this life is over, and we all arrive in the next life, it will be somewhat like that little bus. With every person arriving to a warm welcome, with hugs, kisses, and cheers. And we will sit together and bump our way along with laughter and happy conversation.
WHEN I AM WEAK:
This last change has been a bit of a rough go for me. My area and companion are no walk in the park. In many moments I felt really down. Many times I thought, "There just HAS to be something I need to learn here."
The other day I had my AHA! moment. Or light bulb moment. Or epiphany. Whatever you want to call it. I received a talk from my dearest mom, in a package. The talk was titled with a scripture from the Bible "For When I am Weak, Then am I Strong."
This last change, I've really had to rely on the Lord. I've had to pray harder than I ever have in my life. I've had to cry harder and work harder. I've had to struggle big time. But in these moments of great weakness, then was my faith strengthened the most. Oh how I wish I could properly express the comfort. The love. And the...well...REALNESS of my Heavenly Father. Christ has carried me through these last 4 or 5 weeks. When I was weak, I was strong.
*it doesnt even look that big in the picture but i promise you that in real life it was gigantor.
We went to go visit one of our MANY less active friends this last week. We asked if we could start the lesson with a hymn and our friend picked 'I Stand All Amazed'. We began singing and feeling the Spirit fill the room right up. One by one, we all began to cry. We sang with all we had, and we let the tears flow. The next Sunday our friend and all of her family were on time and in their Sunday best in the church.
AN ANSWERED PRAYER:
We invited our new miracle investigator to come see a baptism that was happening in the church this Saturday. We waited hopefully outside the front doors watching and... waiting. As time ticked by, we felt more and more discouraged. "She's not coming. She flaked out." said my companion. "NO." I said. "She is going to come."
I prayed right then and there. With all my heart I PRAYED that she would come and see the baptism. The baptism started and she still wasn't there. We went inside and sat down. But I still had hope! The baptism had yet to get started! And then a miracle occurred. The person that was going to be baptized was asked to share a short testimony to kick things off, and she talked and talked and TALKED for like a half hour!
It was a total answer to prayer because just as she was finally wrapping things up ESTELA SHOWED UP! God is always listening. YES, she was very late. YES she brought along her drunk cousin. BUT she was there. Just like I asked.
And then the Elder conducting the baptism stands up and announces that we are now going to hear from Hermana Matesen - a short message and experience. Um...WHAT? He failed to inform me beforehand...I grabbed my Book of Mormon and flipped to a random page and read the first scripture I saw.
It talked about putting our trust in God. I bore testimony of God's love. I put my trust in God, and the words flowed right out of my mouth in perfect Spanish. It was a miracle. There was SO many people at the baptism. I was unprepared and SCARED to stand in front of all of them and share something spiritual. But I DID IT!
I am making leaps and bounds out here. I can understand when people talk to me now (MOST of the time...) and I have the words to speak. He is answering my prayers. Big and small. Out loud or in my heart. He knows. He understands. And He answers.
Our miracle investigator. She accepts and keeps all her commitments. She has such a desire to follow the will of God and change her life. She came to church with us for the first time this last Sunday. As we sat there and listened to the talks, she leaned over to me and whispered, "Hermana Matesen, what is this? I feel so happy and I feel like I might cry." She was feeling the Spirit. Perhaps for the first time in her life.
I held her hand and we both smiled. After church, we taught her about God's love for her. She also said her first prayer. It was beautiful. "God," she said "Thank-you for helping me find the missionaries. God, I know that this is the right path for me." WOW. I love her to DEATH. I love when people pray for the first time. I can almost hear God saying, "Good to hear from you again, its been too long."
A SIMPLE TESTIMONY:
Went to go visit a less active this week. My companion made some sort of rude remark about Mexicans (ugh), and for about a half an hour she yelled at us. She yelled about religion, politics, God, Christ.
She told us we were stupid and bad people and this, that, and the other thing. It kind of felt like getting beat up really bad, but with words. She kept asking me, "And where does it say that in the Bible?" And "And why should I believe you, your just a person!!" and all sorts of other mean and hurtful things that I don't wish to type out.
My companion was starting to get mad (she's got a bit of a temper...) and, wanting to save this poor confused woman from a strong...lecture...from my companion, I politely interrupted her rant. I told her that we weren't there to fight, but we were there to share something short. I asked if that would be alright. She nodded.
We started with a prayer and I launched into a a very simple lesson on the Love of God. I told her that I don't know a whole lot of things. I don't know the scriptures backwards and forwards. I don't know every doctrine. "I'm not a perfect person," I said. But, I bore simple, powerful, and loving testimony of the things that I DO know. I spoke with all the love I could muster, and the spirit came pouring in.
Then we left. Who knows if my small and simple testimony made any difference to that woman. But it made a difference to me.
-Visiting with a 75 year old that has three boyfriends; all who are under the age of 60. She has no teeth and likes to wear a lot of pink. She is HILARIOUS. Basically, a teenager trapped in an old person's body. Oh how I wish you could talk to this woman.
-Sitting in the back of a rickety bus and hitting a speed bump full speed. I literally left my chair and FLEW! Of course, I screamed because I was in deep thought about the last conference talk I read, and THE WHOLE BUS turned and starred at me. I laughed, in hopes that they would join in, and we could all have a good chuckle. No one even cracked a smile. Which made it even MORE hilarious for me! Ahhh the Mexicans all think I'm nutty, Haha! maybe they're right.
-Ate my first corn on a stick. I can die happy now.
This week was full of really hard and really wonderful moments.
In the beginning of the week I was feeling really down on myself. "I can't speak Spanish, I'm getting fat, it's raining all day everyday and I'm always wet, what the heck am I doing in Mexico?" Negative self-talk was threatening to take me down.
I felt homesick, I felt self conscious. I felt...bleh.
On one of these days that I was feeling...bleh, we went to go visit yet another investigator that isn't progressing. Instead we ran into her friend. We sat down and started talking to her. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were all sitting there in a circle crying. But let me back up a bit and tell what happened.
The investigator that we went to see was sleeping and her friend was watching her soap opera. We asked if we could share something short with her instead. She hesitantly agreed to listen to the Bolivian and Gringa and we launched right into the plan of happiness.
We told her that she had a purpose and a plan. We told her that God loves her and knows her. We told her about her purpose here on this earth. We learned that her father had recently died and she was having a really hard time. She told us she had been feeling alone and without hope.
"I just know that you two are here for a reason. And I can just feel that you two are going to help me change my life." she told us. "This is why your here." The spirit whispered ever so quietly to my heart. My eyes filled with tears as God gently and ever so lovingly answered my prayers.
In Alma 26:27 it says; .
Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine
afflictions, and I will give unto you success.
In the mission there are a lot of "about to turn back" moments. When those negative thoughts and feelings of hopelessness creep their way into our lives. It's tempting to give up; to turn back. To choose something a little easier to do for a year and a half.
But then God has this way of giving us the most loving and special boost right when we need it. Those "this-is-why-you're-here" moments where our eyes are opened for just a second and we can see that this life is so much greater and more marvelous than we can imagine.
God needs me here. I am important to Him. He is aware of little Hermana Matesen, in the south of Mexico, trying to teach about Christ in broken Spanish day after day. He sends me strength. I can feel his angels carrying me through the hard times. When I kneel in prayer and cry out for help, He hears. I can feel it. He knows. He knows it's really hard to be a missionary. He understands. And only He can help us. Because only He truly understands the pain, the struggle, the doubt. And only through Him can we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and continue on with a smile.
Because WE are children of God. He is aware of us. He loves us. And He is ready, willing, and wanting to help. To all those passing through rough times. Love yourself. Love the Lord. Keep going, keep trying, keep fighting. And keep that smile on your face. Because God WILL send you a "this-is-why-your-here" moment. All you've got to do is ask.
This last week we received a call from the husband of our investigator. "I need your help. Can you come over please?" We jogged over to see how we could help. His wife (our investigator) recently lost her baby (miscarrage) and was having a rough go of it. He couldn't get her out of bed. He didn't know what to do.
We went into her room and found her curled in a ball on her bed. Tears freely flowing. I felt so inadequate. How can we, at 19 and 22 years, help this mom who is hurting so deeply? Hermana Mamani kneeled down beside this woman's bed, help her hand tight, and began to pep talk her.
"You can do this," she said. "You have to get up. You have a 5 year old daughter and a husband that need you."
"I can't do it." the woman said. "I don't want to go on." she cried. I sat on the side of the bed and felt like my heart was going to break into a million pieces. I bore simple and sincere testimony of Christ, and how only He truly understands what are going through. I cried. She cried. We all cried together. And then we knelt in prayer and we prayed.
We prayed SO hard. We prayed and we cried and we hugged. And she did it. She got out of bed. She took on another day. I felt like the Apostles when they saw Jesus performing miracles, because it was a miracle to watch her pick herself up and carry on. Life is hard. But life is oh-so-beautiful because in this life we get to see miracles.
Love you all and hope everyone is doing well! I am working hard and staying happy! I love Mexico. I love the Lord. I love my mission.
This week has literally FLOOOOWN right on by. Which gets me thinking about time...
Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, but what one person can accomplish in that 24 hours is completely different than what another can do. Think about all the good we can accomplish in the allotted time God has given each and every one of us. I read a quote this week that I loved and I want to share it with all of you:
"for a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every momento you have and remember that TIME WAITS FOR NO ONE." -Souza
I was thinking about that a lot this week. Am I making the most of my time? Am I acting or waiting to be acted upon? Sometimes we get to thinking that the only way Satan gets to us in by making us do bad things, but getting us to do nothing is another one of his tolos.
How many times a day do we get sucked into a game on our phones or stuck in front of the TV for hours on end. How many hours a day are wasted on things with little to no importance? I think of all the hours I've lost waiting, trolling Facebook, and a whole bunch of empty things. The missión is teaching be to use my time. Do good. Be good. Every minute of every day! It's just like the old turtle man says in kung fu panda "today is a gift, thats why it's called the PRESENT!" or something like that...
So use your 24 hours. Show God your thankful for the time He's given you.
MY NEW AREA:
I am in the desert alright. There is little to no vegetation, but on the bright side there's less bugs! woot. We live in a little neighborhood where all the houses are crammed together and look the exact same. Everyone who lives where we work, works in the city, so during the day it's kind-of like a ghost town because there is nobody in the streets...kinda eerie.
I'm getting used to it little by little, but its hard to switch áreas. I feel lost again. Ugh. And everyone calls me matensen (translation: they kill themselves). But I'm keeping my head up and adjusting....little by little!
MY NEW COMPANION:
Is from Bolivia, studied cooking, likes to fight, likes to tell it like it is, and be straight up with people, is very opinionated, and is brutally honest. Haha she's growing on me, but she's kind-of a rebel, and exact obedience isn't really her thing...that's kind-of hard.
But we're working out the kinks and getting used to one another! She likes to laugh and LOVES the Bible. When she reads her scriptures she gets so excited she randomly yells and screams (it scared me at first, but now I'm used to it). She talks so fast you wouldn't even believe it (dont' understand what she's saying to me...) it's hilarious, because the other day she lectured for me for a half hour about how I need to talk slower or no one with understand me. hahaha!
Its a short but sweet letter and I want to tell everyone that I LOVE THEM! I LOVE MEXICO! I LOVE MY AREA! AND I LOVE MY COMPANION!