*This is Maria. I love her. Her dog does not love me. I don't love her dog either. But even though the dog is in the picture, it is still a picture full of love.
The mission is not about the place. The mission is about the people.
German - A painter who loves to read The Book of Mormon and ask hard questions.
He's a thinker. Very smart, but very humble. A very good listener. He met with the missionaries years ago but told us that he just asked them hard questions, and they would just get frustrated because they didn't know all the answers.
Then we showed up. We started teaching him little by little. When he asked hard questions we would write them down and then look them up. The other Hermana that was here before me tried inviting him to be baptized several times and he said no several times. He kept saying he needed to know for himself.
I love visiting German because we laugh. This last week we took a leap of faith and invited him to be baptized the 25th of October (3 days after my birthday). And he said yes. No hard questions. No big doubts. Just yes. I love German.
Maria - When we first found Maria the lessons consisted of listening to horror stories of all the awful, unjust, and just plain old sad stories of things that had gone down in her life. She would cry, we would cry, and nothing would really get taught. It was hard.
We didn't know what to tell her or what to teach her that could help her. Whenever we tried something it never worked out or she would doubt it or say she didn't believe it. Then little by little she began to start keeping the commitments and invitations we were leaving behind.
Then one Sunday, out of the clear blue, she showed up to church. Miracle of all Miracles. She loved it. She told us the next day, when we went to go see her, "I have been to about a million and one churches in my life and I have never felt like anybody or anything in those churches could help me."
Then I asked her what about our church. "You know what?" she said, "For the first time in a long time I felt like maybe there was somebody or something that could help me." Progress. This last week we went to visit her, and she had studied a whole chapter from the Gospel Principles manual and was SO excited about it, SHE taught US the lesson. It was fabulous.
I went from dreading to visit her (because it was SO hard to hear all the horrific things she's gone through in this life) to looking forward to seeing her. She started out our lessons asking about what happens if a person commits suicide, and now she is asking how she can change her life and live with God again.
Who knows what the future holds for this one, but at least we know we made a difference.
Juan - The husband of a faithful Catholic turned Mormon. Drinks a lot and comes to church, but can't be baptized because of his addictions. We went and taught him about our lives before we came to earth. I told him that the same spirit that was brave enough to come down in such a difficult time in the world is the same strong spirit that's inside of him right now.
I asked him if he knew if God loved him. And then right there the big tough alcoholic man looked up with tears running down his face. "I know it." he said, "God loves me." Powerful. So so powerful.
Hopped off the taxi in front of the local high school and started heading to our next appointment when out of the CLEAR BLUE a random high school boy started running after us calling "Missionaries!!"
We stopped and he came up to us, told us his name, and explained that he had a reference for us. He buys tortas from the same lady everyday for lunch and she had started asking him what church he goes to and had a ton of great questions.
So he took us right on over, introduced us, showed us where she lives, set up an appointment and then he left. Random people showing up out of the blue and giving you a golden reference out of no where....that my friends does not just happen. It was a little miracle.
-while waiting for a member to get ready and go to a lesson with us we found a teeter-totter across the street. We started teeter-tottering and then realized that everyone and their dog were starring. Then we realized how strange a sight we must be. Two white girls on a teeter-totter in the middle of Mexico. Then we laughed so hard we could hardly climb off the dang thing.
-I saw a particularly delicious and ripe looking guava hanging from a tree in the streets, but it was just high enough to be out of my reach. So I handed Hermana Crystal my bag and got a running start to leap into the air and grab it. My only problem was when I came down I landed on an old and mushy guava and came crashing to the ground. Wipe out.
And the greatest part was I flashed the whole neighborhood in the process. I stood up covered in old guava. On the bright side, all the old and rotten guavas broke my fall and I did get the one I jumped for in the first place. It was delicious.
-walking along in a little pueblo and walking past a little store we heard the following conversation,
Mexican 1 - WOAW did you see that white girl?
Mexican 2 - TWO white girls.
Mexican 3 - Wait, WHAT?
*I love them. We laugh a lot.