While most of the food they serve is pretty unhealthy, I LOVE LECHE (milk)!
A lot to report: hopefully I do this week justice!
The highlight of my last P-day was teaching Mario with mi companera. We really wanted to ask him during the lesson if he would be baptized, as he seemed so ready to receive the gospel. We were talking about temples and the things necessary to go to the highest level of heaven, the celestial kingdom, baptism being one of the requirements, when Mario/Hermano Humbert got quiet and put this hands over his face. At first I thought he was thinking, then I assumed he was praying, and as he continued to bow his head and cover his face I wondered if he was crying. After a long while he said, "I'm sorry sisters. I'm so sorry." Hermano Humbert had broken character. "Mario" had left. Mi comp and I didn't know what to do. He was quiet for another long while before saying, "I just remember having Mario say these exact words..." He had been talking about and asking as Mario before in the lesson, "If God loves all of his children, why only One way? Why only one church? How could God be so limiting when there are people that are doing all they can to follow Christ?"
As Hermano Humbert shared his experience teaching Mario during his mission the two of us started crying. We could feel so much love for Mario and we felt the love Hermano Humbert had for Mario. We couldn't really jump back into the lesson after that, so we asked Hermano Humbert what we had taught Him (He had mentioned this the day before and we were curious). He said during our plan of salvation lesson the spirit had taught him about the judgement of Cristo. That it had taught him, not just Mario. He made sure to point out that it was the Spirit that had taught him, not us. That was humbling, but in the best sense. After our conversation Hermano Humbert said the prayer and we left.
Once out of the room Hermana Johnson and I went directly onto the porch to talk about the amazing thing that had just happened. She asked me what I thought the answer to his question was. And then I shared a metaphor on music. I said that we, at the beginning of this life, were each given a song, with very precise notes. And that if we didn't play those notes, it wouldn't truly be the song on the paper. The instrument was the Atonement, or sacrifice of Christ, the only way we could even attempt to play the song. And yet, even with the music and the instrument we would screw up, we would play the wrong notes. But the last act of the play, the concert, wasn't in the Second act, but in the last. The main point was, the notes on the page would Never change. The correct notes were just that, the only correct way to play. Only one way. Because truth is not many paths, but One. As I shared this the spirit overwhelmed me and I couldn't help but cry. This was probably my favorite lesson up to this point, because I finally feel like I've been given a question I can study and ponder:
"Why only one way"
Our classroom and my very sparse bedroom (I don't spend any time there so no decorations). Complete opposite of my college dorm room! Yes, I brought my giraffe!
On the 8th we had one of our best lessons with Javier. Our plan had been to read the Book of Mormon with him, a chapter or so. We figured we'd ask him about his needs and his questions and then find a chapter and read it with him. For this lesson I remembered the prayer (as I had forgot in a lesson earlier that day and the spirit hadn't really been there as a result) and it was one of the very first things we did. I then asked him about what he'd read in 2 Nephi 2. We then told Javier we wanted to read the Book of Mormon with him. We asked him what he wanted to learn about and he mentioned Christ. At first I thought maybe we should read in 3 Nephi 11, where Christ visits the Americas, but then I wasn't sure. As we were looking, Javier was looking at the pictures in the front of the book which was very endearing and cool to see. Suddenly the spirit prompted me to Helaman chapter 5. We began reading out loud, taking turns. When H. Johnson got to verse 12 she read it and began talking about Christ being the rock in her life, her foundation. The spirit was strong as we talked about Christ and asked Javier if he wanted this foundation in his life. He said yes, but then asked us,
"What does your church have to offer me that my own does not?
We then talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost, the ability to have a member of the Godhead with you always. Then my companion asked him if he would be baptized. At first I was caught off guard and a little surprised, but then I realized we and the spirit had been building up to this point the entire lesson! He thought about it for a little bit quietly. Hermana Johnson and I were both feeling the spirit so strongly. And then he said he wasn't sure as this was a big decision. Suddenly I felt prompted to talk of my own baptism and how it had required prayer and scripture study. As I testified of a very simple truth, tears came to my eyes. As I looked up at Javier I could see tears in his as well. We invited him to pray to know if baptism was correct for him. Not to take our word, but to ask God. We talked about the importance of prayer as well and he agreed to pray about it. We were definitely over time with our lesson (although Javier/Hermano Voss didn't check his phone even once as he usually does to make sure we stay on time because Javier and He were so engaged) so ended with a prayer. I felt prompted to ask if he would say it. He looked a little taken back, and murmured something about not having done so in a long time. H. Johnson and I encouraged him, explaining that prayer was like a conversation with a friend and very personal between himself and God. He asked if we should sit for the prayer or kneel, to which we asked if we could kneel. This was our first kneeling prayer with an investigator. It took Javier a few moments to begin his prayer, but as soon as my knees hit the floor the spirit began washing over me in tangible waves. I felt comfort and peace, deep and lulling like the ocean tide. Javier's prayer was simple but beautiful, and asked if he could receive an answer regarding baptism. As soon as we were out in the hallway I did a little happy dance and gave mi companera a big hug. I was just so full of excitement for what had just happened! It might have been my favorite lesson so far (although they keep on being amazing, so I just don't know anymore.).
After the prayer Hermana Johnson told Javier, "the spirit is here". He said he could feel it as well. It reminded me of when the RM from Argentina told us, after we had recited the first vision in Spanish, to recognize how strong the spirit was. I wouldn't have noticed without her mentioning it, and only after she did was I able to recognize it.
On August 9th we found out that Hermano Roberts, our first teacher, was being switched to a new set of missionaries. We were heartbroken! He has been such a strong example and an amazing teacher.
Something I realized also on the 9th was how much the Elders and Hermanas feel like family to me.
On the 11th we got to teach Javier again! I love getting to teach him. When we first entered to teach he seemed very excited to teach us. We asked him about his day before praying. We then asked him how his prayer went over whether or not baptism was right for him. He said he hadn't gotten to pray over that, but was very excited to show us that he had read the rest of Helaman 5 on his own, something we hadn't even asked him to do! The spirit had been present the moment we walked in because Javier had already invited the spirit. He said he had really loved reading in Helaman 5 and had prayed over the chapter and his desire to have an experience like the prophets in the chapter. He said he wanted to experience that darkness leave his life and had felt it doing so. The spirit; I can't begin to describe it! We talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost and how we could always have him with us. He told us he felt that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. It is not possible to express my joy at hearing that. He then said, when we asked about it, that he could feel the spirit and wanted to have it at all times, that he wanted the gift of the Holy Ghost. He said the closing prayer and spoke of wanting to know how to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as well as over his need to be baptized. We left the teaching experience in such high spirits!
Hermana Johnson and I have been teaching Mariana, one of our investigators, for a while, and not with a lot of success until the 12th. It was actually our last chance to teach her, as she would be leaving for Mexico the next day. We were a little worried as we went in to teach her, as she often threw us curve balls of questions and had just the day before told us that she had randomly opened the Book of Mormon and had read something that seemed to say that the book wasn't true and how because of this experience she no longer wanted to read. I was extremely determined to help her have a desire to read the Book of Mormon and to feel good about it. We talked about our own experience reading the Book of Mormon and bore testimony to her. She listened and then said this would be our last lesson. She then said she'd have a lot of time on the plane ride down and she would read the Book of Mormon during this time. She then asked for our email addresses which was really exciting. All in all it was a great lesson, which surprised mi companera y yo!
On the 13, yesterday, Hermana Johnson and I, as well as our district, got to be Hosts for the new missionaries coming in. There were over 138, a huge number! All Spanish speaking, naturally, as this is a Spanish only campus. While Helping one of the new Elders get to his classroom we were walking by the creek that runs through the little park. I was looking at the water when I saw a wet head pop out of the creek! Then a tiny "otter".ferret/weasel creature catapulted itself from the creek and charged at an investigator sitting at a picnic bench. She screamed and bolted! Craziest thing I've ever seen 0.o
The last large thing to report on for this week was the Book of Mormon reading we did with the other Hermanas: Murphy, McKnight, Downs, Hawkins, my companera, Herrarra, Shumway, Erikson, and Wilson.At first they seemed apprehensive, but as we started reading together in Mosiah 2-5 the spirit started pouring out revelation/direction. I couldn't write down all of it quick enough! It was certainly things I needed to know. We had a powerful discussion and ended with a prayer, all kneeling down together in a circle. I feel so much more connected to the Hermanas in the other district now. They said it was the coolest thing they had ever experienced at the CCM. Every time I go in wondering if it will be as powerful as the first time. And it never is; it's always BETTER, so much better.
I love all of you! I leave for Argentina on the 25, so about 12 or 11 days from now! I couldn't be more thrilled to be serving the Lord and there is NO WHERE I would rather be than here.
Hermana Mallory Dickson