Monday, September 9, 2013

Letter #51 09/09/2013

Dear Friends and Family,
We woke up Friday night to rain pounding furiously on our roof of corrugated metal. It rained all day Saturday and was blowing like crazy. The elders told us it was a "Santa Rosa," which means it would be raining with strong winds for at least four days. Three days later there's hardly a cloud in the sky, and the weather warmed up so much people are starting to walk around in their shorts and tank-tops-- minus the missionaries, of course, and everyone thinks we're crazy. When I looked up "Uruguay" on the internet before the mission, it said that the country is "susceptible to frequent weather changes." An understatement if I ever heard one.
This last week was full of challenges, ending with a beautiful tender mercy and answer to prayer. We began the week with a really high number of new investigators (30), but by Friday we had dropped almost all of them, or they had dropped us. The Lord is full of tender mercies, however, which we knew, so Hermana Nelson wisely suggested that we fast this Sunday. The first person that we talked to after ending our fast was an incredibly prepared single mom of three kids who believes strongly in God and in family values, and who now has a baptismal date for the end of this month. Without us even bringing up the subject, she informed us she would be coming to church, and she would be bringing her kids (all above age 8) with her. An incredible experience-- it humbled me and filled me with gratitude. I am so happy here and learning so much about myself and about the Lord.
I've also been seeing my ordinarily pessimistic attitude gradually changing, mostly due to my wonderful companion. She is always so happy and enthusiastic, and so aware and grateful for her blessings. She makes me play her "gratitude game" with her, in which we basically take turns naming our blessings until you run out of blessings. Of course, we're still not finished.
I've been reading "Our Heritage" in my personal study, and loving it. It shares so many stories of the incredible sacrifices made by the early saints. It's basically about how no one had food or clothes or money or a home, and had to travel thousands of miles. It's very humbling. I looked up from reading yesterday and looked around my house. I realized that there was literally nothing there that I could see that those early saints, much less those early missionaries had. When the sun is really hot and my feet hurt, I think, "At least I'm not walking barefoot over the sharp, frozen wilderness of Iowa to escape a Mormon-hating mob." It gives me a little comfort, and also motivation. That is not just the heritage of the church-- that is MY heritage. I come from a long line of noble disciples of the Savior Jesus Christ. Because they sacrificed so much, I am able to preach the gospel and become the means through which people can learn about the Savior's Atonement.
Mom, a few weeks ago you asked me to send you something for Grandma's birthday. I guess that's it-- a giant "THANK YOU." There are no words that can express how grateful I feel to my Father in Heaven for placing me in a family that loves me, keeps it's covenants, and is strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When I was 15, I got my patriarchal blessing. In it, it states that "There are those who are very close to (me) who have been great examples of faith, endurance, and stability." Every day I begin to realize how true that is. My family is the greatest blessing the Lord has given me, apart from my testimony of Him.
Grandma, I love you. I love your love of the Lord, and I love your testimony of Him. Thank you for the countless hugs and kisses you gave to me as a little girl, a struggling teenager, and a confused young adult. Thank you for your faith in me and our family. Thank you for the numberless pounds of mashed potatoes. Thank you for the opportunity to make testimony gloves with you. Thank you for supporting me in my mission. Thank you for countless hours of fun with cousins that I had in your back yard and at the crater. All those blessings (and so many more that I can't even count because I only get an hour on the computer) were possible because of your personal righteousness and your faithfulness to your covenants. Thank you. You are a huge part of my heritage.
Love you forever,
Hermana Phillips

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