Hello familia (y amigos)! It was a very feliz week! As a mission we have some goals, such as reading Preach My Gospel every two transfers, reading the Book of Mormon and New Testament in Spanish before June, and memorizing the Articles of Faith. I have the articles of faith down (I wrote them down and taped them up in the shower so I can enjoy memorizing while showering with a bucket) and Hermana Figueroa and I use them in our street contacting all the time. We started talking with one man this week who made the mistake of asking ¨And what do you Mormon´s believe?¨ I only got through Number 3 before he made it evident that he was in a hurry. =) I wanted to say ¨No wait! We have 10 more!!¨
On Saturday we were finally able to meet with our Branch President, Pres. Merren (I say ´finally´because Hermana Figueroa has been here for two weeks and just now was able to meet him) for what turned out to be almost 2 hours. He´s a doctor, has 5 enthusiastic children (3 under the age of 8) and just yesterday called his counselors and is very busy. We planned some missionary activities for March including what may turn out to be a bi-weekly English class that I´ll be in charge of teaching. But we´ll see. Pres. Merren is hesitant to start it if it turns out that I´ll be transferred out of the area in April. And I´m kind of feeling like I will be. But who knows?
Hermano Silvano Contreras is progressing and I´ve become quite attached to him and his wife Sofia. It´s exciting to see them bringing themselves to church. As Pres. Merren explained to me, in this culture there is a lot of dependency on other people. Many investigators depend on the missionaries for everything, and when they leave, we are left with many inactive people. I´m pleased to be learning from my companion how to help these friends of ours be self dependent and to develop faith in themselves and more importantly in the Lord and His atonement.
I´m really having a hard time writing in English right now.
Oh, also about Silvano... we were talking to him about the word of wisdom again (he hasn´t had a drink since the first week of February!), and I decided I´d go a week without sugar to try to understand how he feels without his alcohol and how Sofia feels without her coffee. And the very next day we had interviews with Pres. Cruz and Sis. Cruz brought out some nice big chocolate doughnuts. Silvano laughed when I told him with shame that I couldn´t resist. I have a lot more respect for those who struggle with their addictions! I can´t really explain the love I feel for the family Contreras, but I´m grateful for the opportunity to teach them, eat beans and rice from their table, watch them change and progress, and especially to listen to their prayers. Please keep them in yours!
This morning I was studying in Mateo (or rather Matthew) 18, verses 21-35 about forgiveness. I wasn´t really sure why I was studying it, but when I shared in companionship study, it was just what Hermana Figueroa needed for something that she´s going through right now. I love how she teaches me and I´m able to teach her as well. Actually, I love how the Spirit is teaching both of us, every day.
It truly is amazing to learn and grow from being with a companion all the time. Yesterday she was sick (reaction to the pills that all the missionaries have to take every 6 months to help us if we have parasites... which I´m pretty sure I don´t because I always drink purified water, but you never know... not everybody washes their hands before preparing our beans and tortillas etc. ... don´t worry, mom!) and I was so worried! She´s like my other half and in very little time I´ve come to love her very much. She rested while I went through our little first aid kit and brought her juice and water, and we were able to find someone for a priesthood blessing (although worthy priesthood holders are sparce). Today both of us feel much better.
There´s much more I want to say, but I´m already super long-winded and time is ticking, and it´s not mine. It´s the Lord´s. Gotta go!
Love you all so very much! XOXOXOOXOXOoxoxoxox Hermana Francis
My new companion is Hermana Figueroa from El Salvador. She is very bold, punctual, straightforward and to the point. She has been a member of the church for 2 and a half years, and one of those years as a missionary. When she came to the MTC she didn´t really know what a mission was and hadn´t read the Book of Mormon. But she is quite a go-getter, and now with 4 months left of her mission, she is a Spiritual giant. She´s also a good teacher. In our companionship studies she asks me, ¨what ELSE did you learn?¨ I feel very motivated, and more confident. Already I´ve seen a big change in everything- the members, our investigators, and myself! Something that Hermana Figueroa has taught me already, with only a few days with her, is that we need to have faith that people will be true to their word and that the Lord will help them and we don´t have to do everything for them. With Hna. Rosales we would wake up at 5am and try to bring everyone to church, and sometimes we´d be successful, sometimes no. But this Sunday we had it all organized, with help from the members, and we had 9 investigators at church. And one of those 9 was Jose Molina! I don´t know if you remember me telling you about Jose, but we found him probably my first week in Honduras, and in our first lesson he was waiting for us. I was so excited about him and his family, and so devistated when he fell between the cracks. So... just know I was happy, but things are much better now. I feel happy to know that we are working hard and effectively. This morning I was reading in 3 Ne 22, where Isaiah is quoted, and was especially touched with verses 7-10. I remember singing these verses in the 9th ward choir. I think I was secretly feeling down for a while there...(you know me and my rose-colored glasses) but sometimes we need to feel alone to be able to learn and progress. Our faith is being tested. The Lord, in His mercy, always sends His love and blesses us if we are faithful. I´m aware that I´ll always have challenges in my mission. The Lord wants to change me, and this is the only way. Thank you for all the letters and good news from home! I sure love all of you and am grateful for your support. Please pray for me in this adjustment... it´s a little bit hard to get used to having someone new with me 24-7 and teaching her the area, but she´s great, and very patient and easy going. Hermano Contreras was at church and gained more enthusiasm about the Book of Mormon last night as we had a Family Home Evening with him and the familia Cervantes.
I love you all! This is it from me this week but I promise a better email next week. Let me know if you get any of your snail mail (as always, I´m curious)! Love, Hermana Francis Xoxoxoxox
This week I saw some fruits of my labors in exercising every morning. I can do a double-under with the jumprope (well... roperope) and can do boy-pushups. Hooray!
But more important, on Saturday we were able to help a young mother and her children hike up the hardest hill in the area with all her stuff. I had a chair upside down on my head with a big sack of corn on top of the underside of the chair. As we passed an old man sitting on the side of the path, and I greeted him enthusiastically (because who isn´t happy when they´re serving? and in Honduras? Carrying the weight on my head like a Honduran ... or ´Catratcha´as they say), he said ¨rest, child!¨ It was funny. But then after that we were able to have a great lesson about the word of wisdom with the familia Contreras and Hna. Rosales shared the experience. How great that we have the word of wisdom to help us be alert, and in good shape to serve the Lord with all our hearts, might mind and strength. It was a fabulous day. And better still, the next day we hiked up the same hill for an appointment which fell through. As we rested to see the view on the other side of the mountain, I just felt so impelled to go to contact a house in the distance where we saw a woman washing her clothes in the pila outside. We went, met Maria and her partner (not yet spouse, but they, unlike many, want to get married) Omar, and had a lesson about the Lord as our creator and the creator of all the beautiful things that we can see on this earth. They had seen us the day before helping the young mother with her things. Perhaps that was one reason they were so receptive. And perhaps another reason is that the people here are so friendly and open to listen to us. I feel so blessed to be having these experiences and to be seeing the hand of the Lord in our lives every day. We also had a challenging week (we felt the need to fast twice) with people not being willing to keep their commitments, and not progressing. Spanish is coming, but I realized with the help of my companion that I´ve been focusing a lot on trying to understand the positive things, like in church, and in the lessons, and with the members, and letting my mind wander when people complain or speak negatively. I think it´s partly my personality to flee from contention and see everything with rose colored glasses. I´m focusing more now on trying to understand always, and not picking and choosing. And also on trying to offer solutions even though I don´t have much experience in the mission. There are a million more things I want to write, but I feel bad because Hna. Rosales didn´t have many email to check and she doesn´t like to write her family. Please send letters in pouch for her. AND! We´re most likely going to see some ancient ruins (not THE Copan Ruinas, but some closer to home) later today. I´ll take pictures.
One more thing... I was reading about John the baptist in the bible and then later in Our Search for Happiness about the restoration and all the people who prepared the way for the gospel of Jesus Christ to be restored (Martin Luther, reformers, etc.) Then I thought about how prepared I´ve been in all my life to come serve a mission, and all the good people who have influenced me. I also know that there are people prepared here to receive this gospel and to fulfil their purpose here on the earth the way the Lord wants for them. I know He is helping me be more than I am to find and help them in this journey.
I love you all bigger than a tortilla box. Take care and forgive the mail man. I suppose email will have to do. (but I´m still sending snail mail nevertheless)