Monday, February 29, 2016

Week 29 The Analogy of the Carrot February 29, 2016

My favorite Hermanas outside of Chilis! Hna Sepulveda (Mapleton), Hna Thomas (Ogden), Hna Mauricio (Paita), Hna Sandison (Twin Falls), Hna Mitchell (St George)
Yesterday while sitting in sacrament meeting, I realized that I have been here for a little over 200 days!

It's been a rainy week. I personally still happily welcome the rain, although I'm sure the however many million Piuranos would beg to differ. The problem with rain is that NO ONE is prepared. There is absolutely no drainage system in Piura. So wherever the raindrops fall that's where they will stay until they either soak into the ground or evaporate. Half of the streets in our area have become rivers. Anytime we want to cross the road we look for a part where someone has placed bricks or rocks to step the way over. Close to Hermana Aida's house there is a giant ditch that drains out into a street called Sullana. The ditch is filled with garbage and now, due to the rain, water too. The mix of rain water and garbage has released the most horrible odor. Anytime we walk to her house I feel like I am stuck inside a giant cooking porta potty. Feisimo!! All of the houses here are built only to keep out the sun. So these poor people with dirt floors literally live in mud.
Hna Mauricio and I on top of the Elder's building
Last week at around 1am I woke up soaking wet. At first I thought maybe there was a leak in the roof but quickly realized that the electricity was gone and I was swimming in my own sweat. (I can't sleep without the fan blowing directly on me) Hna Mauricio also woke up from the heat. Both knowing that we wouldn't be sleeping anytime soon decided to go up to the roof to cool down. On the roof of our building we store extra mattresses for when the Hnas need a place to stay. I thought, how perfect! we can sleep on the roof! As I was setting up the mattresses hna mauricio yelled at me to get down. She then told me that there were men on our street below with guns. Yes I was totally freaked out! But just like those ridiculous people in horror movies I had to see for myself. So I peaked over the ledge and there was a group of men attempting to break into the restaurant across our street. Normally in the US I might call the police.... Sadly in Peru calling the police would be a disaster, especially at 3 in the morning. My comp and I were exhausted so we just went to bed. 45 min later we woke up when the rain started to come down. The men had disappeared and the restaurant was still intact. And for the record I did not see a single gun! We didn't sleep much that night...
District hermanas, Hna Dionicio (Cali) and hna Gutierrez (Argentina) 
In this mission we knock doors from 6pm to 8pm every single night. The goal is to get into the house and teach a lesson right off the bat. During Hermana Training pres Rasmussen told us that he had been praying for a way to really help this mission improve. Two missionaries came to him with a new plan. A way to be more simple and direct missionaries. In essence, the plan consists of knocking on a door, getting into the house and beginning by teaching baptism. We tie baptism in with the Restoration and then after all is said and done we challenge baptism. What may seem surprising, a decent amount of the time, we leave that house just 15 min later with a brand new investigator, who is willing to pray and ask to know if our message is true, come to church, and be baptized on specific date! I personally love it. If one person says no we move on to the next house. The more simple and direct I get to be, the easier it is for me to teach, and the easier it is for them to understand. With this plan, we are only looking for those that are prepared and willing! I like to think of the carrot analogy that I heard from hna Sandison, one of my favorite hermanas.

Investigators are like carrots:
On occasion we walk out to our gardens to go and pick a carrot or two. Sometimes we reach down in attempt to pull up a carrot only finding that it doesn't budge. But of course the majority of us struggle with patience. So we try again and again. Nothing. We want that carrot so bad but just cant accept the fact that its not ready yet!
Other carrots, on rare occasions, spring straight up out of the ground with only the slightest tug. They re ready.

Our investigator hno Manuel is like a carrot that pulled itself straight out of the ground without any help at all. He literally came to us completely prepared and ready. Not all investigators that eventually make it to baptism are like hno Manuel, but even then, we are looking for the people who are at least willing to try!

Hno Manuel is the best! He has had a hard history of drugs and alcohol that resulted in the breaking up of his family. From the first time I met him until now he has changed from night to day. Every time I ask how his reading in the Book of Mormon is going he always tells me that he loves reading about repentance. Once he learned how to repent, he applied it. Ever since, The atonement has been working in him. There is a literal light in his eyes, la luz de Cristo! It has illuminated him. At the closing of every lesson he says the prayer and thanks his Heavenly Father with such sincerity that I know he is ready for his baptism this Saturday.
Piura in the heat of the sun
Recently I heard a cool story about a math teacher. One day in class this teacher decided to ask each of her students what they were grateful for. She went around the class while each of her students said the specific things that they were grateful for. Then oddly enough one of her students sat there for a moment and finally said, "I am grateful for my eraser" when asked why she responded, "Because every time I make a mistake I can erase it and then start again"
The Atonement is our literal eraser! Some people feel like their page is full of mistakes and they are too far gone. Its simply not true! Heavenly Father is always there con sus brazos abiertos. Someone once said that the Atonement is the most tangible evidence of God's unending love for each of us. I love this quote from the prophet President Monson. "Your Heavenly Father loves you, each of you. That love never changes. It is not influenced by your appearance, by your possessions, or by the amount of money in your bank account. It is not change by your talents or abilities. It is simply there.
It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. Gods love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve love. It is simply always there."

I'm almost positive there were times in Manuel's life where everything felt hopeless,where he didn't even feel like he deserved to feel the love of God. He easily could have stayed there, sinking farther and farther in his hopelessness and bad choices. But he made the choice to apply the Atonement and now look where he is?? Absolutely FULL of Gods love!

Even though sometimes I feel like the mission could not get any harder and I just feel like giving up, I feel way too blessed to be able to be a missionary and help people receive the gospel and watch their happiness radiate.

Hermana Ingram
The district. We had to have our meeting on the roof of the building!
Cute Hermana Aida getting her haircut (: Love that woman!

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