This week was seriously awesome. I'm just going to have to go through it day by day so I don't miss anything.
Monday: For Pday our zone had a great activity where we carved pumpkins and ate more treats than I am willing to confess to you, but I think I wrote about that last letter home so I'll move on. Later at the end of the night we were biking home and Hna B. really needed batteries for her bike light so we decided to call our Ward mission leader and see if we could stop by and pick some up from him on our way home. We get to their house and they give us their batteries and they immediately start offering us food and trying to give us dinner. We were laughing and saying 'really, we're okay. We just needed some batteries. We have to be home in ten minutes.' They would not take no for an answer. They hopped in their car, went and bought us In'N'Out while we were biking home and then delivered it to us at our apartment. Not only did they buy full meals for us, but also for the three English sisters who live with us! It was the craziest unexpected blessing. All we had gone to them for was three triple a batteries and we walked away with three giant bags of In'N'Out. They are seriously so good to us. Their family gives us a ride to church every Sunday and I feel like we can depend on them for anything.
Tuesday/Wednesday: Tuesday night we started exchanges so at around 8 on Tuesday the Sister Trainer, Hna C., came to stay the night here and Hna B. went to their area. That meant that I would be leading the area all day Wednesday until they switched back the next night. This was the first time I was with out my trainer and I was kind of I change because I know the area and the investigators. All Tuesday I was super stressed about it. It was actually a really great experience. Because I was forced to do some much more of the talking than normal I gained a little more confidence in my abilities and now I feel a lot more comfortable taking control in lessons and just speaking with people in Spanish in general. It was also really good to just experience a different teaching style and learn from each other. Plus it was fun to get to know someone knew because I really didn't know Hna C. very much. For the most part it went really smoothly. I only had one little incident.
Okay, so it was actually a pretty bad one, but at least now it'll never happen again. Hna C. bikes slower than me. I was biking in front because I was the one who knew where we were going so I had to keep checking back and slowing down to make sure we were staying close enough together. So at one point we're biking to an appointment and I'm all stressed out about making it on time, but also going slow at the same time. I see this shadow of another person on a bike behind me so I think 'great, I don't have to keep looking behind me'. (I know what you're thinking, no, it was not my own shadow). So I keep my eyes on the shadow and they're keeping up with me so I keep going a little faster and a little faster and I'm just thinking 'this is great, we're totally going to make it on time'. So eventually I slow down and turn back to tell her we're turning and I see some big strange man on a bike looking back at me. I stopped dead, completely shocked. We just sped on past me and I look around to find that I can't see Hna C. anywhere. Immediately I'm thinking that I am the worst missionary ever. I've ditched my companion, I've just spent the last five minutes with some strange man and I didn't even know it, and now I'm all alone with out my companion. I really didn't have anything I could do other than hop on the sidewalk and start biking the other way until her and I crossed paths. Luckily she wasn't actually super far behind me still just peddling along and she could still see me pretty much the whole time. She was really chill about the whole thing which was really good because I was freaking out and feeling like a complete and total idiot. Lesson learned.
Thursday: that night was the Ward Halloween party. The missionaries were asked to come up with a few games for the kids to play so Hna B. and I set up the game where there are donuts hanging off of strings and you have to lie down on the floor and try to eat the donut. It was a huge hit. The kids loved it and a few of the adults played it, competing against each other including one of our investigators. He lives with his cousin and her husband who are members and they are all really fun. The husband is a lot like my dad in that he's really witty and constantly cracking jokes. They got a big kick out of the whole party. Our Ward isn't very big so I was glad that the people who came had such a good time. Hna B. and I dressed up as best we could. As missionaries we can't really wear costumes so what we did is we wore matching outfits and swapped name tags. We also wore mustaches for a little while just for kicks. We had a lot of fun, but we probably looked totally insane on the bus ride over there.
Friday: Halloween! At like 3 in the afternoon we were out on our bikes and ran into a teenage guy biking the other way in a full on purple telletubbies costume. We started laughing so hard and I said I wonder what bet he lost?so for Halloween our mission president told us that we should try and make appointments for that night and avoid being out in the streets. If we didn't have appointments and we felt like our area was dangerous we were supposed to come home early and do our best to be productive in the apartment. We decided the best thing for us to do was spend time at a members home. We actually went over to the home of the family was just talking about who came to the Halloween party. We ate dinner with them and then we were able to teach our investigator a lesson. It was funny because the Hna served us these bowls of really delicious soup and some rolls. It was so good and were perfectly content with that being our whole meal. We thought we were done but oh no, then she brought out these plates heaped with chicken and ¡huge! servings of mashed potatoes. Then to top it all off she brought us a big salad too. We're supposed to eat everything they give us, but I swear Latinos must think we are bottomless pits because they always give us small mountains for dinner. I just looked at my companion and said 'if I put one more bite of potatoes in my mouth I will be sick.' So she took one for the team and ate all of her food as at least one of us finished the meal. Despite our fullness we still went home and made some Halloween cookies before going to bed because we had to do something to celebrate.
Saturday: We had the funniest experience on a lesson. We were teaching the woman I mentioned last week who had a really amazing experience in the Gospel Principles class. We were in the middle of teaching her about the restoration and she goes 'I have a question' and we always want people to ask questions so we're like 'of course, please ask. She asks "in your church do you pay tithing?" And immediately we start thinking 'oh no, she's not going to want to learn anymore because she doesn't want to give up her money.' But we're not going to lie or avoid the question so we said yes, we pay tithing, but it's voluntary and discrete, just between you and the bishop. And she goes "oh good! I didn't see a collecting plate on Sunday and I wanted to pay my tithing. In the bible it says pay for tithing and I know I get blessings from tithing. I was so worried you didn't pay tithing. I want to pay my tithing." So not what most people say. Afterwards we had a good laugh about it, but at the time we explained it a little more and then moved on with our lesson. But wait, it got better the next day
Sunday: we're sitting in Gospel Principles and we look behind us to see her holding the Gospel Principles book, her Book of Mormon, all the pamphlets we've given her, and a tithing slip! We started giggling right there in class. The night before we had explained to her that you have to be baptized before you can pay tithing, but apparently she wasn't letting such a little detail get in her way. When we had invited her to be baptized the night before she had said "come no!?" which sort of just means "of course!" My companion and I seriously feel like she's one of those little kids at baptisms who are trying to climb into the font and we are just like 'Wait! We have to teach you first!' She is the most golden investigator I had ever seen which is perfect because she has a friend who's been working with the other Sister missionaries in our Ward for a while and she's been pretty hesitant. We're hoping her enthusiasm will help her friend progress as well.
These weeks email has been kind of full of temporal things so I want to just end with a spiritual thought. We used a Mormon Messages video this week that really touched me. It's called Men's Hearts Shall Fail Them and it all about how in this day and age people have to deal with very difficult trials, but through a knowledge of our Savior and the Atonement we are able to find comfort and strength. So many people are carrying around the burdens of sadness, regret, guilt, feelings of being lost or lonely and they don't have to be carrying those with them. We can turn to our Savior and put our trials into God's hands. Christ suffered and experienced everything we have ever or will ever go through. He understands us perfectly. When we turn to him we don't have to face the troubles of this life alone and we can continue to progress towards lasting happiness. If you can you should watch the video, think about what ever burdens you may be feeling at the moment and seek to find comfort from the atonement.
I love and miss you all so much,