Ha phewww I feel so much better this week! It was just my stomach adjusting to the food here. But I got some Pepto halfway through last week and now I don't even have to take it anymore! And it feels like I have friends here finally. It was rough, the transition from feeling so loved and at home at the CCM to feeling like I had no one here.
Wow, so cool news is that we have 6 baptismal dates and there were zero when Hermana C. and I got here. One lesson, we were teaching a woman, and it was going really well. It seemed that we were all feeling the spirit. I made eye contact with Hermana I., and she gave me a mini nod, so I assumed that meant I was supposed to invite the investigator to baptism. Turns out, Hermana I. just thought I was trying to say something and was encouraging me to speak. But it all turned out for the best because she accepted!
I feel like my testimony has been growing so much out here on my mission. Every time I teach someone about the first vision, or the Atonement, I can feel the Holy Ghost testifying to me of the truth of what I am teaching. I know that the Holy Ghost is what changes people's lives, not our lessons. It is what motivates people to act, to pray, to repent, to draw nearer to God through the medium of the Gospel. We really just have the small role of allowing it to teach people through us!
As I wrote in my short email to Mom, my understanding of what faith is and how we, as ordinary faithful members of the church can use it, has grown SO much these past few weeks. (If you are interested in this topic, I recommend Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ by Gene R. Cook. It is incredible). I had an incredible experience with this this morning. Lately I have had trouble with talking to people on the street (for obvious reasons--that I am not very good at Spanish still and worry about not being able to communicate anything meaningful).
However, this morning, in my prayer, I made a promise with Heavenly Father that I would not only say the easy "Good morning" or "We are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have you had the chance to meet with missionaries before?" What I wanted to do was have a meaningful conversation and leave the person I was talking to ready to learn more. We were waiting for a bus this morning to head into the city to deal with some immigration stuff for Hermana C. (a complicated process), and asked for the help of woman also waiting. She was so helpful, and I felt an overwelming feeling that we as a church need her! We sat together on the bus, and I found a way to share not just a pamphlet but almost all of the first lesson! It was incredible, and it felt like we were both feeling the Spirit.
Also, the best thing was, after we got off the bus, she had arranged for a driver from her work to drive the four of us (her, me, and my two companions) to the Immigration office. The looks on all the other missionaries' faces when we got dropped off in a car was soo worth it.
Alright, so the conclusion of my short story is this: that the Lord blesses us when we demonstrate our faith and are truly committed to acting. Like one of the elders in my MTC district said, Heavenly Father wants to bless us, he just asks that we obey his commandments first.
Love love love,
My first real email from El Salvador! Although we all got the chance to write a short email to our parents last week, I haven't had a full P day until today. I hope you aren't dying over there Mom! I know you love my emails, and I'm glad you like the pictures (still don't have a converter, so I will hopefully be forwarding you a few from Hermana I.).
(Good news dad, I think you will love this--Hermana G. LOVES Clay's new book, so I got it approved to read. And guess who else loves it now?!? My trainer, Hermana I.)
(You guys are teaching Primary?? Since when??!)
This week, I started forgetting English (Just kidding, that happened long before my mission). I turned to my companion, Hermana I., and asked her if "happy cookie" (galleta feliz, as the title suggest) was an expression in English. I think I was trying to think of "happy camper"...? Either way, we both thought it was pretty much hilarious!
Speaking of companions, let's talk about my new ones. Yes, that is plural...I am in a trio again! Again, it is perfect because I have Hermana I. as a buffer/translator between me and Hermana C. who speaks about 3 words of English (and all the English she knows we have taught her. But all the Latina missionaries here are supposed to learn English so we are helping her.) We are in a beautiful area called Las Arboledas in the zone Ilopango (I love the sound of the word "Ilopango". You should get Kevin to say it for you).
I guess as far as my spiritual thought this week, it is definitely different, a lot more real to be out here teaching real people. I am helping REAL people come unto Christ, and that is such a blessing. I can see the light of the Gospel coming into their eyes. It is truly like we are finding Christ's lost sheep, and bringing them back to the fold.
Also, I would like to invite every sibling/parent to send me (in the next month, and maybe one every month for the rest of my mission) a photo of themselves taken recently and a sentence or two about what they are up to in their photo. You all expect me to send photos, but never update me about your life!! :)
I am not sure how much time I get to be on here tonight, but I just wanted to let you know that I am safe and sound, staying at the mission presidents home tonight and tomorrow, going to the temple tomorrow! And leaving Wednesday...I am so excited to find out where my first area is and who my first companion is.
Fun facts: when we got here, it was completely dark!! At 6:45!! Sunset is about 5:30 ans sunrise is 5ish... And apparently they pull sisters in at 8:00 just to be safe and because people go to bed early here.
Also hahah this cracks me up...my plane friend told me (after finding out that I would be spending 18 months in El Salvador) that he was going to pray for two things: my safety and for the Mexicans to win the preliminary game for the World Cup tomorrow!
1. Continuing in the grand Baratta tradition of injuring missionaries while playing a fun game of soccer, I mildly sprained my companion (Hermana G.'s) ankle while trying to steal the ball from her! Luckily she is a champ, and has been recovering really well. Although last night, we went to see the doctor, and it was the MEXICAN one so he couldn't really understand us and we couldn't fully understand him either, so he sat us down in a sort of sketchy looking back room, sprayed some icy spray on Hermana Graham's foot, and told us to wait there for half an hour. Then he gave Hermana Graham two pills, which she dutifully took, only to realize they were double doses of Ibuprophen and she had already taken two! She was a little loopy and incapable of speaking Spanish the rest of the night, but I guess that's what happens when you have 1200 mg of Ibuprophen in your system...always an adventure at the MTC haha!
2. We had a very crazy night of sleep this week! Apparently (and this is all relayed secondhand from Hermana G. because the only thing I could remember was a mosquito buzzing in my ear and me trying to kill it), Hermana D. was sleep talking IN SPANISH all night, about the bubulubus. Who knows why! And then a couple of our casa-mates had a 2 AM flight, so someone came and banged on our door/rang on the doorbell really loudly in the middle of the night. Hermana G. was so terrified that someone was coming to break into our house, that she came and got me up so we could check it out together. The weirdest part is: I have NO RECOLLECTION of getting up. Freaky! But hilarious. :)
3. Our teacher told us she had talked to President Pratt about having us sing at a devotional (since the entire district is insanely musically talented!) and later that evening, everyone in went to go talk to him about it, and see whether we could actually do it. He stared at them strangely, and said, "I don't even know what you're talking about." and then walked away. Because he is hilariously frank like that.
Okay, finally, the highlight (nonspiritually, at least) of my week: I have made friends with some of the hairdressers here, from socializing with them (in Spanish, no less!) at lunch, and one of them, when she heard that I was leaving this week, said that she would miss me! It was really sweet. Then I told her that I miss her (present tense), so I guess I still have a ways to go with my Spanish! At least people seem to understand me pretty well, even if I have trouble understanding them.
I am so excited to head out to El Salvador. Still don't know my flight plans, but I'll get 'em soon. Plus I get another email day before I leave, Monday or Tuesday!