Teaching in the Spanish area reminds me so much of home. Sooo much. But it is so amazing, because even though I don't know a lick of Spanish, I can still understand what the people around me are saying. I can't communicate with them, but I can understand the general goings on. If that isn't a gift of the Spirit, I don't know what is!
In Spanish Land with the two Hermanas, we talked to 23 people on the streets. One man was kind enough to give us water and 5 referrals! People are great sometimes. We also had dinner with a woman who knew no English whatsoever, but she was soooo adorable! Her name is Conchita, and she made us a four course meal, and watched us eat. Apparently that's how it usually goes in Spanish Land. People make you an obscene amount of food and then watch you try and eat all of it. But the Hermanas gave their lesson and even though I didn't know the exact words they were saying, I could feel the Spirit. Conchita could feel the Spirit as well, and when we all sang I am a Child of God in Spanish, she started weeping and thanked us for the beautiful song. She asked me to say the closing prayer in English and I was honored. Conchita is so sweet.
Sister Cozzens and I met the craziest man a few weeks ago. His name is Lawrence Marshall, and he's French. And a WWII vet. And he goes to the gym 3 times a week. And he's a cosmetologist. And super Catholic. Everything super fun wrapped up into one crazy cool black man. We had been teaching him a few times a week, but he wasn't really catching onto anything we said. He'd recite the Lord's prayer every time we asked him to pray, he'd ask us bizarre questions about the Bible, and he refused to read the Book of Mormon. Sister Cozzens and I had no idea what to do, because he's the sweetest old man and we loved talking to him and teaching him the gospel, but he wasn't really doing what he needed to do. So before we went in to teach another lesson, Sister Cozzens and I said a quick prayer, and asked Heavenly Father if we needed to drop him or not. We both received a peaceful feeling, but we had no clue as to what that meant! We both felt, however, that Heavenly Father would take care of it. So we went in to teach Lawrence, knowing our God would help us the whole way. Our question was almost immediately answered when Lawrence said, "I love talking religion with you girls, but if you're trying to convert me, you're barking up the wrong tree."
Our purpose as missionaries is to invite others to come unto Christ. We had invited Lawrence, but he wasn't willing to accept the invitation. We ended up giving him the "drop lesson," which is when we tell him we love him and to contact us when he's willing to do his part. I'm going to miss Lawrence, but now we have more time in our week to find those who have been prepared by our Father in Heaven.
God is so good!
*Clarification: I did not play with a stray dog. Kind of... Sister Cozzens and I were doing our daily walking when we saw this bear of a dog just wandering the road. Being the silly gopher I am, I whistled to it and told it how pretty it was. Well, the dog was flattered and came bounding over to us. Both of us were terrified because this dog must've been a mix between a German Shepherd and a Siberian Husky. Massive animal running toward us. But then he was super friendly and we played with him and rubbed his tummy and he gave us a few kisses. As it turns out, he had escaped from one of the backyards of the neighborhood. So he followed us for a few houses until we approached this certain house, and then he bounded up to the front porch. We ended up following him and knocked on the front door. And we found his home! We were going to use that interaction as the perfect lead in to taking the missionary lessons, but after the dog got into the home and a few "thank you"s were said, the door was closed and we continued walking.
Sometimes the work is slow. It's tough, but miracles are always around the corner.
Sarah was confirmed a member of the church and received the gift of the Holy Ghost this week. We talked to her after sacrament meeting and she was smiling more that I've ever seen her smile. "I already feel different!" she said. Sarah is honestly such an amazing woman. Every time I talk to her, my testimony is strengthened. She is the prime example of having faith and enduring to the end. She never gave up her faith in Christ, even when doors in her life kept closing. She kept holding out for that one door she knew would open. Here she is now: a member of Christ's true church, preparing to enter to doors of a Holy Temple, being the best disciple of Christ she can be. I want to be as strong as Sarah. I am striving every day of my life to be as Christ-like I can be, and it is definitely an uphill battle. Satan knows how to prick and prod at you, but you have to remember: you are a child of the Almighty God. Your Brother, Jesus Christ, loved you so much he gave up his life for you. You are never alone. Keep the faith!
I love you all so much. Shout out to my little brother who is the best member missionary of all time.
True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it's thinking of yourself less. - C S Lewis
p.s. Today we went hiking up in this place called Idyllwild (it's the farthest east you can get in the mission.)