Changes, changes, changes. I think that this was definitely one of the most bittersweet changes I have had.
I am a grandma!!! That’s right, my daughter, Hermana Avila, my only living companion up to this point (#mishslang) is training! I am so excited!!! I know that she will do great! I also get to stay in my area and keep working with the amazing people here in Juayua. We were taken out of one of the areas, so we officially are working just in Progresso! YAY!!! I am also not a sister training leader anymore so I get a nice little break from leadership responsibilities. It is the first time in my mission that I have been a “normal” missionary, and I kind of don’t know what to do… ha-ha but it’s a great new adventure!! My new companion is Hermana Funez! She is awesome! She is from Honduras and on Saturday she celebrated five years of being a member. She has five months in the mission, and is super animated to share the gospel. She is such a great example! She is the only member in her family and has gone through a lot to be able to come on the mission, but serves with all her heart might mind and strength.
On Friday we got to take our investigators to do a tour of the temple grounds in San Salvador! It was so cool!! I had the chance to sing a special musical number and the spirit was so strong. I sang “Oh My Father” with two Elders. It was great! While we were there I found a reactivating family that I visited back when I was in Piramidal. The whole family is active now and are preparing to be sealed! It was so cool to see them again!
It was so hot this week! I hope the rain comes soon because we are always drenched with sweat! I have definitely had to become a lot better about drinking water! This week was the week of summer vacation too… there was a week-long festival here in Juayua which means lots of overpriced souvenirs and alcohol, but we got to contact some beautiful families!
I just want to close with something that Hermana Spjut said in changes meeting. She said, “The way you deal with change defines who you are.” Saying goodbye to Hermana Steel was by far the most painful thing I have had to do here in the mission, and there is an emptiness that she left behind her when she left, that I know only time and the Lord can fill. But, change helps us grow and become the people God wants us to be.
I love you all! Please remember me in your prayers!
Words escape me this morning. As this week makes its grand entry, where stress and anxiety should be, I can only find peace and comforting reassurance. With one more change behind and one more here to greet us, I am excited to keep working hard and to see what the Lord has prepared. As I have tried to prepare for this change, my Heavenly Father has taught me so much, and as I look to the heavens, I am filled with so much gratitude.
I am very excited and somewhat nervous to see where this change will take us. Since Hermana Steel is finishing her mission, I will be staying here in Juayua another change, making it seven months and a half here!!! Wow, total madness, but we will see what God has in store. The missionary work is starting to catch a good rhythm and I know that only good things lay ahead. Yesterday in Sacrament meeting, I was struck too see how much this little ward has changed, well, how much I have changed. While the chapel was not full, there were so many converts there. One of our recent converts, Erasmo blessed the sacrament yesterday, and I could not help but be filled with a huge amount of gratitude and joy to see him there using his priesthood. His wife, Anita, was called to be the Primary Secretary and we have been working with some beautiful part member families.
Our ward mission leader, Hermano Aparicio gave a beautiful lesson on the atonement and missionary work in our gospel principles class. He talked about how much Christ loves us, that he shed tears for us. Then he looked at my companion and I, both teary-eyed and said, “You know the sisters are representatives of Christ because they cry for you too. They suffer when you suffer and they are happy when you are obedient. They love you as Christ loves you.” So, much for trying to stay composed….. It was testimony Sunday and it the testimonies shared were of the missionary work, and experiences that the members had. They are really starting to catch on to the missionary spirit. I am excited to keep working with them and to invite more of our brothers and sister to come to Christ.
One of my favorite song lyrics reads “To love another person is to see the face of God.”
To say that I love my companion would be somewhat redundant, considering that you have all heard the same thing for twelve weeks. It has been so interesting to be with so many companions as they finish their missions, and to see how each transitions differently into life after the mission. I HATE killing missionaries….. Hermana Steel has fought, and is fighting, and will continue fighting in the great cause of salvation. In this last week, we both were a little sick, but she worked through the pain with inspiring resilience. Looking back on these last three months, I can only smile. Not a day passed in which a smile did not light a darkened room, or laughter resounded in our hearts. Seeing her prepare for her next mission has inspired me, and taught me so much, but also enhanced my excitement to continue on in my own mission. That being said, there is nothing more painful than saying goodbye to a dear friend, even though it might just be temporary. I love Hermana Steel. I am reminded from one of my favorite quotes, and since in mission-speak “going home” is translated to “dying” I found it mildly appropriate to use in this situation.
“When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.” It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with “He dies.” And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it’s only natural to be sad, but not because of the words “He dies.” but because of the life we saw prior to the words… and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I’m only asking that you turn the page, continue reading… and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest “He died.””
Hermana Steel has left one heck of a mission life and legacy, one I will fight to live up to for the next six months. I have always had the bad habit when reading books to re-read certain parts, prolonging turning the next page and continuing with the story, afraid of what the author has hidden in the next lines. But there is no time to drag our feet when the author of all creation has As the Lord is turning this page, I am excited to keep reading.
“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.” D & C 128:22
This is Hermana Armenia! She is the sweetest little lady and gives the best hugs in the whole world!!
We went to eat yucca!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So delicious!
Wow, I am not too sure where to start. So many things have happened, culminating into a great week. In our companionship studies we have been analyzing Christ’s ministry to the Nephites. It is as beautiful as we have studied the Savior’s words and compared them to those that he shared in Jerusalem. It is so interesting to see the small changes and differences between Christ before Gethsemane and after his resurrection. The message he shared was the same but as he went through his own trials, and personal growth, he became more compassionate and dedicated to his own cause.
That being said….. I think that is so true, that as we go through our own personal trials in the mission, it enables us to become much better teachers as we have to rededicate ourselves to the cause of truth. As my time with Hermana Steel comes to an end, there is only one word that comes to mind: bittersweet. I love her so much, and I continue to learn from her every day. It is so crazy, we dedicate everything to the work, but helping prepare her to go home and giving advice on her goals has helped me do a lot of personal reflection. It is awful!!!! I HATE KILLING PEOPLE!! It is so painful, especially when it is your best friend. We are in a limbo of constant goodbyes and farewells…. it hurts a lot but, well, I am used to it by now. I am not sure why the Lord has had me in so many situations where I have to think about the life after the mission.
I finished a year in the mission this week. To celebrate we went to eat pupusas, and since we are nice representatives of Christ and the Zone Leaders were out of money they came too. The power went out, and we invited some people to baptism. Really, a fairly low key day. But I cannot believe that the time has come and gone so fast and I am excited to keep working and to use this, frankly painful, experience of killing my comp as fuel to rededicate myself to my own mission. I love the mission. But with so many things happening all at once, I cannot help but be terrified at what the future holds. So, I am just going to go out, teach my brothers and sisters, and invite them to come to Jesus.
Due to some unforeseen illness, we could not do intercambios this week (yay parasites), but we were able to buckle down and work hard in our own area. We have walked a lot, my comp killed a chicken, oh and I totally found out that I am allergic to red peppers…. that was a fun experience, almost died. No, that is a lie. My lips and tongue just went numb and my throat began to swell. So, we ate some ice cream and I took some Benadryl. All is well. This week, we found so many beautiful new families to teach and we have been working with a lot of less active members, trying to help everyone. As we have stopped teaching those who are not progressing, and branching out to areas where we have not focused before, the Lord has definitely begun to bless us.
I am not quite sure where to start, this week was filled with so many miracles. I have learned so much, and I am truly left without words….
This Wednesday we had interviews with President Spjut. As always, it was such a beautiful experience, and I learned so much! We talked a lot about the Atonement, and he said something that has stuck with me since. “Hermana Hipol, let the atonement make you happy.” So, be Happy!!
This Wednesday after our interviews we took a trip to Auachapan and I had the opprotunity to be able to work with the sisters from EL Arco. It is called El Arco, because I think they might have stolen the Triumphal arch from France…. It was so great to be with Hermana Avila and Hermana Villatorro again. I really learned so much. They are trying their hardest and I can see that they have lost themselves in the work. Hermana Avila has come so far! We had a great little adventure wandering the fields and small rocky pathways of Auachapan.
The highlight of this week was definitely our baptisms on Saturday. Seeing two families who have waited so long enter the waters of baptism was truly beautiful. The first family, Familia Aguilar, has waited over a year and a half to be baptized. The second, was completing a family part-member family who has been investigating for about six months. President Spjut came, and all of the institute members shared their testimonies. The spirit was so strong, and we tried our hardest to be able to make sure it was a memorable experience. I love them so much, and it was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Coming into this week, I felt so hopeful and excited to finally see a family that I loved enter the waters of baptism. But as the week developed, I became as the father that approached the Savior saying, “Help Thou my unbelief.” The adversary did not want us to baptize this week, and he caused a lot of chaos. The father of this family had a horrible relapse, throwing his wedding and baptism in severe jeopardy. Between us and the Zone Leaders so many hours were spent in that home, praying, trying to be there for moral support. We were so terrified that relapsing would send him even farther away.
I did not understand, how in the moments when I was trying my hardest to be obedient and have the spirit that so many things would happen, just when things were turning for the better. My heart broke in two when I realized that he had relapsed, I felt betrayed and completely crushed. I was haunted by something that Elder Alonso had said when he came, that if we were not seeing baptisms in our area, that it was our own fault and that we were not using the divine power of the atonement. I don’t think I have ever learned more about the atonement of our Savior, or about the divine grace of our Heavenly Father.
No matter what we studied in our companionship this week, it always lead back to that, grace. The more that I learn, the more I realize that I don’t know anything. But I know that as I try to understand more, and try to help others understand that I am filled with so much peace and love and hope that things will all work out in the end.
And when I thought that the week could not get any darker, the Lord send bright rays of sunshine through the darkness. President Spjut came to the wedding on Saturday the Familia Aguilar got married, they have a set goal for baptism and are determined to fight until they enter the font. Naun, a young man we have been teaching came to us and said that he was ready for baptism, he set the date also for this Saturday and passed his interview with flying colors. This Saturday, there will be three baptisms! We also got a ward mission leader finally! I am just so happy. I cannot contain my joy. It has been such a crazy rollercoaster of emotions but at the end of it all, all is well.
I love this work, I love my companion, I love this area, and I love it all.
First off, I LOVE my companion! Hermana Steel is so amazing, she continues to teach me every day and inspires me to be better through her example and diligence. She wants to finish these final weeks running through the finish, and I know that we will see miracles this change, we already have!
This Tuesday we got up, exercised, had a great study and we set our goals for this change, what we want to accomplish and how we are going to do it. We set the goal to baptize five people this change and with a prayer in our hearts and some extra sunscreen and bug spray we went to work. In our first lesson we went to visit the famous family of eight. The oldest sister explained that the night before they had a family home evening with another ward family and the theme: baptism. We asked her how she felt about baptism and she said that she was ready. We left the lesson with three baptism goals. After lunch, we stopped by to visit another family that we have been teaching for a LONG time. They have been listening to the missionaries for over a year, and they call themselves the “dry Mormons” because they know everything, they just have not gotten baptized yet. We had scarcely walked into the door when the mother looked at us and said, “Hey I just wanted to let you know that you are both invited to our wedding/baptism this next Saturday.” Words cannot express our absolute joy as we left that home. We laughed without the ability to even begin to express our giddiness. Before we could even continue, we had to take a moment to lift our hearts towards the heavens in prayer, thanking our heavenly father for all that he blessed us with.
From there the week had its highlights and lowlights, but I know that the Lord is blessing us for our diligence and obedience this last change, and as we keep up the work and seek to recognize his hand in all things, I am excited to see what other miracles lie in store.
I love this work. I love you all!
Hurrah for Israel!
Oh, and Happy early Fourth of July!!
Love, Hermana Hipol
Pics: I totally am secretly a butterfly whisperer, they are seriously everywhere!!
Oh, and we totally made chorizo…. I now know why it is on our list of diet “no no’s”
Gotta love the morning before changes….. ESPECIALLY IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CHANGES! Yaaay!
That is right, I am staying here in “Proquideas” (Orquideas/Progresso) making it six months in total, loooong time, but I love it here, so we will see what happens. But, the best part of not having changes is having six more weeks with Hermana Steel!I love her so much, and I am so grateful for this change to come, and I think that we are both ready to hit the ground running. We have some goals, and with the Lords help, I know that we will learn a lot more together. It is jsut going to be so awesome!
Intercambios this week…. On Tuesday, I had the chance to go back to Los Naranjos and work with Hermana Sheehan. Our Zone Leader, Elder Roeller, asked me to go and check up on their four baptismal dates, because two had been pushed back a week. It was such and amazing experience. I love Hermana Sheehan. She works so hard, and has really dedicated herself to the Lords work. She puts her whole heart and soul into each lesson, and usually I kinda just sat in awe at the spirit she brought as she testified. It was awesome to get to know their investigators as well. They are teaching some amazing people and I have been in Los Naranjos so often that some people are starting to recognize me. Something about being called “Hermana Hiccup” seems to be easy to remember here in the mountains of Juayua.
On Thursday we had planned to do intercambios with Las Rosas in Turin, but as we were on the bus, on our way, the sisters called and said that they were sick, so we got off in Ataco and headed back. It was a little annoying but we had a great little nap on the bus, and almost accidentally ended up in Sonsonate, because we did not wake up on time. We have been really tired the past few days….
This week we all headed down to Santa Ana for a Multi Zone. We had a great visit by Elder Jose Alonso from the Area Presidency. The spirit was so strong and I learned so much about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation. Our Zone was in charge of the musical number, and it turned out fantastic. I sang in a quartet with Elder Philips, Elder Roeller, and Hermana Guzman. We sang the songs “Jesus Lover of my Soul” and “Reverently and Meekly Now” as a Duet. It was SO beautiful and sounded like a conversation between us and the savior. The spirit was so strong, and many a tear was shed. I love being with people that have such musical talent and are willing to share it! Anyways, we ended with a great lunch and then were headed back to Juayua…. Only we had just barely missed the bus and ended up stranded in Los Naranjos for almost an hour and a half….. Cool story.
With Elder Alonso coming and all of the teachings of the spirit this week, the Lord has taught me a lot about myself and about the Plan of Salvation. I know that our key message as missionaries is that of the Restoration of the Gospel, but I think a lot of times, we often forget about the “why” of the restoration, the transcendent reason for why the gospel was restored and why we of all people were sent to earth at this time to share it. This week we learned more about the importance of the Plan of Salvation, that this mortal probation is a second chance for us to use our agency to accept Gods Plan and to follow him. The end is in sight, we know who will win, and now it just comes down to how many will win. I came to realize this week that the Lord is hastening his work, and I have seen his hastiness here in the mission as well. Time goes by way to fast, and I have come to see that our spiritual growth is accelerated. It is not just a happy perk we get from putting on a missionary tag, it is because the Lord is hastening his work, and so he has to hasten our development too. I have the opportunity to work alongside some of the Lords most valiant souls here in the mission, and as I watch the Elders and the Sisters work, It is nothing short of miraculous. This work truly is going forth “nobly, boldly and independently” and what more glorious cause then to hasten the work of the Great Jehovah.
It was kinda hard going another change without baptizing, but I know that I definitely grew so much closer to my Father in Heaven, and I am excited to see what miracles he has in store. It is funny to see that even though I feel that I have improved so much as a person and a missionary, the baptisms have stopped, but the night is always darkest before the dawn. Never lose hope!
I love you all so much. Be happy, be epic, and be awesome!!!
Hoorah for Israel!
Zone activity, we went to see some waterfalls this morning!!! I love this beautiful country!
Valeria, Daniela, and Monserrat…I love these girlies so much. They are going to be fabulous missionaries one day!
Sorry to be so late, this morning for P-Day we all went and played soccer as a zone. I never thought the day would come when I would like soccer, but I actually love it so much… I have no idea what I am doing but hey, I actually scored a goal this morning!
Once again, Monday has made its way around and I am hit with the halting reality of how fast the mission is flying by. I think I have hit a little bit of a mid-mission funk (even though halfway has come and gone), I have been really stressed about seeing the fruits of my labors and always giving my all, no matter what. Thankfully I have a wonderful companion that keeps me grounded and always puts a smile on my face.
Hermana Steel has officially become my favorite companion. I love her so much. I love her work, her dedication and her love. She is so amazing and has become one of my closest friends. I love working with her because she always keeps me positive and looking on the bright side of things, even when the world seems dark around us (something that often happens here in stormy, overcast Juayua). But no matter what, we always manage to laugh, and wake up each day with desires to work our hardest. I know that the Lord will one day show us the fruits of our labors. I think the greatest fruit though has been finding one of my best friends.
This week was a little crazy with interchanges. As the cambio is shrieking to a close, we are trying our hardest to help the other sisters and we went on interchanges with Los Naranjos, El Arco 2 and Suncuan. Each, interchange had a powerful lesson that the Lord wanted to teach me.
On Tuesday we were in our zone meeting when one of the hermanas fainted. We took her to the hallway and tried to figure out was wrong. Really it was hilarious, a bunch of 20 year old nurses running around like headless chickens, “Quick!!!…. Get some leaves!” But really, we were really scared and thought she might be going into kidney failure. Her back hurt, she was really weak and she was going in and out of consciousness, to the point where I had to physically carry her to the car. She is a tiny little thing, but it was pure dead weight, and letting an elder carry her was just out of the question. We got into a tiny pickup, my comp handed me money and a cell phone through the window and we went to Santa Ana…. We made it to the hospital okay, and the rest is history. It turns out that her problem is just parasites. DONT EAT IN THE STREETS! But no worries, she has received some medicine and is happily back to work.
On Thursday I went to Auachapan and I had the chance to work with Hermana Villatorro. I was so excited to work with her, seeing as she is the only other American sister that came in my group. She has the biggest heart and you can totally see her love when she works! At night we talked a lot about our goals and the things that we wanted to accomplish in our missions. It led me to do a lot of self-evaluation to see if I am putting in my best effort, and I have a lot of things that I can definitely do better. It was great to finally be companions though, even if just for a day.
On Friday I was able to work with another American sister here in Juayua, Hermana Biddle (see attached photo).She walked into the chaos of our house and saw my wall of letters and photos. She zoomed in on a small heart and asked, “Is that Mr. Darcy?!” I sure love her. Turns out, she is an Austin addict too! She is so kind and also has a huge heart. She has a strong desire to serve and to work her hardest. She is a little bit of a goof, but she knows just when to focus in and to bring the Spirit. We had a fabulous day, and even got soaking wet!
Other than that I am not sure what more there is to share. As for our own areas, I am not quite sure what the Lord will have us learn. We have been praying and fasting so much to be able to have a baptism, but just when we feel that we are becoming better missionaries, the fruits have become so much harder to find. I know that no effort is lost, but I am trying to see more of what the Lord wants me to see. The other afternoon I was talking to a brother from the ward in Progreso and he mentioned something that was truly a tender mercy. He said that even though we had not brought new converts to the ward, that we had helped many of the members become more converted, and that through the example of love we had tried to show, that we have left our area better than we found it. Though there is still a lot of race to run, I feel peace in my heart knowing that someone accepted the invitation to come to Christ.
So remember that, there are always fruits!
I sure love all of you. Thank you for your support and for your prayers.
Well, I am not sure where to start this week. It was really just an amazing week with so many wonderful things to learn!
This week it has rained, and rained, and rained, and rained some more! It is quite beautiful, I love the rain, but it makes work a little…..wet. I think that people here in El Salvador are made of sugar because no one wants to be outside in the rain… and they don’t want us to be outside either. The irony is that not many people let us in… .I completely understand, wouldn’t want to soak the upholstery….. To describe my constant state here this week in one word it would be… damp…. But all flowers need rain to grow!
This week we had the great chance to spend a day with President Spjut and his wife. On Wednesday, there was a knock at nine in the morning and in they walked. We had been told the day before, but even still, that fateful knock on the front door by your mission president is enough to send any missionary into a nervous wreck. The Spjuts studied with us and then President sat in and watched us do our weekly planning, I am not sure why, but he is president, and I just don’t ask questions. But at the end of it all, President said that it was the best weekly planning that he had ever seen, and though we had not seen the fruits yet, that they would come and the Lord will bless us. It was a huge relief, considering we were super nervous the whole time. That same afternoon, Sister Spjut left to work with us! I love her so much, and even though she cannot speak Spanish very well, she brings such a strong spirit with her wherever she goes. It was such a fun experience! Then it started pouring. Hermana Spjut was so excited to be able to get wet! When we met back up with president, I think that he was even more soaked! I am glad they enjoyed themselves, though being soaking wet later took its toll on us…
That is one thing that I love about my companion that no matter what happens, she always keeps us in good spirits, and not a day goes by when I do not laugh, or have a reason to smile. I just love her so much! Hermana Steel is such a champ, we got really sick on Saturday, we got hit with a really nasty cold. Now, that is what I call companionship unity!!! After the fever hit, we decided we should probably not be outside in the rain and stopped by the house to take some medicine and call the zone leaders for a blessing. Two hours later (they had forgotten about our call) two soggy elders knocked on our front door. Hermana Steel got her blessing first, and then it was my turn. They put their hands on my head and said, “We command you to be healed.” the spirit was so strong… and it was a beautiful blessing. Fifteen minutes later my fever broke and besides some snuffles, I have been feeling so much better. Poor Hermana Steel is still fighting an uphill battle, I kinda joke around and tell her she needs to have more faith in the priesthood… But she is doing a lot better! She has become one of my closest friends and inspires me every day to work my hardest and to be diligent in all things. She is such a trooper!
As of the rest of this week…. I am not quite sure what else there is to share. We had a leadership meeting on Thursday, zone meeting with the stake president on Friday….. We just keep on keepin on and we hope that the Lord never ceases to pour out his blessings….
I love you all and I hope that you will all take a moment to see the many blessings of the Lord in your life, and if weather permits, go take a dance in the rain!
To be completely honest I am not quite sure where to start this week. The past couple days have been very humbling in a lot of ways and the Lord has really opened my eyes. There were moments when the world was out to get us, but we are not of this world… so it worked out fine! I was so happy to be a missionary this week. I saw so many miracles, so many blessings… I truly have never been happier.
That being said, the Lord has blessed us with a new week to change and to be better, to work our hardest and to leave our nets behind. Hermana Steel and I are trying our hardest to be exactly obedient, and to be the examples in all things. We have fasted together, prayed together and studied together, focusing on the basic doctrines of the lessons and on how we can become better teachers and disciples of the Savior. As we have tried to do so the spirit has blessed and enlightened our minds as to what we should do, and how we should do it.
We still have to do interchanges with the other sisters, and this week I had the opportunity to work in Los Naranjos. It was so cool (temp wise) and I learned a lot. I love getting to work with the other sisters and to see different parts of the mission.
This week we have been able to put two metas bautismales. YAAAAY!!! We have a lot of investigators that have a lot of time to come to know the church and to receive lessons, and a lot of them have hit their time. This past week I have seen a lot of sacrifices as people have decided to leave their jobs, their friends, and even their family, all to be able to accept baptism. I think the biggest miracle has been with a young woman we are teaching who, after nine years (two of which going to church and listening to missionaries), decided to leave her partner, her home, everything, with just her two year old son, all so that she can be baptized. That woman has taught me so much about faith, and watching her example has helped me reach a lot of personal healing and understanding of the enabling power of the atonement.
I know that I am not a perfect missionary and that I have a lot to improve on. But I love this work, I love my savior…. and I love that through his atonement I can be better. I hit ten months on Saturday (no I am not baggy) and to celebrate I tried BBQ rabbit!!! It was actually quite delicious. But anyway, as it is always when I hit months, there is a lot of self-reflection and assessing.
This week I decided to be more diligent and to make more of an effort to be happy and work my hardest.