Querida familia mia, 11/9/10
I love you all SO much! I thought about you so much this week - especially as I happily poured through the birthday messages and cards, pictures, and gifts. You are all SO thoughtful! It was not without tears - but good tears because I felt very close to HOME. Hermana Olsen had decorated all the walls in the house with post-it notes of love and Feliz Cumpleanos .... and scriptures of OLD fogies. Like ¨Abraham waxed OLD...¨ ¨Lehi grew OLD and DIED...¨ What a creative girl! :)
One of the members of the ward named Liliana and her husband (who claims he´s Jewish and refuses to read the BOM) welcomed us over and had a birthday cake and balloons. It was so sweet! Then I met our new family... who has 4 Baptismal Dates! woohooo! They put on good ól country music from the USA and we laughed together. We taught them to pray as a family - it was great to be in their house for my cumpleanos. THEN, to end the day, our awesome ¨nueva¨ family (which means ¨new family,¨ :) haha) made us pizzas and celebrated together. I went home very happy and STUFFED! :)
One of the biggest surprises for my birthday was that I found out I´M TRAINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They told me early because on Sunday, I was shipped off on a 8 hour bus ride to Bahia Blanca for a leadership capacitación. Everyone says they were not surprised - Hermana Olsen has been saying that I would train for weeks now. I am nervous because it´s a lot of responsibility and I want to be the best ¨Mama¨ I can be for my mission ¨Hija.¨ I feel like I have been well-trained for this responsibility -everything before the mission and throughout the mission so far - but I hope I can be just like my entrainadora was for me. I have been planning it since before the mission when I heard Kyle Sipherd talk about Ben as a trainer or when my capacitadora en the MTC described her experience training, ¨What would I do as a trainer?¨ and NOW, I get to live the experience! Dad, Ben, family, anyone have any advice and help for this special calling?
So, we got to Bahia Blanca and I stayed in La Falda (my old area) for the night. It was SOOO weird! I saw Hna. Abarzua del Canto and the Abuelos that lived in front of us. I felt very different in my area - it´s funny when you don´t have the responsibility anymore, it´s just empty. I know how you feel going back to Montreal, Dad.
We went to the training meeting and I met two Elders - Elder GOATES and Elder UBBEN! I was sooo excited to meet them because Ben taught them in the MTC a long time ago. I showed them a picture of Ben and Jackie´s wedding and they said, ¨WHOOO! Hermano Tingey got married!!!¨ :)
So, I am always VERY, VERY careful with my personal belongings - money, camera, etc. - everywhere I am because I´m in Argentina... that´s just how it is here. BUT JUST today we left our bags in another room for the training and went to eat for about 20 minutes. When we came back, 6 Elders and us two Hermanas looked in our bags and saw that someone had stolen our CAMERAS! My heart about melted! ALL my pictures from Mar Del Plata are GONE forever. I was sick to my stomach. I felt so bad because I had felt the Spirit talking to me many, many times that morning -don´t bring your camera...put your camera in YOUR scripture bag and now in Hermana LaPray´s bag.... and I ignored every single one. I had also been feeling the Spirit for WEEKS telling me to figure out how to upload my pictures, etc. I had been going to different internet servers to try and upload the pictures, but I can´t find ONE that is safe to do it in or that even allows me to. I had been frustrated for weeks and weeks trying to put my pictures up so my Family can see my mission! So needless to say, I was in shock and stressed and upset as we started the leadership training. I felt horrible that I had ignored the Spirit and didn´t do as I was directed... I felt sick that I lost all of my pictures from Mar Del Plata and now my camera, just as I am getting a Hija... and President looked at me and said, ¨You are such a good Hermana!¨
I learned a LOT from the leadership training and practicing, but that was the best part for me - ¨You are such a good Hermana!¨ I will ALWAYS try to follow the promptings of the Spirit from now on. And President knows that- the Lord knows that - my Father in Heaven knows that. President has never seen me do ANYTHING correctly in the mission, but he doesn´t have to to know where my heart is. I made a grave error - a horrible, horrible mistake leaving my camera in another room when I´ve been SO meticulously careful with it for months and months and months- however, I can´t beat myself up. I am a GOOD Hermana who is trying my best. I have to be content with that. And I am.
Mom and Dad - your emails were very, very inspired! I appreciated the story from Dad and Mom helping me see the good. You two know my weaknesses and love me and help me overcome them. I am trying my best to focus on the Holy Ghost - the Spirit of God that burns like a fire within us - that teaches us, guides us, and helps us use and feel the love of God in our lives. Today my lider de zona said, ¨There are always three people teaching and testifying in the lesson - you, your companion, and the Spirit.¨ My goal as a missionary, as a soon to be Mama, as a daughter of my loving Heavenly Father, is to be still - to listen - to lead the Holy Spirit guide me.
Tender mercies of the Lord - JUSTO after everything that happened, I receive the Halloween package from Mom (SOOO cute! Hermana Olsen LOVED it soooo much!) and also a surprise birthday package from the Olsen Family! I also got a letter from my companion in the MTC Hermana Crosby. And I was able to talk to and get to know Elder Ubben on the trip back, one of the Elders Ben taught. I felt the love from all of you. I don´t have my camera and I don´t have all my mission fotos, but I have the love of God, the love of the Lord, the love of family and friends, and I am happy. I have felt the strength of the Lord through His Spirit lifting me up and strengthening me. I know He will as I begin the journey of training next week! (She will arrive on Wednesday morning next week!)
I love this gospel! I love my mission - every trial, every blessing!
¡Animo y adelante! HUGS HUGS HUGS!!!!
To answer your question about P-days: we used to be able to play Ultimate or soccer or something, but ever since Elder Aiudukaitis came and a few Elders accidently broke limbs, President took away district and zone P-day actividades. Now, P-days are tough because we have to stay in our areas... but we´ve been given permission to see the Hermanas once and since we´re in Centro Mar Del Plata, there´s a lot more to do in our area than there is in some of the obscure areas of the Elders.