This week we had intercambios again! This time I went to Guayama and it was so nice because there were no hills! :) But it made me realize how much the Lord has blessed me with a love for Aguas Buenas and the people here because I had the biggest feeling of relief when I came back. Guayama was good, but Aguas Buenas is where I'm meant to be. It helped me appreciate this area again which I really needed because we're really struggling here. It's so hard not seeing any progression and not teaching anyone. Some days we are just walking and contacting all day and it's really exhausting, but I know Heavenly Father has a plan for this area and He keeps blessing us with the strength we need to work hard each and every day. I've really gained a testimony of everything happening in the Lord's timing. Maybe we can't see the fruits of our labor while we are in this area, but as long as we do our best, the Lord will bless this area and will nourish the seeds we are planting and one day, in His timing, the seeds will grow and the people will find the gospel.
We decided to basically "White Wash" this area and start over since no one that we were visiting really had potential so like I said earlier we have just been contacting like crazy. But one plus about contacting all day is that we get to explore new areas of Aguas Buenas. On Saturday we hiked up to some neighborhoods on the top of the mountain and it was absolutely gorgeous up there! We could see the ocean and all of Bayamon and San Juan and it was just the prettiest thing I have ever seen! So that's was pretty exciting. :) And missionaries haven't been up there for a long time because it's pretty far away so it was cool to meet new people and I can't wait to go back there and meet more people and see who the Lord has been preparing.
Also, we found a family of 5! We had been walking and contacting all day long and weren't having much success and we thought about turning around and heading back, but the Spirit told us to keep going a little bit more. That's when we met a family of 5 who had listened to missionaries before but over time the missionaries had lost contact with them and now 3 years later, the Lord sent missionaries to them again! We are so excited to teach them and hopefully see them progress!
Also something that I learned this week is based on a conference talk I read by President Uchtdorf from Priesthood session. He said "Artificial discipleship not only keeps us from seeing ourselves as who we really are, but it also prevents us from truly changing through the miracle of the Savior's Atonement." I thought a lot about this this past week because I noticed that over time I had been building a facade to cover up my weaknesses to look more "perfect" than I actually was. Not necessarily with my "discipleship" like President Uchtdorf was talking about but just with general everyday weaknesses. I wanted to look flawless and perfect as possible and didn't want to mess up in anything in front of others. So slowly I've been building a facade over these weaknesses. But I've been learning how damaging this can be. And like President Uchtdorf said, it prevents us from truly changing through the Atonement. Instead of working through my weaknesses, I've just been covering them up. But as I've started to accept my weaknesses and let God help me to strengthen them and change them instead of covering them up, I've been blessed with power and the ability to do things that I never thought I could do. It's incredible what the Atonement can do. If we use it every single day of our lives we really can change and become more like our Father in Heaven. He will give us the strength we need and He will refine us and shape us into the people we are striving to be and into the people He wants and needs us to be. The Lord has been refining me here in Aguas Buenas. While sometimes it's hard, it's worth it. I'm amazed as I look back and see how far I've come through the power of the Atonement. It's real and it works. The Atonement is the greatest blessing we have been given in this life and if we put all our effort into using it every single day of lives, it can work miracles within us and can change us and heal us and bring us closer to our Savior and our Father in Heaven.
I really am learning so much! It just fascinates me how much we are capable of learning in this life. I love it!
I don't know how much space you have left in the package but do you remember that book of sheet music I gave you a while ago because the binding was coming undone and you were going to bind it? Do you know if you still have it? I think the book is called I Know that My Redeemer Lives by someone named Michael something.... Michael Hicks maybe.... Anyways, if you still have it, could you send that in the package? If not, then no worries! :)
I'm so sorry you had a hard week, mom. I know you can do it! The peace that can come from the scriptures and the temple is huge and I know the Lord will comfort you and help you through this. You will definitely be in my prayers. I love you so much!
Oh my goodness, Amelia is just too cute. Tell her I love her!
Good luck Heidi and Christopher with school! Study hard and be good! :)
Love you guys so much!