Dear family and friends,
Ahh, it´s a good day to be a missionary! I feel like we´re finally gaining traction here in Loma Linda (after 8 weeks) and the Lord is blessing us with the fruit from our more dedicated effort this week. But first, let´s start with the low moments and end on a high note, shall we?
Bad news: It turns out that a little hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin are not sufficient protection for an open wound in Nicaragua. My scraped leg got infected. I´ll spare you the gory details, but for about three days it burned from the outside, hurt from the inside, and excreted pus. Sorry, no pictures! :) Not to worry, it´s almost 100% healed now after more disinfecting stuff, Neosporin, and prayers.
The sadder part is that I let myself wallow in self-pity on Thursday and was thinking a lot more about myself than my investigators, my companion, our recent converts, and my calling as a missionary. It was a hard lesson to learn at the end of the day when I realized that I had used fatigue, pain, and whatever other selfishness as an excuse to not give the Lord my all. But as horrible as that feeling was, it was the motivation I needed to repent and rededicate my efforts to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. I´m so grateful for the Atonement and the divine gift of repentance. As a result, we saw miracles this week!
High points: Sunday! We had a record number of investigators, recent converts, and overall attendance at church. I´m not sure exactly what changed to bring about this miracle, but I do know that the Lord magnified our efforts and blessed us with additional tender mercies. I know without a doubt that He loves His children.
One of these miracles is Sonia, who turns 45 this Tuesday. We contacted her last Saturday when she was standing at her gate. We approached her and asked how she was, because she looked really sad. She told us that her daughter is in prison and some other sad things. We shared our testimonies that God loves her, along with a scripture, a prayer, and the invitation to come to church. When we passed by the next morning for church, she wasn´t there. We returned later in the week for our scheduled return appointment, and she wasn´t there again, but her daughter let us in and we had a quick lesson. The faithless part of me was ready to write Sonia off as another dead-end contact, but miraculously, I saw her and her daughter walk into the chapel from my spot at the piano in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. She had a fever and headache, but decided to come anyway and stayed for all three hours. Both she and her daughter loved everything about church and easily accepted a baptismal date in our appointment later that afternoon! Yep, those miracles really do exist, o ye of little faith (cough, Hermana Hansen)!
We´ve seen more success as we worked with members and got closer to meeting the mission´s established standards of excellence this week. We´re learning how to be more brief and powerful in lessons, using our time more effectively and concentrating on smaller parts of the area instead of losing time walking from place to place. The Lord is definitely preparing hearts, we just need to have the focus, love, and patience to find, teach, and baptize these people!
I love you tons and pray for your eternal happiness! Don´t forget to remember the Savior this week and apply the Atonement in your life.
1) (From last week) Elder Shepherd´s only towel got sent back in my laundry and he had transfers, poor kid. No worries, he and his towel have now been happily reunited.
2) Church bathroom selfie after getting caught in the pouring rain. And you can´t really tell how wet we are, but it´s the only picture I took this week...