I love you all so much. It is such a blessing to hear from you all so often. What a blessing that P-day is weekly, right? I think the leaders of the church must understand how important it is that we have this time to communicate with our loved ones. I think I was trying to be strong at the beginning but I am getting to that point where I am willing to recognize how weak I am. I need the support and love from all of you. I would not be able to do this if I didn't know that there was a giant group of people back at home praying for me and sending me words of encouragement. You are all the greatest!!!
Okay, so it is funny because we have a pretty decent sized companionship, right? Four people. About two or three days of the week Sister Bastidas and I are doing divisions, and the other days we are in meetings and picking up sisters here and dropping them off there and training them, so it isn't like we're getting so much done but today President sent us another sister. Had you ever heard of a companionship of five missionaries? Neither had I. She has been having a lot of problems with obedience and I think it is kind of a last chance thing. She is a really sweet girl and I have been working one on one with her a lot this week. I can imagine the sadness and frustration she is feeling. I really care about her and I am hoping she can get things cleaned up so she can serve her full 18 months.
Saturday C and J were baptized. The two had different schedules so we had to do two baptismal services. They were two of the greatest, most spiritual baptismal services I had attended. C is incredible. Her whole family showed up and afterward she shared the sweetest testimony. Needless to say, half of us were crying the whole time. I admit that a couple times the thought has crossed my mind that my contribution hasn't been as great as it could be if I weren't struggling with health issues. I have wondered if the Lord is pleased with my work performance or if someone else should be here right now in my place. But I know with all my heart that I needed to be here at this time to meet and work with C. I feel like she was one of my best friends in the premortal life (excuse me for being so sappy) and I am so sooooo grateful to my Heavenly Father for letting me meet and work with her. J is amazing. He is an 11 year old kid who has been attending church for about a month with his neighbors. He is a rock. He, his sister, and his mom were going to get baptized the fifth, but his mom and sister backed out. He got baptized alone Saturday and has been an amazing example to his family. Obviously his parents are supporting his decision and during the baptism the whole family realized that they also need to make the step. They realized what a courageous example their son was giving them. I hope they will choose to be baptized soon. They have a really special family.
I have been enjoying my mission a lot lately and the other day I had a really neat experience with a less active sister. She has a great family. She has commited a lot of mistakes in her past and has a really sad family life, but just wants to do what is right. She is very, very humble. They hardly ever eat and her 17-year-old daughter had a tumor removed from behind her eye about two months ago and they just have had trial after trial. We have been helping them a lot and I have just grown to love their sweet family. Anyway, N, the mom, has her weaknesses and the other day she was feeling so sad and frustrated for not being a better mom. She was just kind of giving up and she and I were crying and I realized how important it is for me to be able to find these people in the afterlife. I care about them so much and just want them to fight and give their all -- for selfish and unselfish reasons. I care so much about all of them.
"There is no greater joy in life than being anxiously engaged in the Lord's work"
Okay, about the shoes, I think I am okay. I mean, my shoes look awful but I am a missionary, that is to be expected, right? I will be ok.
About a month ago a friend (Joe.. remember him Kenz? from the spiral jetty??) sent me the talk by Elder Corbridge about the fourth missionary. It has been so inspiring for me. Elder Corbridge teaches that many "obedient" and "successful" missionaries serve with all their might and strength but withhold their heart and mind. That called my attention. I reflected on how I might be committing the same mistake. He later explained that if we surrendor ourselves completely to the Lord, He will make out of us so much more than we could ever make out of ourselves. And we will be eternally happier. I am working hard on leaning on the Lord. Giving Him my whole self. It is a challenge, but as Elder Corbridge explains, I know it is the only smart way to serve a mission. He explains that we have to do all this with a sincere heart or we will not change or progress (D&C 58:29, Moroni 7:6). I love that thought. I am so grateful to know that my Heavenly Father is willing to let me make mistakes and try to improve. I am learning more and more each day of my weaknesses and depending on Him more and more.
Mom, I am doing the same challenge with the book of Mormon and it is great. You should mark certain things in certain colors. That little copy of the BOM will become really really important to you. I love mine and I am going to save it forever. Dad, hope the halloween dance goes well! Are you healing? I would love to go to Cali in December! Let me know!
Mom, quick question, can you call BYU and see what kind of info you can get? When I should sign up for classes, my password and everything... THNX
Okay, I love you all.
Hermana Norton writing from rainy Quito