Please enjoy the pictures that basically describe our week.
Repentance is change, progress is change- from the beginning, God has required us to break away from the "natural man" and follow His will verses our own so that we can become who God intends us to be. We can be what we want, or we can be something better. I know how much the Gospel helps and brings hope and joy and peace into my life, and it hurts when someone turns away from that. But we're not giving up on D_____ :) Hope isn't lost just yet!
Prayers are needed for T____, the amazing girl who wanted to get baptized on August 20th. Her father wouldn't even talk to her about her desire to make this decision, and she's devastated. We haven't talked with her in a while, and we have a hunch that her dad told her not to talk to us anymore.
On the plus side, Sister Bueno officially has C-diff! Yay! At least we know that one for sure! I much prefer this to not knowing what it is.
Also, L_____, one of the less-active ladies we work with, wants to come back to church full-time and she's so sweet and wonderful! She's one of the few people I truly know from the bottom of my heart that I was called specifically to be here in Idaho at this time just for her. We played guitar for her in her apartment on the anniversary of her divorce to help her keep her mind off sad things, and she got so emotional when I played the lullaby (I sent a video of it a while ago). The message of knowing that Christ will always look out for us and help us really touched her. I believe with all my heart that everyone needs that reminder at least once a day. So be kind to people- treat everyone as if they were having a bad day, 98% of the time you'll be right.
I'm trying to enlarge my threshold for stress. Missions are VERY stressful, but here you can't escape to a book or TV or take a nap, go for a drive, etc. You have to face stress head on. It's been amazing, getting to know myself like I am right now. I've learned how I react to stress, what I would usually run to without realizing when I'm unhappy, and yet I've also seen I'm much more patient than I previously thought. You'll meet a new me when I come home.
Something cool is happening to me right now! For the first time in my life, I'm recognizing the I am a daughter of God. I've always know it in my head, but heart knowledge is harder to come by. I'm still learning, but I'm starting to figure out what my individual worth is. I'm feeling more confident and at peace, and I'm not so worried about other people's thoughts about me anymore. I took my weakness to the Lord, my shyness and lack of confidence, and He's helping me make it into a strength. I see now that I care about what others think because I really CARE about others, and I can see THEIR strengths and THEIR potential and I admire them. I worry about what they think because I'm not able to see that in myself so easily, so I wonder if I can fit into this world full of amazing people with so many great qualities. That's a strength though! The Lord is helping me fine-tune it :) There's so many other things I'm learning and seeing too, but this is my favorite.
Another cool thing - you don't have to worry about my faith :) It's in MOTION. It's hard to go through tough experiences, but there's no comfort in the growth zone, and certainly no growth in the comfort zone. Pushing through my struggles is making me strong. I don't love it, but it's so invaluable to me that I want to go through more to keep growing and become even happier because I'm coming closer to my Savior. Stagnancy is scary. If I'm stagnant, I'm in trouble. But I'm determined to never go stagnant again in my life. I really am doing well. I'm actually in the best place and position I've ever been in my life. I feel 20 years older than when I started my mission, and I haven't even really gone through much!
Another cool thing - I was reminded what I've learned about peace. John 14:27 is Jesus explaining that the peace the gospel brings is unique. Satan says peace is an absence of trouble - so does the rest of the world. But true peace is calmness of mind and soul in the MIDDLE of trouble. That's how I define peace now. It's amazing.
I do know that I have a Father in Heaven who LIVES and LOVES me. No matter how many bitter anti's, Bible-bashers or words from the gates of Hell itself try to tell me otherwise, I only know this for certain: He is more real and loving than I now realize. While talking with Sis. Bueno, I was crying and talking about my lack of confidence and love for myself was the root of a lot of my problems that I desperately want to change, and she said, "I know it's hard to love yourself sometimes, and then it feels like God doesn't care, but you can't..." I cut her off there and said, "No. I know He loves me. I may not love myself sometimes, and I'm trying to change, but I KNOW God love me." She kind of stared at me and then burst into tears. She said my conviction really hit her and then we were having a mini testimony meeting in our apartment right there.
Sis. Bueno and I have been entertaining ourselves. We got roses from Sis. Mansfield and after they died we collected all the petals and had a "snowball fight." We smelled so good. We also smack each other a ton and get into water fights a lot. Oh, and we keep locking each other out of the car and turning up the music really loud with the windows cracked, and we say, "Dance." Dropping ridiculous moves is the only way to get back in. It's been super fun :)
Sorry if this email sounds a little down! I'll be honest- I'm frustrated. I want to get out and be a missionary full-time again. I want it more than I want to breathe. I know that if nothing else, if this is the only thing I gained from being sick, carrying this desire back into the field will bring so much fire into my service. I'm really looking forward to it :)