On the 20th I will have officially been out 6 months. I still feel like I´m a brand new missionary though. 1/3 of the way through? Weird.
Well Hna Noriega, my companion is a wonderful saint-like person. Our branch pres asked me last minute to give a talk in sacrament meeting again but at the moment I still had to prepare the class I have to give later so Hna Noriega offered herself as a sacrifice. And while she was giving it she seemed fine, obviously struggled with the language a bit but didn´t look nervous...and then when she sat down told me that she almost fainted during her talk! She said everything got black around her eyes and her knees started going weak! Poor thing! But she is just fine now thankfully and never actually fainted.
Last Monday we taught my favorite member in Benidorm, Vicente, whom I have mentioned previously. He one of the recent converts and is basically like family at this point. He is always so helpful and genuinely kind to us, he even has bought us chocolate multiple times because he knows I love it so much. Well on Monday we met him in the park for the lesson and he seemed down and then went on to explain that he had decided to quit the church permanently. I though he was kidding, but he was serious about his decision. The hard part was that he didn´t have a real concrete reason. I tried everything I could think of. I went to the base of his testimony and up asking him questions, and to every one he responded affirmatively, that yes he new all of it was true. I couldn´t wrap my head around it and Hna Noriega was to shocked to speak. I kept going, thinking of everything possible to try and reason with him, it was so frustrating and I felt like my world was falling down around me. I couldn´t help thinking of Miri too and what was happening to her. And just as I thought we were making progress he said, I haven´t changed my decision Hermana, but you´ll still write me and we´ll still be friends right? I had tried my hardest to keep it together during the whole lesson and that is where I fell apart. The tears came heavily. I have never felt so awful or so let down. We had worked with him multiple times a week since I got to Benidorm and now he was saying that he was giving up without reason. I made him promise to rethink it, pray about it, and to read the Book of Mormon everyday. He said that he would and we both left the park with tears streaming down our faces. I have never cried like that so far, especially not in a lesson. We were literally heartbroken. But I didn´t believe it, I knew he would change his mind.
As we were walking home, still trying to stop crying, two British guys asked us for directions and when I explained that we were Mormons he said, Mormons? I haven´t heard of Mormons, but I have heard of mermaids. I couldn´t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation we were in. I think it was one way of God giving us a tender mercy to cheer us up a little bit. And just as we entered our apt building Vicente called us back and said that he was praying and God told him that what he was doing was wrong and that he needed to continue being a member. Just like that. I tried to change his mind for 2 hours and God changed his heart within 5 minutes. I was emotionally, spiritually, and physically worn out but so grateful that God answers prayers, especially when they are humble and sincere.
And although I never want to feel that way ever again, I think that it was good for me, necessary. I think it is the closest I have ever come to feeling what God feels for us. Pure love for someone, and then the devastation that comes when after everything we have done for them, they chose not to accept, not to change. I truly felt the helplessness of not being able to do anything about the situation, because we have our agency, and not matter how much I would like to take it away from people sometimes, we can´t. If it´s that frustrating for me, I can´t even imagine how it must feel for Heavenly Father with his countless numbers of children and the perfect love that he has for each one of them. He gives us everything, he gives us the witness of all the truths of the gospel, but yet we are still so incredibly imperfect, selfish, and rebellious. And while this transfer has been especially tiring and hard for me so far, I know that all of it happens for a reason and that God has a better plan for each one of us, but it is all in his timing.
Love you all, and continue praying for the work, and Miri!
By the way we finally have an appt with her this Wednesday so hopefully she will get confirmed this Sunday!
from when I was in Alicante with Hermanas Camacho and Parrilla (she is from the canary islands!)