Yes it gets hotter with every day as it gets colder there in Highland, but we listen to Josh Groban and MoTab Christmas, and I feel the Christmas spirit just as strongly. Perhaps even more than before in my past Christmas'! It sounds like everyone is happy and well even with crazy Costco and Madrigal Feasts and gigs and such. Hermana Castillo and I have set a goal to only talk about family and home and our past lives on P Days, so today we've been excitedly telling each other about all our Christmas traditions.
SPEAKING OF . . . oh my goodness mom and dad, you blew me out of the water with the Christmas packages. Cutest story about that. I had told Hermana Castillo that my mom would most definitely send her a stocking for Christmas, and she was so excited about opening a stocking on Christmas. Last Tuesday, we went to district meeting in the offices, and afterwards we went to the mail room to pick up letters. Elder Dorius handed me my two packages, and then said, "And Hna. Catillo, these are for you." When he handed her the two big brown packages with "Companera de Hermana Leavitt," her mouth just dropped open. "Oh. . . my. . . gosh. Oh. . .my . . .gosh. Para mi? (for me?) Para MI? (For ME?) Noooooo. . . voy a llorar. Voy a llorar. (I'm going to cry. I'm going to cry.)" She really was on the brink of tears. Her family won't be able to send her anything for Christmas. So mom, thank for all of your thought and care and kindness and for making my companion so happy. She's like my perfect little angel companion, and I was so happy to see her so happy. All week she's been saying, "Oh Dehna (that's how she pronounces your name) Oh Dehna, I love you with all my heart."
This week has been . . . an incredible experience. I really learned the value of exercising faith in Heavenly Father and trusting that, while He may not always answer right away, He will ALWAYS answer. Hence the title of my email. This week was definitely one of the most challenging weeks I've had, with rejection I had not yet experienced, and a lack of success that Hermana Castillo and I are definitely not used to. To make it a little easier I'm going to give you the low down through my letter to President. I copied the idea of Sister Peterson (Ali) and put my additional commentary in bold:
Thanks so much for your encouraging words in the Sol. I too know that success in the Lord's work is possible because, well . . . it's the Lord's work! How could it not be successful? He is in charge and He has souls ready to accept us, I have ESPECIALLY learned that this past week. Hermana Castillo and I started out the week really excited to work super hard and complete all of our key indicators before Saturday because we knew that we would have the Capilla Abierta all afternoon and night on Saturday. The "Capilla Abierta" was a program that a senior missionary couple brought to South America. It's an opportunity for the members to bring their friends and family to the church in a non-Sunday setting to feel the spirit of the chapel, fellowship with members, and learn about the Gospel. The way they've set up the program, it pulls on all of the most beautiful, simple principles of the Gospel and presents it in a really understandable way. It's super professional and impressive with beautiful displays and a mini Christus statue that they bring to the chapel and everything. Our ward, the San Justo ward, was luckily chosen by President Carter to host the event. So for weeks the ward has been preparing, cleaning, and we've been inviting like crazy. It ended up being a huge success and really pulled our ward together in the spirit of missionary work. Anyways, back to earlier in the week. But we soon discovered that Heavenly Father had different plans for us. We walked and walked, talked with everyone, scheduled CPVs, set up lessons with members to accompany us, and time after time, we got rejected, appointments fell through, and for the first few days, we came walking into the pencion with absolutely nothing to show for our exhausted bodies and tired minds. Seriously, I don't know what happened to our dear people of San Justo this week, but we felt like we were in a different country with the way the people acted. Usually a "rejection" is something like this: "Hi! We'd like to invite you to our church services! We're missionaries from the Church . . ." interrupted with "No my love, I'm busy and can't listen right now. Next time for sure." or "No dearest, but keep doing what you're doing. You're both beautiful!" and we move on our way. But this week we had real door slams, yelling to get off their property, cruel jokes, etc. (if a missionary in Russia read this right now, they'd probably roll their eyes and say, "Oh please, that's nothing." But for US it was a shock. The amazing this is that Heavenly Father really strengthened us, and I felt the pure love of my Savior every time that I remembered that he had already suffered the same little sting of that rejection for me.
But the cool thing is, the feeling of discouragement never settled in to cloud our vision. Every personal and companionship study in the morning was a joyful experience, and we set out every day with a smile and faith in our hearts. And in the night when we had faced yet another day of rejection and had taught barely one measely little lesson, we said to ourselves, "Heavenly Father is going to answer our prayers. We've been working hard and we're being obedient, and He is going to come through." Miraculously, in the afternoon when it's often easier to get discouraged in the heat, we had smiles and were filled with this energy.
On Friday, we began to see the fruits of our diligence, and Heavenly Father led us to the door of an incredible young woman who is so prepared for the Gospel and who accepted a baptismal date. Her name is Ailen and she is amazing. She is 15 years old, her mom is suffering from cancer right now, and Ailen is really looking for peace in her life. We shared a little of the Plan of Salvation with her and invited her to be baptized. She accepted without hestitation. That night we randomly discovered a PILE of antiguo investigators registros in a hidden closet, and made plans to walk and work until we found the people who the Lord had prepared. And we found them!
The Capilla Abierta was absolutely wonderful, and even though it lacked people at certain hours, the members really felt the spirit of it and we received 42 wonderful referrals from them! (I think it also has to do with the fact that Elder Dressler and Perroti are capos and really made them think.) We're excited to contact those referalls of oro and teach with members!
The week was topped off with the beautiful baptism of Berta, being led to more people to teach and helping people prepare for baptism on the 29 and the 5 of January. Sunday, we walked and walked and it was crazy how none of OUR set plans worked out, but we practically bumped into the the people who Heavenly Father had prepared. I learned from this week that Heavenly Father really does listen to our prayers, that He ALWAYS keeps His promises, and that sometimes we just have to have a little patience and continue to show our faith and diligence before we see the results. I love being a part of this work and seeing the miracles that Heavenly Father provides every single day!
Love, Hermana Leavitt
Well, that's the story of the week. It was truly a wonderful experience. I came to learn a little more of the reality of Jesus Christ's Atonement as I suffered a teensy tiny smidgen of what He suffered when the people He loved rejected Him. Never once did I feel alone in the work, and Heavenly Father provided the miracles AFTER we provided the faith.
Well fam, gotta run. But I love you so much, and I hope you enjoy this wonderful Christmasy week!