We had interviews this past week with President Hernandez. I know every missionary says their mission is the best, however, I know for a fact that my mission president and his wife are the best mission presidents. President and Hermana Hernandez are truly the most loving people. They are always so worried about our safety and health and want us to be happy and enjoy the mission. I am so impressed and truly adore them. They are both converts. I don't know their story but I know they converted a little later in life so he actually didn't serve a mission in his youth. He always says this is his first mission; he has a really good sense of humor. They are going to be here until July; I am so glad I get them for the grand majority of my mission.
But interviews went really well; they came out to La Romana and we all met at the stake center. Hermana Hernandez told us that president only puts missionaries he really trusts in La Romana because it’s the furthest away. He must really trust us because we've been stuck out here for nine months. :) They also gave us some heavy duty bug spray to spray in our apartments. There has been a lot of Dengue Fever which comes from mosquitoes. I REALLY hope I don’t get it; it’s quite strong and after some missionaries get it, it affects them their entire mission.
We also played a game while we were waiting for our interview. The game was "who knows their companion". The APs would ask a question and we had to write the answer for ourselves and then what we think our companion put. I don't mean to brag or anything but Hermana Thomas and I, we really dominated. I guess we have an advantage after five transfers as companions and seven transfers living together. The only question we didn’t was 'something that irritates you'. There is more than one answer so we didn’t get that one.
I guess if I brag about how well we did in that game, I will have to humble myself and admit how terribly I did in the game we played after. One of the zone leaders was picking a scripture, and I really think he was just picking a random page in the bible or Book of Mormon and he would read it. The goal was to be the first person to find that scripture. I am pretty familiar with the scriptures but I had never heard of any of the scriptures he read. Some of the missionaries really know their scriptures. Especially the Latin’s; they practically have the bible memorized.
M. update: She is still one of my favorite people. She is a loving mother and asks profound questions. I know she loves our visits and the peace and happiness that she knows she will find from the gospel are appealing to her. However, she is hesitant to take proactive steps in her life. One appointment, right at the beginning, she said, "I am filled with too much hate, I can’t be baptized in your church until I cleanse myself from this hate. I don’t want to steal your time so maybe you shouldn't visit me anymore." We told her that we could see her progression and we aren't going to drop her. When we taught about tithing, she was thrilled to discover that none of the local leaders are paid. She said, "Christie (she calls me Christie), one day I am going to join this church. This will be my church." And during the last appointment she gave us a long thank you for the peace that has come into her life since we have started visiting her. There really is a noticeable change in her. She smiles and laughs more. She says there is hope at the end of the tunnel.
She also said that she knows our message is true. I asked her how she knows it is true. She said she grew up in a religious home. She has always participated in religion- many different religions. M. said she has always heard that God is full of love but has never felt that it is true. The people that preached of his love didn't resemble the words they taught. She more or less expressed the words Christ spoke, "They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me." Then she said when we knocked on her door and shared with her things she had never heard of before. M. said for the first time, she was listened to. She could open up and express things she had never told anyone. She learned that the trials in her life weren’t punishments from God. She said we were humble and sincere and really cared. She said, "If your message isn't true, there's no hope. We're all lost."
I don’t write these things to show how we are the best missionaries. I am still learning and have a long way to go. I just really enjoy visiting her and it reminds me that missionary work is all about caring about people and developing relationships. After playing the scripture game I mentioned above, I felt like I was the worst missionary. However, the knowledge you have doesn't convert people. It reminds me of a quote, "missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs nor out of theological arguments, but out of love." I also didn't write the things she said to bash other religions. I have met so many people here from different religions and I am so impressed with them. We are all human and we are all learning. There isn't a church full of perfect people.
We asked her why she hasn’t gone to church yet and she said it was because her daughter didn’t have a skirt. The next day we bought her daughter an outfit. It was really fun. Well, she still didn't go to church. I didn't mind. I bought it because I really like her, not to make her go to church. I think she is fearful. Hopefully she can take some proactive steps in her life to create change. Change doesn't come to us; we have to create it.
Wow, I have put "I dont mean to brag" twice in this email. Every time Hermana T. or I find that we are bragging or when one of our investigators starts bragging, we look at each other and hum - Be thou Humble.
I loved the Rachel Remen article. I love the idea that the satisfaction, peace, and the quality of life depend on the Art of Living- or ability to find the stories in your experiences. I was thinking about the article when I was in an appointment. I was frustrated because the guy we were teaching was talking so much and a little kid had taken my umbrella and I noticed he had broken it. However, I thought of the talk and tried to look at the situation with different eyes. I realized that the little kid was under the umbrella playing make-believe that it was pouring even though there were clear skies. I thought of how hilarious it was that this guy wouldn’t let us get a word in, and looking at my surroundings I was reminded that I was in the D.R.; a beautiful island! I am going to try and look more for the stories.
Thank you mom for the talk you sent me. I can’t wait to see Catching Fire!!!!!!!! And cute Kristen sent me a package. She sent me some pens, which was inspired because I always loose mine and I have barrowed so many from my companion. There was a picture Truman drew and a cute note from Grant that said, "Dear Megan, I miss you! I like it when you babysat us. I wish you could come back!" So cute!!!! Tell her thank you for me.
Love you all so, so much. I am sorry for the length of this email. I am just craving a conversation with you all... Christmas is just around the corner. Have a wonderful and safe week.
Enjoy Thanksgiving. Love you!
Quote from Kristin:
"Courage doesn't always roar, sometimes it's the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I'll try again tomorrow.""