Mi querida familia,
I am pleased to announce that I have safely arrived in Florida and am serving in the Killian West area in the MIAMI zone (sorry mom!)! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SENDIND SOME MAIL HERE! Y’all son los mejores. Extra shout-out to Emily for those awesome pictures and divine journal. Also shout-out to the mama for so many goodies and supplies – they are already being WELL used (and eaten).
After waking up at 1:00 A.M. on Tuesday, we caught our flight to Dallas, and only made it to our gate about ten minutes before our flight to Florida left (hence the lack of phone call – so sorry). We were met at the airport by Pres. and Sister Richardson and the two APs, Elders Lange and Tesch – they are fantastic! It was wild to feel the humidity in full force after a dry six weeks in Mexico. On our first day here they fed us delicious pulled pork sandwiches, trained us a little, and sent us right out to place Book of Mormons! It was AWESOME! I went with Sister Rampersad (from Trinidad – she went to the Provo MTC) and we placed four – so cool! It was my first time ever hearing Haitian Creole – so glad that I didn’t have to learn that in the MTC – and my first time knocking doors! We stayed in a hotel that night and headed over to a wild transfer meeting in the morning. I’ve never heard people get so excited in a chapel before! So many people were transferred and given new responsibilities; everyone tells me that we basically have a brand new mission. Crazy.
I am happy to report that my trainer is Hermana Calvo from CUBA. She was baptized in CUBA. Turns out that a branch was established several years ago (I think in 2004) and Elder Holland just went down again this year to establish the second branch! The gospel is truly becoming global – amazing gates are finally opening! She grew up in Cuba and has been living in Southern Spain for the last seven years. She’s awesome. I’m so grateful to be serving with her because she can perfectly understand the older Cubans’ accents (HALLELUJAH) and has already taught me so much Spanish. This area is wild because when knocking doors, you never really know what you’re going to get. Between English, Spanish, and Portuguese we are on our toes. Thankfully we haven’t run into any Haitians here because neither of us know a lick of French or anything like it. It’s been pretty wild because we are white-washing an area – meaning that both of us are new to the area and knew absolutely nothing about it! It has certainly been an adventure. It’s pretty difficult to get in the door, just because the south side of our area is rrrriiiiiccccaaa, but we are seeing miracles every day! We do this cool thing called ‘harvesting’ (ref. DyC 4), meaning when we knock on doors instead of trying to teach right away we instead offer to leave a blessing on their home. It’s a pretty remarkable thing because even though we don’t hold the priesthood as sisters, we can leave a blessing through the virtue of our calling as missionaries. We’ve had some pretty awesome experiences with it – just the other day, a woman, Leonore, opened her door to us and was kind of laughing at us, but allowed us to do a harvest blessing all the same on her doorstep. Once the prayer was said, we looked up to see her eyes filled with tears, and she immediately walked us across the street and into her parents house to leave them with a blessing as well. It has been so amazing to help other people feel the Spirit as we get to and to help them understand that there really is a Heavenly Father who loves them. She didn’t ask us to come back or anything, but we’re hopeful that we can return and make some progress with her in the future.
On the same street, we knocked into a woman named Ana who immediately let us in the door and began to tell us about her sad story. She has been taking tons of depression pills lately because of her family situation. She had a son who had Downs Syndrome who passed away roughly seventeen years ago whom she misses terribly, and has one living son who is no longer speaking to her because she remarried. She told us that she’s been waiting for hope and change, and that her prayers were answered by us. She was our first new investigator! We can back with an AWESOME member on Saturday and taught her about the Plan of Salvation! Well, I didn’t do much. Her accent is crazy, and I’m sitting at about 30% understanding rate with her unfortunately. People tell me that my Spanish is good for a gringa, but understanding can be so hard depending on the person. Anyway, she accepted my invitation to be baptized – wow! We really hope that we can help her find happiness again.
We also met an amazing woman named Sharon. Here’s her in a nutshell: lives alone and misses her family terribly, in her eighties and has a lot of health problems (sciatic nerve – hey, I know that one) that make it difficult to walk or basically do anything. She told us that she had just been washing her dishes wishing that someone would come and help change her situation, and then there was a knock on the door (surprise, it was us). She is Jewish, but is so diligently searching for some kind of a response from God that she is willing to look anywhere to find it. The harvest blessing really touched her heart, and she wants us to come back too!
Everyday through small moments like this my testimony is strengthened. I wish that I had time to tell you more stories like these (though I shared the best ones). Today I found this really awesome scripture in DyC 50 that assimilates knowledge with light. Anything that edifies and brings joy is of God and likewise, anything that is the opposite is not. It states that each of us can gain a knowledge of all of the things of God until our understanding is the perfect brightness of the Sun. On the same line, this light and this knowledge can cast out darkness. Our testimonies truly are like this. They certainly do not come all at once, but are as gradual as a sunrise. Every day as we study, we find bits of light that add to our sky that eventually become as brilliant as the sun and that can add light to others as well. It is difficult because many people think that they must have a perfect understanding and knowledge of all of the things of God before joining this church, or any church. Yet each of us are searching for more light each day. It cannot be obtained all at once, yet there is no limit to the glory and beauty that it can be.
I so love serving here and am excited to see what this week has in store.
Editor’s note: Eliza’s “sorry” to me was because I had expressed a little concern about her safety in some parts of Florida. I worry about my kiddos, probably a little too much! I know there are great people everywhere and I am gaining greater faith in my Heavenly Father every day in his ability to watch over her and keep her safe while she serves. She is striving to be exactly obedient to all the mission rules and I know blessing come with obedience. I apologize for anyone I or we may have offended. It was certainly not intended. Katie