Received on 9/9/14
Hello! What an awesome and wild week we have had here in Miami. For the record, my P-day is indeed Monday, but because last Monday was Labor Day it was moved to Tuesday. We always work on holidays because of the increased likelihood for families to be together at home. Sorry to cause confusion and/or heart palpitations.
We have seen some amazing miracles in the past week as products of our determination to be exactly obedient. We have a really amazing woman named Sandra who is progressing so rapidly. She was a gift from Heavenly Father who came to church two weeks ago with a woman upon who’s door we had knocked a few days before (Amelia). Now the woman we knocked into no longer is interested, but her friend, Sandra, is astounding! She has committed to give up coffee and alcohol, even in the face of hard pressure from her friends and peers. When we first talked to her about the Word of Wisdom, she immediately said that she wouldn’t be able to do it, because coffee is so deeply rooted in Cuban culture, but after we had finished teaching that, she said, “Pues, si ustedes me prometen que es un mandamiento de Dios y voy a recibir muchas bendiciones si vivo la, voy a tratar.” (sorry world if that’s bad Spanish – estoy aprendiendo todavia – but you know what I mean). We happened to knock on Amelia’s door a day or two later on Saturday night to see if we could try to teach her or drop her, but were very shocked when the opening door revealed Sandra’s aunt, Fina, who has been listening and participating in lessons with Sandra (they live together)! We entered and were surprised to find Sandra lying in a hammock there in tears as Amelia was getting her fingernails painted by a friend. The Lord really does send us where we need to be! It was amazing timing. Satan had really been doing a number on Sandra, and she was having a lot of issues with a health problem as well as a lot of pressure from Amelia about the Word of Wisdom and changing her whole life.Thank goodness the Lord sent us there to increase her faith and to dispel her fears. We gave her a long pep-talk and encouraged her to keep going. She is golden; while we were there, and while Amelia hosing her down about the alcohol quitting, Sandra said, “What, so you aren’t going to go out with me or be my friend anymore just because I won’t drink with you? You’ll have your drink and I’ll have my water, and we’ll both still have fun! Who cares what I drink! Why does it matter to you!” She’s a fiery and inspiring lady. She and Fina were at church to take the Sacrament the next day and stayed for all three hours for church. She is truly an amazing woman who we are so excited to see her get baptized (she hasn’t committed to a date yet, but we know she will). Awesome miracle!
We have another blessing named Cristina, whose door we knocked on a whim last week. She tells us over and over that she knows God sent us to her, and tells us that we are better than any psychiatrist or therapist has ever been to her! It makes us happy. I don’t have time to tell her whole story, but in a sentence it is this: She is in the middle of a custody battle for her two sons (9 and 11) with her ex-husband (7 years divorced) who has a crazy father (he basically hates her because she’s not Cuban) that is trying to control his son and is obsessed with money (her ex is a millionaire). She really has a lot of trust in God, but this man has manipulated her pretty badly and she is pretty confused about what to do. She has amazing faith though – I think that I am learning as much from her as she is from us! We hope that she will have an increased desire to follow the Lord and that he will help things work out well for her so that she can be with her children. It’s amazing how willing people are to tell you all about their problems even when they have no idea who you are and you just give a little knock on their door.
My apartment is absolutely crazy fun all of the time. We live with Sister Bird and Sister Montoya, our STLs, and we are basically always laughing whenever we are home together. Sis. Montoya is from Costa Rica, and she is absolutely hilarious! The Spanish word of the week comes from her: She calls Satan “Platanaso” which basically translates to someone you want to hit with a banana (no, that is not a joke – it is a bonafide Costa Rican insult). Whenever she is having a hard time or is feeling Satan’s influence, just says, “Get away from me, platanaso!”. She also throws in a “What the heck, man!” in honor of a Jamaican YSA named Sanjay that is our buddy (I know this isn’t as funny to you as it is to me, but if you could hear her say it in her accent, you would understand). But this, of course, leads us to call each other platanasas all the time because we all think it’s hilarious (except Sister Bird – she doesn’t speak Spanish. sad day), but we really don’t have enough bananas to go around to hit each other with (missionary budgets are tight). I am so blessed to live in such a beautiful place with people who make me so happy. Don’t worry, mom, there are no cockroaches or bedbugs (like many other missionaries here have suffered with – bless them) and we eat a lot of salad.
This week I read 2 Nephi 4, which is truly a beautiful piece of scripture. Nephi completely commits himself to trust in the Lord, despite his weaknesses and short-comings. It is amazing that an example as inspiring as Nephi can utter the words, “Oh, wretched man that I am!” and describe desires to lay aside the sins that “so easily beset” him. How in the world could sins so easily beset Nephi when he was always obedient and an example to his family?! It was a good reminder that we are all mortal, even the prophets, and that no life is easy. It reaffirmed my resolve to be an exactly obedient missionary and child of God and to completely trust in the Lord.
Because of her example I have felt more and more comfortable testifying and teaching during our lessons. It is hard, but is truly an amazing thing to feel the Spirit burn in your heart as words come into your mind to back up that which your companion is saying and to fortify it with testimony and doctrine. This work is truly amazing!
Much love to all of you! Keep the faith.
Also, you all should go watch the Bible video Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind. It’s awesome.