1. How many missionaries does it take to put 2 bikes on a bike rack?
2 and 3. Ice cream and Korean barbecue. Yes that is squid Robert is cooking.
4. The baptism!
5. Claudia and us in our folklórico outfits.
A traditional dance from Mexico estado de Morelos, which is just south of Mexico City. We're pretty easy to spot. We later received comments like:
"You danced so beautifully!"
"Son casi mexicanas! (You are almost Mexican)"
And my personal favorite:
"You should have been born in Central or South America, that's why you went to a Spanish speaking mission."
This week had a lot of highs and lows. Basically we were on a rollercoaster to whole time. But here we are at the end and all is well. Here are the highlights...
Bike troubles (because always)
We made the mistake of thinking that we were out of the woods when it came to bike troubles this week, only to be hit by a flat tire on Tuesday, a flat tire on Friday, (making our grand total of flat tires this transfer 5) and another trip out to the bike shop in Monrovia for Hermana Johnson's derailer. Funny story actually. We had gotten off our bikes to walk across a cross walk, and crossing the first street was fine, and then as we were crossing the second street, la bicicleta se explotó. The derailer was actually touching the back tire and the chain was all over the place. We called our zone leaders, who have a car and a bike rack, and begged them to take our bikes to the church for us because it was impossible to ride, or really walk them. They came, and were in a trio, so picked us up as well and gave the bikes a ride back to our apartment and us a ride back to the church. Putting the bikes on the bike rack was a little sketchy because they didn't have any bike bars, but they all made it back on one piece. And thanks to Hermana Borrayo we made it Monrovia and back without too much trouble.
Now for one of the biggest miracles I have ever seen on my mission. My first time here in La Puente a man named Jeferi was baptized along with his cousin. A few weeks ago Jeferi's wife daughter and son arrived from Honduras. The elders have been teaching them and this week everything fell into place. Wednesday was the signing of the marriage papers, held in the branch president's office, but they let us come anyway, Thursday was the baptismal interview and Saturday was the baptism! Let me just say, I love this family. I have adopted Claudia and Justin as my little brother and sister, and I love Lydia and Jeferi just as much. It was such a blessing to see the change in each of them, to see Claudia become happier and more confident, Justin a little less crazy, and Lydia just more secure and happy. They are already planning their temple sealing in a year, which is amazing that they already understand that that is the end goal. Also Lydia is an amazing cook. Just saying.
We had quite a few cultural experiences this week. Tuesday Robert and Darlene, two of my favorite members treated us to Korean barbecue. They way it worked is it was all you can eat, and they would bring you three plates of meat at a time and you would cook it yourself on a little grill on the table and then eat it with rice and rice paper. Well, we got our money's worth. 16 plates of meat worth in fact. Then afterward they took us out for ice cream, to a place called Afters, which has all sorts of ice cream flavors, the cookie butter is excellent, and make ice cream sandwiches out of warm donuts. It was delicious, and I don't know if I have ever been so full in my life. Then later in the week was the Cultural celebration! It included food of every type imaginable, and traditional dances from many of the Central and South American countries. And this year we got to participate. It was honestly one of the funnest nights of my life. I love how rich Latino culture is, and how open they can be about sharing it.
Now the last bit of news, another transfer has past. The good thing is Hermana Johnson and I are staying together! Also Elder Chavarria is training and Elder Pugh is off the be a zone leader in East LA. Elder Pao is now our district leader, but he is in a trio with the zone leaders. Also we now have Chinese sisters in our zone! That's about it transfer wise, and here's to a new one!
I never said it would be easy, I only said it would be worth it.
This morning Darlene asked me if I could serve my mission again would I do it. I thought about it for a minute, and I said yes, a million times over yes. I'm not going to lie, sometimes I don't think it's worth it. Missionary work is just that, work, and sometimes it's not very rewarding. But then I think about small moments, like giving one of the hermana's a hug, or a small child a high five, or when my eyes well up to see the smile on someone's face after they are baptized, or to feel the spirit so strongly it brings you to tears during a lesson. Those are the moments that mean everything. The mission call letter states "Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children." I love that sentence for so many reasons. This mission has brought me to my knees in prayer more times than you could imagine. It has brought tears to my cheeks, both tears of sadness and tears of joy and gratitude. I have arrived at home, at the point of collapsing physically, but with a heart full and ready and willing to keep on going. This is a labor of love, and love is what keeps me going each day. Love for my family, love for the people, and most importantly love for the Lord. And so yes, it is all worth it.