Tech-Savvy, with chocolate
Hey, guess what?
Our mission has a website now! I haven't seen it, but the url is: www.misionretalhuleu.org. (Probably better off copying and pasting that link...)
Supposedly, there is a picture of me on there because I was one of the winners in a Preach My Gospel quiz we did. Woo hoo! They gave me chocolate but I ended up giving it to a less active woman we visited because it had almonds in it. And her husband is a bum who never visits her, nor brings her any money with which to purchase food and school supplies for her six kids. I figured they could use some holiday cheer.
But the excitement of the little gift was diminished because we arrived right in the middle of them trying to figure out if the oldest daughter, who's 12, should go to live in a town an hour for a month to do housecleaning for a family. We told them to pray about it.
My heart literally wrenches for this family. And the unbelievable economic crises they go through. But they don't come to church. They don't do what it takes to invite the help of God in their life. I don't know how many times I'll have to testify with my entire heart before it gets through to them. But I will keep testifying, because I love them so much. You can pray for them, if you want. The mom's name is Susannah.
Buses, buses, and more buses
Yesterday I had to go to Guatemala City again to get everything figured out for my visa. The good news is that everything did get figured out and, a year later, I'm legal here in Guatemala!
This process of going and returning to the capital was a big one. We had to leave here at 3:30 on Sunday afternoon, with a sister who got off her mission 2 months ago, so that when my companion left me in the mission office she'd have someone to return with before continuing normal life in a trio with the other sister who lives in our house.
We took a small bus 50 minutes from our town to the nearest city, then on big tour bus turned public for an hour and a half to get from the city, Coatepeque, to where the mission office is in Retalhuleu. That bus was so packed that we stood in the aisle the whole time. A guy contacted us; he turned out to be a member from another stake, and I'm pretty sure he will end up being the eternal companion of the sister who was accompanying us.
After that adventure, where my nametag fell off and then one of the nice guys we had to literally force our way past to get out the door, found it and through it out the window to me as the bus pulled away, we waited in the office for a while, my companion left, I helped the office assistants clean up the chapel, they gave us dinner and took us to a hotel, where I stayed with the other girl who had to go to Guate, a sister who's only been here for a month but has graduated from BYU and had a full ride to long and triple jump there. (What a run-on sentence, right?!)
At 3 in the morning the bus came to take us to Guate, which is like a whole other world compared to regular Guatemala. We got to the Area Offices at like 8 am because there was a ton of traffic entering the city, and then we waited while missionaries from other cities arrived. They took us in a different bus, a recycled yellow school bus, to the country's immigration offices. We waited in line, smiled for a photo, and signed on the dotted line.
Then we repeated the process going home. All in all, I think it was like 13 hours on 6 different buses in less than two days. BUT it was good because I only missed P-day at the beach, and I got to meditate a lot in gospel topics. Yay, road trips!
The Family With Hope in Their Eyes
I have sent my mom pictures to put up of the baptism we had this weekend, a family of 5 (four who got baptized) who also got married on Valentine's Day. It was an absolutely beautiful service, and I am not done cherishing it in my heart yet.
But I think my favorite part of the whole process was on Sunday, when the dad went up in front to give the closing prayer in Sunday School class. He did it so naturally, and in that moment I could just see him doing it for years and years to come.
When they received the gift of the Holy Ghost on Sunday, the 11 year-old daughter was blessed to be able to serve a mission if she has the desire when she's older. I didn't see that coming, but it made so much sense in the moment. What grand joy!
I am so grateful for God for letting me be a part of this miracle process, and will be doing everything I can to make sure this family stays strong in the church.
It's the true church. God lives and loves us. Take care, and have a very happy week!