Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Homecoming Invitation

Welcome Home, Victoria

You’re invited to Victoria’s Homecoming Travelogue
Friday, Aug. 8th, 2014
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
4235 W. 3rd Street
Bloomington, IN

6:30pm We will begin with Victoria’s travelogue (She’ll  show and explain some of her pictures from Guatemala). Following that, will be a mingle and visit time with snacks.

Week 73: One Last Time

Running out of pages in the daily planner.
Having my exit interview. 
Writing this email.

They're little things that have come from time to time in this last week or two that have convinced me, mostly, that the end is coming/here.

When we went to the temple as a zone on Thursday, I was able to tell God all about my mission, turning into him the things I have done in these 18 months. I felt so much peace. Maybe I haven't done it all perfectly, but He knows I gave my heart.

Later, this scripture came to me: 

"By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:10)

It's true. My weaknesses are my weaknesses, but my strengths are His strengths. God has made me what I am. He has worked so many miracles in me. And - the most sacred of it all - he has permitted me to bring about miracles in the lives of his children. I have their names, every one of them, written in my soul. I love them, and it hurts so much to leave them.

But I know that what's coming will be incredible. I love each and every one of you at home and can't wait to see you!

My companion gave me this scripture to end with. It sounds cooler in Spanish because the Old English kind of puts a damper on things but, all the same, it fits:

"I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee. But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee." (3 John 1:13-14)

Hermana Ison

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Week 72: Poor in Time, Rich in Miracles

Hey familia, what's up?

I'm 10 days away from seeing ya'll, which is SO weird. But God has blessed me to not really spend much time thinking about it, because there's been so much to do here in the mission! :)

Over Mountains

I forgot to tell you last week about how we went to help one of the areas in our zone in an area attack. (For example, it'd be like all the missionaries from the Bloomington stake went to help the ones in Ellettsville, or all the missionaries in Muncie spending an afternoon in Winchester.) This area is HUGE and there's just two amazing sisters there, a good friend of mine and the missionary she's training.

That day my companion and I had planned to divisiones with some of the other sisters in our zone. We knew we had to do them, but we just didn't know who would go with who. For as much as we thought and prayed about it, we didn't feel any clear answer. So we just decided, called the sisters to let them know, and in the morning I went to be with a sister called Hermana Keltner. 

We had a regular morning, and then in the afternoon met up with the rest of the zone to go to the area, San Carlos, where many of that ward's members were waiting for us in the park. As the sisters assigned to that ward began to split everyone up and tell them where they would be visiting, my companion for the day and I hung back, watching everyone else get sent off. When finally we were the last ones there, I saw the missionary who was doing the assiging give us a second look. "You'll be going with Sulmi," she said, and then explained that Sulmi is an investigator who'd gone to church for about two months and knew all the lessons, but didn't want to be baptized yet. She asked us if we could encourage her to take the step.

So, we set off to visit prospective investigators, investigator in tow. It did not take long for us to realize that Sulmi is an unbaptized, 15-year-old missionary. She knocked on doors, prayed, bore her testimony, even invited the people we visited to come to church, from the depth of her heart. Between visits we asked her to share her conversion experience, and we talked about our own baptisms and tried to get her excited about her own.

When we finished and were getting close to the meeting point in the park, Sulmi saw the missionaries who were teaching her and started walking faster. When we got close, she blurted out, "Hermana Barba, I have an announcement: I'm going to be baptized this Saturday!"

It was a miracle! But...not even the biggest one we saw that day, in my eyes. 

Afterward, the sisters in that area told us that in the morning, when they were thinking about which missionaries in the zone could go visiting with Sulmi instead of a member, one of them thought of me, and one of them thought of Hermana Keltner, the sister I just happened to be on divisions with. 

In that moment, I got goosebumps. I was reminded that following the Spirit doesn't always mean acting in certainty. My companion and I weren't sure who needed to be with who in divisions that day. And, really, there was no way we could have known that that day's divisiones weren't for the sisters we'd be capacitating, or their area, or their investigadores - they were for an incredible young woman who is now baptized, and will certainly be a missionary someday. 

We should remember that God has his hand in everything, and if we go forward in faith, we can trust that we will see the miracles later. I am so grateful to him :)

In the Mountains, Literally

This week we were hardly able to work in our own area because President asked us to spend three days in San Pedro, an area about four hours away from the mission home, in the mountainous region to the north. 

I can not even begin to tell you all the miracles we saw there. 

One of the companionships we worked with will be having a wedding and baptism this Wednesday. The other companionship had a complete attitude shift, thanks to the Holy Spirit and answered prayers. We had an incredible lesson with a veryprepared investigator named Cesar, and gave service to a no-member family whose house had been destroyed by an earthquake. (We pulled nails out of wood and, yes, I totally missed you, Dad! Thanks for teaching me this actually very useful skill :D) So much happened, and it was just a wonderful time and place to be a missionary! :)

However, we did have one minor disaster. Because the APs thought they would ignore the schedule and go and get dinner even though it was too late and we should have gone directly to the hotel where we were going to sleep, my companion ended up getting her foot kind of run over by the mission truck.

We thought it would be fine for the first few hours. But when she woke up in the morning, she almost couldn't walk...When we came home to Reu the nurses took her to the doctor and it turns out she has two torn ligaments...and is in a cast for two weeks. She gets it taken off the day I fly home. :(

SO... she has crutches and can't walk, which makes missionary work exceptionally hard in this mission. Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon we were able to get sisters in the ward to be our companions so one of them could be in the house with her and one of them could go out and visit with me. Supposedly I'll be getting a mini-missionary as a companion today and for the next week and a half, but they haven't told us anything yet, so we'll see...

Anyway, it's been kind of an out of the blue struggle (and everytime I think back to what caused it, I just remember how important obedience is), but God has blessed us so much all through it.

From the Mountain Top

Remember the guy who just wanted to get baptized for his girlfriend? We taught him more about the Atonement and the baptismal covenant, and this time when he had his baptismal interview, he passed. He was baptized Sunday morning before church, and it really was a beautiful thing.

Also, one of the sisters of some of my recent converts in this area has begun to come to church and change her life. She's 18, really repentant, and has a lot of faith in the blessings that will come as she lives her life how Christ asks her too. She will be getting baptized on Saturday, my last baptism in the mission. :) To put the icing on the cake, her name is Victoria! :)

Climb Every Mountain

This week during long car rides and waits in doctors' office, I was able to reflect a little bt on my mission. Then, yesterday, I found scripture in the Book of Mormon, in Alma 26:35-37, that kind of sums up what I have to say:
"...Yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all powerall wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name.
"Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
"Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen."
Love always, 
Hermana Ison