Mi Familia (y amigos supongo) ;)
Wow, so it has been an awesome, really crazy week here in Lebanon but I have been so blessed! I love all of your letters and emails because it makes me so happy to see how all of you back home are being blessed as well.
So here's my week: For the last month, my trainer, Elder Holder, has been having some major health issues, especially with his knees. We have been in contact with doctors and gone to appointments for a while. Finally the decision came down from Salt Lake this week that he would have to go home for surgery and end his mission. I am very grateful for the time I was able to spend with Elder Holder and I learned so much from him. He is an incredibly tough guy. Even though he was in immense pain everyday, he still went out and never complained. So this week after he headed home I got a new companion. His name is Elder Swenson and he is an awesome missionary. He is also one of my Zone Leaders. He is from Las Vegas, goes home is one more transfer and has served in Lebanon before. We get along super well and we have been really going to work since he got here. We have had members come out with us every night, we helped a part member family move, found three new investigators yesterday, and we had a less active family at church this Sunday! It has been awesome!
I have no new news on my VISA and obviously I will be happy wherever I'm at while I'm there, but I won't be too sad if I stay in Tennessee hasta Elder Swenson goes home next transfer because there is some good work to be done in Lebanon.
So I've talked about it a little, but the English Lebanon Elders who we live with have been teaching an incredible lady named Joy and her daughter Rachel. Now the rule is that you can't go inside the house of a single woman unless you have another man there or at least three priesthood holders with you, so Elder Holder and I were able to teach her this whole time we have been here with the English Elders. The first night we were in Lebanon we taught her and committed her to baptism and we have continued to go back and teach ever since. This Saturday was her baptism, my first one on my mission and it was just incredible. The spirit was so strong, and she has such a great testimony. She has taught us more than we could have ever taught her, and the Spirit has changed her life. One lesson three weeks ago, we challenged her to just quit smoking and drinking tea cold turkey; and she did it just like that. She is a woman of incredible faith and seeing the change in her has been an incredible testimony builder to me of the power of the Holy Ghost to change the lives of all those who will let it. We hope that Rachel will be baptized soon as well. I wanted to email home pictures of the baptism but my camera is being weird so next week haha. But Saturday and Sunday were incredible days.
As for Rojino and Christina, they are still progressing although they haven't come to church the last two Sundays and we need to get them there, but they will. They are incredible people as well. It's amazing to me, especially with all of the Hispanics I meet here: Every person has such an incredible story of how they got here, what's important to them, and so on; and the gospel can help each one of those people find happiness. That's the greatest part about being a missionary for the Christ's only true church is that the power of the Holy Ghost is the true teacher, we are only guides.
To all of my friends leaving on missions soon and really to everyone here it is: BUY OR OBTAIN A COPY OF PREACH MY GOSPEL ASAP; AND THEN STUDY IT EVERY SINGLE DAY. I would start in chapter 6, on Developing Christlike attributes. If before you leave on your mission you have already been working on developing those Christlike attributes, that will prepare you more for being a missionary than any amount of language practice (although that is incredibly important) or any mastery of the lessons that you could have. If you are developing Christlike attributes then the Spirit can and will testify through you and that is the only thing that can change people and truly bring them unto Christ. I have made it a goal out here to have one Christlike attribute in my mind at all times that I am really trying to work on actively for the rest of my mission. The first one that I have been working on is patience. An interesting thought came to my mind as I was pondering patience and it's kind of connected with what Preach My Gospel says about it. But I thought this: All patience is, is one's ability to exercises other Christlike attributes in a time of trial, when the natural man would become angry, scared, frustrated, or discouraged. When exercising charity or faith in a time of trial, then we have patience. I encourage all who read this to study these Christlike attributes and prayerfully try to improve on one at a time and see how the Lord blesses your life for doing so.
Last but not least: I just want all of my family and friends to know how much I love you all. Whenever it gets hard out here I am so blessed to be able to think for just a minute on how much each of you have blessed my life and made me the person that I am today. I am blessed to know each of you. I love thinking about my siblings and all the good times we've had together; Lauren and Alyssa I love you so much and I'm so excited to hear how DWTS turns out. Ryan, you know you're my best friend in the entire world and I miss you every single day and you mean more to me than you could ever know.
I am so so so so thankful for my friends going on missions or already out there and it is so fun sometimes to think that I got my best friends doing the same thing as me all over the world. Extended family, your letters and support and prayers mean more to me than you could know. And Mom and Dad I love you so so so so so so much. My time is up but have so much fun with DWTS and in Virginia this next week!!!!!!!