I just had the most nutsy, insanely busy week of my whole mission! I´m trying to catch my breath right now:) So we only had 2 days to work in our area, but we hit the pulse/needed number of lessons with less actives and recent converts, so wahoo!
Wednesday afternoon, we took a gua-gua (mini bus) to Bani, which is an hour away and the name of our zone, so that we wouldn't have to wake up at 4:30 the next morning to leave for the multi-zone conference. In Bani, I got to practice my musical number on a nice electric piano for the first time (the one in the Ocoa chapel is like a dying dinosaur). I had written Spanish lyrics and an arrangement for ¨Be Still, My Soul¨ for the conference, but after that got bagged by the other Hermanas, I wrote a song called ¨Brillan Rayos de Su Luz¨ (Brilliant Rays of His Light). It´s a part-Spanish, part-English mashup of ¨Lead, Kindly Light¨ and ¨Brightly Beams Our Father´s Mercy¨ with me playing the piano and Hermana Gomez from the Ocoa house singing it as a solo. I only had 2 weeks to write and perfect it, but it turned out sooo cool!
So after practicing that night in Bani, we stayed withe the Hermanas there, then woke up at 5:30 the next morning to drive to the conference. The Santo Domingo West mission is divided into two parts: the capital (small geographically, but tons of people) and the South; the conference was for all zones in the South. I got to see a bunch of MTC people, including my old companion, and it lasted almost all day. Elder Claudio Zivic of the Seventy (and the first counselor in the Area Presidency) and his wife spoke, and we all got to shake their hands! He talked about a bunch of different topics, but one of my favorites was how faith plus works equals miracles. That is so true! You can´t just believe that a miracle can happen--you have to take action: work hard and pray for miracles, and none of that is possible without faith! Well, I did a bunch of praying and had faith that God would help me, and then He helped me and Hermana Gomez to have peace and confidence; we performed ¨Brillan Rayos de Su Luz,¨ and it went perfectly and brought the Spirit:):):)
After the conference, Hermana Dibble went to the capital for Hermana Leader training, and I went back to Bani with Hermana Garcia. She´s from Santiago, Dominican Republic (shout-out to your mission Aunt Gail!) and doesn't know English. I was really nervous about being on splits with her for a whole 24 hours, but guess what? We had a total blast, and I spoke the best Spanish of my whole mission with her!!! It was an absolute miracle. Oh, and the Hermanas' house there had running water, so I had the glorious opportunity of flushing the toilet without a bucket:) The simple joys in life:)
When H. Dibble came back from the capital, we felt like we hadn't seen each other in a week, it was so strange. The past 2 weeks have been the best of our 2 transfers together; I´m so happy we´re ending on such a great note. She´s taught me so much about service, how to survive mission life in a third-world country, and how to teach the Gospel. I´m so grateful for her!
The next day, Saturday, was a branch activity that the Hermanas were in charge of...and Karla`s baptism!!! My first one!! It was combined with an 8 year old in the branch, and there was a bunch of confusion with the agenda, but we pulled it off, and so many people came! I got to bear my testimony, and the Hermanas sang with some of the Young Women my favorite baptism song. I especially love the second verse: ¨I know when I am baptized, my wrongs are washed away, and I can be forgiven and improve myself each day. I want my life to be as clean as earth right after rain; I want to be the best I can and live with God again.¨ That´s what happened to Karla: as Emilkin, our ward mission leader, baptized her by the authority of the priesthood (the correct authority and power to act in the name of God), KIarla was cleansed of her sins and was now closer to entering the kingdom of God by making those special baptismal covenants with Him. The next day in church, she received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and she feels a difference in her life, she says. I´m so proud of her! To think we contacted her on a teeny dirt road, sitting on a rock, because of a prompting of the Holy Ghost to go talk to her. She may be my first convert to be baptized, but really, I was my first convert. The Apostles and Prophets have said time and time again that if there´s one person you convert on your mission, it´s yourself. It´s absolutely true. I have already changed so much, and I´m so grateful for all of the physical and spiritual experiences I've been having.
Jump back to the craziness of Saturday: throughout everything that happened, we were waiting for transfer calls to come!! You can only imagine my anxiety. H. Dibble already knew where she was going because her case was special, but I had no clue who my new comp would be. Here, transfers are every 6 weeks, and you typically serve in one area for 3 or 4 transfers; the newer comp (typically) has to train someone else to the area. So according to averages, I will only have 4 areas throughout my entire mission. Anyways, I knew I was staying in Ocoa. Finally, at about 9:30 pm, the district leader called and told H. Dibble she will white-wash (start new) an area on the border of the South and the capital, and my new companion is...Hermana Alas from El Salvador!!!!!! She doesn't know English and has been in the mission for about a year! H. Dibble lived in the same house as her in a different area, and apparently H. Alas is super nice, patient, and totally awesome! So I guess splits with a Latina this week prepared me for what´s about to come:) I know that the Lord doesn't give us anything more than we can handle; with Him, we can do hard things! Rely on the Lord and the Spirit, and I hope you all have a fantastic week!
Karla's baptism pictures!