Thursday, July 22, 2010

Baptisms & Drug Inspections

Well, I have a lot to tell you about this week and something that I forgot to say last time. So to catch up on this week, we just had two more baptisms this past Saturday. Lucas, the son of two of our investigators, got baptized. It was awesome! The mother and father are not married so they can't get baptized but are working on that. They were so excited for their son. Lucas' father, Fabian, sang 'When I am Baptized' and I played the piano. Yep, that is right! I learned a song from the primary book. Actually, my piano skills are getting pretty good. lol I have learned a lot more hymns and have been given the opportunity to play a lot. There are not a lot of piano players here besides the one that lives next to us and plays the same song everyday and tries to sing it in English. lol It's really entertaining because he does 'Falling in Love With You'.

So back to the story. He sang and his mother asked to give the opening prayer. It was awesome! The next woman that got baptized was great!!! She has had a problem since she was 12 with random seizures so it is really hard for her to leave the house. When she gets nervous, she has them every couple of seconds but if she feels great, nothing happens. I was really worried about the baptism because at church she was super nervous and went into tons of convulsions. I felt so bad for her, but fortunately her family came along to support her. Well, the day came and she was just glowing. I was super shocked because she was really calm and radiating. Her whole family was there to support her and to give the encouragement that she needed. Her husband baptized her, who's been a member for a year now. He fasted for the past 3 weeks to be prepared to baptize her. (not every day but every Monday and every Friday) He is the man!

We've had a really great week. We've found 10 more people that have excepted a date to be baptized, who have all randomly been waiting their lives to be baptized. WOW it was amazing and they are amazing and this work is amazing! We still have our hard things, don't get me wrong, but I just don't care. I love this way too much to really write about it. lol I have been super blessed and I know that your prayers have a ton to do with it so thank you so very much.

You are going to just love what we did today! We went close to Bolivia and hired a guide to take us through the jungles!!!! It was da bomb! WE SAW MONKEYS, really exotic birds, very very ugly spiders (will I ever NOT see big spiders while I'm here?), a very pretty river, swung on vines (I am Tarzan) and we walked a ton!!!!! (Note: when you look at the photos, I am not really THAT fat. OK, a little more than when I left, but I will have you know that I have about 5 coats on and about 4 pants with tons of leg warmers.)

As for what happened last week, we were coming back from zone conference, which is about 3 hours away from us and really close to Bolivia in a place called ORAN. Whenever we come back from Oran, our bus always gets stopped. It's just a normal travel bus with tons of people, but the police always stop us and check everyone's bags and passports. I guess they have a lot of problems with people from Bolivia and drugs. This last time was an experience of a lifetime, which I hope we don't repeat.

It was about 7pm and we were coming back, luckily this time with a member from our ward that's wanting to go on a mission. They were invited to this conference and thank heavens. So our bus got pulled over and we all get off. We showed them the copy of our passports, as usual, but this time one of the men on his high horse flips out. He then separated us Americans from everyone else and told the rest to get on the bus. We were a little confused as to why because all he did was see our passports and sent us to the side. He didn't even check our bags. One of the military people took one of our comps, Hermana Olsen, inside a room and none of us knew that she was gone. We were busy talking to them explaining who we were when I notice our other companion was missing. Instantly, we all three stop talking and start looking around and run into the building right behind us and start yelling her name. She answers us but from behind a door. We asked her if she was OK and what's going on, all in English. They wouldn't let us in. About two minutes later, she came out and they "ushered" or kind of pushed me in. I am now in this room all alone with some strange military woman and nobody is telling us anything.

She then started towards me and tried to separate my clothes to get to my stomach. Well, I push her hands away and tell her to explain to me what is going on. She finally does and says that she is looking for drugs in our belly from Bolivia. I started to laugh. All of this huge fiasco was about drugs and smuggling and why were we singled out from everyone? It was all because he took one look at our passport and *bingo* discrimination. (we run into discrimination a lot here, but they can't tell until they see the passport) I was laughing because they never even once look at our bags or our new sealed packages from conference! So really, they were just being a pain. We played along with them until they finally told us to get on the bus.

Just as we were getting back on the bus, they call us back over. Well this time our young member friends get off and start talking to them and letting them have it. Meanwhile, the same military lady is talking to us very serious and asks us. WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR STOMACHS? I FEEL SOMETHING VERY HARD IN ALL OF YOU. Well one of our comps didn't quite understand the question and responds truthfully "we just ate cookies". lol Well, we once again started laughing and the lady thought that we were playing with her, but the response from our fellow companion was really funny. Then we just told her that we came from Oran, about 3 hrs away, and we all have to go to the bathroom. Well, she and a few other men usher us back in the room and was then asking for permission from her boss to take an X-ray of our stomachs. We all look at each other like wondering what more could go wrong and how many more ways we were going to be violated. She didn't get permission, thank goodness, but we all got felt again and very thoroughly. After the last check, we all had to go to the bathroom really bad because she was pushing very, very hard. I think it was just out of spite and she wanted us to go. She felt dumb because there wasn't anything in us and they had no right to do what they did in the first place.

After wards, we called our president and he had a hay day. We are now getting different documents to carry. It was a funny experience, but if our members weren't there to make sure the bus didn't leave, the police would have kept us and sent the bus off. I am very glad to live in America where I know I have rights and that we respect others rights. I have so much love for my country I can't even explain. I have seen so many bad cops here, the things they do and how the government is has made me never want to speak bad about my country. We are not perfect but we are so very blessed to live in the States, where our voice is heard and justice is for all.

love Amanda

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Surprise Birthday Celebration

WOW! I can't tell you how surprised I was today. We were getting some last minute shopping done for my companion before she goes home and a little haricut for all of us. (we were looking a bit shaggy with our hair always up in a pony tail. lol) Anyway, we were going back to the apartment for a little nap before we head out to write our families and then to work. At that point, I find out that we are going to Favian and Guadalupes for lunch as a group of 4 of us sister. Hmmm, a little odd on our that they all said yes to it when it was a solid tradition of ours to take a nap on our lol I was a little shocked that everyone had said yes, so after we got our haircut we all went over to their house where we found Favian outside grilling up a storm. There was enough meat there to feed about 15-20 people. I was thinking how they never learn how to cook small. It's always GO BIG OR GO HOME. lol They are really funny! So anyway, he invites us in and has me go in first. As soon as I open the door, there was the 15-20 people that would be eating the meat and they were all singing happy birthday in Spanish and then they did it again in English.

Thanks to everyone that sent in a video. They were able to practice singing it with the words that they printed off. lol It was a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed my family singing happy b-day and the video of everyone at church singing (the Spanish version, the English version, and of course the rap version!!!!! lol ) Thank you so very much everyone for your love and this surprise. It was awesome! They videoed a lot of the party so I am sure that you will be receiving it soon and with all sorts of photos.

So anyway, this week was awesome! We are getting ready to have some baptisms and I am way excited. They are on the 10th, 17th and another on the 24th. I am hoping that we will have 2 on the 24th but it all depends if she can get married before the 24th. Her and her husband are great. We found them a week ago and she has just been progressing greatly. She always reads and is wanting to learn more all the time. It is going to be really hard leaving here! I love the people here and this area has a ton of people that are just aching to hear about this message.

Now for the humbling story of the week and probably for my life. We were at a family's house this week to eat lunch. We eat with them twice a week every week. They are not very well off, but they are better off than many of the other families that feed us. They are converts of about 2 years and their daughters of about 3 years. They are a great family, don't get me wrong at all because I love them so much for all of their service and their food that they share with us every week and their love. Well, this is what happened. Here on the mission, my trainer taught me to always eat two plates at a minimum so to not offend them. I always have even when it was really gross or really made me want to throw up. Sometimes I would excuse myself and leave to use the bathroom (thank heavens it is separated from the house) and throw up what I just ate to then go back in and finish it and then after, do it again. The food sometimes consists of some interesting things, but I love the people with all my heart and know that they cook all they have and give all they have.

So when I got here to San Pedro, this sister wanted us to come over and eat with her twice a week and told us to be comfortable and eat like we were in our own home. If we didn't like it, we don't have to eat it and tell her. Well, that was really nice of her, but we still always ate everything that she gave us. At every meal, she would always say that. Well, this Sunday we went to her house and she made polenta, which is something like grits (which i love) but this is not. It was served with some type of tongue (I didn't want to know from what animal). So this was the first time in all of my mission that I didn't eat a second plate nor did I finish all my meat. I had about 4-5 pieces of meat and we both were gagging our way through our meal with a smile. We then shared our scripture like always, thanked them and got up to leave when the mom stopped us and said, "No. I know that you didn't like it because you didn't eat a second plate nor did you finish the first one." She then began to tell us how ungrateful we are and how we are spoiled. She continues to tell us that our parents didn't raise us with any manners and that we are nothing like the elders who would always, always have two plates. Well anyway, she said a lot of things that lasted for 40 min, while her children just hugged us and her husband sat with his head down. We really felt like crap and were really confused. We have always eaten two plates from her and now the first time we decided to take her up on her offer to eat as much or as little as we wanted, we got reamed and we got reamed big time. I don´t know if I have ever been insulted by a member, non-members yes, but they tell us to get a real job. lol As we got reamed, we both just sat down, listened and then when she was done, we didn't say anything and simply pulled our plates back in front of us and ate the last of our food. She then proceeded to tell us that she didn't want us to feel obligated to eat it and only to eat it if we like it and were hungry. I just about laughed. I was so confused at what she wanted from us, but we just ate in silence, gagged a few times, but got it down with a lot of juice. Afterward, we stood up and I saw my comp begin to hug the family to leave. I thanked the woman immensely for her time, her service, and her food. We hugged and left.

I learned that day how to be very humble. It doesn't matter that I didn't like what she was saying or for that matter that the food was really interesting. What matters is that she was offended and we have a job to make it right. I don´t have the luxury of having my pride get hurt and then defending it. lol I have to be a servant, that is basically what my name tag says. Servant to all, psychologist to all, marriage counselor, and my favorite, a waste bin to all. When they feel they need to dump their problems, that is what we are here for. lol The mission is teaching a lot to me about listening and to not get offended. I need not to care about the little things.

I love the mission with all my heart. I love all the people that are here. I know that I am here to help them but I still get blessed with lessons here and there also.

I love you all so much and am so thankful that I grew up in a home where the gospel was taught and that my family truly loves one another. I know we will always be together.

love amanda