Hermana Muñoz and I are teaching a 20 year-old girl named Gema. She is quiet, very observant and doesn't leave the house much. The Elders had contacted her dad, but we passed by the house and she answered the door. By the second lesson, she accepted a baptismal date. And she is so, so wonderful! I already love her more than she knows.
Our ward sacrament meetings begins at 8:00 in the morning, which means that we missionaries must leave the house at 7:00-7:15 to pass by the investigator's houses and make it to church on time. We arrived at 7:45 and Gema had just woken up, and was moving about veeeerrry slowly. Uh oh. We kindly hustled her along and were out the door fifteen minutes later. For the first sacrament hymn, we slid into the chapel and I sat down on the piano bench. I've been playing piano for the ward for my four months here in Samanes, and at first, I was frightened and rusty. On Sunday, when I sat down on the bench and looked out at the congregation, I felt my heart fill up with love. I looked at faces of people I love, completely, fully love. Some saw me gazing and smiled back, some sat there completely unaware, some tried to calm down their squirmy children. It's amazing what service does for the heart--it fills it up with love, so that there is no room for judgment.
We enjoyed three great meetings and at the end of church, Gema told us, with light in her eyes, that she loved church and wanted to come back next week. Whhhaaa. Insert shocked missionary face here. I sat there for a moment, stunned. Then I squealed and hugged her tight.
We then had ward council and watched as the bishop's small office slowly filled up with people. until we had 15 people smushed in the tiny office. Then Hermana Muñoz and I headed off to have lunch with the Villacres family, a young married couple with a fat, squishy baby that I just want to snuggle and smother with love. While washing the dishes, we talked about the iguanas of Ecuador. In downtown Guayaquil, there is a large park of iguanas just chillin' on the lawns and lounging in the trees, fat tails swinging from the branches. Hermana Villacres stepped outside, let out a scream and came running inside. "THERE IS AN IGUANA IN THE PATIO!!!" No way. Nooo wayyy!
We dropped the dishes and headed outside. There on the clothes cable sat a gorgeous, green iguana, with its tail hanging from the cable. Hermano Villacres came out with a towel, the only weapon he had to take hold of the guy. He grabbed the end of his tail, then worked his way up to the iguana's torso. The iguana let go of the cable and fell from the towel. Then he took off running. FAST, while we were all screaming of course. Hermano Villacres looked back at us with the iguana's tail still in his hand! She set the tail down on the trash can and we watched the tail move all on its own (soooo creepy how that happens). After a dramatic lunch, we made some visits and held a Family Home Evening with Tania, Ramses and Tayra. It really is an amazing thing to listen to them share their testimonies. Four months ago, Tania was lost and depressed. Now she is strong, capable and has a firm testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is truly the only true church here on the earth. And Ramses passes the sacrament every Sunday and Tayra recites to me what she learns in church. I just LOVE that family.
Soon we had to take off, and we stepped outside to see if was pouring. We had no raincoats and no umbrellas, so we improvised. "The trash bags!" We ripped holes in the sides and ran through the rain like goths in the night.
Have I mentioned that I love being a missionary?
The mission is full of excitement and adventure, it really is. But the best part of serving a mission is the spiritual growth that you attain as the missionary. The Lord opens my mind each morning as I study the scriptures to the revelations I need personally and that my investigators need. I can feel the protecting influence that surrounds me. I am no girl adventuring in Ecuador. I am a servant of the Lord with power and authority changing lives as I bring the gospel into peoples' homes.
And what a blessing that is :)
Love and hugs,