Silver Linings

It’s been quite the week. It all started with last Monday when I realized shortly after leaving the library that I had left my camera SD card plugged into the computer. I felt so sick knowing that the vast majority of the photos and videos on that thing aren’t backed up anywhere else. We went back and it was nowhere to be found. Nobody had turned it in to the lost and found and no one had seen anything.

After starting the week on that note, it was just one thing after another. I woke up covered in bug bites one morning which led us to believe we had a bed bug infestation on our hands. I guess that’s a pretty bad problem around here. After the amount of cock roaches we’ve already killed, I was pretty put out by the prospect of dealing with bed bugs too.

Then this sweet elderly man in the ward (who’s related to half the congregation in some way and loved by absolutely everyone) took a turn for the worst in the hospital and passed away. We spent a day at the funeral supporting the family and getting their meal put together. The family was shocked and heart broken and it was really tough to see.

On another afternoon the sister companionship that we’re in charge of looking out for got really lost while out on bikes in the El Paso sun. They ended up biking over 5 miles and one sister got super sick from the heat. So we did last minute emergency exchanges and I went out to work with the other sister in her area. The two of us also got lost, and out of nowhere all of these black cloud rolled in. Not expecting rain that day, I wore a white dress. White dresses and torrential desert rain storms are not a good combo.

But it just kept getting better! In the midst of all the craziness of this week, my companion and I got a phone call from a number we didn’t recognize. We answered and on the other end of the line was the voice of a sobbing girl who said she needed help. We showed up to find her house and her life in shambles. We dropped all our other appointments and spent a couple of hours helping her clean up and calm down. She told us her story and how she hadn’t been to church in 4 years. She said that she had reached the point where she just didn’t know where to turn or who else to call. We hugged her a whole lot and promised to come back again soon.

After seeing her, my companion got knocked down with a bad tension head ache. When her vision started blurring, we decided it was time for a trip to urgent care. To relieve the pain she had to get a shot… in the butt. I felt really bad for her, but at the same time it was actually pretty funny.

Here’s the good news: My camera SD card was in a converter that my companion lent to me and she had her home phone number written on it. So this good Samaritan called her parents this week wanting to return it! They emailed us his information and we’re going to meet up with him later today. Who knows, maybe he’ll let us teach him a little about Christ while we’re at it.

What’s more, the bed bug infestation was a false alarm. While we were visiting a family whose dad hasn’t been to church in years, we mentioned my bug bites. Turns out he’s an exterminator! He checked them out and told us that they were probably from mosquitoes, but that if more showed up, he’d be more than willing to come spray our apartment. I haven’t gotten any new bites since, but it gave us a great in with this guy and he’s totally our pal now!

Also, the man who passed away had a grandson that was serving his mission in Bolivia. He only had a couple of weeks left, so he got permission to come home early and be there for his family. After taking time with his family, he wanted to get back to work, so he came out to lessons with us this week. Holy cow that kid can testify with power. He’s our new secret weapon.

There was even a silver lining to the butt shot! As embarrassed as she was, my companion is a champ, so she told the nurse all about who we are and what we do. She bore her testimony about how the Gospel can change lives and strengthen families, and he gave us his contact info and wants to meet with missionaries to learn more.

The very best part of the week was yesterday, when our new friend (the one that had called us for help) came back to church for the first time after so many years. She was trembling and crying and so scared of what people would think of her, but she came. Everyone hugged her, told her how happy they were to see her and offered her help and love. It was one of the best things I’ve been able to be apart of in all of my time out here as a missionary.

I learned a lot from this week. I learned not just that El Paso has absolutely zero drainage system, which makes for awesome puddles to jump in when one might be in need of a stress relief, but also that there really is something good to be found in every situation. I know we have a Father in Heaven looking out for each one of us. He loves us, He has a plan for us and His hand is in the details of our lives.

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El Paso, La Tierra Prometida

I am really loving El Paso. Our ward takes such good care of us. There are people here that already feel like family and I honestly can’t believe I’ve only known them for 3 weeks. At the same time I also can’t believe it’s already been 3 whole weeks since this transfer began! Time needs to slow down. I’m still accidentally dating things as February! I guess the summer heat should be a better reminder to me that February is long gone… It is HOT here. But it’s all good because it actually works to our benefit. People are always taking pity on us while we’re out in the heat and inviting us in for a cold drink. This past week alone we found 6 new investigators! Lately our mission leaders have invited us to focus our efforts on teens and young adults and we’ve been seeing a good amount of success in that. 4 of the 6 we found this past week fall in that age group and they are all so awesome. I’m pumped to get to be a part of their journeys. This Gospel changes lives. I’m keeping super busy and I could not be happier. Everyone in the mission calls El Paso “La Tierra Prometida” or “the Promised Land,” and man, they weren’t kidding.

Thank you for the prayers said on my behalf and for all of the love and support you guys send my way. Love and miss you lots!