As if I wasn't blessed enough, Heavenly Father continues to show me his love each day here in the mission. This work has brought me so much joy as I've watched others change and as I've seen myself change as well. During the week I have been reflecting back on the movie "17 Miracles" that Hermana Carter and I watched last week. Watching the pioneers battle through such hard circumstances reminded me of what we are doing: walking through freezing weather, persevering through bleak circumstances, but having so much faith in the promises of the Lord. Despite the unwelcoming circumstances, I've felt like I've had my own set of "17 Miracles" this week.
1.Last Sunday Hermana Weinstock was still in town and needed a place to go to church. The Jersey City ward was close enough to where she was staying and a few of the people she was teaching in Bayonne came to the Jersey City Ward, so she and her mother decided to come to our ward. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see her again. We sat down in the chapel next to a few members, and the meeting started. While the sacrament was being passed, I could help but thank Heavenly Father for all of the companions I have had who have touched my life. In doing so, I smiled. I reached over and gave Hermana Weinstock a hug. I realized that was the first time that we had ever sat next to each other in a sacrament meeting. I am ever so grateful for her.
2. Wednesday morning the phone rang during Personal Study. It was President. President Taggart had called me a few days earlier telling me that there was a change that was needed to be made in the mission. One of the companionships wasn't working out and they needed a new trainer. He called asking me for my opinion on if Hermana Carter could train. I told him that she was perfectly qualified. She is obedient, loving, hard working, and devoted. I couldn't see any reason why she shouldn't be called as a trainer. With that said, he thanked me, asked me not to say anything to Hermana Carter, and hung up the phone. So, when the phone rang on Wednesday, I already had an idea why President was calling. When I picked up the phone, President asked to speak with me. He asked me if I would accept the call of becoming a trainer again. He said that he and his wife had prayed and felt like this was the best situation for this new missionary. I was surprised, but delighted! I happily accepted and made the necessary arrangements for finding a new bed and study desk to put in our humble apartment.
3. Wednesday afternoon, the Weinstocks had planned to bring back my GPS that they had been borrowing. They were originally going to return it the previous Saturday, but they changed their plans so that they could go visit the Sacred Grove in Palmayra, New York and asked if they could borrow it for a few days longer. Around lunch time they called us to tell us that they were outside our apartment. As Hermana Carter and I came down the stairs, I saw the figure of Hermana Weinstock and her mom in front glass apartment door. Hermana Weinstock's mom quickly turned around and as we came out the door, she said, "Quick, quick! A few last moment missionary pictures as she started snapping her camera." So, I put my arm around my companions and started smiling. At the time, I didn't understand why these said "last minute missionary pictures had to be right then", but as soon as I finished thinking that, I saw 3 people walking around the side of our building. As soon as they got far enough in front of us, I saw Hermana Weinstock! I was so excited to see her, I ran down the stairs and gave her a huge hug, but as soon as I did that. My mind went straight to the person that I was hugging at the door. It was her twin sister!!! They had pulled a prank on us!
Hermana Weinstock's sister (and two friends) had flown out the night before and surprised her on her way to Palmyra. They then decided to surprise us!
It was such a fun surprise!
At this time, it was our lunch hour, so the Weinstocks kindly took us out to lunch. Since Hermana Weinstock, Carter and I all love hispanic food, we decided to treat the other three to some real hispanic food for lunch. We went to a small Mexican food truck on the side of the road and returned to our street and ate it on the steps outside.
4. Hermana Weinstock's mom, sister, and two friends all wanted to tour Hoboken and go shopping after we had finished lunch. Hermana Weinstock, still being a missionary, wanted to teach with us. We got ready and headed to a few appointments before having to return and wait for the assistants to bring our new companion. We, Hermana Weinstock, Carter and I, were by far my favorite trio in the mission.
5. Later in the afternoon, just before receiving our new companion, we met back up with Hermana Weinstock's family again. Hermana Carter and I, being servants of the Lord, wanted to continue to bless the lives of those around us, and so the night before, we planned a lesson specifically for Hermana Weinstock. With all of us sitting in the car, Hermana Carter and I began to testify of the Atonement and the power that it has before and after the mission. Our eyes filled with tears as our hearts filled with the spirit. After all that my "mom" had taught me, I finally had the blessing to "teach" my mom. Saying goodbye to Hermana Weinstock was probably one of the hardest things that I've had to do on my mission. Heavenly Father gave me her because I needed her. She has been a wonderful blessing to me throughout my whole mission. We'll always be best friends. It was a miracle and a blessing to be her companion and to become her friend.
6. I RECIEVED A NEW COMPANION!!! Hermana Vernon! She is darling! She's 19, from Mesa, Arizona. Loves to dance, read, and play the viola and is fresh out of the Mexico MTC!
7. We became a trio! Three amigas!
8. Thursday we had a really special lesson with Nicolas. He finally seemed to feel very comfortable with his decision. After so much work, we were going to see him be baptized on Sunday!
9. We had interviews with President and Sister Taggart. In both of my interviews with President and Sister Taggart they expressed how grateful they were for all of the work that my companion and I have done. They said that they could feel how proud the Lord was of me. It meant a lot to me. They also said some other really nice things to me.......but I don't like talking about myself, so I'm not going to say them. :) haha
10. Ten minutes before the interview, we received a text from Nicolas. He said that he no longer had desires to be baptized and that he didn't want to come to church either. We were heartbroken. We hadn't had dinner yet, so we returned to our apartment. Shortly after, our wonderful district leader called saying that he wanted to speak with us. His council helped us figure out what might be going on with Nicolas. We'll be giving Nicolas a few days before we go visit him again. We haven't given up hope!
11. One of the members in Union City, Marisol, is a frequent team up for all of the sister missionaries. She is preparing to serve her mission in California and reports in 21 days! Yesterday, we were at a dinner appointment at her Aunts house when she showed up to pass out invitations to her farewell. We enjoyed a wonderful dinner and lesson with all of them. On the way out, she offered to drive us to our next appointment. She struggles with many things and has a hard time expressing herself. She has told me that she doesn't trust many people, but she said that she feels comfortable telling me. As we were driving, she confided in me how she was feeling about her mission. I feel like she is one of the reasons that Heavenly Father kept me in Jersey City.
There are so many miracles that I can see happening here. Everyday is full of them! If we are willing to look with an open heart, we'll find that God blesses us in every moment and in turn we will find joy.
The hard times come and go, but the things that stay with you, the ones that you'll always remember, are the times when you took a moment to notice how much the Lord has blessed you.
I love this work and I love you all.
Sending my warmest hugs,