Hola a todos!
I'm sad. Why? Because we received transfer news. And I'm LEAVING JAÉN. Nooooooooo. And so is Elder Coello. Jaén is going to have two sister missionaries here now, which is exciting, but it's so frustrating when you just start to see the progress and you leave right when it happens. This ward is like my family. It's like I have an abuela and an abuelo and all my tíos and tías here. They've seen me through my first 5 months here, and I hoped that they'd see me through at least one more, but it's ok. I'm really going to miss Jaén, but hopefully I'll come back someday soon.
But I'm going to a new area! It's called Huercal-Overa in the province of Almería, but I'm going to be in the Cartagena zone. So stay tuned! Because I'm going to have some new stories, new sights, new smells, and new people to talk about, and it's going to be so exciting. I think. I hope. Fingers crossed.
Our mission did something pretty cool this week, though. We all took two days and read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover as a mission, and that was so cool. I was able to see connections that I hadn't before, I was feeling the Spirit all day, and we had fun little breaks where we played games and acted out stories from the Book of Mormon. By the end, I was completely exhausted, but I definitely have a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon now.
100% God's word. Can change your life. Side effects may include a burning in your bosom, a desire to draw closer to Jesus Christ, and a sudden compulsion to serve your fellow men. 11/10 would recommend.
We've been having a ton of activities at the church recently, like English classes, Noche de Hogar, institute (religious classes for the young adults), and we had a fun little zumba class on Friday too! Some of our friends came to those, like Kevin to the Noche de Hogar, and our new friend July to the English classes! Oh, and Kori to the zumba class, which he did kind of drop out of that and just went to play soccer, but that's OK he still had fun.
We also have TWO new baptismal dates, which STINKS because I'm not going to be able to see them. But the first one is a young girl named Carmen who's dad is a member but she wasn't baptized. The bishop's wife was the one that actually set the date, and so we were busy rushing to set up lessons with them to teach her everything. And....I'd be lying if I said the first lesson went well. She was super distracted, and didn't seem to understand anything we were teaching, and only responding with one word answers to our questions. But the second one was great! We talked about baptism and the importance of the Holy Ghost in baptism, and how right now she's preparing to receive that gift. She was really into it, and was responding super well, and tonight we're gonna teach ANOTHER lesson. We're going hard here.
And the second date is a really special one for me. Because it's KORY. The boy of the Peruvian family. We've been working with this family for WEEKS. We had a lesson with them where we talked about baptism again, and we asked them how they felt. The dad still was a little iffy about it, but he loves the church and doing all the stuff there, so he's gonna be next for sure. But we turned to Kori and he looked at us and said "I want to be a member of this church." So we asked him if he would be baptized and he said yes. We bore our testimonies to him that God was happy for his decision and that it would bless his life in an incredible way. I remember looking up at him and seeing tears well up in his eyes. I knew that he was feeling the Spirit in that moment, confirming to him that he was in a good place. Later when we said goodbye, I challenged him to read the Book of Mormon, and he sgreed with a big smile. I'm going to miss that family a lot, and I know the church is going to bless their lives.
Forgive me for some sentimentality here, but I'm basically gonna write a love letter to the ward:
We said a lot of goodbyes to members this week too, and those were HARD wow. Especially the Ramírez family, which was the first family that we visited here. We've had pretty consistent lessons with them every week for months, and I love teaching them. The father, Jose, has an enormous heart, and hearing him bear his simple testimony moves me every time. His sons Ismael and José María are like our homies here, and I've had so many memories of Ismael yelling at me in his "English" (basically just phrases that he's memorized with a really bad accent) and he was crying when we left. We said goodbye to Jose Castro and his family, which was hard because he was like my funny uncle. Also joking around and messing with me. Always singing SUPER loud in sacrament meeting. And tonight we're going to say goodbye to the bishop's family, which is going to be crazy hard. Their kids remind me of my nieces and nephews all the time. I remember our first Noche de Hogar with them, Rafa took my pen out of my pocket and drew all over my arms, and told me never to wash it. Leire, their youngest, would always wrap around my leg and yell at me, "ANDE" (walk!) and I would drag her around the capilla while she was screaming and laughing. And I'll always remember Patri being so exasperated with me for pretending to eat a plastic bag, instead of the grapes that were in the plastic bag. Bishop and his wife have been very good to me, very patient with my Spanish, and always had a smile for me, except of course when Lidia (his wife) would smack me in the arm and yell, "Madre mía, Elder!" (I swear she loves me). I will forever miss Elisa's (basically my abuelita) arroz amarillo, my favorite dish here. Much love to this ward and all they've done for me.
I'm going to miss Jaén, with its rolling hills of olive trees, the narrow streets, and sometimes near vertical hills. I'll miss seeing the cathedral's towers peeking over the buildings and the castle on the hill always in view. I'll miss our local kebab shop, and the kids playing futbol in our complex. Hopefully I will fall equally in love with Huercal-Overa.
¡Cristo vive! ¡El Libro de Mormón es verdadero!
Familia Ramírez (Ismael is making that face to stop crying)
Me and Kory after setting the date with his sister Sharon
Familia Castro (with a very grumpy Luca who did not want to be woken up from his nap for the foto)
Elders quorum activity
I got sweettarts ropes in the mail and shared them with the district (thinking of you luke)