¡Saludos de Paraguay!
Last week I wrote about Plato's Allegory of the Cave, describing the way investigators are reluctant to accept the beautiful light of the message we carry. This week I realized that the Allegory actually applies to me as a missionary. In a lot of ways, serving a mission is like leaving that dark cave for the blinding sunlight. The change is uncomfortable. As much as I love being a missionary, there are things that make me squirm in protest. (What do you mean, we can't eat while we study?) But as I get accustomed to the light, as I accept this new lifestyle, I begin to see the beauty that it brings. I constantly see miracles being wrought around me and even, on rare and precious occasions, through me. One report came to us of a taxista who was trying to listen to the radio in his car. Nothing would work until he put in the audiobook of the Book of Mormon. On another occasion a woman we have been working with finally made a goal to go to the temple. I have watched as eyes are opened and hearts are softened, and the work is glorious.
Two other miracles:
1. One day while returning from a lunch appointment about a 30 minute walk from our apartment, I realized that the inevitable had finally happened: I developed a blister on my foot. Ever the prepared missionary, I pulled a bandaid out of my bag, applied it to the sore area, and stood up - just in time to watch the bus drive past. Just a week previously we had waited nearly an hour for a bus in the same neighborhood. We would have to walk.
Walking would not have been a problem, except that the bandaid proved to be entirely ineffective. After maybe ten minutes I felt I could endure the pain no longer, and I paused to rest my feet and deliberate whether it would be better to walk home barefoot. Just at that moment, a bus pulled up. How the Lord provides!
2. Our branch has about 700+ members, of which only about 35 regularly come to meetings. As missionaries, we have been fighting to reactivate members, with a goal for the past few weeks to increase our attendance to 40. Yesterday, by some miracle, our little branch saw 51 children of God come to worship!
What miracles have you seen recently in your lives?
Love you all!
I (Elena's Mom) decided to include some Q & A for those who might be interested in a few more of the day to day details:
1. Tell us about your pension. How big is it? Do you have beds?
Our pension has two bedrooms, one bathroom, two open rooms (study area/dining room?) and a kitchen. It's a little bit smaller than our house in Mexico, but a step up in that we do actually have an oven :) We have two twin beds and sleep in the same room, the only room with AC (for which I am eternally grateful).
2. What do you eat for breakfast in the morning? I know your main meal is in the afternoon - do you cook for yourselves at night?
Breakfast is usually cereal or fruit or both. At night we snack a little bit, but we don't get time to eat until we get home. The only time we really cook for ourselves is when we don't have a lunch appointment.
3. Do you walk everywhere or do you ride the bus sometimes?
We ride the bus to get to appointments out of our area (our branch is split into two areas), but within our area we walk. Sometimes we walk to the appointments out of our area, but it's about a 30 minute walk, so it depends how we're feeling and whether the bus is running.
4. Are the roads paved?
Some roads are paved, some roads are dirt, but most are cobblestone. It's nice because it keeps the mud and dust down, but it wears on you to walk on such uneven stone all the time.
5. Are you teaching anyone?
Yeah, we work mostly with a lot of less actives to try to get them to come back to church, but we also have a few investigators we try to visit regularly. One woman is committed to be baptized, but she is living with a man (a member) who is married to another woman and we are waiting for his divorce to come through so they can get married and she can be baptized. We also work with a family of sisters and the granddaughter of a less active family. There's a lovely family in our branch that we love to visit. The wife and children are members, but the husband is not. The problem is that he is a taxista, a taxi driver, and he is always working! So we can only talk to him when we need a ride. But we gave him an audiobook of the Book of Mormon and he is listening to it while he works.