First off, many apologies for not writing a real email last week — it was a week of new beginnings and trials and trying to figure out how to really be a missionary and do the things that a good missionary is really supposed to do. It was a little hard and I felt a little helpless with feelings of ongoing darkness without the hope of a greater good. However, at the end of every shadow of darkness, there is always the promise of light — because that glowing hope of light will always outweigh and conquer that encroaching night of darkness. We had a first (and last) lesson this week with an hermano that has a lot of weight in his soul, the kind that he is trying so hard to leave behind but that is so difficult to accomplish because it is only a pain that exists inside. We started with a hymn and a prayer, and every time before we pray, we ask if the person wants anything special in the prayer — a blessing, a cry for help, a giving of thanks. This man promptly responded to this question with another of his own, asking if we could pray that he might have the ability to forget; to forget everything that had passed in his life and left a scar within his soul. His question awakened me to a greater principle and truth of the Gospel: the truth that through Christ and His glorious life of sacrifice every single one of us can forget the times of darkness and receive a brighter life. And that is what happened this week: a beginning of light and hope that came in the form of the smallest moments of happiness and progression.
Some of these moments came in the form of laughing over how we are becoming Yucatecan because we now have to wear five layers of clothing every night in order to prevent dying from the cold. Yep, it gets pretty cold here during the nights — a fact that no one tells you before or during the mission, just something you have to figure out from experience. Luckily one of the less-active families that we contacted this week took pity on us and let us borrow their coats, so we now sleep with a winter coat, along with those five layers.
Other moments of light came in the form of the food here. Have I mentioned how much I adore the food? I have now started to form a list of all the dishes I want to make for my future children (a list that may or may not include meat. The hope of returning to the days as an herbivore is slowly disappearing), such as: fried bananas with cream and beans, a sandwich that consists of potatoes and nothing else, and pancakes with a side of sweetened milk instead of syrup. There are many more dishes that we share with the people here; a people that is so giving and good and pure. It is the greatest blessing to sit in these four wall homes and talk about the great plan of hapiiness that God has given us, and to see a slight change in their faces and in their hearts as they begin to learn about their divine origin and eternal home. We are continuing to teach Hno. Alfonso and his three daughters. He has two sons who have yet to listen to us, but we have the faith and hope that they will one day take the time to sit and learn along with their family. This family is another one of greatness, a family that is so prepared to learn the word of God. I don't think I have ever been happier than when I am with them in their home, sitting on paint cans and laughing in a way that brings a lightness to my heart and a hope to my life. They are such good people, and we are hoping that they can continue to progress.
We found another family to teach this week: three daughters and their parents. The mission is really focusing on eternal families and family history, and so we are teaching every first lesson with these principles. When we finished our lesson with this particular family, they began to ask us when they could enter the temple and what would happen if not everyone in their family wanted to enter at the same time. We are not quite sure if they really understand that they have to be members first, and that the Church is a lifestyle as well as a religion, but ... we are excited to know them and hope we can continue to teach them, too.
While I wish I could share every minute and glimmer of light here in the Yucatan, I know that there will be an eternity where we can be together and talk about every good thing for a long, long time. How great is God in giving us this blessing and promise: a family not only for this life, but for the next and forever. I love with all my heart — thank you for your prayers and your thoughts that are directed my way. I felt of your strength and faith a lot this week, and I love you even more for it.