dear family,

It seems like this whole transfer I have been living by the Dan in Real Life mantra: "prepare to be surprised." In the middle of our morning lesson on Tuesday, we received a call that brought another change of companion — I am now with Hna. Soriano, a 79 year old that is serving her second mission here in Merida. Her name is Esther, and her whole character and level of faith reflects the same depth and strength of the Bible character. We get to use umbrellas and sombreros (just one of the perks of having a senior companion), and as we walk under the shade that covers us from the Mexico sun, she tells me about her life and her husband and her faith. She went to school three times — first to study accounting, then psychology, and then computers. She got married at the age of 40, had one child and a good and full eleven years with her husband until he passed away suddenly from a heart disease. Sometimes she talks about how much she misses him, and sometimes she doesn't have to tell me that she misses him because his absence is just felt. She calls everyone chicos, hermanitas, jovenes, etc. and the other day during personal study, she informed me that the entire time she was reading she heard a heavenly chorus in her mind and in her heart. I am beginning to believe that my new companion exists in a world that is closer to the heavens than that of the earth, because she really means what she says and lives what she believes and says what her spirit feels. She is new in the mission, and so we have begun her training which will last another week until transfer calls come on Sunday. I love her so much and think I want to be like her when I grow up. 

Despite the rounds of changes and learing to adjust to changes, I think that perhaps the hardest part about a mission is beginning to see others as God sees them and feel for them as God does, too — at least a particle or fraction of what a Heavenly Father feels for his children. We had two lessons this week that taught me of God's happiness and sadness — one when we were teaching Hno Alonso, and the other with Hna Lupita. Hno Alonso is an 18 year old who has been a member for four years. He started turning away from God one he started making choices that moved him farther from Him and farther from his potential. I am beginning to realize that that is all bad decisions do; move one farther away from their Eternal Father and their eternal potential/being. As we sat outside the doorway of his one-room pink house, my heart began to feel heavy with sadness that had never found place within me ever before. It was of a heavenly kind, and one that I am sure our Father feels every time one of His children chooses to forget Him and who they are. Alfonso is entrenched in a world of drugs and bad friends and bad choices, and it is so apparent that he isn't really happy at all, even when he pretends to be. And then there is Hna Lupita — our recent convert of two days (yay!) who makes me feel Gods happiness everytime I enter her home and her presence. She has given up everything for her Father — her coffee and tea and her Sunday job. She gave up all these things of the world so willingly, perhaps because she began to realize who she is and who God is and what really matters. 

The most interesting part about these two lessons and these two feelings of sadness and happiness is that in both scenarios, I was able to feel of the love that God has and feels for these two very different people. He loves the one who has separated himself from him, and he loves the one that has just begun to follow and know Him. I am beginning to believe that that is the greatest mystery of God: His mercy and His justice. Yet after everything, I still think that His mercy will far out rule His justice, and that HIs hands will be stretched out still in the end. How grateful I am to believe and know a God of justice and righteousness, but also of love and mercy.

Wishing you a week full of God's tender mercies and love. I love and miss you, dear family of mine!

love love,
Hermana Rhondeau

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