Today we stood in a crowded calle for exactly thirty minutes while waiting for our bus ride home. The sky rained until the streets became rivers. We held two 20 lb. cardboard boxes of books that became heavier the longer they weighed us down — but I guess that is what seems to happen with anything that one holds for too long. Hna Guerra stood beside me the whole time, speaking broken English and laughing at the fact that none of the buses wanted to stop to take us home. Have I told you how much I love my new companion? Her name means "war", and every time I see those six letters on her name tag I think about the book title War and Peace, because that is what she is — strong and ready, but also calm and steady. I love her. She is so good and kind and fun. When a kind bus driver finally stopped for us, we boarded another crowded bus full of people that we don't know and have never talked to and who sometimes never look at us for fear of inviting a conversation. In these two moments — waiting on the street and standing in the bus and being soaking wet from the Merida skies — I thought about how happy I am. It is a strange thing, being so happy while doing something that is so very different and other and hard. Because that is what a mission is: hard. And exhausting. And long, sometimes. But then there is that principle of opposition in all things; that principle of joy and eternal happinesses and real things opposed to those sadnesses and worldy things. I thought about the scripture that mom gave me one time that talks about being joy-full,
These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy may be full (John 15:11)
That is what I feel, a joy that is in me, that stays and that is real. It really is a fullness. I think it's mostly because I just really love the people that God has given me here. Hna Lupita came with us to visit some of our new investigators on Tuesday. She wore the jean skirt and high heel shoes that she always wears for special things, along with her crocheted bag full of her Book of Mormon and new hymn book that she likes to take good care of. She talked to us about her thirteen chickens (not twelve, thirteen), and how she likes to pay tithing and how she signed up to clean the church on Saturday and how she planned on visiting some of the members that don't go to church anymore. Sometimes we find her outside of our house right at 9 o'clock, waiting a few long minutes so that she can gift us the rest of her plan. Then Hno Carlos came with us to visit Hno Tonay for one of his last lessons before his baptism. Carlos hasnt gone to church for three years after his dad left him and he and his mom had to start working in order to fill what was missing. But last Sunday he came to church, and we didn't quite know why.Then on Wednesday after our lesson with him, he agreed to help us teach other people about the Gospel and we didn't know why. Then on Sunday we had a first lesson with a family that we had contacted the Wednesday before, and their nine year old son had already read up to the fourth chapter of Nephi and all of them had read the chapter that we had left for them to read. We taught them about the Plan of Salvation and they really listened, like really listened to what we were saying. I have never felt the Spirit like that before, as if heaven and earth weren't as far as I had thought them to be, that God was really there and His love was really there with this family and with us.
These people are what give me joy — the people that act and are not acted upon. The people that are agents unto themselves and not merely objects; the people that experiment on the words we give them. Whenever they act on the principle of faith, I feel like celebrating, which is probably what God does every time one of His children decides to act and do the right thing. I imagine a celebration in the heavens, because that is what I feel like doing. Every single time. Because I think the longer one is out on a mission and sharing their testimony and teaching a whole bunch of first and last lessons, the more one realizes that they cannot force anyone to do anything; that they can not act for another person or have faith for another person. The faith and action of one person is entirely their own, which is why it is so entirely joyfull and wonderful when someone chooses to act and have faith, whether it be through reading a chapter that they said they would or visiting someone that doesn't believe in real and eternal things again or putting on a white shirt and tie for the first time in three years and going to church. That is faith, the real kind of faith.
Hope all is well in your corner of the world. Not a day passes that I do not think of you and how much I love you each so wholly and completely. Sending my love and joy all the way across the border,