Independence Day!

email sent 7/5/2011

As I mentioned last week, all the sisters in the mission went to Antofa yesterday for an all-sisters P-day, hence the email today instead of yesterday. It was really really great! This whole week was really busy and really good. I´ve got lots of pictures to show :)
a) First of all, as I mentioned last week, we go running at the beach every morning. On Saturday I took my camera to document. This is a typical scene-- me resting. Haha just kidding, we´re running a lot. We even get up early to run a full 30 minutes. It´s kind of cold right when we go outside but then we start running and we can´t even feel it. That mountain-like thing behind me is El Morro, where we go visit at least once a transfer. All those rocks were recently brought in by the tide, which is really interesting to me. I´m definitely going to take advantage of running on the beach for the few weeks that I´m in Hull with you guys.
b) We had a baptism on Sunday! The lovely Justina. We thought the hot water heater in our chapel wasn´t working (it actually was) so we changed the baptism at the last minute to our DL´s chapel, but it was fine because it´s pretty close, and the family wanted it to be private anyway. Plus our DL and his companion are the ones who baptized Justina. She was really happy and looked SO ADORABLE, right? By the way, that´s her smile in the photo. And to the left in the photo (in front of Hermana Canto) is Elder Vergara, our DL. He is quite a character. He´s Chilean but speaks like a Colombian. At least once per sentence he says "Que bendicion Hermana!!!!" He was APa few transfers ago and spoke and understood perfect English and now he can´t speak AT ALL. He´s pretty funny and really likes to talk to us on the phone and suck up to us. But he´s a good guy.
c) Sunday night at 9:30 we got on a bus to Antofa and got there yesterday morning at 9. We ate breakfast, had training with President, WENT BOWLING (see the photo), ate lunch, had a talent show, a testimony meeting, and went back home. The food was wonderful because Hermana Bruce always make something American for us. The bowling was GREAT. I think I mentioned last week how I have been waiting my whole mission to go bowling and I finally could. I won on my lane (92 and 98) but I didn´t even come close to winning overall. But it was really fun. For the talent show we did a skit about President and Sister Bruce and the 4 APs. The sisters from Antofa did the same thing but we went first and ours was funnier (judging by the crowd´s reaction) :). I was Elder Edwards, who was my ZL back in Copiapo. He is REALLY exaggerated when he speaks and I was nominated by the other sisters to be him. It went pretty well. The testimony meeting was cool. Apparently when the prophet and apostles have testimony meetings in the temple, they each have one minute to share what they know. We did the same thing. It was cool to see what people´s focus was. Some about the Atonement, some about the Book of Mormon, some about missionary work. I talked about repentance. That´s my favorite topic these days. Something that I realized recently is that when we make errors, we have to repent without trying to justify why we did it. That is something so common to human nature, but if we justify ourselves, it is just an invitation to do the same thing in the future. If we recognize that we sinned, feel sorrow for doing it, confess to Heavenly Father in prayer with all the humility that we can manage, abandon the harmful action, and fix the problem that we caused, we are ready to never go down that path again. Everyone needs repentance and then everyone can be made clean by the Atonement. What a wonderful plan of our Heavenly Father, right?
It was pretty sad getting back on the bus to go home, because I won´t see a lot of these sisters ever again probably. During the talent show two sisters sang that one song from Wicked "Changed for Good," and even though I always thought it was pretty cheesy, I started crying because I realized how much I really really love these people and what a blessing it is to know them, because I definitely wouldn´t have in any other way. My mission has been a huge blessing in my life and I am definitely going to come home changed for the better. I can´t be the same person that I was when I left. One of the things President taught in the training yesterday was a quote from a former member of the first Presidency that said something along the lines of "I´ll go to my grave saying that no one will ever achieve a higher level in life than what he accomplished on his mission." What I´ve learned on my mission will set the bar for the rest of my life, which will set the bar for eternity. This has been such a wonderful experience.
d) The last photo is of all the gringas with the 4th of July banner (Hermana Bruce always has really adorable holiday decorations). BTW, I didn´t get my 4th of July box, but maybe it will get here next week or I´ll find it in the office when I pass by to go home. Or I´ll leave a forwarding note to send it to my zone, haha.
As for the work, our baptismal dates are falling a little bit, but I still have faith. Alan´s dad came to visit and told him that he needs to prepare for at least a year before getting baptized. We had a pretty intense lesson with him on Sunday and he said he was going to pray and read 2 Nephi 31 to see if he really wanted to get baptized. We´ll have the answer this afternoon. Krashna didn´t go to church on Sunday. I´m trying to maintain my faith that we had have 3 more baptisms in these next 2 weeks. God has a perfect plan and if we´re obedient, we can receive all the blessings he has in store!
I hope you all have a great week! Love you guys!