(I love you guys!)
Hey guess what I found out? My companion speaks fluent Quechua. I had no idea whatsoever. It was as if it was completely casual or something. Somebody asked her, ”Oh hey, do you speak Quechua?” And she was like, ”Yeah.” That was it. I just about didn’t believe her. And it’s not like she knows a little bit or she just studied it for a few years in school or as a hobby, she literally grew up speaking it just as much as she’s spoken Spanish. She can read the Book of Mormon in Quechua without any problem at all. What the heck?? I can’t believe I didn’t know!!!! That’s so cool! So this whole week I’ve been asking her how to say all sorts of stuff. Quechua is such a strange language because it doesn’t have really any Latin roots at all. Just a few words that the Spanish taught them when they came to the Americas. But the grammar and the pronunciation is really different from anything that I’ve ever known.
(For those of you who don’t know, Quechua is one of the native languages down here that’s spoken between Perù and Bolivia. It is a branch of what the Incas used to speak!)
Well, this week has been a pretty crazy week. Believe it or not, we’ve only had about one days’ worth or proselyting time! We’ve been full blast in plans and all sorts of crazy stuff about opening this center. Getting to direct the very first mission-operated family history center in the area is really cool, but it’s also really really hard because that means that everyone’s eyes are glued right to you. The president has to give a presentation tomorrow about the center and also on the 15th when all of the mission presidents in the area will be going to Colombia for their semi-annual meeting! So we have to scrape up a whole bunch of stuff that he can share there. The days are passing by like wildfire, and every night, after everything possible is said and done, Hermana Choque and I collapse into our beds. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so exhausted on my mission. Whew!
Making the very first decorations. Those trees took a LOT of work!!!! But they are so worth it. Hermana Choque and I made everything together.
So basically, that’s been the entire week. Like really. Let’s see. Monday we went out and visited people. Tuesday morning, we had Mission Council and got to present the center and how it’s opening! It was cool. Then we went up to the area offices and got a training, and also two laptops to work with. Then we flew back down to the institute and started visiting classes with Pia and Carlos Levano, and even though they were still putting in cables and such in the center, we used another room and used the laptops and wifi to do a little preview.
We helped a few students get their accounts set up and the work done. We also started handing out these really neat flyers about the center to all of the students (dang, I forgot to get a picture of them!).
Wednesday was our P-day, and it was one of my favorites of all time! We went to the Parque de las Aguas and we spent literally the entire day as a zone. It was a great bonding day and everyone had a ton of fun.
On Thursday, we didn’t even get to do our weekly planning because at 8 in the morning, we were in the center setting up. They were just finishing putting in the internet cables and power lines while we were decorating and setting up the laptops. Then our friend Dulio came down from the area office and hooked us up with two more computers and a printer. We were there the entire day working out the kinks, finding people to teach and advertising. Friday and Saturday, we spent with the new companionships that President selected to work with us and rotate out ”shifts” every week. So we met with all 4 companionships and went over the rules, the systems, the expectations, our goals, and the schedule. We made a fixed schedule yesterday and sent it out to the companionships so that they can plan out their weeks without any big issues. This week, we’re going to spend the entire time with them to help them with whatever kind of a doubt they might have, and also to monitor the process. Having 2 companionships at a time will also be nice because this week we’re really going to focus on marketing the center too by going out and visiting the biggest classes for a 5 minute introduction to the center. All of the companionships have responded really well. We’ve been focusing on trying to really communicate the importance of this responsibility and how great of an opportunity it is and I think that they’re getting excited about it. The last couple of days have been mainly working out the bugs on the systems, computers, schedules, security, keys, etc., but this week’s focus is going to be on-the-job training experiences for the other companionships and big time advertising. We’ve really gotta get this thing flying before the end of November when school gets out. We’ve had some good success already with youth coming, and we even found some less active people who had come to take an entrance test to BYU, one of which told me that after having found out that she really could do the work for her grandmother who had passed away (after a little preparation from the missionaries who lived in her ward boundaries), she ”finally had a desire to come back to church and overcome the shame that she had felt for falling inactive for so many years”!! It was amazing! Bullseye! We’re hoping to see many more experiences like that this week. We’ve already have a few elders call and make appointments for visits so we’ll see how they go!
Although, this week has been pretty much centered in the… well, center, we did have one really spiritual experience with an investigator on Sunday and Monday. Her name is Elita and she came to church by herself last Sunday. She was looking for comfort because her 16 year-old daughter passed away 6 months ago from cancer. Monday was her supposed-to-be 17th birthday, so Elita was having a really rough time with it all. On top of that, she had just received from her husband a letter from his lawyer demanding divorce and her family was slowly falling apart. The president of the Elders quorum found her and invited her over to his house to do a family night and to invite us to give a lesson. We met with her and talked on Sunday for an hour, and then went back on Monday to see her again. We were planning on teaching lesson 2 right off of the bat (The Plan of Salvation) but we found out that she had a pretty serious doubt about prayer. She didn’t want to pray for herself because she felt too ashamed by her past mistakes to feel like she could ask anything of God. For those of you out there in the world who may feel like that, please know that only the Adversary wants us to think that! There is no ”worthiness” limit that says that we may or may not pray and ask for help from our Father. He loves even the worst sinner, and wants to help us above all. We are his children. My companion took out a scripture in Enos in the Book of Mormon and we started reading from verse 4. Elita started to weep and asked if we could keep reading, so we continued until verse 12. When we finished, we talked about it a little bit, and then there was a moment of silence. With tears in her eyes, Elita looked up and said, ”Ahora les escucho,” nodding her head. (”I’m listening to you now.” ”You’re right, I’ll listen to you.”). Then we felt impressed to invite her to say a prayer in that moment. She accepted willingly and we knelt on the wood floor. We told her that she could pray out loud, and we closed our eyes and waited her to take the moment and find what she wanted to say. We kept waiting for her to start. And waiting. Five whole minutes passed by as we were knelt together on that hardwood floor. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Not a word. But both Hermana Choque and I felt like we shouldn’t even look up nor do anything to disturb the moment. Twenty minutes passed. Both Choque and I have knee problems and we were starting to really be hurting, but we didn’t do anything to let it show. Even though we were in complete silence, we could feel the Spirit just burning and we knew that it was going to be a really spiritual moment for Elita. We stayed there, kneeling, with our eyes closed. Twenty-five entire minutes went by, and finally Elita’s phone rang. She answered it, and unfortunately had to go to meet up with someone. But standing up, she looked at us with such joy in her eyes and she hugged us for the longest time. She said that she had found her answer. It was such an amazing moment. We felt totally directed by the Spirit. It was one of those moments that makes literally every pressure and bitter part of a mission wholly and completely worth it, times ten. We left feeling really great, with our own testimonies feeling even stronger that Heavenly Father really does love us one by one and he talks to us individually and guides us to the same big answer: Christ. We knew that it wasn’t us directing the lesson, but Heavenly Father.
I hope that you all have a really great week! Thanks for writing me! I love you all!
To Hamilton and also to the twins! ¡Cusi p’unchy kama!
Happy Birthday this week!!! I hope you have a great one!!!
Love, Hermana Hollberg
Festival of Dances, Magdalena Stake 2014
Literally my favorite event of the year