The good thing about Spokane Valley is that it is beautiful! Majestic, tall pine trees frame every house. Yesterday all the snow melted, and though it was still pretty chilly, there was a glimpse of springtime. And I can tell that springtime will be glorious. I've decided though that it really doesn't matter where you serve. The location is relative. It's really all about the people. Wherever you go, there will be people to love and people to pray for. That's what matters to me at least. And the more people I get to know in Spokane Valley the more I really do love it here.
My spanish branch and english ward here are in two different stakes even though the spanish branch area covers ALL of Spokane Valley. We cover all the way to Post Falls, Idaho! I don't know how often we'll get out there though 'cause there isn't too much of a spanish-speaking population. One of these days we'll make a trip out there. I'm sorry I haven't taken a lot of pictures lately. It's been a longer week for me.
Yesterday we had stake conference in the Spanish branch stake. It was perfect. Just an answer to my prayers. It was all about missionary work, like everything is these days. President Mullen and Sister Mullen were there-which it's always a wonderful privilege to hear from them. Sister Mullen said a lot of things that motivated me. She describes this opportunity to serve as the "honor of her life". I feel that way too. I've felt less so this last week, but I do feel like serving this mission means everything to me. It's not a lot of sacrifice and in the grand scheme of things I know I'll look back and realize there hardly was any sacrifice at all, but it has given me a new perspective on every aspect of my life. We had exchanges this last week. Here in the valley everybody works a little closer together so I was still technically covering my Spanish area while on exchanges. We met this member, an older, single sister who has lived in her apartment complex for quite awhile. She served a mission many moons ago in good 'ol Dallas, Texas, Spanish speaking. She is the kind of member missionary I want to be. She lives the gospel of Jesus Christ and she shares her testimony with everyone. She noticed that one of her Doctors was Greek, his last name was Contras or something, and she she asked him about family history. She finally persuaded him to allow her to do some family history work for him even though he didn't think she would find anything. She searched and prayed and searched and found a lot for his mother's line. She printed it all out and put it in a nice binder for him and then left a note that said, "I believe the family unit is essential to God's plan." which is brilliant and true and wonderful. She said he was a pretty straight-laced guy who hardly smiled but at her last appointment he told her how much that meant to him and to his mother. I just thought that was such a great story.
I want to live in a such a way after my mission that I share my testimony with everyone, all my neighbors, and colleagues and my children's school teachers. At our training last week, one of the Brothers asked us who we know that is not baptized. And then to imagine the Celestial Kingdom without that person. I've been thinking a lot about it still.
Sister Sanchez is really, super great. We are great friends, she says. And we are. We are just two little Hermanitas running around talking to everyone. (to my mom: we are like the same size but she's got really skinny legs like grandma! I tell ya, why didn't i get these skinny Mexican legs??) We speak the same level of each other's language. Which means she speaks pretty good English and I speak pretty good Spanish.
We eat with members a lot more here I think, actually. We eat lunch and dinner on the weekends with members. During the week we still make our own meals, but it's better that way. Because they make goooood food here. I've mostly had a lot of posole and other taco, chicken, rice and beans stuff. Nothing I've had has been bad. That's the nice thing about being in the US because I know where the food comes from. Did I tell you that I'm addicted to rice pudding now? It started my first transfer after Ana and Walter made some for us and then the next night when Claudia and Genaro had some little store bought rice pudding cups. Then I decided to buy some for myself and I've probably had one every night since. True story.
I love you all. The gospel is true. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. God is our Father in Heaven and He loves us and knows us so well.
I'm sure there is more I wanted to tell you.
***Dear Readers, I was able to quickly email Sister Judd right after she sent her letter, and asked for an account of her new area and investigators. So here is a little bonus:
On Wednesday, we tracted long hours, hoping to talk to everyone. The standard of excellence for QGCs is 20, remember? And it's actually a lot harder than it seems. It was around 7:45 and we still had about 5 left for the day. We stopped by to see a less-active guy who turned out to be awesome. He pays his tithing each week and he knows it is all true. He's just not wanted to go to church for awhile. Crazy. We are reading the Book of Mormon with him this week so maybe he'll come around! Anyway, he pointed us to some of his neighbors for us to try so we went and knocked around some more. And we did it! We hit the 20 mark! And then as soon as we did it, the Lord handed us a little blessing. It was as if He was saying, "Here you go, my sweet daughters, after all your labor today, here is someone who wants to listen." And so the very next door we knocked was a young-ish mom who let us right in. She was happy and willing to listen and she accepted another day for a church tour. (Of course, the church tour was while I was away on exchanges, but I heard that she was sitting, parked in her car, with all her kids buckled and ready to go when they passed by to take her to the church). If she is the only miracle we see all transfer, that will be enough. But I have a feeling the Lord has more up His sleeve.
He always does.
That's all I've got for ya. We are teaching a less-active from Uruguay and I love her so much. She says all her "y's" like sha. Loveeee it. "sho me shamo rosa" :)