How the heck are you? Sounds like everything is going well at home, and that summer is in full swing with all of the included hustle and bustle. I love you all very much :)
As I sit here right now, I am trying to think of what I would like to say. Usually, every week I read from the notes I take in my planner during the days about things that happened, and then I just write a quick summary. It is almost always super scattered, as I am sure you have noticed. But so are my thoughts almost always. The mission flies by, every day and every hour. I think it is because we are running on an eternal time clock, and these minutes are not my own. When I try to make them my own, the time drags on and I don't feel satisfied. The time we have here on earth is given to us to be able to use if for what we really should use it for. That is the battle, battling priorities of good, better, and best and trying to learn how to listen to the spirits voice to guide us.
This week we had baptismal interview with the man who is going to get baptized this week (whooooooooooooooo) Roberto, and he passed with flying colors. He is 74 years old and hilarious. He works as a like self sufficiency guru for all of the city and everyone loves him. He is one of the most intelligent, charitable, hilarious old men I have ever met. When I first met him, it was his second lesson with the missionaries and my first day in la villa, Pisco. After teaching him about Christ ministry on the earth, I felt impressed to have him read 2 Nefi 31:10-12, emphasizing that baptism was only valid by the priesthood power we had just explained. Then we taught the apostasy, and he almost started to cry. The spirit was testifying to him that what he now understood thanks to the Book of Mormon scripture and wanted more than anything did not exist for a time. When we got to the restoration and Joseph Smith the spirit was palpable, and we invited him to be baptized. He said yes and his date never fell. The other older man who was rescued a few weeks ago is his friend and is going to baptize him, despite his cancer.
As we sat in the church waiting for the interview, the spirit swept over me and I remembered all of the special moments and miracles with all of the other converts and rescues from my whole mission. All of the sacred moments as they were prepared to enter in the waters of baptism and make a covenant with God, and to see someone that I loved so much make correct choices. I remembered the pivotal moments in the lessons with each and every one of them, and the piercing feeling of when the spirit comes into a lesson, like angels rushing in on chariots of fire and fills a tiny room of a humble home to testify of the truthfulness of the message of the restoration. I remembered all of the crisis moments, all of the heartbreaks. I remembered all of the intense do or die lessons and how much it hurt when someone I loved so much decided they didn't want to listen to us anymore. I remembered the feeling the first time I felt the pure love of Christ for me and for those around me overwhelm me, and how it feels to have that more and more often. I remembered the many days that I staggered off of a bus in front of the Lima temple with a group of anxious converts and rescues to do baptisms for the dead. I remembered watching the sunrise on the house of the Lord, and seeing the light enter even more profoundly into their lives and hearts.
I remembered the nights where I got home to my apartment tired and frustrated, and when I learned to pray and talk to my Heavenly Father. When I learned and knew without a doubt that He existed and that He answers prayers. The thousands of times that he spoke to my heart that these things are true. The days where I knelt to verify my own testimony, and felt once again that it is true. I remembered walking down dusty roads and watching kids play volleyball as the sun sets in front of stick and adobe houses. I remembered walking with companions whom I grew to love as my sisters. I remembered how it feels to testify to someone who is crying in the street, and to be able to assure them that there is hope. How it feels when someone lets you into their house for the first time, and at the end of the lesson you kneel with their whole family on a dirt or cement floor and hear them offer their first prayer. I remembered the miracles I have witnessed and the truthfulness of this work, of the countless examples and courage that I have witnessed. I remembered the hand of the Lord in his work.
I remembered that He died so that we might live. I remembered that I owe him eternally. I remembered that I am so grateful just to be a part of his work. I remembered how much I love my Savior and this gospel and my family. I remembered all that my heart could never, ever forget. As I have mentioned before, I once thought that I was here to help change people's lives. I quickly learned that they would change mine much more profoundly and tenderly than I ever could. I am so grateful, and my heart aches to know that this chapter must come to an end so soon. It aches with love for all of these people and for my family and for this gospel. I am so grateful. I don't even know how to express it in words. They are things that are too celestial for earthly words. It is a much more celestial feeling. I am so grateful :)
I know that this church is true. I know that families can be together forever, and live in eternal glory with our Heavenly Father. I know that Christ is our Savior and that he died for us on the cross. I know that through him, all of us can be saved. I know that this life is the time that we have been given to prepare to live with Him again, and that it is never, ever too late to come unto Him and be healed. That the spirit that comes when we repent is tender and can stay forever as long as we remain worthy of it. I know that God loves us, and that He answers our prayers. I know it :)
I love you. I am sorry this is so scattered, i just typed and typed ahaha. I. love. you. dearly.
Hermana Lauren Bailey
Peru Lima South Mission