This has been a week of firsts. I even made a list!
1. I played rugby for the first time (District sports on Saturday mornings). It was touch rugby, and we had to wake up a half hour early to play. I'm not quite sure yet if its worth it, haha.
2. I ate 3 taquitos de carnitas without even thinking about it or asking what's in them! There were definitely some fatty pieces that kinda grossed me out, but it was super delish. Also, I'm eating a lot more salsa, but I need to learn to deal with the salsa picante.
3. I've been riding for muchas horas on a bike in the sun, and I'm actually enjoying it! Yesterday was the first day that my bottom didn't hurt as much as it usually does, haha. And I think I'm losing weight, which is a wonderful side blessing! Or I'm just neutral, because I eat so much at the member's houses (they all love to cook super delicious food, it's been quite difficult).
4. I painted a wall! We were doing service for la familia Pineda in our ward, so we just threw some tshirts on over our dresses and started painting! Hermana Correa got some paint on my head, but luckily it was water based or something like that, so it came out when I showered, haha.
5. I lost my shoe twice in one day while biking! I honestly don't know how or why that happened, haha. I had to stop and run back to get it in front of lots of cars, how embarrassing!
6. I've been attacked by a dog! But by attacked, I mean we were riding through a trailer park and a dog came screaming out of a trailer for my bike and was going in for the kill when I think I accidentally ran over its toes. Oops. Bottom line, trailer park dogs and cats are evil.
7. We got rejected twice. Two doors closed on our faces! That was kind of hard, and a shock to me. It's so sad! I just want everyone to listen! Our message will help them so much!
8. The great thing is, for every rejection, we have a great contact. Just yesterday, a door was literally slammed in our faces, just after we had gotten the referral from some members down the street. We were pretty sad, but we turned our bikes around and continued up the road. There was a guy sitting on a bench who we stopped to talk to (Hna Arevalo is so good about talking with everyone!), and he was so interested it was unbelievable! He basically ate up our words and asked where our church was so he could come on Sunday. It was so great! And I actually got to give him the Book of Mormon this time! Usually Hermana Arevalo does most of the talking and I jump in when I feel I'm ready (which I'm getting so much better with spanish, it's great!), but this time I just whipped it out of my bag and gave him Alma 36 and taught him about repentance. It was so cool!
So that was one of the best lessons for me this week: for every rejection, there's someone waiting around the corner, ready to accept our message. It is so hard to have a door closed in your face. But we must always keep going! There is always someone else who wants and needs what we have to offer them. We must always remember that in the work.
Another thing that has helped me a ton: there have been times, just in the first week I've been here, when I think the work is harder than I can bear. It's so hard to keep pedaling when it's 4 pm and we're hot and sweaty and tired, and everyone we talk to waves us off. In these moments, the thoughts come that remind me how easy it would be to quit and go home. There is a nice bed waiting for me and food and friendly people and lots of comfort. But in these moments, I think of Christ, our Savior. Think about what He actually did. He SUFFERED for us, and then He DIED for us. And what He had to do was a million times harder than riding a bike in Phoenix in September and talking to people. He was completely submissive to the will of Heavenly Father. He knew what He had to do, and He did it. So I ask myself: If Christ could suffer through all He did, and end up being crucified by His persecutors, can I ride my bike for a few more hours tonight? Can I say hi to someone and ask them how their day is going? Can I give someone a tiny piece of paper with a picture of Jesus on it? Of course I can!
That has been the most encouraging thing for me this week. I did not know what I was getting into when I first got to Arizona. I had absolutely no idea how hard missionary work actually is. We're emotionally and physically exhausted all the time. We're getting rejected. People laugh at us. But I've learned, just in the past week, that all of this is absolutely worth it. This whole time I didn't know how hard it would be, but I also didn't realize how HAPPY I would be! I didn't know it was possible to be so happy just serving others, especially on a bike in 100 degree weather. I am so happy! We ride around singing and talking to people and practicing our spanish and teaching, and it has made me happier than anything in my life has ever made me. I'm so incredibly grateful that I decided to serve a mission! There's so much more for me to learn and do and say, and I've only just barely begun, but I can't wait for all the trials and obstacles and miracles and normal things I will see. A mission is the best thing I've ever done with my life, and I can't wait for the rest of it.
Whew, sorry, I didn't know I was gonna get all journal-y! But I can testify that what I've learned is true. The gospel is true, and Heavenly Father truly loves all of us so much. I'm so grateful for all of this, and that I have the chance to share it with everyone every day! I love the gospel and I love being a missionary!
And I love you all! Have a fantastic week, everyone!
Love love love