this week was interesting in lots of ways, but the highlight for sure was Saturday when Maria got baptized!
Maria is 28 years old. She is separated from her husband, who actually claims to be a member but we have no proof of that, and they have a 7 year old daughter named Angela who I love to talk to. Maria works in agriculture, meaning she picks crops or plants seeds, all day, every day. She doesn't know how to read, but she brings her Book of Mormon with her to work every day, anyway. Sometimes her boss teaches her to read from it during her lunch hour.
I met Maria at the beginning of Abril. We had contacted her brother, but he totally lied to us, gave us a fake name and number and everything. We saw him again a couple days later and Hermana Jimenez ran up to him and wanted to talk to him, asked him if there was anything we could do to help him. I didn't want any part of it because honestly I HATE being lied to. But he gave us a different number. According to Maria, that night he went home and told everybody he had a gringa friend who wanted to come help him work in the fields. Which is interesting, because I didn't say a single word to him. Maria had seen us so much in the streets and wanted to meet us, so she convinced her brother to call us the next day. We went and helped them pick green beans in their fields for an hour that day. I didn't think anything would ever come of it.
We saw Maria again a few days later and set up an appointment to visit her. She told us that I had talked to her once with another small gringa (Hermana Adams). That day in my journal, I wrote, "I contacted a girl named Maria forever ago with Hermana Adams but I don't remember that, and we never followed up. But we keep seeing her now and it's like God is trying to get my attention. 'Yoo-hoo! Hermana Hasleton! Child of God here who needs to get baptized!' Yeah sorry I'll get right on it!" It took a couple months, but we got there eventually :)
Maria is a better person than I am. Literally, she has the purest and most loving heart. She has the highest standards of modesty. She is so incredibly forgiving. You can see the change of heart in her countenance. It is a privilege to have been able to help her come unto Christ and to find the truth. She had her interview on Monday with Elder Moreno, the district leader. When she left, he told us that someday she will have a mormon message made about her. Maria is amazing.
Well, other than that, I just have stuff about my week to say. Tuesday we were in Quito for the visit with the psychologist. Apparently everything with my companion has been happening for anxiety. She has another visit tomorrow, and they are giving her one more week to see if it gets better before making a decision about sending her home. Tuesday in the offices I got to talk to Hermana Christensen for awhile. It was amazing to talk to her. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone who has that conversion, ya know?
On Thursday our district leader got emergency transferred, because he was also training and his companion threw in the towel and said he was done, he was going home. So they brought in two new elders. Poor guys, its a hard sector to open and they were pretty lost. On Friday we had to show them where the chapel is. Elder Moreno was super upset to be leaving. The saddest part about Elder Moreno getting transferred was that on Saturday, his convert Marco Cevallos also got baptized. He is also incredible. He is actually famous here in Ambato, he's a singer. Look up Marco Chino Cevallos, I don't know if you'll find anything , but you can try! He was really sad to see two new missionaries instead of the ones who had taught him. The change in his life is also amazing.
On thursday for lunch we were fed cuero, which is basically soggy pig skins. I hate it with all my heart. You just have to cut it up into little pieces, mix it in with the rice, and eat super fast to try not to taste it. But my companion refused to eat it. 20 minutes after I had finished eating, she was still sitting there looking at it. The Hermana that had fed us kept looking at us, all suspicious. I whispered, "Hermana, why are you not eating?" Sometimes eating gives her anxiety, and talking to the members gives her anxiety, so I was trying to gauge the situation. But then she said, "No me gusta." or, i don't like it. I was like, are you serious. "Well, Hermana, you have to eat it." She just looked at me. Not even about to eat it. I honestly felt like a frustrated mother that was telling her child that she couldn't get down until she finished her dinner. You are 19 years old. I don't care if you don't like it. If you are full and feel sick, that's a different story. But just because you don't like it? If these members get offended, they are going to stop feeding us and all the missionaries in the future. The hermana was also asking her questions, and she was giving one word answers or just not responding. I was so incredibly frustrated. We were blessed to have the member not get offended that she didn't eat her food.
Nancy and Evelyn continue to come to church, they just won't accept baptism. They just aren't ready to sacrifice everything for the gospel. Evelyn doesn't want to give up going to parties in the university or drinking coffee. She feels guilty that she isn't reading the scriptures every day. We are a little lost knowing what to do to help them progress to baptism.
This week was a little rough, I was a bit depressed. I feel a lot of pressure to have good numbers as the senior companion/trainer. Other than a baptism, we did not have good numbers. I know that in the long run it's not about the numbers, and it's just about helping other people, even if the only person I can help is my companion. I am trying to stay positive and have a good attitude and keep being as diligent as I can possibly be. Every single day we talk to people I have already contacted or old investigators. I am definitely feeling my time in this sector. I have 6 more weeks here, and then I will have 9 months in the mission so I will hopefully be leaving Ambato.
I could use your prayers to help me have patience and a good attitude! I love you guys! Sorry if this was the most negative email ever. Don't worry about me though, there is still no place in the world I would rather be than right here in Ambato El Recreo.
here is maria and her daughter angela. This is their house. Dirt floor, everything sheet metal, only a lantern hanging from the ceiling as a light.
Us with Maria and Marco! It was a great day!
And with Hermano Vinces, of course. He is the ward mission leader and I respect him although we don't always see eye to eye. He gives us good laughs.