So my first week in the field... I´m in the area of Petapa, in the city part of the mission. My trainer is Hermana Espinosa, from Panama, 27 years old and is a convert. She has an amazing conversion story... she was 17 and had no permission from her parents to get baptized. In fact, they locked her in her room so she couldn´t visit with the missionaries, so she tied her bed sheets together and escaped and met the missionaries at the church on her date of baptism that she accepted. She admitted to them that she had no permission, but they baptized her anyway in a river. They had no baptism clothes, so she used an Elder´s extra shirt and the sacrament table cloth for her skirt. To this day, her parents still don´t know she is baptized. They know she´s on a mission, but they don´t think she´s baptized. Crazy huh?!?! She´s awesome, she is helping me a lot and teaching me well. Presidente Brough and his wife are awesome!! Love them!! This mission is a mission of obedience with exactness and baptism, that is our purpose. He stresses obedience and stresses our purpose, but I like it because it puts that drive in me more not to give up and not to get discouraged. He told us new missionaries that we are going to have to learn how to rely fully on the Lord because honestly, we haven´t learned that yet. I know exactly what he means now, a week later. This week was awesome, I taught many lessons with families, found new investigators and with my companion made 325 contacts. But at the same time, it´s REALLY HARD. I don´t understand all the Spanish and I can´t speak as much as I want to, but it´s coming, more and more each day. Emotionally, it´s exhausting and it hurts. I have really had to rely on the Lord, trust Him, and call out for Him this week, because I needed strength, guidance and comfort. It´s getting better, I´m sure there are more hard days coming, but I´ll cross those bridges when they come. I have to live for today, and do what I need to today. We have 8 investigators, 5 of which are progressing and 5 are families. We also found another family last night, of 6, and they seem like they will progress as well. I love the Molina family!! The mom, Angelica, is super funny and pilas (active in terms of keeping commitments)!! She came to the stake center with us on Sunday for Conference and she really enjoyed it. I gave her a BOM with my testimony inside and she had a huge smile on her face. I listened to Conference with other Nortes in English, and I loved it!! How was it for you guys?? The 3 themes I found were family, trials and the Atonement. Many talks helped me in my problems I am having now, the Lord knows our needs and when we need something to help us, and He gives it to us. I have never seen such poverty before... yet most people, willingly give you a smile and an Hola. Mama, I hope you don´t mind, but I won´t be bringing my clothes home because they´re not going to last, lol!! It´s so hot here, and it´s dirty and the rainy season is coming. And I still haven´t got my package yet, so maybe you shouldn´t send packages at all. IDK, I´ll let you know what we should do. I just don´t want you to waste money on it. Also, do I just send you the memory card from my camera when it´s full in an envelope? Honestly, how are we doing on money? I worry about that... How´s my baby Bear?? How are Rodney and Sarah?? How are our extended family doing?? Well familia, I want to leave you with my testimony that I know with all my heart and soul that this gospel is true and that´s why I´m here. Even with how hard this is for me and how much it hurts sometimes, it´s also a joy and an honor to be here preaching and teaching as a servant of the Lord. Like Elder Neil L. Andersen said in his talk in October 2012, just like iron is refined to be steel, the more we are fired in our faith, we are refined to be steadfast spiritually. That´s what I long for, to be made of steel in my faith and in my testimony. It´s a long and hard road to get to that point, but Mama and Daddy taught me and raised me to be a fighter, and fight I will. Satan is trying really hard right now to discourage me, but I refuse to let him win, because he´s not worth my time or energy. All of us are enlisted to this work, because we´re here on earth. Called as a missionary or not, you have the responsibility to share this gospel and bring others to Christ. I´m not gonna just stop preaching and teaching in August 2014, I´m gonna keep going, I´m gonna keep learning and growing. Marjorie Pay Hinckley said, what you are doing now is preparing you for something later. That something must be very important and of God, so I´m gonna do my best to be my best so I am prepared. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Mama, Daddy, Michael, Ryan and Rachael... THERE ARE NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE MY LOVE FOR YOU. I LOVE YOU WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING. Please pray for me and the missionaries, and pray for our beloved Prophet. You are in my prayers each day and I hope you all have a wonderful week. Love you more than words can say!!
Love, Hermana Melissa Belnap