Today we got to go to President's house in the morning and make Peruvian food (Hermana Gamboa cooked and it was great) and I made Snickerdoodles (since shortening and cream of tartar are only to be found in President's house). It was the four of us from Tomé, Hermana Snyder and Hermana Ayuso, and Hermana Call and Hermana Oldroyd. And President and Hermana Arrington, of course. They are totally awesome. I love to cook in their kitchen.
Also, this morning a cute little jovencita from our ward here in Tomé left for her mission in Recife, Brazil. So last week there was a lot of missionary-prep buzz in the ward, along with a lot of "saying goodbye" moments. We had a ward activity on Friday and they like showed a little slideshow of her and everything as part of it. She didn't speak in sacrament meeting the way we usually do, though she did bear a short testimony, but one thing they did do was they had planned a little setting-apart devotional for all her friends and family. After the Stake President had gone to her house and set her apart, everyone gathered in the church on Sunday evening and they had short messages from her parents, her aunt and uncle, her sister, and a musical number from her other sister, and Loisse also shared her testimony. It was nice. You could feel the Spirit really strongly, it was special. She is very special too, though barely 19, and I worry a little about her apple-cheeked innocence because the reality of missionary work is oh, so much harder than anyone could ever imagine. Many of you know. You have been there. You just can't describe how hard it is. I am very happy for her and I am sure she will do well. I know that the experiences that she will have - as hard as they may be - are going to help her become who the Lord wants her to be. Though I don't know her well I love her already and I am excited to hear about how things go for her in the mission field.
But all this leaving-on-a-mission stuff with Loisse was a little weird for me, because it made me remember so vividly how I felt in those weeks and days before it was time for me to go. I was absolutely terrified. For me, there is just something so horrifying about the unknown and the things that I can't control. And there were many moments when I wasn't sure I could actually go through with it. But I knew it was the right thing to do. I knew that it is what the Lord wanted for me and I had to let that be enough. Many times that is what has carried me through, when sometimes things don't look as bright as I'd like and I wonder what in the world ever made me think coming on a mission would be a good idea - I just try to remember that it is the Lord's will, and I try to let that be enough.
And when I really think about it, being here is more than "enough." I have had so many wonderful experiences. I have met the most wonderful people. I have learned to love them and their culture and thier food and their public transportation and their sense of style and (though I am still working on it) their language. I am so very blessed. These are experiences that I would not trade for anything, andI know I would not have been able to have them any other way. That is the Lord's plan. If there was "another way," He would let us take it. But there isn't. There is one path. One gospel. One plan for each of us, and His plan is perfect. I have probably shared this with you all before, but too bad because you have to hear it again anyway. When we were getting ready to leave the MTC, Hermana Frandsen wrote me a note that said, "When things get tough, try to step back and see the big picture, because He has promised that the big picture is beautiful." I know that she is right. The Lord has painted a beatiful picture of each of our lives, but sometimes we can only see parts of it. And sometimes those are the parts that are painted gray or black. But not very many paintings would turn out beautiful if there wasn't any gray or black at all. It is all part of a bigger picture - a beautiful, beautiful picture.
I invite you each to try to see the beautiful picture that God is painting of our lives this week. I know that I definitely forget sometimes to do that, and I would like to try to be better too.
Also keep reading the Book of Mormon every day.