Well this week has just been crazy but probably one of the best. I got home last night so exhausted. It started out with normal stuff. Gabriela got her second interview and passed!!! She´s the best. She even brought one of her best friends and her friend´s daughter who´s like best friends with Gabriela´s daughter to the interview. She´s already a missionary! It was awesome because it gave us a chance to teach them in the church. That got weird though because the companion of the elder who was doing the interview who was with us, just tried to take over but it still ended up being a great lesson and we´re excited to keep teaching them.
We also had intercambios (exchanges) and I got to be with probably the coolest person I´ve ever met in real life. Her name is Hermana Ango and you´ll never guess where she is from. THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS. I didn´t even know you could live there. I always just thought it was inhabited by turtles and blue footed boobies. But not true! There´s like a little city there and everything. She was telling me all about it and I want to go there SO BAD now! She surfs and longboards and eats coconut ice cream all day. And her job is working with sea turtles!! She literally is like this island princess. I told her that after the mission I´m coming and visiting her. AND if you don´t already think she´s the coolest person ever, she´s also the first missionary from the Galapagos Islands! She´s definitely in the top 3 of the world´s coolest people. Good thing I´ve got a pretty sturdy self esteem or I think I would probably go live under rock with the sea turtles after spending the day with her.
So then Sunday comes around which is the day of Gabriela´s baptism! And she hadn´t smoked all week! Actually a little more than a week. A straight miracle. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your prayers. I know that she couldn´t have overcome this without all the heavenly help. And don´t worry she still hasn´t smoked and I don´t think she ever will again ((KNOCK ON WOOD)). So the baptism was planned for 5 o'clock on Sunday. And it´s great, it´s awesome, everything is fine. She comes to church. We announce the baptism. Everyone is super excited for her. The sun is shining. It´s just a great day. We even have lunch with menos activos that made us homemade lasagna with a white sauce for lunch. Just an all around great day for a baptism. Then right as we´re about to enjoy seconds (I think it says somewhere in the scriptures that carbs don´t count on baptism days) the phone rings. It´s Thiare, the daughter of Gabriela. She goes, 'Call my mom right now, she´s crazy! NOOOOO! So we call her. Apparently she had just realized that the Cataldos, (the president of the branch and his family) weren´t going to be there for her baptism because they were out of town this weekend. So, Gabriela goes, 'if the Cataldos aren´t going to be there for my baptism I´m not getting baptized. Ok it´s 3 o'clock right now, 2 hours before the baptism. We couldn´t believe she was actually cancelling after EVERYTHING because the president wasn´t going to be there. We talked to her and she was just like no, he´s interviewed me so many times, he knows what I´ve gone through, I want him there for it. So we call the Cataldos to see when they´re coming home. They weren´t coming home until that night around 7 and so we´re like we´ll have it at 8. We call Gabriela and tell her. She says ok it can be at 8. Now we have to call all the members and everything. So, we call the ward mission leader and explain what´s going on. He says he can´t go at 8. AH! So he says he´ll just go over and talk to Gabriela. We´re stressing because we don't want him to freak out at her and have her get offended and then never get baptized. So we´re on pins and needles. AND all of this is happening during lunch. We felt so bad! The family who we were having lunch with... was like what the heck is going on.... So then, the ward mission leader calls us and tells us that he's with Gabriela and she says it´s fine to do it at 5 like before. Oh my gosh. Then she wanted to talk to us and was like I didn´t realize it would be so complicated so I can do it at 5. I didn´t even bother asking her ´are you sure?´ Nope. I just said, 'great'! But then she wanted us to come over and do her hair. So we have to finish lunch quickly because the family lives at the very bottom of the hill and Gabriela lives at the top. So then we have to book it up about 17 flights of Chilean stairs (not to be confused with normal stairs, Chilean stairs are singular in their type. Every step has it´s own personality. Some are tall, some short, some wide, some very thin, but all, are very steep.) And then from there we had about 15 minutes of hills to climb to get to her house. Then she tells us that she doesn´t have a white bra! AH! So we run up the rest of the hill to our house to bring her one. When we get back, the youngest, Jordan, is refusing to go back down to the church because Johan, the oldest, who´s already down at the church, has the belt he wants to use and his sister, Thiare is just yelling at him. So then we transition from World Class Chilean hill climbers to psychologists and talk Jordan through it. Then we have a thousand people calling us and it´s 5 o 'clock. So then we tell them that we have to go down to the church (which of course is not only at the bottom of the hill, but the other side of it as well) and we´ll meet them there. So we get down. Everything was fine. The elders show up with their investigator. Gabriela shows up. We take pictures. We have the talks. Thiare spoke about baptism and how happy she was that her mom was finally getting baptized. (she´s 14. She was crying, I was crying, Hermana Hansen, my companion, was crying. It was awesome) And finally. finally. finally. finally. after EVERYTHING: Gabriela got BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh my gosh. It was just the best. I would honestly go through all that stress and up and down hills running a thousand more times if it meant another one of our Heavenly Father´s children was going to return to Him. I know that the heavens were opened and the angels were singing. I can´t even imagine what Gabriela has gone through to get where she is today. I can´t imagine the battles that she´s fought inside her mind and heart to repent, to overcome smoking, and to become the strong example that she is to her family and that she is to me. It´s such a beautiful thing. The gospel really truly does change us. The atonement does help us everyday. IT¨S REAL. With Christ, we can truly overcome whatever addiction, whatever trial. Heavenly Father wants ALL of His children to return to Him and yesterday one more did. I love it so much. I love being a missionary. All the stress and chaos and exhaustion is MORE THAN WORTH IT. There´s truly nothing, but nothing, better.
Then after the baptism we found a new investigator, taught him about the restoration and he accepted the invitation to prepare for baptism the 15th of Feb! He seemed really weird and kinda creepy at first but turns out he´s actually a really great guy that just wants to become closer to God. So awesome.
And then to top it all off we got a surprise 'once' that night. 'Once' is the equivalent of tea time. But ours was hot chocolate, a fried egg, and Chilean bread. And after a day like yesterday I wasn´t even bothered when I got the sugar and salt mixed up.
Whew! Well that was my week. Although it was amazing I really hope the only ups and downs of this next one are the hills of Chorrillos.
Con todo el amor en mi corazón,