Monday, October 6, 2014

Bus Ride of Faith

(Last week Elder Rich tried to send us photos of his journal entries to share his mission experiences.  Unfortunately the less than reliable Internet connection wouldn't allow him to send the files.  Today we were able to finally get those entries dated October 1, 2014.  It was worth the wait!)

I have missed you all this week so much and last week was kind of hard, but this week made everything so much better. I am so grateful for all of your prayers and support. I am beyond lucky.

First of all you can´t have a bad week when you start it off by catching a fly out of the air BY THE FREAKING WINGS! That´s right. Tuesday night a fly was bugging me and some how I snagged it out of the air by the wings.

The next day was lots of what I dreamed missionary work would be. No meetings, no traveling, no set branch stuff to handle, just walking around talking to people in the streets, taking pictures, playing with kids, teaching on door steps. Just an all around perfect day. I will admit it has been hard being away from home and swallowing the fact that I can´t help those I love when they need me almost 6,000 miles away. However, all of that changed today after my interview with President Obeso which all missionaries have every other transfer.

President Obeso. I love that guy. And Hermana Obeso, sweetest lady in the entire world. We had interviews with President and it was amazing. I haven’t wanted to write about it because I haven’t wanted to dwell on it or give it enough thought, but I have been having bad dreams. They are similar to ones I would have when I was home. I often had nightmares about my family in danger or hurt. The scary part is when I would have one about a specific person, a lot of times it was because they actually were hurt or in trouble

Last week it was Andy and the Leavitts, and I found out Andy broke his arm. Luckily nothing major. But this week was Ben, and apparently he has been having trouble with migraines and anxiety. It is hard to focus on work here when I feel my family needs me back home. Before, if I had an experience, I could do something about it. If it was about my Mom, I would talk to her and it would usually end up an all-night conversation. She talks about those conversations all the time in emails, and how she misses them. I do too because that’s how I would help. I just feel helpless and it is really hard for me.

President just listened to me explain and then smiled. He told me about the promises Jesus gives those who serve him. He told me if I serve with everything I’ve got, I can bring those blessings down on them. I can help through those blessings. He also told me life goes on. People have trials. Bad things happen. And I can’t control that. Yet, if I am in the service of God, He promises to bless us and restore to us ten fold any loss or hurt. He then handed me a tissue, because I was crying like a baby, and hugged me. He whispered in my ear that I am special and it is good I love my family so much. We said a prayer and he offered it. It was beautiful and silenced all my fears. The day seemed brighter, and the hard things seemed easier

The last thing he said to me was to work hard. When things get difficult, work even harder. This attitude and worth ethic will yield blessings, both for myself and for those I care about. He told me he loved me, Jesus Christ loves me, and both of them know I have something special to offer so I need to share what I have with everyone I meet. That made me feel good. Better than good. I felt invincible and strong in my Lord. I said a silent prayer surrendering myself to the work and placing everything, my hopes, my fears, my time, my family, my success, and my heart, into His hands. I asked for opportunities to obtain His promises and help others. Then, we left.

All of this was running through my head during our 20 minute walk to the bus station, so I don’t remember any of that time at all. I was zoned out thinking about my interview while sitting on a bus waiting for it to leave. I didn’t know why we were on that particular bus because we never are. It is 200 pesos cheaper but the driver is a jerk so we usually avoid it, but for some reason, we were there. After like ten minutes of waiting, Elder Holt started to say, “Let’s get off,” when all of the sudden Tamara got on the bus. I called her name and she came back and started talking to us. We asked her how her day had gone and she said that it had gone so-so. Jokingly, we asked her why and all of the sudden she broke down crying.

We had sat her down in between us and she explained how someone had stolen her backpack, which had had all of her money, IDs, homework, and textbooks inside. It was amazing. The second we get done talking to President (fix problems and pray) we get a situation with an investigator who doesn’t know what else to do, or where else to turn on a bus we don’t usually get on, on a day we are never in town, right after an awesome experience. Thank you Lord for your hand in everything.

We shared some scriptures about faith and told her we loved her and that she would be all right. She almost broke down again, told us thanks, and then it was her stop. We told her just to call us if she needed anything.

She called later that night to set up another English lesson. After giving us a date and time, she told us thanks and that she had been relieved when she saw us. That’s cool. She barely knows us but her experiences with us have been good enough for her to be relieved when she saw us.

The coolest part for me though was what she said to me on the bus. Elder Holt was looking for a scripture and I was trying to comfort her in broken Spanish. I tried to say something three of four times, couldn’t, so I made weird sounds of frustration and just held out my fist for a fist bump. We both laughed so hard and I managed to say that there were two things that sucked about my mission at that moment. The first was that I can’t speak Spanish, and all I wanted to be able to do was comfort her with a happy word or two. The other was she was just so distraught; I just wanted to put my arm around her and tell her it would all be all right. Just let her cry it out and feel better. Then I added, “But I can’t. So don’t touch me.” Then we laughed so hard.

We have just had spiritual experience after spiritual experience with Tamara and also her boyfriend Javier. Every time we teach them I just feel so good. I was chopping wood for Hermana Cecilia, and Elder Holt was explaining General Conference when Tamara called and asked if we could do more English practice. We excitedly agreed and sprinted to the church, skipping and contacting the entire way. Usually I just teach one-on-one with Tamara and Elder Holt, Javier, and Seba make awkward small talk. This time when Elder Holt played games on the board with them, Javier finally kind of opened up. I was teaching Tamara and we did all of her homework together

As we finished, she saw my photo album in my bag and asked to see it. She opened up to the first picture of my family and looked at it for a long time. It was quiet for a long time then she asked, “Your mission is for two years?” I didn’t say anything or take my eyes off my family, I just nodded. It was quiet again then she asked, “Did you cry?” Again, I just nodded. After about three minutes she asked, “Are you sad?” This time I looked her right in the eyes and said quietly, “No.”

Looking puzzled she said, “Don’t you miss them? Isn’t it hard? Isn’t it so long? Isn’t it sad?” I smiled and told her that the answer to all of her questions was yes except the last. I was happy. I had her look at the picture and how happy we were I then told her, “We are happy. Not because we have big cars or a mansion or a speedboat, because we don’t. It is because we have each other, forever. That is why I am happy. That is why I am here. I am here to help other people be happy. I want that for everyone here. And this church is the only way I know how to give that.”

She smiled then just kind of went deep into thought. I realized it was super quiet, and looked up. Elder Holt had turned ‘Connect The Dots’ into the plan of salvation and was quietly teaching Javier. The lesson ended differently for us this time. Reverent and quiet and everyone had lots of food for thought. I feel good about these two. I feel good about this area. I feel good about my purpose.

The rest of the week was just lots of service. I testify that service yields miracles. It is so amazing. Go out and serve someone today. And have a good attitude about it. You will bless others and yourself greatly. I love everyone so much.

Elder Aidan Rich
Caught a fly by the wings. Wax on, wax off.
Tamara and Elder Rich
(Tamara wrote Amber a sweet email asking for help with her English homework and attached this photo)
I've had lots of questions about where I live and what it is like so I thought I'd share some photos of my crib. Our apartment is behind and over a store. 
Where we study and plan.

Where the magic happens. I have kind of turned into a house wife (which my companion loves) because I cook and clean constantly. I can´t stand not being neat for some reason. These pictures show our areas which are always clean.

My bed is the one on the right.

My closet

My home gym. 
Every single day.  Chopping wood.
Elder Holt enjoys having a house wife for a companion.
Elder Holt on the bus. The kid stops at nothing to teach.

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