This was a very different week. As in not typical. My birthday was super fun, of course, we met up with all the missionaries in the zone in Picayune and I played piano while they played sports (typical) and Sister Rocha made everyone strawberry shortcake because she's the best. And then we went to our dinner appointment and I guess a little bird had told them it was my bday because there were balloons and party hats and candles stuck in a brownie. I must've been quite a sight, biking down the road in the dark with two balloons trailing behind me. The bummer side was that we had to drop Didi because she's not shown up to church when she said she would and all she wants to talk about are 1) how hard she and her sister have it health-wise and financially and 2) what she's making for dinner. So we concluded to shelf her until further notice (until she gets professional help and can actual make the gospel a priority). Such is the case with many. They'll profess love for God and trust in God all day long, but then they can't bring themselves to keep the commitments they make. You can't say you love someone and then not make time for them. Sigh. But maybe someday, her time will come.
Wednesday we went to the doctor and he told Sister Rocha she can't kneel, bike, or do any sports and then had a nurse put a leg immobilizer brace thing on it. So she literally cannot bend her knee. For a week. She liked to have punched something and leveled it with the earth. Tracting has been interesting. We take it a little slower. Stairs are the worst.
Thursday was a funeral for a dear old lady in the ward who passed away last Sunday. I didn't know her all that well, of course, but she was the one who was tickled by Lil Z's comment about me and Sister Rocha being "the tan one and the white one." A very positive, upbeat, smiley, enthusiastic woman til the end, despite her age and physical infirmities. She was the organ player too, and very passionate about it. Bishop said he was sure that the angels' chorus of harps had just been joined by an organ. Her funeral service at the church was the most beautiful service I've ever attended. The four of us sister missionaries sang "Families Can Be Together Forever." Her son gave the most tender tribute; he read her journals after her passing and she had ended every entry with "we are truly blessed." He finished and closed the journal for her. "From your friends and family," he said. "In the end, it was we who were truly blessed." The bishop and then the stake president also spoke, both making mention of the wonderful blessing of eternal marriage and families and the temple sealing. The organ played "God Be With You Til We Meet Again," the crowd stood, they wheeled the casket out, and a strange feeling came over me, the same one that had when the casket was first wheeled in, and similar to a feeling I got a few weeks ago when we stumbled upon a small family cemetery while tracting. I would compare it to the Spirit because of the strength of the feeling, which filled me from the inside out and felt like a definite presence, though what or who I can't say. What I can say is that I know now more than ever that there is, in fact, an afterlife. I have a true and unshakable assurance that this mortal probation is not all there is.
Sunday definitely wasn't typical. Each companionship had two investigators show up to church. SIX investigators! At church!!! Well, nine if you count that the elders' was a family of four. Lil Z (our 8 year old investigator who's parents don't come because they work) still gets antsy in sacrament, but it's real cute how he sprints to primary as soon as it's over because he loves his sunday school class. The other was Sandra! Funny story, we found a teaching record for her in our area files. Our zone leader served in this area about two years ago, and when we called him he told us he remembered meeting her and teaching her. Said she loved the missionary visits, but didn't keep commitments well. So her showing up to church means she's made major progress since then. She left pretty quick after first hour though, so I think it's either because she and her husband really did have somewhere to go to, or she felt the Spirit and it scared her off because her heart is still unrepentant and not yet willing to change. Time will tell.
Super fun time was our air conditioner breaking on us. Our apartment was 82 degrees, when it was like 78 outside. No bueno. The thing had iced over, low on freon or something, so we left it off one night to defrost it and couldn't even open our windows because we don't have screens and bugs exist. Yes, it was a sleepless night, thanks for asking. Anyway, we told one fam in the ward who sent their husband and sons over to see what they could do (they diagnosed our problem) and then somehow the whole ward found out our AC was on the fritz and offered to send people they knew who could fix it or invited us to stay the night at their house so we wouldn't have to burn up all night again. I love this ward. We ended up spending the past two nights in the guest room at our neighbors - super convenient that they're members and around our age and without children - and this morning, someone else from the ward sent over some professionals and they fixed it in like ten seconds. Mercy.
It's been a trip and a blessing to see Sister Rocha to the end of her mission. We spend our tracting hours exchanging number one lessons we've learned on our missions - or else she asks me to tell her stories from the Bible to test my knowledge and keep my head outta the clouds. Now that she's on her last week, of course afflictions are abounding (her leg, the AC, losing investigators) but at the same time we've laughed much, loved much, and has some fantastic lessons with earnest people. And it's like the inconveniences ain't even a thing.
One mission lesson we discussed was this: The only way you will find real happiness and satisfaction in the mission is through two things: living purely (obedience to rules and commandments) and working hard (anxiously engaged in doing difficult things). Like I told her, my whole life has been a cakewalk compared to most people's. The mission is the first time I've had like, real trials and tests of my faith, and demanding work and hard things to do and all for someone other than myself. And I've never been happier or more satisfied.