DON’T WORRY! I am safe and perfectly fine.
I am in Greeley, where a lot of the flooding hit but my side of the city is okay. Evans, which is the neighboring city (kind of like mission viejo and ladera ranch), is pretty much underwater now. It is really really sad. The really neat thing about the flood is how it has brought the city together. We have been voluntering at the Red Cross Shelter for the flood victims all day saturday and sunday (after church of course). The most humbling thing about it is seeing people coming in with tons of donations and asking what they can do to help and where they can donate money and everything. So so so many people have come in just sobbing and telling us they have lost everything. It has been such a bittersweet experience to try and help these individuals and families. We have tried to just comfort them and love them. I feel so so very humbled to be entrusted with this work. Especially doing this service as missionaries. I hope the people that I talk to see my name tag and understand that I represent Jesus Christ. I hope they can feel just a tiny bit of His overwhelming love for them through me. I know I can feel it. I just want to sit and cry and hug every individual that walks in the door. Yesterday, we helped with giving out blankets and registerign people for help. So many people were just grateful to recieve anything at all.
Oh, did I mention that we got called to help at the shelter because they needed spanish speakers. This has actually been really helpful for my spanish on a side note. I have learned so much in just the last 2 days because I have had to, so I can help these people.
I think the most tender experience I would like to share is about a woman named Flores. I initially signed Flores in and was kind of rushing her because we were late for a dinner appointment. As I began talking to her, I realized she has so many difficulties in her life. She told me she is a recovered drug addict, had been abused for years, is nearly blind and deaf in one ear. She suffers from problems with her memory as well as problems with PTSD. As I talked to her, she told me about how much she loves to draw. She showed me some of her drawings and I just felt so much love for her. We did have to leave though and I was sad that I didnt get to talk to her more. We came back later that evening though and somehow, she remembered me. She came up to me and just started crying. She said she was scared because she didnt have her birth certificate or any other ID, which she is supposed to always carry with her because of her memory problems. She just kept crying and tell me about the sad and challenging life she has had. She told me that her mom didn’t want to help her anymore. She held on to her service chihuahua (this is not a joke) and just kept crying. I didn’t know what to tell her. I didn’t know if I could really help her but I just sat and listened. When she stopped talking, I took her hand and just told her that there are people that love her. I told her that she would be taken care of. I just looked her in the eyes and hoped that she would understand that there is hope. I just took hope in knowing that one day, she will be free from the pain in her mortal brain and body. I know that one day, she will be able to feel Christ’s arms wrap around her in love and she can feel safe and wanted. We are going back to the shelter later today and I really hope to be able to talk to her more. We cannot proselyte so we have to be really careful about what we say but I love just talking to people.
Okay, on a different note- Jesus decided he wasn’t quite ready for baptism yet, which while very sad for my companion and I, is probably for the best. We know that he is ready. I know he knows the church is true. He has told us that he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet or God and that the Book of Mormon is true. His family is catholic and they are not supported of him joining the church. We had a really neat experience while we were teaching him though. We finished teaching him all the commandments so we decided to end our lesson with our testimonies. It was just really cool to share a testimony in spanish and feel in my heart that the words I was saying, were true. I was just really humbled by that. After he told us that he didn’t think he was ready for baptism yet, I told him (through the gift of tongues, I am sure) that I knew he was ready. I knew that he had faith because I could feel my faith strenghten by him. I told him that I knew God loved him and wanted this for his life. I told him that God did not expect him to be perfect or even to understand everything about the church, but that he only needed faith. I told him that Baptism would be a blessing in his life, if he took that step of faith. I know what myself and my companion shared really stuck with him. I know the spirit was there and was tesitifying to him. I hope that he will choose to commit soon. In the meantime, we will continue to teach and love him.
The only crazy part of this week was the FIESTA!!! We had a fiesta this week with our branch and we got permission to dance in it. We did a tradition Mexican dance called the Veijitos (I have no idea how to spelll it). We didn’t put candles on our heads but this dance is kind of a comical dance about old people. We wore this old lady halloween masks and danced with canes and hats and such. It was so fun! I know members of the branch have videos of it so I will see if one of them can send you the video. Anyway, we just had a great time with it! We had the 4 hermanas in the branch and 6 elders in the stake do it with us. It was so much fun! after the dance, the branch members brought us these crazy authentice Mexican fiesta dresses to wear. I do have some pictures of that that I will send. It was so awesome. I had a moment during the fiesta, when I was talking to some of the branch members, when I just realized that I would be happy serving my entire mission in this area. I would be content to never leave the Greeley 5th Branch. I think it is probably the most amazing place in the whole world to be a missionary. I know Elder Webber and other Elders have said that their missions are the best but they are wrong. The Colorado Fort Collins mission really is the most amazing mission in the whole world.
I have to get going because we have a lesson to get to but I will have more email time in about an hour, SO FAMILY- IT WOULD BE REALLY COOL IF YOU COULD BE ON YOUR EMAILS IN AN HOUR OR SO (maybe 1hr and minutes) then we could email a bit back and forth.