Monday, August 26, 2013

Leaving Goa

"You cannot have adequate faith in a God you do not adequately know.”

Well, the inevitable has come to pass.  After seven lovely months I am leaving Goa. It has been an emotional few days. Good-byes are never easy. Actually, in truth it is painful but I am grateful for the lessons I have learned and for the people that have changed me forever.  

In a letter from dad a while ago, he mentioned a few statements on life made by a man who seems to have a pretty good grasp on what is important.  One of his statements was: "Life is love. Vital and Intense." This struck a chord with me this week.  The love I have gained for the people here has become a vital part of who I now am.  The moments I have spent teaching in the simple homes of these people, eating adobo at Nanay Enciso's eatery, hiking up mountains, watching two brothers dressed in white standing in the baptismal font, weddings and Home Evenings and so much Bikol; these are all things that I will take with me when I leave here tomorrow. These are things that I am so grateful for. These are small snippets of the vital love that I have developed for these people. Love is also intense. It is not easy when you open up to people, especially on the mission knowing you will not stay forever; you open up to loss.  But both the intensity and vitality are things I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I spoke in church yesterday and the bishop brought out a giant roll of tissue. Haha, he knows me too well.  

On Saturday we had our ward Family Home Evening - which turned out great! Sister Simbol and I did the lesson and then each auxiliary gave a presentation. The primary was the best. They danced for us and some of those little girls could do hip shakes that would put Shakira to shame! The announcement came that I was leaving that night at 8pm while we were at the chapel. Sister Simbol and I both got teary eyed as soon as we read it.  I am sad to be leaving Sister Simbol. She has become a dear friend and truly my sister. We go home together though and will luckily be able to see each other once a month at Mission Leadership Conference.  The members knew instantly why their missionaries were red faced and choking down tears and they said jokingly they were going to start a petition to the Mission President to stop me from leaving. I support them.  But, I know that there is a plan and that I have different lessons to learn. Whatever happens - the Lord is in it.  One of my favorite LDS songs' lyrics say...

"I feel it deep in my soul,
and it speaks the truth that I know.
and it guides my life, so i'll go..."

The evidence that I have been on the mission for a while is the dirt that is stained under my toenails and my scriptures are having a rough time. The binding is toast.  So we stopped by a book binding shop to see if they could assist me.  A man came around the corner and the yeasty smell of alcohol was so strong! He recognized us as missionaries and started stammering on about Joseph Smith, trying really hard to work on his English in his drunken state.  Then he suddenly shouted "leave me alone!" The weird thing was that he had the biggest smile on his face and gave me a high five after.... Sister Simbol and I were dying laughing and she said: I don’t think that was what he meant to say - his facial expression didn’t match his words.

We were teaching a less active family this week and started the lesson by asking them in what ways the gospel has blessed their life.  The answers were mostly... in lots of ways, it blesses our family and other generalizations.  It reminded me that it is important for us to come to know our Heavenly Father specifically.  If we can hone our testimony into specifics, it will be stronger.  If  our prayers are specific they will be a greater power to us. If our study of the scripture is focused on learning specifics, we will understand more.  I am working on honing my testimony into specifics.  

I am so proud to be a "Mormon missionary." I know the church is true.  As I have spent hours in study at my little wooden desk here in Goa, I have come to know more that Jesus is the Christ and the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  I know that there is a plan and that we are all children of God.  I love you all so much! ingat palagy! 

Love from the pines, 
padangat ko kamo!
Sister Christensen

"Don't just be a human being.  Be a human DOING!!" - Sister Simbol



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