Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3/13/17 - a "see ya later"

hello family and friends! it is still so hard to believe that this is the last letter I will write home as a missionary. it is actually so sad! I have been really sad this week, a lot of tears. But this weekend I have felt a lot of peace about the future and about the people I am leaving here. They are in good hands!

this week was a week of a lot of COMIDA (food)!!! so many people had us over for my favorite meals and people took us out as well.

Jose is doing so well. He went to a family night activity with a bunch of members and his wife went too!! we weren't invited (which is good) haha but we heard it went really well and Jose's wife really liked it. We went over to teach Jose the lessons again and we focused the Restoration lesson on the priesthood because he will be receiving it soon! We told them that if his wife wants to get baptized, he would be able to baptize her. The look on his wife's face was priceless. She just lit up and looked so amazed. She will get baptized soon too, we are sure of it. But after the lesson, Jose invited us over to eat that Thursday! SO nice! but later that night he calls and says, "GARNER! We decided that we want to do a despedida (goodbye party) for you, so invite anyone you want to my house at 7!" love him. so I called all of Jose's friends and my favorite members and we had a cute goodbye party that night for me. It was so cute, Jose welcomed everyone to his house, said how grateful he was for having me as his missionary, said the prayer on the amazing food he grilled and we ate! it was amazing and I felt so loved! after the party, we were talking to one of Jose's sons and he said "thank you so much" to us. and we said "it wasn't us! we didn't do anything!" and he said, "No really, my dad has changed so much. He used to snap at all of the family members for little things, but now he is more calm and he doesn't fight. He has changed so much, thanks to you guys. thank you so much for that" 

On Saturday we had a Relief Society activity where we learned how to make empanadas from Argentina and Honduras...we have a really diverse little branch :) so we made them and then we had a little spiritual program. afterwards, the Relief Society president stands up and says "and this is Hermana Garner's last weekend here with us, so could everyone go around and say something to her?" so all of the hermanas in the branch said the sweetest things to me. hermana regalado got up and just bawled and so did many others. it was the saddest thing, they are like my family!! But I promised all of them that I will stay in touch and that they still have to be a part of my life. I will never forget these people!

At Catholic Charities, the service center, I said all of my goodbyes to my favorite people and they gave me so many cute gifts that they handmade for me.  it was amazing!!

I don't want this letter to be only about saying goodbye, but that was a lot of this week. But a lot of this week was realizing what a difference these people have made for me in my life and how I will never forget them and the love I have for them. The mission is a perfect place to learn how to love people with Christ-like love. Never before in my life have I seen people the way I do here in the mission. It isn't a talent or anything I have, it is a gift and a gift that is definitely given to missionaries. Missionary work is impossible without loving those who we teach. It is completely impossible. Leaving all of these people and this mission life is the saddest thing and hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it is also the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life. I have never been closer to my Savior, Jesus Christ or my Heavenly Father. I have never had this type of relationship with them, I have had to learn how to rely on them for everything. I have learned how to rely on the Atonement like never before. I have learned how to be patient with others, myself, and the Lord's timing. I have learned how to work hard and be diligent in hard times. I have learned how to teach with the Spirit and to recognize promptings. Sooooooo many things I have learned during this short time and I will always be soo grateful for that. During this week, when I have said my goodbyes to everyone, I made them all pinky promise me that I would still be part of their life and they would still be part of mine. Building these incredible relationships with them--that can't go to waste! Everything that I learned from them, I will never forget. Sitting here at the computer my last day as a missionary, so many thoughts are running through my head, but the one that sticks out to me the most is how powerful the love of Heavenly Father is. He knew I had to go to Mexico to fall in love with the Hispanic culture so I could love the people here. He knew I had to be in Kemah and Brazos for certain families that He knew I would connect with! I am just so grateful for Him and His timing and love. I know He lives and I know His Son Jesus Christ is my Brother and Savior. I know He died for us, but He always lived for us. He showed us the way to live and the only way back to Him and the Father is what He teaches us in the scriptures. I love Him and I have loved representing him these past 18 months. I will miss being a missionary more than anything, but I am excited to put everything I learned into practice and into my life.

this email title is what i have had to keep in mind this whole week. thankfully I am coming back in 2 short months to visit and my family here in my mission will always be in and a part of my life!

thank you for all of the support and love throughout this time. I will forever be grateful to you all!! see you soon!!

Hermana Garner

I took a ton of pictures this week...here are just some of them!

Hna. Aguilar!
yoga in english class! Hno. Lopez is awesome and like in his 60s! hahahah
Irma and Clarissa!!
Miss mary from catholic charities!!
Relief Society activity!
Relief Society president----sweetest lady.