Wow, 17 months ago today I sat nervously in the basement packing my belongings and wondering what the next year and a half would bring me. Terrified, I wondered if I would ever be able to learn Spanish. I wondered who my trainer would be. I questioned if I would really be able to serve a mission. I was anxious, and excited to have the adventure of a lifetime here in Guatemala.
16 months ago, I sat in the MTC doubting my own sanity as I unsuccessfully tried to learn Spanish.
15.5 months ago, I sat on my very first Guatemalan bus, watching Hermana H interact with the people. Exactly 2 seconds later, I realized that I understood absolutely no Spanish.
14 months ago, I received my first Latina companion.
13 months ago, I left Petapa and met the CP family.
1 year ago, the CP family got baptized and I had surgery... On my head... In Guatemala...
11 months ago, I realized how much I truly loved the mission.
10 months ago, I came to the coast for the first time and hated it.
9 months ago, I learned to love the coast.
8 months ago, I received my best friend Hermana Z and we opened a new area together in La Gomera.
7 months ago, After suffering being rejected and hospitalized... We had a miracle baptism.
6 months ago, I left La Gomera and went to Palin to open area and train Hermana C.
5 months ago, we got the notice that Hermana C's Mom was going to die of terminal cancer. She decided to continue with her mission.
4 months ago, we had emergency changes (one day I will tell you all why) and we went to open a new area (again) in Santa Elena.
3 months ago, we met and baptized the S Family. They were a miracle.
2 months ago, I started the training of Hermana S. She changed my mission.
1 month ago, I got the notice that I was going to leave Santa Elena...
And now I am here. Sitting in this hot sweaty internet cafe in the middle of Guatemala. On the 4th of March, exactly 17 months ago, I said goodbye to my family and packed my belongings. I felt so worried, so fearful about what I was leaving behind. I was anxious and doubtful that I would be able to achieve what would be expected of me. I questioned if I would truly be able to love a people and a culture so unfamiliar and if I would ever feel comfortable conversing in Spanish. I dreaded the thought of wearing a skirt every day. 18 months seemed like an eternity.
And yet, here I am... 17 months later. The suitcases so meticulously packed are battered and beaten. The clothing that once filled them has all been destroyed or given away. The things which once seemed so important to me now don't seem to matter at all.
In seventeen months I have been worn down, rejected, cast out, ridiculed, and beaten down. Yet, I am the happiest I have ever been. I have seen miracles and have been carried in the hand of The Lord. I have been an instrument in bringing to pass the eternal life of man. God has shown me my weaknesses and my flaws and somehow made use of me anyway. I am the ungrateful servant. My effort will never be enough, but through the atonement of Jesus Christ I can be redeemed. Though I am weak through Him I am strong.
I have been transformed through my the love of my Savior Jesus Christ. The more I learn of Him the less I ever want to leave His side. Like the disciples awaiting the resurrected Christ my heart burns within me. I pray to one day have the same confidence that Enos had at the end of his life. I hope that I feel the assurity that Christ will say to me "ven a mi tu, bendito eres. Hay un lugar preparado para ti en las mansiones de mi Padre." All I want in life is to return to my Heavenly Father and help as many others as I can do the same. I can't say that "the mission changed me" because the truth is that I am still Sierra, just refined by the atonement of Christ.
I feel my Savior's love. This is His work. This is His Gospel. He lives.
I am grateful for the time that God has given me to serve His people here in Guatemala. This time is precious. Seventeen months ago, a year and a half seemed like a sacrifice. It looked like a lifetime. Seventeen months later I realize it was never a sacrifice at all.
The end of the mission is painful and beautiful. I know that God has so many things prepared for me, not only for this next month but for the rest of my life. I am so glad that I chose to be a part of it. I am grateful to follow Jesus Christ. I pray that I will be able to do all He wants me to do while I am here.
This change is flying out from under me. We are doing 3 divisions a week and I don't even feel the time passing. Working with the other sisters is rewarding and incredible. They are teaching me so much! Tomorrow I get to work with Hermana C... I am pretty excited.
Thanks for all the love and support! Praying for you guys!!!
Until next week!