This has been an awesome week here in El Milagro. This past week has been full of celebrations and birthdays. Last Tuesday we went to the Temple as a mission and it was just absolutely awesome. To make it even better it was Elder Maddock's birthday so we went to the mall afterwards to enjoy a nice Chili's lunch and at night our pensionista even bought a cake so we could sing to him. Well this was the start of the week. On Thursday we had a multi zone conference with area authority Elder Montoya of Mexico. Originally our training was just supposed to be our zone and one other but because of a few delays... it ended up being a mission wide conference. Well all the mission minus the zone that is way in the mountains of Cajamarca. It was awesome getting to see a lot of friends and former companions for the first time in months, and getting to listen to a general authority is always really really awesome as well.
After the conference Elder Nuñez and I had a fun family home evening with Hermana Gloria Rodriguez' kids Medalit, Tracy, and Mack. Missionaries have spent a lot of time in this house, and personally I have grown really fond of the family, that is why it has been really hard recently. Gloria has been sick for almost 4 years and recently she has gotten a lot worse. To make things even better her husband also has some medical problems and has had to spend weeks in hospital service as well. Last week Gloria entered the hospital service and the doctors basically after a long fight declared that there really was not much hope. The spirits of everyone in the family were about as low as you could see and because their dad and aunt had to always be in the hospital with their mom these 3 kids were basically left all alone. For this reason we decided to head over Thursday night and make little 9 year old Mack's dreams of making pizza come true. Elder Nuñez put his master pizza chef skills to action and with the family we made a couple of pizzas. It was really a great experience being able to lift their spirits just a little bit last Thursday, especially because late Friday night, the very next day Gloria Rodriguez passed away. Although death is always a sad moment because we know how much we are going to miss that person, we can always find peace of mind to know that thanks to our Heavenly Father's plan for us we will be able to see our loved ones again and we will be able to live with them for eternity. I think the idea really brought a peace of mind to Gloria's family, especially her husband Jorge. In all my time teaching and visiting Jorge he was always a little hard, a little cynical and pessimistic, and always with doubts. He is a very nice guy but he always had his doubts, but we went to go visit the family during Gloria's service I talked to a man that was at peace knowing the his wife was not going to suffer anymore and that she was now waiting for him in a better place. I had never seen him so calm and so in tune with the spirit and I am glad that they are able to feel their savior's love in these tough moments. Although I am sure the family is sad, I also know that in these moments they are finding some peace in God's plan... and a little bit of homemade pizza helps a little bit as well.
On a slightly more upbeat note this Friday was my 21st birthday. It was a normal day of proselyting but our investigator Diana Loyaga had a little party for me when we showed up to teach them, complete with custom made cupcakes of/for Elder Nuñez and I and the chance to watch a wonderful missionary approved church movie and lesson with her family. Also our Pensionista hna Lila bought me a beautiful cake and had a little surprise party waiting for me when we arrived for dinner. I also got to participate in the Peruvian tradition of sticking your face in the cake... lots of fun. Not too many better ways to pass your birthday then with some good friends, cake, and missionary work.
On top of all of this, Elder Nuñez and I both gave talks in church this Sunday about missionary service. During Elder Nuñez' talk we had the wonderful surprise of Hna. Diana, her sister Ruth, and her son Harol all showing up to church for the first time. It was just awesome.
Well despite a few sad moments with the passing of our friend Gloria, this was an awesome week here in El Milagro and I can see some great miracles coming up soon.