A year of firsts
First: coming before all others in time or in order. A "first" something that has never happened to you before.
We rang in the new year with the traditional 12 Spanish grapes... But since missionaries can't be out at midnight, we compromised and did it at noon with the Elders. Great photos, a funny video, great memories. In my family we always made those silly childish jokes at the stroke of midnight "I haven't seen my mom since last year!" I haven't eaten since last year!" "I haven't watched TV since last year!" Funny how as a missionary, I can truly say that I haven't done many of those things for a full year.
2015 was my full calendar year as a missionary. I have a calendar hanging in my room with a miracle written in on every day. I've filled it in along the weeks that build up to months that pass so quickly until we're here again. (I got the idea from my trainer around December 2014 when I asked her what a certain calendar was. She said it was a miracle calendar. I asked why it was still on September. She said she'd fallen behind ;) . Bless her.) It really has been a year of miracles.
But this. THIS has been a year of firsts. Because Hermana Ingram got pretty sick. It was my first Sunday completely missing church (definitely on my mission, maybe in my whole life). It was my first time receiving the sacrament in my home. It was my first time letting ELDERS into our piso. I went to concilio, leaving my companion in the capable hands of Hermana Manotas, coming from the nearby city of Zaragoza, a real tender mercy. I LOVED being in concilio and learned a lot, talked with a lot of other missionaries, and helped set great new goals for the new year. I came back on Monday night and met up with a sweet member from the relief society (Raquel, my hero) who took me to the hospital where I was surprised to find that Hermana Ingram had been since I had left. I spent my first night in a hospital room (probably since the day I was born, though I wasn't the patient in this case, it still counts). My companion has had some health struggles all along, and it seems that they've all just accumulated and now is the time to get to the bottom of it. I have never been so grateful for those who put OTHERS first: For the help, visits, food, calls, flowers, and calls of countless loving and supportive members; for selfless and serving Elders who really, really have made all the difference. I'm grateful for a priesthood blessing on that Sunday morning telling us that Hermana Ingram would not have to cut short her missionary service for this trial and that she "has been blessed with an incredible companion."
I'm grateful for the faith that pushes us through. In this, the first month of many, I leave you with two challenges: Discover the daily miracles that surround you; and be the "first" to respond, be that angel that someone needs you to be. You never know, until that last moment más alla [beyond or after] all the good that you can do.
Thanks for all of those who wrote me this week. I love you all, even though every single one of you mentioned how I'll be coming home soon.... Sorry that my time limits with wifi don't allow me to personally respond to you all.
There's still so much to do, and every little aspect of his work is important. It's all a part of His grand plan and we are all just little chess pieces with different and important roles. Mine right now, is to be a supportive and faithful companion. We'll be in the hospital at least until Thursday. Prayers are appreciated (and heard). But don't worry too much.
Until next week.