Wednesday, December 4, 2013

From Dec. 2, 2013

This week is probably the most eventful week of my mission so far.
This week, on Thanksgiving, we started the day by cleaning the house of one of the coolest members in the world. They were out of town, and we love them so much we decided to clean their house. We began, and getting about 6 hours into it, the boys were lost, having no idea what to do next. Not because it was almost finished, but because it was so messy haha. The girls kept us in check, and after a few trips over a couple of days, we were able to finish cleaning. There's a picture attached that shows one section of our efforts.
I had surgery on Friday. It all went well! Elder Bird had to wait 6 hours at the hospital from start to finish, but for me it felt like less than an hour. I felt GREAT! When I was in the process of "coming to," I translated some Portuguese with Elder Bird, solved math problems that he quized me on, said hello to every doctor that passed by, and asked some really random q's about the Gobi desert to the nurse tending to me. I still can't figure out all the weird looks I was once again I am crutches-bound. But my district is my new family right now, and they for sure treat me like family. I am well looked after every day. We were worried Elder Bird would be bored on Friday after my surgery because I was couch-bound, so we had a BBQ with the districtFriday night. We got a gift card for $35 from a member, and me and Elder Bird bought $35 worth of steak for the BBQ with everyone. It was fantastic, until it came back up in the bathroom haha.
So on Sunday Sister J wasn't feeling well, so we went to the  sister's apartment to give her a blessing of comfort. We talked for a while and it was time to take my pain pills. Before I knew it, I was out for the count! In the meantime, Sister J was getting worse. She's gluten intolerant, and she thinks she ate some gluten over Thanksgiving. We were trying to get her to go to the hospital, and she wouldn't go. She's a total stud. But she should've gone anyway. Because this morning she had to be ambulanced over to the hospital this morning! We went and visited her with the other elders to make sure she was ok. She's doing better and just got the go ahead to leave.
The point of the story is that even though we're away from our families are far away, sometimes across seas, we still have families here with the people we form friendships with. On a mission, you can't just learn to like the people you're around. You have to learn to take care of them, mourn with them that mourn, walk with those who are discomforted, and be a family when they don't have one. I'm so grateful for the people I teach with and get to know here on a mission. Elder Bird leaves in 2 and a half weeks, so we're getting another elder named Elder Herreira. He's going to Brazil also! It will be so hard to see Elder Bird go. He's like a big brother to me, and I'm glad I could meet him and see a great example of a big brother. Well, we have to go pick the Sisters up from the hospital, so I can't respond to any more emails, but love you all!
Elder Jake Hirschi
From November 25, 2013

This week is hopefully going to be as good as last week was! We saw numerous miracles, and had some amazing experiences as well.
We've been visiting a number of people who used to come to church but have fallen away or lost interest recently. Our job is to help bring them back. So we visit a man named Will, whose wife died not even a year ago. His wife got him interested in the church, and now that she is gone, he was bitter, angry, and uninterested in associating with it. As of Monday, that is. We went over there and I'm only halfway exaggerating when I say he used more vulgar words than non-vulgar words in our "discussion" (very one-sided). He was in a whirlwind of a mood, and I wasn't sure if his pets were going to survive the week haha. We visit him again on Wednesday, and he's a little better. Not 100% but at least he wasn't yelling too much. We gave him a chapter or two to read so we could discuss it the next time we came over. Then on Saturday, we went to his house and he had a 100% turnaround. He had read the chapter, actually enjoyed it, and started smiling and even laughed once or twice. It was truly one of the best things I've seen on my mission. I like how we don't work for money or praise, because the change that comes as a result of people turning to the gospel is far better than money or praise, as cheesy and cliche as it sounds.
   We had multiple experiences just like this, including a man coming to church who hadn't come in 2 years, at least. The missionaries have visited his house twice a week for as long as we can remember, and he's never come to church. This week he came to church, and he said "wow, it just feels like I'm home again." Such a humbling, gratifying experience again!
   We also helped a woman write a letter to her son who lives in the virgin islands, who she wants nothing more than to be with again. She is blind, and has failing kidneys, as well as diabetes. Her relationship with her son has been scarred because she was supposed to bring him over to the US and she's having trouble doing so. Her son doesn't even know that she is blind or has any of these problems, so he misunderstands the difficulty in getting the paperwork done required to bring him over to the US. Her son is mad at her because he thinks she doesn't love him. They talk very little over the phone, and we suggested she write him a letter.  She can't even see us, and we've only met her one other time, and she still trusted us enough to ask us what to write in this letter to her son. It was another humbling experience and one that was important for me to learn this week. It helped me appreciate the great family I have, and the ability I have to email home every week, even if we can't talk on the phone very often or see each other very often!
   So long story short, we had a great week. I'll be straight-jacketed and under the knife this week so Elder Bird is going to have to figure out a way to entertain himself for a couple days. We're planning a big bbq in our district, so that's something to look forward to also.

 Dad, how many days did it take you to recover? I'm going to try to beat you, so heads up.
 Mom, thank you so much for the package, the Portuguese talks are great, and I do appreciate the hoody I've missed it... and
 Megan, thank you so much for the tree, which is displayed on our wall, it's gorgeous.
 Johnny, we have our old 90's family pic up above the kitchen sink, and you're the cutest 4 year old I think I've ever seen. Thanks for the letter.

 I do have a couple the top of my Christmas list (perhaps early than Christmas so Elder Bird can see it) it the reenactment of our 90's family picture that we took at the Roenthal's right before we left for our missions. I've been craving it like crazy! Also another inhaler is never a bad thing:) Thanks and have a great week in Wichita!!
 Elder Jake Hirschi

From November 19, 2013

So today is my 5 month mark away from home. Time flies by, yet a ton has happened. Miracles happen left and right if you just open your eyes to them. For example, I have to get knee surgery. Boo hoo. At first I was praying that I wouldn't have to get knee surgery, because typically when you're on a mission you get sent home for surgery, no q's asked. There's a missionary who left home yesterday because he has to get surgery on his wrist. He should've left in December but he has to go now. So this happens all the time. But after seeing a series of miracles, I'm more blessed than bummed. 
 First of all, it's a minor surgery, so I do NOT have to get sent home for it. Miracle in and of itself. Second of all, and perhaps more important, I'm not in Brazil yet. If everything would've gone "according to plan" I would be in Brazil right now, and definitely would've gotten sent home, because they wouldn't let me get surgery internationally. I hurt my knee by kicking a soccer ball. I've kicked thousands of soccer balls, and I've never had to get surgery because of it. But because of what the doctor said, this was going to happen eventually. I don't think it's coincidence that it happened while I was randomly kicking a ball in NY, as opposed to Brazil. Part of my reason for being here may be to get surgery, and be all healed before going to Brazil, and kicking thousands more soccer balls:) So I'm grateful that I am where I am, and it doesn't bother me that I'm not in Brazil yet.
 So in our ward the sister missionaries started what's called the ward fast calendar. I hope I haven't mentioned this yet, because I can't remember. But anyway people in the congregation sign up for a day to fast on. They sacrifice two meals and consecrate that day to fasting and remembering and praying for certain people. The missionaries call these families the night before they are going to fast, and they tell the family which names the missionaries have asked them to fast for. The night after they fast, the missionaries call again and report all the miracles they witnessed that day, and thank the families for contributing to those miracles through their sacrifices. There's something about getting a whole network of people to sacrifice and pray for one cause, that produces miracles and blessings beyond what it would've been without the sacrifice. The miracles have been overwhelming, and part of that is due to the fact that we're simply opening our eyes. Always watch for miracles, because they're there. 
 One exciting thing that we were able to do this week is attend a Baptist Gospelfest, or gospel music concert. It was a hit, and more than 300 people showed up. A featured singer from Georgia sang, and she knocked the roof off the place. The choir that sang also blew us away, and gave us a free CD (despite the $10 required donation we paid:)). That was so much fun, and even though we were 2 white people out of about 8-10 there total, we felt fellowshipped and made a lot of friends. 
 Sorry the email is so long, there was just a lot that went on this week. I can't write nearly as much as I want to!
Have a great week-
Elder Jake Hirschi

From November 11, 2013

This week was great, we did a lot of good work, despite Elder Bird being so close to going home. He has about a month left, and it's really easy to get "trunky" or distracted by thinking about home so much, but he's doing great. He's in charge of the missionaries in our little area, and he gives such great trainings. At the end of the training multiple missionaries were getting sick last week, so they asked for blessings from us. It was such a great experience to feel the spirit as I was able to lay my hands on someone's head and bless them with health and safety. I don't know where else you'll find a group of 19-21 year olds on their own organizing times to meet in order to listen to each other tell about the miracles they've seen in the lives of other people, and how they can better teach other people the principles of living the gospel. I also don't know any other place where teenagers would knock on random people's doors and invite them to hear a message about Jesus Christ haha but it's such a great experience. Even taking religion out of the picture, it's fun to meet new people and learn about their lives each and every day. This week I had my MRI on Saturday, and a follow-up appointment tomorrow, so I'll have actual results from an actual doctor pretty soon. Mom, thank you so much for the package, it's so perfect for my language study! Letters are coming soon!
Elder Jake Hirschi