Well, let me tell it to you straight. Missions are not easy. But they aren't supposed to be. This week has been such a big learning experience. SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED! One hour is not long enough to say everything.
I'll start with Dad's questions this week.
How is the Spanish coming along?
Spanish is hard, but I'm doing pretty good at it. We taught a lesson to a real investigator this week...good thing we had a real teacher there to teach most of the lesson, too! My favorite part of the lesson was reciting the First Vision in Spanish. I memorized it earlier in the week and it was really neat to say it with the Spirit. Afterwards, our investigator said that she felt tingle-y (alright...that's a made up word...who knows how to spell it?) But slowly I am able to say more and more things and think in Spanish more. It is hard to measure progress when so often what you see is the mountain of things to learn ahead of you. But I am not discouraged about it! I am excited about the challenge and I know that I am learning so that I can speak to God's children and so He will help me. I am excited about the end goal, and not caught up in the temporary, discouraging moments.
Our house has 4 bedrooms with 2 bunk beds in each room and 1 bathroom and two desks with chairs. Right now, one of the rooms is empty. So it's us, a trio of American sisters, and 4 Latino sisters. There is also a laundry room and a kitchen (that is empty) and a living room that has some realllllly hard couches.
How many people do you go to class with? Is it by District?
We go to class with our District, which is a total of 10 people. Two companionships of sisters and 3 companionships of elders. We are all really close and it's super fun! We have to work really hard to stay focused, but it is amazing the things we have learned from each other. I definitely feel that we strengthen each other every day and I love and respect them all so much.
How is your companion and your room mates?
My companion and roommates are great! We really are like sisters. We hold each other when we cry and laugh our hearts out every day. Don't worry parents, I haven't cried...but really, are you surprised? We have a great time! For example, here's some of the highlights of the week:
1. We cut a giant chocolate cupcake into 4 pieces with dental floss.
2. We were locked out of our classroom in the rain and so Hermana Taylor climbed through the window to let us in. Yes she was in a skirt.
3. Hermana Clark and I were talking about something when the teacher was trying to get our attention, so Hermana Taylor turns to us and yells, "LISTOS HERMANAS CLARK?!" And then realized what she'd done and covered her mouth and we all just started laughing soooo hard.
4. Singing hymns in the rain. And the shower. And everywhere. We really are THOSE missionaries.
When is the last time they had an earthquake?
So earthquakes. HAHAHA! Yeah there was an earthquake this week. At 3:30 AM! The alarm started going off so we woke up and laid in bed trying to figure out if it was real or not. Well, we decided that yes, we were all, in fact, hearing the same loud sound, so we jumped out of bed, wrapped up in our blankets and ran outside. Just in time for the alarm to stop ringing. We didn't even make it to the green circles!! Boooo. Or feel anything. So we're hoping another one happens soon so that we can have a real, green circle, ground moving, earthquake experience!
Okay some other miscellaneous facts just for fun. I don't remember if I told you, but I got randomly called on to speak in church IN SPANISH my first Sunday. And then "randomly" (or maybe not so randomly) picked again last Sunday! Guess I have room to improve! As we walked out of Sacrament meeting, a member of the district presidency shook my hand and said, "Ready for next week?"
Tell us about a new insight you gained this week.
Alright. This is gonna be long. And hopefully it connects and makes some sort of sense...
Like I said, missions aren't easy. And I don't think they are supposed to be. We watched a devotional on Tuesday by Elder and Sister Nelson. Sister Nelson talked about becoming desperate. Weird, right? That's what I thought at first. But then I realized, yes, that is exactly what being a missionary is. You are supposed to be tested and tried in the ways that are the most personal and most difficult for you. You are supposed to become so desperate that you have no other choice but to turn to God. Learning Spanish is hard, having a companion is hard, strengthening others is hard, teaching is hard. But it is all so temporary. I was pretty discouraged on Sunday morning, frustrated with my companionship and myself. But I learned a lot of great lessons during our meetings and devotionals that day.
You remember my favorite quote? The one by Marianne Williamson,
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
Well I was definitely feeling inadequate. And worried that if I let my light shine, it would only further discourage those around me. Well, here's what I learned.
In Sacrament meeting, our district president told us to simply listen to the words he said and try to feel the Spirit and get the idea of what he was saying. In Spanish, he said words like "amor", "expiacion", "misioneros", "hijo"...etc... His overall message was, "You don't have to be fluent in Spanish to express the beautiful words of the gospel of Jesus Christ." I realized all my inadequacies were unimportant. I am God's child. And obviously the end goal is to be fluent. To express our testimonies and God's love in a way that His other children will understand best. But the most important thing is to teach by the Spirit. I will never be the true teacher. The Spirit will always be the teacher. I am simply here to try to facilitate a way for the Spirit to be present so it can teach.
Sunday night, we watched a devotional by Elder Holland. So basically you should already know it was amazing. Two things really stood out to me.
1. You have to find where the investigator is before you can bring them to where you are. To the Sacred Grove. To Gethsemane. To Calvary. And I have to be able to go there, too.
2. CALLED TO SERVE. So what? So when? So WHY?! He then talked about Peter. Which I love.
Do you love me?
Feed my sheep.
I am here to feed His sheep.
Because I love Him.
As I was studying on Sunday, I randomly opened up to this scripture.
Alma 26:11-12, 16
11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
16 Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel.
That is why I am here. Because the Lord has called me and I glory in Him. And I cannot do anything on my own. But He has called me. And if there is someone I can teach or help I will do my best to facilitate the Spirit to touch and teach them.
I will: "Waste and wear out [my life] in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness" to people who do not know of God's infinite love for them. (d&c 123:13)
Lots of love!