My journal-ing has not been fantastic this week, so this will have to be a letter of tidbits!
First...WOW. Am I the luckiest or what?! So many sweet letters this week, with so much awesome advice. THANK YOU, FAMILY/FRIENDS. I read last week's email I sent out, and I feel as if I may have come off sounding a lot more negative than I meant to! It wasn't the easiest week for sure, but I thought I should share the whole of it with you because I seriously learned SO much because of those experiences. This week was fantastic, a LOT of teaching, a lot of mind-blowing moments! Highlights/tidbits include:
- Christian's Farewell - WOW! I heard he did so well, any of my companions slash roomies could tell you that I am SO excited to see him! I've been meaning to mention that I've met three of his friends here who have come up and introduced themselves - Slavens, Whitlock, and one other. KISHE, YOU'LL PROBABLY NEVER READ THIS, BUT I'M SO SUPER PROUD OF YA!
- Maria, our TRC Investigator - WOW tambien! My goodness, we've had some crazy, LONG lessons with her this week. She questions EVERYTHING. This week, she had some pretty deep questions about polygamy, skin color, the physical location of the Spirit World vs the Celestial Kingdom, etc. What's frustrating is that she still doesn't want to pray. Actually, I take that back, in our lesson yesterday she said the closing prayer. In TRC, our teachers can watch us from a video camera in the room. I try not to think about it. But our second to last lesson with her prompted them to teach our whole class about how to keep the lesson focused on Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, how to humbly reply when we don't have all the answers, how to bring back the Spirit instead of allowing the lesson to end with a bit of contention or frustration. Our third-to-last lesson with her, though, was something really, really special - a milestone. I prayed so hard to be able to understand her thick Venezuelan accent, and when we got in there and started talking to her about life and how much she loves Divergent and how she watched Brother Bear this weekend etc... I COMPLETELY STOPPED THINKING ABOUT THE LANGUAGE. We transitioned, we began our lesson, and I just TALKED. We just CONVERSED. I felt as if there wasn't even a language barrier. Of course, there WERE words that I didn't know, I couldn't conjugate everything perfectly, but in the moment the Spirit helped me find another way to say what I wanted to, using words I DID know. This isn't to say that I haven't had a conversation with an investigator before. But this time, I enjoyed every minute and did not worry once about the Spanish. It was just so wonderful, and I really feel as if she considers us to be her friends. She DID tell us that we're her favorite missionaries. Yesterday, she straight-up told us that at the beginning of being a TRC investigator she was just acting, and now she's really considering investigating for real, whatever that means;) Maybe a little bit of a diss to us, but I do know that she's felt the Spirit as we've taught - I've seen it - so hearing that was actually really encouraging. After a long round of question-and-answer yesterday, I tried really hard to save us some time to simply bear testimony, and when the three of us did that I think she could really see how important all of this is to us. I'm finally able to better share personal experiences in Spanish, and I told her how I'm a worrier and such and that these are difficult subjects to understand, but because of prayer I know who God is and sometimes that is the only answer I need. So, how do you solve a problem like Maria? Still not sure. But I'm excited to continue to figure it out.
- A big focus this week in our class was CONVERSION. Beyond testimony. We were asked to draw what we thought conversion might look like, then we shared with another district. I don't think my picture made much sense to anyone else, but the main thing I learned as I drew was that A DESIRE TO CONTINUE TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE pushes our conversion process forward, but it is our ACTIONS - progressively becoming FIRMER, being made with less hesitation - that helps it move UPWARD. Continual action is important in conversion. Being able to proclaim you have a testimony is only the beginning! After we did this, Hermano Rasmussen told us that our assignment that night was to ask Heavenly Father, "Tengo un testimonio?" I did just that. SI, TENGO UN TESTIMONIO. I know that there is a God, I know that we were created by Him for a divine purpose. There is a purpose for us being here on the earth. Our decisions matter.
- Lead, Kindly Light - "The night is dark, and I am far from home. Lead thou me on." These are the words from one of my favorite hymns that came to my head the other night. What do I have to offer my companionship, I wondered? I have so far to go, I thought. I asked Heavenly Father. He said something to the effect of, "You know me. I've shown you so many miracles, you are a witness. Just tell them (Mexico) what you know of me." It was such a cool experience. I encourage you all to read verses two and three of that song. I shared those in class the next day.
- We got a new District Leader, Elder Nielsen!
- "Bajar por que" is "turn down for what"
- My district likes to race each other nightly, do the Mockingjay symbol, and have a district cheer every night
- SO MUCH MORE I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR! But, as I've learned over and over again here at the MTC/CCM, seal it with a testimony and all will be well.
What He wants from us is OUR DESIRE. What He wants is for us to be humble enough to accept a whisper over a yell, willingly and quickly. He wants us to understand that everything that happens is a miracle, is for our good and learning. This life is a test, cliche as that phrase is. We are proving our ability to break down the walls that separate us from total knowledge - for most in this world, the hard part is realizing that there ARE walls, and when we tell them what's on the other side of these "walls" it seems to be beyond anything quantifiable, justifiable even, to them, and it's scary. I am asking people to open their hearts, to dismiss preconceived notions and LISTEN to unfamiliar concepts, and it's scary! But I would definitely not be here if I didn't know without a doubt that on the other side lives a God who loves us and wants nothing more than for us to live with Him in complete happiness for ETERNITY! I love this gospel, I love you all.
En el nombre de Jesucristo,
Beeeeeg Keeees Leeeetle Keeeees,