January 2, 2014

Week Three (CCM) -- A Little Slice of Paradise

Area: Mexico City MTC
Companion: Hermana Julia Dunne

Dear Mom,

Thanks for your updates! Tell JoJo and Ryan that I love them and am so proud of them. I can't wait to see how everything turns out in life. It's so incredible what the Lord can do. I am sending letters in the mail tomorrow! (on a side note, can you get ahold of Ben's address, Sattaporn's address, aunt Laurenda's address, Gma & Gpa Landis's Address, and Nandy's address?). I got a TON of Dear Elders one day this week (like, 12 pages) and I was SOOO happy. I had to keep it in a little because mostly everybody gets nothing. Entonces ... gracias por sus cartas! Dear Elder is a beautiful thing.

Don't worry about me too much. The CCM is just like a little slice of Paradise. There are fireworks/gunshots (I don't know which) that echo off of the mountain pretty frequently, but in the CCM, it's like America. It's been a nice transition to the culture shock that is Chile.

SOOOOO MUCH HAS HAPPENED THIS WEEK. Like, I really can't even begin to talk about how interesting it has been. I guess I'll start by talking about our mother district that finally got out in the field. They were such examples to us. The Hermanas took us in like mommy birds and definitely made the transition so much better. I miss their support so much now that they are gone, but I love that they are finally out there. (The real world almost doesn't seem real right now. The CCM is so weird that way). 10B (The Mother District) had so many fun traditions that I loved. We played Ultimate Frisbee together and ate together and sat at devotionals together. They were just super fun to be around.

A couple of times, a few Elders came to our classroom during study and we were able to role play with them. Hermana Dunne and I always went with Elder Peterson and Elder Perkins (Papa Pete and Perky) and we learned SO much every time. They both did not know a lick of Spanish before they came here, but they taught with such power and conviction. Their broken Spanish hardly mattered. They both tried so hard and I really appreciated their help and examples. And these were just two of this awesome district. Ah, man ... I really do miss them!

Before they left, our district caught wind that 10B was planning a Frisbee ceremony to determine who the next Frisbee Lord would be. On Saturday after our last hour of study, a few people from the Mother District came to get us from our room. We waited in their tiny classroom for a little bit because they were worried that some of the teachers would be upset. Elder Peterson also said they were afraid of getting caught because they may or may not have committed vandalism. The little naggy in me started to act up but I stayed silent. Surely these missionaries that I loved and admired wouldn't do anything that bad.

We walked into a bigger room that was in complete darkness and sat on the floor. Suddenly, the sound of filtered water drums started pounding a low chant was heard. I died laughing. A flashlight came on and illuminated a group of the Elders and Hermanas in sheets and headbands. Hermana Weller (one of my faves) had a HUGE LIVE PALM BRANCH IN HER HAND. They had pulled it off of one of the trees here. I lost it (I laughed until I cried). There was some semi-sacrilege preaching, the previous Frisbee Lord lying on a table that looked like an alter, and finally the huge reveal of who would be the next Frisbee Lord. It was so bizarre and ridiculously funny. It's nice every once and a while to just be totally stupid.

Now that they're gone, I feel a little bit nervous. Hermana Dunne and I were called to be Sister Training Leaders (which, in the CCM, means being kind of the mom figure), and I kind of feel the weight of that responsibility. We already have a NEW 10B (one of the Elders is from Missouri and is President Moe's grandson!), and I just don't know how we're going to live up to the other district. It's really weird to be in a position of leadership after only being here for a few days, simply because I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. Ah, well.

HERMANA DUNNE. I just love her. We get along SO well. Although we are not the same person, we think the same about a lot of things and are really good at bouncing off of each other. She is a bundle of joy. I am super glad that we were put together -- it has certainly made being at the CCM a lot easier. We have been so blessed as a companionship. We talk about what bugs us pretty openly (mostly we are annoyed with our district ... but that is a different story). We talk about serious things and about hilarious and stupid things together. It is a perfect balance. Together, we probably know the best Spanish of every companionship in our district. We can teach pretty adequately in Spanish (not well enough) and in English (which we only ever use when we role play) we are unstoppable. I am SO glad that she's going to Chile Concepción with me. It would be so stellar to be companions with her again!

Anyways, my district. I don't know what to say about us. We would get along really well as people pre-mish... I think. We get along really well ahora! But I also think that some of the teachers hate teaching us because a lot of the Elders don't understand why they're here yet. It's never really "study time" when they're in the room. They want to learn the language, but they don't take the time to study it. They really think that this time in the CCM is a huge joke and it's a little irritating. I mean, I still love them (in an appropriate way of course), but I just want to tell them every second of the day that they need to remember that ETERNAL salvation is on the line. (I shut that little part off of me in an effort to not be the most annoying person in the room). Our teachers (Hermana Uribe and Hermano Hernandez) are saints. They are working so hard and are so patient for our weaknesses. I talk to them sometimes during bathroom breaks (especially Uribe) and she says that sometimes it takes everything that she has not to snap. She still loves and admires us for learning the language and being missionaries. Like I said, they are AMAZING.

I will admit that at the beginning of the CCM, I had a hard time focusing on my studying. I goofed off way more than I should have (it wasn't a ton ... I just knew I could be doing better stuff with my time). However, when we started teaching and I realized that I really, actually don't know all that much Spanish, I started to buckle down and work. I really agree with the things that Dad sent me through Dear Elder. Everyone here says to study the gospel and the language will come, but I really, really feel like the language is the thing that I need to work on the most. I don't know everything about the gospel either, but when it is hard to even speak conversationally with the little Latina girls that are in our casa ... There is just SO MUCH that I feel like I need to get better at. It has been so interesting because I don't do a lot of physical activity during the day ... but I get into bed at night and I fall asleep immediately because I am so exhausted. We heard two awesome devotionals from Jeffrey R. Holland and David A. Bednar that forced me to look at myself and realize where I was at.

I am so far from being a perfect missionary. I don't study as effectively as I could, I am still learning how to learn to follow the spirit, and I DON'T know Spanish (even if I know it better than everyone in my district). During the week, I felt just a tad discouraged ... but I pushed through it and worked because I know that it's just going to get so much better! I have been improving with Spanish so much. I know that it is definitely something that Heavenly Father has blessed me with. Right now, I am just working to be a 100% missionary and to have faith that even if I am a 50% or a 75% missionary, Heavenly Father is going to help me to make up the difference. 

Being a missionary is really strange ... like, it is the most DIFFERENT thing I have ever done in my life. The lifestyle is so scheduled (which is something that I knew about), but I didn't really comprehend how much it was going to take emotionally. We have two new investigators now (Valentina and Jonathan), and it takes every thing I have in me to have charity for them AND for all the people that are around me. Being a missionary has been so humbling ... in more ways than one. I go into lessons some time and I am totally on. I teach with the spirit and my Spanish isn't awful ... but there are definitely times when I am off. I don't feel the spirit and I am left wondering what I did wrong. Luckily, this has been the best learning experience for me. I still have a long way to go learning how to be a missionary. I might not even really know when I get off the plane in eighteen months. But until that day, I am determined to be continually checking myself and improving. It is so important!

Yesterday, I felt especially exhausted. We had just had a lesson that really didn't go all that well. I was a tad tired of studying for the fifth hour in a row. I said a quick prayer for comfort and I paused for just a second. And suddenly, I saw these people in my head. I saw a TON of people. They all had brownish-olive skin like the Mexicans that I have grown to love. Immediately, I remembered why I was here on a mission. It came into focus so clearly. I am here to serve people. I am here to bring others to Christ. I am not here to have a fun time (although fun can still happen). I am not here so that I can come home and find a husband that will admire my righteous deeds. I am a missionary. A REPRESENTATIVE of Jesus Christ. It's a concept that I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully comprehend.

I love this. I love being here. The people I have met are so wonderful. Everyone is excited to be a missionary and to do the work (well, at least all of the Hermanas are). New Year's was really great. I am going to be out of America for all of 2014!! That is the scariest, most wonderful thing I think I have ever done. Who cares that I am craving real, American food? Who cares that I am going to be among some of the fastest Spanish in the world in LESS THAN A MONTH. Who cares that I don't have anymore clothes to wear? Who cares that I won't be able to listen to Ingrid Michaelson this entire year? I really don't care. These are things that I am willing to lay on the altar for the Lord. I have been given so much and if giving up little things that I really liked about my life before my mission is what it takes to become submissive to Him, I am totally willing.

Being a missionary is tough work, and I know that it is only going to get harder. However, I feel peachy. I know that Heavenly Father is blessing me and will continue to bless me as I work my very hardest. This is exactly where I need to be right now. I am loving life and I love you! Let the fam know that I send them my best!

Con mucho, mucho amor,

Hermana Blau

Sorry for the lack of pictures ... :( My bad.
Also, could you send me a typed out copy of my setting apart, the Touch of the Masters Hand poem, and a chart that tells me the hymn numbers of English songs as they relate to Spanish songs? This would make my life! :) I LOVE YOU A LOT! I promise to send letterstomorrow. :)

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