January 9, 2014

Week Four (CCM) -- obedience brings miracles!!!

Area: Mexico City MTC
Companion: Hermana Julia Dunne

Hola, familia!

You know that feeling you get after you laugh a lot? It's like drinking soda and taking a second to enjoy it ... and I've felt that way all week. It's been such a good one! I don't know where to begin ... Sorry in advance for the general scatteredness of this letter.

Well, I have nineteen days until I leave the CCM and travel to Chile. I am so terrified of this -- I can't describe the emotions I have. Holy guacamole. I feel soooo unprepared, even with my decent Spanish. In the CCM's comedor (basically the cafeteria), only six people can sit at one table. There are eight girls in our zone, so this means that every meal, one of the companionships has to sit somewhere else. Yesterday, Hermana Dunne and I decided to be brave and sit with some of the new Latinas. It was terrifying to go up to them. We felt soooo ridiculous. As they tried to speak to us, I tried really hard to understand, but they spoke pretty fast and the room was loud. This Spanish is MUCH different than the slow Spanish we get from our teachers in the classroom. The more I experience Spanish with the natives, the more I realize how much of a gringa I am. However, Hermana Dunne and I are really trying to improve and to push past the feelings of awkwardness and misunderstanding. I told Hermana yesterday that any discomfort we feel now is just going to be ten thousand times worse in Chile. I am trying to prepare myself for the shock.

With the terror being stated, I am super excited to go down to Chile! I have no idea what to expect ... but I am really excited to work as hard as I can to serve the Lord.

Part of the reason why I feel like this week was so awesome was that I really got lost in the work. I continue to buckle down every day and improve in my discipline. I have been talking with Hermana Faz (my little fake investigator) and trying to speak the language and to become the master of different concepts in Spanish. It's been really interesting to see where my gaps are in my knowledge of Spanish. I can tell you all about why the subjunctive is super necessary, but I have no idea how to say the time. I love future tense and past participle, but the direct object and indirect object pronouns are the hardest things for me. I still have so much to learn!

Something super important that I learned this week (I learned SO MANY AWESOME THINGS!): I have a lot of faith in Heavenly Father's ability to work everything out. I have seen that in my life time and time again. But I think that something that I struggle with is having faith that Heavenly Father will help me know what to study and that he will help me to know the needs of my investigators. It was really interesting when I figured that out ... because faith really wasn't one of the Christ-like attributes that I thought I struggled with. However, I have been praying to have this faith and reliance on the Lord and I have already seen a huge improvement in my studies and in my discussions with Hermana Dunne. These improvements are very small, but slowly and surely, I am starting to trust more and more in Heavenly Father and his sureness. This will be soooo important when I am in Chile, so I am glad to work on it now.

Hermana Dunne is super sick right now. She has a sty, an ear infection, achy lungs, and a cold. This really, really, really stinks (for her). She is SO miserable. But I have learned through her example how to take challenges with grace and dignity. She never, ever, ever complains about the degree of her pain. She has come to every single class period. Hermana Dunne is a rockstar and I kind of want to be like her when I grow up. One of the other Hermanas in our district got sick with a cold and stayed in bed all day. This other Hermana was super sick as well, and Hermana Dunne did EVERYTHING in her power, even while she was sick, to make sure that the other Hermana was okay. What an example of Christ!! Before one of our lessons, Hermana Dunne was feeling really, really sick. We went into a little room and she said a prayer. This moment was sacred for me. I felt so much compassion and charity for my sweet, darling companion ... probably more than I ever have had before. Wow ... I just really admire her.

Hermana Dunne and I really strive to help each other out. One way that I support Hermana Dunne is by eating gluten free. She is really allergic to gluten, but here at the CCM, it is really difficult to stick to that diet because a lot of the non-gluten food is DISGUSTING. Anyways, I decided that this was the very least that I could do for her after all she has done for me. It has been the weirdest experience of my life. I don't really crave the gluten. In fact, I am pretty good at just looking the other way. Strangely, since I have been on this diet, I have felt better than I ever have at the CCM! I have more energy and I am able to tell when I am hungry. I don't think I'll live gluten free ever, but it has been a nice thing to try and it definitely has helped Hermana Dunne in her resolve, I think. Just little things like that.

We have had so many interesting teaching experiences this week. Teaching two investigators (that are actually our teachers) is really interesting because we are able to get feedback from them that improves our teaching a TON. Hermana Uribe especially loves Hermana Dunne and I. We talk to her all of the time out of class. We had a teacher at the beginning of our stay here named Hermano Terrassas that I ADORE. I would marry him (well ... actually) if that were even a possibility. He always has the biggest grin and you can see the light of Christ just BEAMING FROM HIM. He is the pure definition of a stud. One day this week (keep in mind that he is NO LONGER OUR TEACHER), Hermana Dunne and I left our classroom to study later in the night. Hermano Terrassas, on his way out the door, saw us and stopped to talk to us. He asked us why we were studying in another room and we said, "Es una fiesta cada noche en nuestra clase." He nodded and then left ... and promptly came back and asked us to go to the classroom. We went and he gave an impromptu lesson on the attributes of Christ. It wasn't an obedience talk (which our district seems to be getting a LOT lately), but it was exactly what we needed. I don't think the rest of our class realized how much of a sacrifice this was for him, but Hermana Dunne and I did. We thanked him and he said, "Thank you for being the examples." Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw. He is pretty much the best.

Like I mentioned before, our district has been getting a lot of talks about obedience. Our teachers are worried about us, our branch president is worried about us, and I know that we have a ton of outside people praying for us as well. Hermana Dunne and I made the commitment this week to be 100 obedient. We weren't being super disobedient before, but we knew that we could up our game just a little bit. This has brought literal MIRACLES into our lives and in the lives of those people in our district. For example, the day we decided to be obedient, our Spanish improved like NUTS. We were saying things that we didn't really know how to say and our teachers mentioned this improvement. Also, our lessons went really well. Part of being obedient for us is planning with the Spirit and it has helped SO MUCH. Seriously, sometimes I think that we believe that our diligence and obedience will bless us only at some future date, but our decision changed us immediately.

Hermano Hernandez semi-coordinated another miracle in our lives. Later last week, he asked Hermana Dunne and I to teach a lesson on the Book of Mormon to the class. We were kind of scared to do it because he asked us to do it in Spanish, but we planned and tried to follow the Spirit. We somehow decided to talk about Captain Moroni and his attributes, hoping that the missionaries in our district would recognize how they could apply these characteristics to their missionary service. The time came to teach and Hermano Hernandez split up the class. WONDERFUL. I felt super vulnerable without Hermana Dunne teaching with me. Luckily, Hermano Hernandez gave us permission to speak in English. My tongue immediately was loosed. I felt the spirit overwhelmingly guiding me to know what I needed to say to my group (which consisted of a lot of the trouble makers in our district). Near the end of our lesson the MOST DISTRACTED KID in our class raised his hand. "Hermana Blau, I see you studying diligently every day. I think I need to start studying like that. How do you do it?" I think I heard the Hallelujah chorus. Hermana Dunne and I sometimes feel like no one really sees that we are trying super hard to be good missionaries ... but this kid, Elder Luke, helped me to recognize that my example is not being unnoticed. It also helped our district to come up with a plan to be more focused and it is totally improving. Like I said, it's a miracle!

The new kids in our zone are also incredible. They are pictures of obedience and are such great examples to us. Tell President Moe that his grandson is doing a super good job at being a missionary! All of the kiddos (it's sick that I call them that ... most of them are older than me haha) and so fun and loving. I LOVE being the Sister Training Leader. We all get along so well! Life here is starting to become normal and I love it. I love how familiar every experience is. Teaching is still difficult, but I love actually doing it. I love being a missionary (well, I don't know if missionary work at the CCM counts haha). 

Sunday was Fast and Testimony meeting at church and I bore my testimony in Spanish. I felt the spirit so much! Even though my phrases weren't really complex and I couldn't really think of how to share stories in Spanish, I felt power as I testified of what I know. It was such a wonderful experience. We watched How Rare a Possession on Sunday night and I thought of you guys a lot! Do we truly recognize what a wonderful thing we have in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I know I don't! I am starting to realize more and more what a privilege it is to be a missionary and to be a member of the Church. It is such a blessing in my life! Thanks, Mom and Dad for sharing what you know and love with me. Now I am going to go out at share it with every breathing human being.

So, it's been a pretty rad week. I am well. Tell everyone that I love them so much and am praying for them!! HAVE AN AWESOME WEEK!!

Hermana Blau  

This is the Nativity that they literally just took down yesterday. They sure do love Christmas here! Also, here is a glimpse at the outside. It's so weird to think about the things that go on in the city outside of the CCM.

It's really wonderful here. I am in love with the culture and with the people of Mexico. Definitely will be returning when I get back from my mission and know Spanish. :) Love you! There will be more pictures next week!! Pinky promise!

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