February 17, 2014

Week Nine: good things happen to happy people

Check out those tan lines! You can tell Laney's companion (on the left)
has been out a few more months than her.
Area: Chillán
Companion: Hermana Hilary Harris

Companion's Blog: http://hjhmissionabroad.blogspot.com/2014/02/doing-our-best-his-grace-is-sufficient.html


This week was super awesome and crazy and the keyboard I am using is super lame ... I hope I can get all of my thoughts down in a coherent way without adding a ton of a's. Anywho ...

Early in the week was not really that fun. We were walking a ton and I was having a really hard time busting out the animo ... I was just really paranoid about everything and overthinking things way too hard. For example, with Spanish, I started to feel just a tad frustrated that I really couldn't communicate anything at all. Instead of laughing about it, I started to feel really, really helpless. It just wasn't my happy place, I'm afraid. Weirdly, being super serlfish and focused on myself and not the work made the days seem SOOOO long. The only bright spot was that I was going to be leaving for Concé in the middle of the week, so I would have a little bit of a break from being heartbroken by the people that were rejecting us.

This conference was exactly, EXACTLY what I needed. I got on the bus with an Elder Guzman (de Mexico) and Elder Johnson (who was in my district in the CCM), and we began the one and a half hour bus-ride to Concepción. When we got to the terminal, nobody was there waiting for us. It was such an adventure trying to figure out what to do, especially because E. Johnson doesn't speak any Spanish. Most of my time spent was going back and forth between E. Guzman and E. Johnson in translation. I randomly went up to a lady in the terminal and asked her if she knew where the Mormón capilla (chapel) was. She didn't and she wasn't very nice in telling me so, but I felt a surge of confidence in my Spanish. It was super sweet.

We finally got picked up ... 45 minutes late. When we arrived at the mission office and walked through the door, I heard a chorus of "BLAUSIE!!" from my little friends from the CCM. This was like Alma meeting up with the Sons of Mosiah status. Hna. Dunne hopped up and we greeted each other with a kiss on the cheek in a very Chilean manner. I LOVED seeing everyone again and hearing their stories. We are all in such different places and situations, but it is nice to know that there are people in your same boat. 

Laney's MTC companion, Hermana Dunne
During the Conference, we had a ton of classes that helped me to get back into focus of WHY I AM A MISSIONARY. I am a missionary because I love Heavenly Father and because I love the people. That's really the only motivation that I need to get out and work. We did a lot of practices that helped me a ton. I realized while I was sitting in these classes with Presidente Arrington that I LOVE being a missionary. I love that I have the next 18 months to work my hardest to share this message that I love with power and conviction. I love the prospect of improvement and of learning and growth. It is SO MUCH FUN!

Part of the reason why I recognized this was because I was able to go on a mini-cambio with one of the Sister Training Leaders of the mission. My companion for the day was Hna. Oldroyd and SHE IS INCREDIBLE. We have very similar personalities and teaching styles. She just had a manner of oozing with love for the people that they couldn't resist. I was a little more confident in my Spanish with her ... so I talked more on the streets and in our lessons. It was so much fun to talk more. Even though I sounded really stupid at times, I was so happy because I was trying my hardest. Hna. Oldroyd helped me to see an example of a healthy balance between finding and teaching (which is a real struggle for me because I LOVE to find people. I LOVE talking to people on the streets. It's way hard for me in the lessons because I have a hard time staying awake and focusing ... and it just seems awful to me when we let people pass by us on the street. It's kind of a personal problem I guess haha). I loved getting another perspective on missionary work and got a ton of ideas.

We had a little sleepover at the Concé sister's super awesome, carpeted house. This was super, super fun! I just love being with people that love the gospel. The next morning, we got up and continued our conference with more classes with Presidente Arrington. One was a Q&A session ... and I was just SO surprised at how discontented all of the other missionaries were. "My companion isn't doing this..." "How do I fix this ..." I realized during this little session how blessed I am! I am in a wonderful area with a WONDERFUL companion and with a wonderful WARD. All of the elements for happiness are here if I just lose myself and get to work. So that is what I left the conference ready to do. I felt better about my Spanish, better about being a missionary, and READY to HIT THE PAVEMENT.
Flat Stanley (for JoJo's 2nd grade class) standing outside
Laney's neighborhood in Chile.
I noticed a difference when I got off the bus and left the terminal with Hna. Harris. We sat waiting for a Taxi to take us home and I saw a man standing pretty closely. I opened my mouth and asked him some random question about his day and I kind of gasped in surprise. I NEVER initiate conversations ... never, never! But here I was, just casually talking to this Chilean. I continued to surprise myself throughout the day. I turned to Hna. Harris at one point and said in complete and total excitement, "I'm not afraid to talk anymore!!!!!!" I felt a buzz of energy as I said it and then I repeated myself. I AM NOT AFRAID TO TALK ANYMORE!!! AHHHHHHHHHH!!!! It was such an exciting thing. Even when the people don't understand what I am saying, I am just not afraid to say it anyways. It is such a better way of living! LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. 

It opened a whole new world with the people that I love so much. Instead of being just an almost silent bystander, I tried this week to really converse. I just explained away my mistakes with, "No sé nada español" and rolled with it. Most of the time, the people just think I am funny ... which I am okay with. But it also helped me to figure out how I could contribute a little bit more to the lessons and help Hna. Harris out. For example, this week we FINALLY met with this little family that we contacted on the first day. They are seriously golden! We had a little lesson with them about baptism and I was able to very simply express to them how much we love them and pray about them. They committed to come to church and ACTUALLY CAME! I was so, so, so happy. Carolina, the mom of the familia, blew me away in gospel principles. Our mission leader asked, "Does anyone know what Spiritual Death is?" He looked over expectantly at the missionaries but before anyone could answer, Carolina said, "Spiritual death is separation from God." WHAT THE? How did we get so lucky to find them?? The answer is that Heavenly Father knows his children and he KNOWS when they are prepared to listen. SOOOOO COOL!

Another cool teaching moment for me came as we were talking with a less-active family. They are having problems coming to church because they don't really feel like they have a lot of friends and it bugs them that the people aren't super overly kind to them. Hna. Harris and I were both kind of flustered with what to share with them, so I looked for a scripture as Hna. Harris enlisted them to help us with Cesar y Carolina (the family mentioned above). I found Alma 37 where it talks about SMALL AND SIMPLE things ... I didn't really know how I was going to apply it to their family, but I just started to talk. I adore their daughter (who is super active and goes out with us all of the time), and she helped to fill the gaps and contribute to my lesson. In the end, I pulled out a picture of a temple and said (in Spanish), "This is your grand thing. This is your goal. What small thing can you start doing this week to get here?" It was awesome! We made a little plan and are working with the Bishop to help meet their needs.

We are working a lot with the members -- especially the youth. There is one girl, Nicol, that is about to go back out to her mission (her knees were really, really messed up so she had to come home and get therapy in Santiago), that comes out with us EVERY DAY. She is such a wonderful example to me. All of these people are teaching me so many things! Even the little kids teach me Spanish and how to really love people. I loved that in Church yesterday, the primary kids ran up to me and said, "Hermana BLAU!" and just gave me huge hugs. I love these people SO MUCH! I LOVE being in Chile! It is so mind blowing and hard for me to believe that this is real life, but it is, and I love it! I am learning so much every single day! I am going to come home and be totally changed. I already feel super different. Hooray for good life decisions!

I guess what I really learned this week is that good things happen to happy people. I saw the difference from the beginning of the week to the end of the week. I was SO much happier and felt SO much better as soon as I made the decision to have ANIMO every single day. Of course, there were still disappointments, but because I made the decision earlier in the day to be just as happy returning home as I am leaving home, these things just rolled off my back. Seriously, I love being a missionary!
My hair is nuts but I love completos.
Do you see the crazy in my eyes?

Oh, Flat Stanley. How I adore thee.
I was thinking this week about the message that I have to give people and how true it is. Sometimes I feel like Spongebob and Patrick with their little box of chocolates (yeah, I just went there). I thought about how they said, "Do you want a box of chocolates? It will make you live forever!" and how weirdly similar it is to the message that I share, "Do you want to live the gospel? If you do, you can live forever!" It is kind of a message that just helps everyone! There is nothing bad about it ... and because it is true, it can change lives and fix problems. That is just what Jesus Christ does! He offers us the most precious, precious knowledge that we could ever want and all we have to do to partake is to be open to accepting it. YAY FOR THE GOSPEL!

(In case you haven't seen this episode ...)

I love you all so much! I think about you often, often, often. I hope you know that I know that this church is TRUE. Everything, all of it! This knowledge is what I have learned to rely on and it has not, nor will it ever, fail me. I am working really, really hard and you don't have to worry about me! Just make awesome decisions and do a lot of fun things. This life is really awesome if we know where to look.

Con mucho mucho mucho (I say mucho a lot when I really mean it) amor,

Hermana Blau

PS. The dog thing about Chile is TRUE. I have a testimony of dogs now. It's sick ... but I really don't pay much mind to them anymore.

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