Companion: Hermana Hilary Harris
Companion's Blog: http://hjhmissionabroad.blogspot.com/2014/02/we-see-miracles-when-we-are-diligent.html
FIRST OF ALL -- HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO SPENCER. What a studly man he has become all of a sudden. It's amazing what almost slaughtering a chicken can do for your appearance. Hahaha, un broma. I have said that so much this week ... because I say things that are stupid or don't make sense in Spanish ... so I just giggle and say, "Un broma, sólo un broma." (A joke, only a joke). It is a little frustrating sometimes because I just want to speak to these people about more than the gospel and their families (both of which are important topics that I need to talk about ... but you know).
This week was so interesting. It definitely wasn't the same as my honeymoon first week. This week, I really learned why missionary work is so hard. It tasks EVERY SINGLE PART OF YOU. Hna. Harris and I wake up in the mornings and run every morning. This feels awesome, but it also hurts like crazy. I am not sure why, but my hips and bones are just achey achey achey. I think it is because we walk so much, but I don't know. It's nothing crazy, just a little more exercise than my little body is used to.
Along with physical exhaustion, missionary work is difficult because of the emotional and spiritual effort that you have to throw into it to be successful. It is super SUPER challenging. Definitely more than I anticipated. Luckily, from our Philmont experience, I learned that no matter HOW HARD it is during the day, the best feeling is coming home and feeling like you have done the very best you could have. I love this feeling of hard work! The key is to be happy and focused during the time to work and to hit the pillow hard at the end of each day.
I am slowly packing my old life in little boxes and putting them on a shelf in my mind. Boys are being sealed away. Things that I liked to do are getting a little dusty. When I focus everything on Heavenly Father and the work, things are so much better. I only have this short, short time of my life to consecrate all I have to the Lord and I am not going to do a half job of it. I am trying a little harder every day to stay focused and it is working.
This week, we worked with members a lot more than with contacts, so our numbers weren't fantastic. This was such a mind struggle for me, because I felt like we weren't getting much accomplished ... but we visited so many less-actives and so many new converts. I realized this week that building the kingdom has to be a balance between ALL THREE of these things. Baptism, retention, reactivation. Super important. Each week, Hna. Harris and I are just going to get better and better! There is so much momentum in this area. I am SO BLESSED!!
This week, I found myself thinking about how weird it is that I am actually a missionary and that I am actually in Chile and that I am actually doing this. I wondered a little WHY I AM HERE. I thought about how a mission must look to someone who doesn't really know about the Gospel ... it was just a bizarre thought to me. I found that there really wasn't a great material or worldly reason that I was here. I mean ... walking around talking to people all day in a foreign language is difficult stuff.
However, I thought about the special things that happened this week that made it wonderful and I knew why I was here.
I am here because of Patricia, a less-active mom that we visited this week. She had a hard time coming to church because she had committed some sins that she felt like she couldn't be forgiven for. I was filled with tender emotion and with the spirit as I testified to her in broken Spanish that there was NOTHING that she could do to keep Heavenly Father from loving her. This was my message to her.
I am here because of Andrea, a young girl that contacted us on the street and invited us into the house of her less active Abuela. She has been investigating the church, but she never really received an answer from Heavenly Father. We taught her grandmother a lesson and she contributed a little and then gave the prayer at the end. During her prayer, she started to bawl. I remember her saying, "No te pido nada porque tengo todo." (I don't ask for anything because I have everything). She had received her answer and her abuela was able to feel the spirit again.
I am here because of Franco, a less-active youth that we visited this week who doesn't really have a testimony. I promised to him that if he started to attend church again that he would find happiness and direction in his life. , I saw him walk into the church building and my heart just melted. I was so happy for him! The Gospel just has so much to offer for everyone that it breaks my heart when people don't want to act on it ... but on the opposite side, I almost go into a happy coma when people do.
I am here because of Fernanda and Javier, a little new family that moved onto our street. They smoke and aren't married, but they are so ready to receive the gospel. I hope that the Spirit can work through me to reach them. This is also something that I learned this week. Without the Spirit, I am practically useless. I can't talk, I feel really stupid when I try to, etc. etc. When I have the Spirit though, I am not afraid to open my mouth because I have figured out that every time I do, it will be filled with Spanish words. It's amazing!
I am here because I just LOVE the people of Chile to death. They are SO generous. For example, they give us soda any time that we enter their houses (even if we just contacted into them). Sooooo much soda. But these people are wonderful! They don't have much, but they give everything. When I get home, I want to be generous with what I have. One of our investigators handed us a bottle of soda when we saw her on the streets. The Ward Mission Leader gave me a little book called the Gospel in Spanish that has a lot of useful information about Gospel Spanish. I just love it here.
The Bishop ... oh my goodness, I love him. He ALWAYS checks up on me. ALWAYS ALWAYS. , he came up to me after Sacrament meeting and asked me how my week was. I said, "Super genial, obispo!" (super great, Bishop!) and he leaned over to a Hermana I was talking to and said, "Ella es super genial." Baaaaaaaaah. Also, during our Ward Mission Coordination meeting, I had to give the spiritual thought on the spot. Bishop was just passing by to relay some information to his counselor and he stayed to listen to my little thought. I felt so much approval and respect from him and after I sat down, I started to cry. I just felt the support of the ward and Heavenly Father through his support. What a man of God!
Okay, funny story time. This week, Hna. Harris and I were contacting before a lunch appointment in a little bit sketchier part of town. We saw this man on a corner and Hna Harris said, "Let's contact him!" I responded, "Por qué no?" Because that is generally my response to everything. So we went over and started to talking to him. A taxi came and he was about to get in, but in he asked us if we would ever like to go out with him. HAHAHA. Of course, we turned him down ... but first experience getting asked out by a Chilean? Check.
Also, we did a lot of service this week randomly. For example, we felt impressed to go to this lady's house and to ask if there was anything that we could do to help her. We did this and she did need help ... painting. We were totally in our super nice clothes, but we said that we would be GLAD to help. It was so fun to do this! There is this old widow, member that lives on our street that we offered to help out this week. When we walked in her fence, there were a thousand chickens and little kittens running around. It was absolutely nuts. We offered our help, again in our skirts, and ended up cleaning her house a little bit. It was super, super dirty (even for me) and I was a little disgusted, but I recognized while we were cleaning that this experience was so precious. We weren't doing much, but we helped this lady a lot and helped her to feel loved and wanted. This was important for her!
I think that this is really what I have learned this week ... Heavenly Father knows His children and he knows how to touch their hearts to move them to act. It is my responsibility to work to the best of my ability and to do everything I can to be doing what he has asked me to do and he will help me to accomplish what I need to! It is kind of mind blowing to me how REAL and TRUE the message I am declaring is. It really, really is. Whether I know Spanish or not, it is true! Every day this week, I came home exhausted ... but every morning, I would wake up just SO EXCITED TO WORK. I love my mission. I love it so much! It is already changing me in so many ways ... I hope that it will continue to shape me and help me. I know that if I rely on the Savior with everything I've got, he will make up what I lack.
Today, we had an interesting experience with the gas stove that we have. We've never used it before because we really don't have time to cook, but today, we decided to go wild and make French Toast. Anyways, this was a process that took forever because a.) we are girls that don't know how to work gas stoves b.) the connector to the gas was leaky and so it didn't light very well. So, we finally got the stove to light ... and then the connection burst into flames. It was crazy! We just wanted to eat some French Toast ... we decided to cook it in the microwave instead.
I was thinking about this afterwards and I was thinking about the work that Hna. Harris and I are doing in this sector. It's been a little difficult because we don't know the people here, but we have been diligently trying to light little fires all over Chillán. Over there with an investigator. Over here with a member. We have been super blessed with this effort that we have been making! I am confident that these little fires eventually are going to explode! They are going to spread like CRAZY (and we won't run around like mad women trying to put them out either)! This hope helps me so much! I keep the vision and I work and work to reach it. It's so satisfying!
Anyways I feel like my letters are so repetitive and random... sorry! I am really just getting so much knowledge and having experiences so quickly that it is hard to put it all down in letter format. I am doing well. My confidence with Spanish is still así-así, but I am getting better every day that I work my hardest to speak. It is pretty much the same with every single thing I experience. Is it perfect yet? Nope, not at all. Is it progressing? Yes! Life is super good for Hermana Blau down here in the Celestial Country of Chile! I hope it is the exact same for you at home. I love you so much!!
Love, Hermana Blau
PS. I got your package. Whoooooo! I was soooooo happy to receive it! I have the Flat Stanley and I promise to take pictures with him soon! I don't know when you will receive him back in the mail because it is pretty unreliable, but I will send it and pray for the best. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I was going to take a TON today, but my camera ran out of battery. :( I promise I will have a ton more next week!!