March 3, 2014

Week Eleven: moving little mountains

Area: Chillán
Companion: Hermana Hillary Harris 
Companion's Blog:

Dear Familia!

I love you all so much!! Yay for Michael!! That is so exciting!! I love missionary work! Keep the news of the calls coming! Also, I got your Valentine's Day package! Thank you so much!! It made my week!!!!!! I am trying to savor the delicious things that you send because they are so satisfying to eat! Haha, I have a bad feeling about my weight on the mission. I am trying to be good, but it is so hard!! It makes me super happy to hear about people from home. I can't believe that it is still freezing in the United States. I guess when it is so hot every single day aquí, it is a little difficult to imagine. I promise I am not trying to rub that in haha.

This week ... I don't even know how to sum this week up. I read a couple of times this week a talk by President Hinckley called, "Find the Lambs, Feed the Sheep." In this talk, there is a quote that I really love and have come to appreciate (I am going to copy and paste it). 
I challenge you, my brothers and sisters, that if you do not know what it is like (being a new member), you try to imagine what it is like. It can be terribly lonely. It can be disappointing. It can be frightening. We of this Church are far more different from the world than we are prone to think we are. This woman goes on: “When we as investigators become members of the Church, we are surprised to discover that we have entered into a completely foreign world, a world that has its own traditions, culture, and language. We discover that there is no one person or no one place of reference that we can turn to for guidance in our trip into this new world. At first the trip is exciting, our mistakes even amusing, then it becomes frustrating and eventually, the frustration turns into anger. And it’s at these stages of frustration and anger that we leave. We go back to the world from which we came, where we knew who we were, where we contributed, and where we could speak the language.”

I have never been a new convert to the church. I mean, I have had to have my own conversion, but I have never had to change my life that much to be a follower of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Before this week, I think I have never really imagined what it might be like for my little converts (or just converts in general). However, as I had different experiences this week, I think I was given the opportunity to figure it out a little better.

This week wasn't bad at all. I don't want you all to think that I am not enjoying every single day that I am on my mission, because I do! I just have had a lot of humbling experiences this week that were so important for me so that I could learn some lessons rapidly. With the language this week, it was kind of a struggle. There have been some days when I wake up and I can think in Spanish and it takes very little effort for me to speak. There are other days when it takes hours and hours for me to get my Spanish brain in and to start speaking in a way that is not jumbled in weird. I went to get my visa today and I just could not speak in Spanish. It is the most frustrating thing in the world now, because I want so badly to speak and I KNOW that I can speak ... But sometimes it just doesn't come. This week humbled me so much with the language. I was just starting to think that I was getting a good, solid hold on it ... but all is well. 

I am still keeping my sense of humor about it and trying really hard to speak. Even when my Spanish brain isn't on, I speak anyways. I might be doing damage ... HAHA, here is a great example. The other day, we were contacting in a sketchy part of town in between appointments. The Chilean houses all have gates and patios in front of their doors, so it is hardly ever that we "knock" on a door. Instead, we yell, "Halo!" Anyways, in this sketch part of town, we "knocked" at a house and a young-ish Chilean man comes outs. "Hola," said Hermana Harris, "Nosotros somos misioneras de La Iglesia de Jesucristo y tenemos a mensaje de él para compartir con usted!" [Hello! We are missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and we have a message about Him to share with you.} She was super happy and upbeat about it. I LOVE doing contacts, so I was happy as well. We asked, "Y tiene a religion en su vida?" [Do you have religion in your life?] He said something in Spanish that I didn't really understand. Ususally the people say pretty firmly, "Soy catolica." [I'm Catholic.] or "Soy angelica." [I'm Evangelical.] And we always reply affirmatively and tell them that we just have a short message of Heavenly Father that will help them in their lives. So when he said something that I didn't understand, I nodded my head and said really enthusiastically, "Ah, que bueno!" [That's great!] Hermana Harris looked over at me and gave me the weirdest look and so did the man that we were talking to. He repeated himself again with a little question in his voice, "Soy ateo." Ha, I just encouraged him for being an atheist. WOOOOOOOW. Like President Hinckley said, At first the trip is exciting, our mistakes even amusing, then it becomes frustrating and eventually, the frustration turns into anger. I have definitely experienced that! It isn't something that lasts very long ... because I try really hard to remind myself that I am still learning and that I will get it eventually. I have to remember this when I am teaching others the Gospel. There is a lot of vocabulary that we use sometimes without thinking about how weird it is. I am going to be conscious of this as I am teaching from NOW ON.

We had a lot of success teaching this week. We got into people's doors and taught a lot of lessons and are having great success with working with the members. They totally trust us with their friends and family (which is GREAT because that means that we can teach them about the gospel!! Also, they totally know who is prepared, so it makes the finding a lot less work for us). The problems that we have been facing is more in the retainal of these new investigators. We always teach baptism the first lesson, which is so inspired. It helps us to let the people know what our purpose is in teaching them. However, the difficulty comes when we try to commit them to baptism, because they get scared and they do not want to talk to us anymore. It is something that Hermana Harris and I need to work on as a companionship--and we are. This is what I LOVE about Hermana Harris. We are always working to improve and she is always anxious to be doing better! This helps us so much! We really are getting more and more effective every week with planning and teaching.

This week, the highlight lesson for me was with Jaime (a joven) and his two SUPER CATHOLIC parents. We left them with The Restoration, a movie that depicts the life of Joseph Smith, and they ALL watched it. We had the most interesting lesson with them. Jaime's dad said, "Yeah, I think that Joseph Smith was a holy man and that he really did translate the Book of Mormon." My jaw just dropped ... what? I heard a trumpet in the distance and someone saying, "Baptism! Baptism!" However, he followed this statement up with, "I just can't accept that he was a prophet. I really admire you for your beliefs and for your faith in coming to a place where you are totally foreigners, but you have your religion and I have mine." This is what the people ALWAYS say. They are willing to listen, but not to act. The Chileans are so, so friendly and they HATE offending people. So, they bring us in, give us soda and cookies, we give a super sweet lesson with the spirit, and THEN the reject us and tell us that they weren't all that interested after all. However, during this lesson with Jaime's parents, I felt super tranquila. I had so much love for them and I felt the spirit so strongly as I testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith. Even though the parents weren't really prepared, I think Jaime is still pretty interested in learning about the gospel. We are going to keep teaching him and pray for his parent's hearts to be softened.

Wow, this letter is random. I am super sorry! So, we divided our list of recent converts yesterday with the Elders and found out that we got EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE LITTLE KIDS. This is such a blessing (in disguise, because I think the Elders didn't really want to teach them). Most of these kids are inactive with inactive, part-member families. If we can teach their whole families, we could do SO MUCH GOOD. I am really excited to get creative with good ways to teach these kids in a way that will strengthen them and will help them to be active in the church for their whole lives. I just love this work!

We had a sweet, random lesson with a lady that we contacted on the street. Why did she let us in the door? It was because we made her happy because we were so happy. When we are walking, Hermana Harris and I try to say, "Hola" to every single person, even if we can't contact them all. Now people just wave at us without us initiating contact and it is WONDERFUL! Seriously, I have never felt so much joy as I do when I see a Chilean smile. I just love seeing that they are happy because that is what I want more than anything else in the world. That is why I keep pushing through the silly mistakes in the language that I make and the frustration when nothing in our plans is really working out. That is why I throw myself at the work every day anew even when I feel super tired and a little on edge. I just want these Chilean people to be happy, and if I can help them with a smile or a message about the restored Gospel, I am going to do my best with every moment. This selfless service really is the key to forgetting about my own problems. I am by no means perfect at giving of myself freely, but I am trying really hard. This determination, paired with the stengthening power of the Atonement, is helping me to live each day to the fullest. As I promise each day to work as hard as I can, I see miracles! We are moving little mountains here in Coyquen!

I love you so much!! I hope that you guys have a wonderful, warm week filled with opportunities to serve and share the gospel! These opportunities are EVERYWHERE if you know where to look!


Hermana Blau :)

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