March 24, 2014

Week Fourteen: teaching moments

With Hermana Ruiz and Hermana Davidson, our BFFs in the district
Area: Chillán
Companion: Hermana Hillary Harris
Companion's Blog:

Dear Familia,

SO MUCH HAPPENED THIS WEEK. Our numbers weren't the best, and that made me a little sad ... just because I love teaching and I love helping these people, and when we don't have great numbers to reflect our hard work, it bums me out. Never fear though! We are going to work smarter and smarter and harder and harder this week! It's going to be sweeeeeeet!

Probably the biggest news was that we had interviews with President this week! This was such an awesome experience. I made it my goal to be a "return and report" missionary. I didn't want the President to have to ask me questions to figure out the things I wanted help with. Instead, I made a list of questions that I had and I asked them. It was incredible, because President answered every single one of them AND was able to give me counsel AND words of encouragement ... I just really felt that I had his support. He might be one of the coolest people in the world!

Hermana Harris went in to the interview before me, and I had the chance to do practices with the assistants. The big focus right now in the mission is having 20 good contacts every day. This is something that I have felt really strongly about for the time that I have been in Chile. We really have been talking to EVERYONE, and it showed in the practice that I did with the elders. They asked me to make a contact like I really would in the street, English or Spanish. I contacted them in SPANISH super quickly and they just kind of sat there after. "Hmmmm, I'd say just keep doing what your doing, Hermana!" Haha, it was a good moment for me! Doing these contacts is something that I LOVE, and I guess the practice is paying off!!

This week, I worked really hard on making sure that the people understand that I heard them. I think that as missionaries, the people that we teach think that we are a little like robots. "HEY! Do you want to know about Jesus Christ and hear something that I know will really help your life? NO? Well, you're always invited!" Repeat, repeat, repeat. But this week, I tried to really get to the root of why people were not keeping commitments and why they were discontented and why they were happy.

It was really interesting with one less-active lady that we taught this week. "Alejandra, have you been praying? No? Okay ... we're going to teach a lesson about the blessings of obedience." We taught her a little lesson with her family and then she said, "Hermanas, I am sorry. I am never going to go back to the church. I might some day in the future, and you're welcome to visit me all the day long, but I am not going to go to church." She continued to talk about the problems she had and I just felt sadder and sadder. I didn't understand what had happened to make her so unwilling to go to church and pray and I didn't know what to do to make sure that she knew that I loved her and wanted what was best for her.

I took a deep breath and said, "Okay, so if I understood you correctly (because I don't always understand perfectly) you feel like this ... " I rephrased her discontents and she nodded her head slowly. Her frustration started to simmer down and I spoke again, "Hermana, I know that bad things happen in our lives, and sometimes they happen when we are trying so hard to be good. I PROMISE that if you will try your best to do what Heavenly Father wants, he will help you." She said that she would try her hardest and we are going to keep working with her. It was amazing to me that just showing these people that we are listening helps them to feel more at ease and to feel more willing to follow the principles of the gospel.

We had our first classes of English and Piano this week! It was probably the HIGHLIGHT of my week. It wasn't really important that we hadn't really planned out our lesson. Nor was it important that ONLY Carolina and Emilia showed up and that there were six teachers. Nor was it important that we don't really know the grammar for English. We threw our enthusiasm into this and made it as enjoyable as possible. Carolina really loves English, so teaching her wasn't really that difficult. We had a hard time starting, but I remembered a few of the games I played in college for Spanish and I worked to apply that to English. It was soooooo much fun! I LOVE to teach! Teaching English was bizarre, because it is something that I have just given up in my life. I still talk in English a lot, but it is so hard to me to talk in English to Latinos. As we were playing, I felt so happy. Yeah, this is something that I know how to do. I can speak English! I can teach and be fun. I can do this! I am so glad that I am going to teach Spanish after my mission. It is a beautiful motivation to perfect my teaching skills and my Spanish right now. 
Hermana Harris
We had a mini-cambio this week with the Sister Training Leaders and I stayed in our sector. This was pretty stressful for me, just because I still don't know my way around EVERYWHERE in the sector ... also, we didn't really have a ton of fixed citas or members to go with us ... which meant that I spent a lot of time on the phone. I am not sure why, but I get weirdly anxious to talk on the phone. I can talk to ANYONE on the street, but the phone is SO difficult for me. I get frustrated because it is a little harder for the people to understand my Spanish on the phone. So, this mini cambio, I got over that fear. I just decided, Okay, I am going to speak on the phone now. I am going to know Spanish now. I am going to stop saying that I have only been here for a little time and using that as an excuse. 

What a change! For a couple of days, I was a Spanish-speaking fool. I understood EVERYTHING that the people were saying AND I replied with fluency. It was so awesome! I felt so confident with my Spanish as soon as I made this decision, and it helped me to connect with the people. I realized that being a missionary is pretty much the most fun thing I have ever done in my life. I love joking around in Spanish and playing with children and teaching. How did I get so lucky to have this amazing experience?? I have NO IDEA!! 

We had a great ward activity that we planned super last minute. There is a little bit of contention with the members of our ward, but I think that as we start doing fun, simple activities with frequency, these problems are going to start working themselves out. We basically called everyone we knew, invited them to the activity, and asked them to bring a drink or a packet of cookies. This was so successful! Even though we decided to do the activity on Tuesday and had the activity on Saturday, there were a ton of people there. We played "Do you love your neighbor?" and it was so cute, because none of the members had EVER played it before. They just laughed and laughed and laughed. It was so much fun AND I was feeling good with my Spanish! I really worked on helping the members to see that we loved them, and I think they really are starting to see that. I love our ward!

Yesterday ... ah, well ... yesterday was interesting. I was asked to give a talk AGAIN! I had a ton of time to prepare. It was about the Spirit, which is a pretty broad topic that I could work with. I prepared ALL week. During my studies, I focused on what PMG teaches about the Spirit and read every scripture about the Spirit and what it can help us do. But something happened to my Spanish right before my talk. I greeted the members before church like always ... and I couldn't understand what they were saying. I couldn't reply. My Spanish brain was APAGADO [blank] with a capital A and I had to talk in front of EVERYONE. I was terrified, but I thought of what I learned during the week about the Spirit and felt comforted. I knew that I wouldn't be confounded.

Well, I didn't do as well as I had hoped. My stories were decent, but I messed up how to say them. I looked out at the congregation and I just wasn't sure what to say to them. At the end of my talk, the congregation got really quiet and I just said, super embarrassed, "I know that the church is true ... We love you ... the church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." I sat down and I just started to cry. A member from the High Council gave a wonderful talk, but I couldn't focus because I was so embarrassed. How did that happen? Especially when I was feeling so good with my Spanish just 12 hours earlier? I still don't know, but I was super humbled. The members still came up to me and hugged me and kissed me and told me how wonderful I was, but I didn't feel wonderful. One lady that I just adore hugged me for especially long and said, "I really, really love you, Hermana Blau. I love you." I am so grateful for these beautiful people of Chile. I am supposed to be here serving them, but really they are serving me!! I am going to try so hard to give my all back to them ... because they certainly have given and are willing to give their all to me.

Anyways, this week was a roller coaster, but I am still loving life. We had a super nap today and I am looking on the sunny side. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH! (I really do!). Have an amazing week!!


Hermana Blau!!

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