Companion: Hermana De León
You guys are out camping right now! Whoooo, I really miss Missouri summers. Yeah, they're hot ... and they're humid ... but they sure do sound good right now. I am glad that you got your letters! :) Hyrum, I will write you a personal little email note (I sure hope that your letter gets there tomorrow ... but this can hold you out).
So many things happened this week. I do not know how I was so blessed to have a breezy, easy, lemon-squeezy mission until this point ... but these past weeks have been nutty hard. To preface this letter, I think I will tell you guys about a conversation that I had with Hermana Oldroyd yesterday.
Hermana Oldroyd is basically my hero in the mission. We had that mini-cambio in the very beginning of my mission, and I have always wanted to be in the same zone with her (at the very least) because I love her so much. She is super, super kind, a great missionary, and she is a great listener. I love to observe the way that she works with people because she is such a great example of a disciple of Christ.
Anyways, Hermana Oldroyd came into our study room yesterday morning as I was straightening my hair for church to wake up a menos activo that lives next door. After banging on the wall for a couple of seconds, the menos activo woke up and Hermana Oldroyd began to leave the room. Suddenly, she turned around and said, "Hey, how are you doing?" I had been waiting for someone to ask me that for the entire week. There was so much pain that was pent up in my heart and I just needed someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay.
I told her, "You know, I am just chugging right along. It has been really hard for me this week, but I am doing what I can." She listened to me talk for a little bit and said, "God loves us so much. He loves us enough to slow the work down and to bring up hard things ... so that we can learn the lessons that we need to grow." This thought came to my mind ...
God is preparing people for me in Frutillares ... but God is also preparing me.
What He is preparing me for ... ah, I have no idea ... but I know that it is all for something.
Okay, with that profound little thought in mind, this week.
On Tuesday, I was really, really excited for a capacitación with Elder Scholes. We were going to be learning more about how to ask inspired questions during lessons which is something that I love to practice. I was going to see all of my missionary friends! I had some vain hope in my mind that I would receive some Dear Elders or something from home. I LOVE getting together with everyone.
We got on the bus to head to Penco early in the morning (a little bit late, but Penco is only 30 minutes away from Frutillares, so it wasn't that big of a deal). We arrived and one of my missionary friends, Hermana Jennings, handed me a huge bag filled to the brim with Dear Elders. Dang, I was as happy as can be. I know that God waited to give me those Dear Elders when I absolutely needed them, and I felt like my past couple of weeks had warrented a good stack of 'em. I waved at all of my friends, looking for Hermana Dunne so that we could talk about what was happening in our sectors.
Hermana Dunne was talking to Hermana Oldroyd. I made my way over to her and waited politely to hug her, kissing and hugging all of the other Hermanas. Finally, I heard Hermana Dunne wrapping up the conversation, "I just wanted to thank you for everything." I made eye contact with her and my stomach just dropped. She came over to me and hugged me ... I think we started to cry at about the same time. Hermana Dunne didn't have to say a single word. It seemed like all of the missionaries in the room were just staring at us (at least from what I could see through my tear-filled eyes). I had known that Hermana Dunne wasn't doing too hot with her lungs, but I didn't know what the results were from her tests.
From her hug, I knew that they weren't good.
We sat down and I took a deep breath, "When?" I was soooo shocked when she said, "Tomorrow." They made the decision really quickly. This news put me into a shock. I had heard from other missionaries that when your friends in the mission go home, it stinks, but I didn't really believe it. Now, I believe it. It really does stink. I cried and cried and cried that day. I didn't focus during the training. I thought about Hermana Dunne and the influence that she has had on my mission/life and I could not believe that suddenly she wouldn't even be in the same country as me. I felt so bad because I knew that she wanted to work hard and finish out her mission. But something that I am still learning to accept is that God is in control ... and faith has to be placed in what is his will.
It was sooo sad to say goodbye to Hermana Dunne. I realized that loving people hurts. It hurts really, really badly ... but to accept the risk of feeling a lot of pain is the only way to truly love. I LOVE Hermana Dunne. I am so grateful that she was my compie in the CCM. It was sad to say goodbye, but the next day, I really felt the comfort of Heavenly Father. He is in control.
The next day was awesome. I read through all of the Dear Elders that I got and I felt sooooo much energy for the work. Chile played for the Mundial and won. We had three lessons with new people with potential. It was my six-month mark. The weather was beautiful. Everything was sooooo sweet in comparison to the rough moments that I have had in the past couple of weeks.
That day was followed by a hard day. We hardly had anything work out the way that we wanted. In fact, we had this lesson with one of Hermana Peterson's recent converts and basically she was venting about how she didn't really believe in the Book of Mormon and how frustrated she was that everything in the church is the same week after week. Baaaaaaah, handling situations like that is not my favorite thing, but I have developed a kind of patience mixed with control that helps lessons like that not go crazy.
Basically every other day this week was either good or hard. (For me, this means that every day was actually good, because I know that the hard days are even more for my benefit!!). We ran up and down the hills of Frutillares to get to our citas and we taught. We coordinated a little activity this weekend. We visited members and showed them our love. The Elders had a double baptism (whaaaaahooooo!). This area is starting to fly!!
Something that has really helped me this week is the members. They really, really are starting to love me and I sure do love them. With that knowledge and support, I am starting to enjoy the work here so much more (even when we are being rejected). They say I have buena honda (I think that is how you spell it), which basically means they think I am a genuinely good person. I sure do try!!
There is one member that loves me named Katy. She is a little bit crazy and her house is a time sucker, but I sure do love her, too. She is only 24 years old, but she is married and has two kids (the oldest is 7 years old). She lives in a pretty little house that the government gave to her for free. It makes me hurt to go to Katy's house, simply because they have NOTHING. Both she and her husband are without work, and she stresses like crazy about paying off her debts. With that being said, I think that one of the reasons that I love Katy so much is that she makes do with what she has. She makes her own bread every day. She makes sure that the hair of her daughter is braided perfectly. Her house is beautiful.
There are a lot of Chileans that are poor. It is soooo sad and helps me to remember how blessed I am. There are basically two types of poor Chileans -- the Chileans that are ruled by their circumstances and the Chileans that are not. A lot of Chileans live in run down shacks with huge flat screen TVs and say, "Dang, I am poor and I am always going to be that way." They don't really look for work ... they are content to live on the pay of the government. The other Chileans, like Katy, admit that they are poor, but they work hard to make sure that, at the very least, they don't live like it. It is such a crazy difference that I have seen.
It is this resilient attitude that I am learning right now. I think that my letter up until this moment might seem a little whiny. I PROMISE that I am working hard and that I am happy. I have learned sooo many lessons and I have received soooo much comfort from Heavenly Father in these past weeks. It is incredible. I am learning that no matter what happens in the day, hour, minute -- my job is to pick myself up and start going again with the same cheerful attitude. I don't know if there are missionaries that whine and complain when things get rough, but I am determined to take the trials as they come with a SMILE!! That is what will make me so much stronger in the end and something that I am sure will help me throughout the rest of my life.
I have gone to bed every single night this week as tired as I have ever been in my life. I have prayed more this week than I ever have in my life. I am working harder and harder every day to squeeze out success from this area. As I have been doing this, I have found that my giddy, lauging happiness during the day is starting to last a little longer. My mind is starting to think almost strategically about the work. I really am growing and growing right now! I feel really good about the progress that I am making. After the game on Wednesday, everyone was celebrating and I was kind of knocked over by the fact that I am in a different country. I am in a different continent! (Although I learned this week that Latinos learn that America is just one big continent ... mich). I am somewhere far away working out lessons that are going to help me for the rest of my life ... and I feel good.
I love you all sooooooo much! I hope that you are doing well and that you are enjoying life!! I am laughing and loving life in the face of everything!! Don't worry about me out here ... I am fine and I am confident that everything really does work out in the end ... because Heavenly Father really does love us and knows exactly what is best for us.
Lots of besitos de Chile,