September 29, 2014

Week Forty-One: The Most Important Things

[Someone posted this picture of Laney on facebook last week. Too cute!]
Area: Frutillares
Companion: Hermana Caseres

Dear familia,

Like always, so much happened this week. Soooooo much. It was a week of triumphs and tears and love and joy. Just another week in the mission. A VEEEEEER.

First of all, we had a sweet family asado with the Familia Torres on Monday after I wrote you guys. This family has been such a blessing in my mission. I cannot believe that I have already known them and loved them for so much time! We went with all of the missionaries that have served in Coyquen that are now serving in Estaca Penco. I love getting together with other people and learning more about their lives. I think that this makes the mission a lot more enjoyable for me. I really just enjoy listening.

We also had entrevistas this week with Presidente. When I think about the progress that I have made in three months, it kind of blows my mind. Three months ago, I entered into the office and just started to bawl. I completely lost it. Presidente had to calm me down and help me to see reason and I listened and tried to put his advice into practice. This time around, I entered into the office muuuuuuuuuuch calmer and in a way that was much more mature. I talked about the work that we have been doing and the bizarre memory problems that I have been having (like, with every single promise that I make or thing that I say I will do, I totally forget). I told him, "President, I just don't know how to do it all. It is the ONLY thing that frustrates me in the work. I know I am working hard ... and I don't know how I can be memorizing the baptismal questions, talking to everyone, programming citas, coordinating with the members ... just doing everything stresses me out!" President looked at me in a very calm way that kind of pierces the soul and said, "You can't do everything, Hermana. If you try to do everything, you are always going to be frustrated. What you have to do is attack the most important things. You have to prioritize your list of things to do."

I sat thinking for a couple of seconds. I wanted to ask him, "PRESIDENTE. COULD YOU TELL ME THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS? BECAUSE I REALLY HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO FIND THEM." But then these words poured out instead, "I guess I have to find out what my most important things are." President paused and said, "Yeah ... yeah, you do."

I left the interview with this little task. To find out what the most important things are and then to do them. It hasn't been that easy.

We had the New Conference this week for Hermana Caceres. I LOVED this conference when I was starting out and I was sooooo excited that Hermana Caceres was going to have the chance to go and enjoy it. She seemed a little bit apprehensive to go. I wasn't sure why ... especially because I am me and Frutillares is how it is ... and I knew that she would have a great experience and learn a lot. I explained this to her and it seemed to ease her fears a little bit. When we got to the office (my first of 8 trips to Concepcion this week), I hugged Hermana Caceres goodbye and she started to cry. Ohhhhhh man, I felt so bad. I felt bad that I was going to leave her there ... and it struck me again just how similar training must be to having a kid. I don't know if I cried when I went to school for the first time ... but still ... weirdly similar.

I worked with a ton of great Hermanas during these two days that taught me a lot about how to be a better missionary. I love mini-cambios for this! I always learn, even if I am with a newbie. It is really incredible. I was with Hermana Valle from Costa Rica and we had such a good time together. She has got the biggest personality in the world, but this really helped the people that we worked with that day. It was incredible to see the miracles that happened during this conference. I figured out that I have really gotta take advantage of the power of the newbies in the mission. Even though their ideas are sometimes whacko, most of the time the ideas that they have are AWESOME! I have really loved training.
Ambar, Darlene, Dafne, Me, Noelia, Hna. Caseres, Berssy
I love planning activities that are simple and fun. So, I planned this little whippersnapper with the Presidencia of the Young Women. We had a little spiritual part and I felt the spirit sooo strongly. I love the Young Women program and I am so grateful for the things that I learned there. After the spiritual part, we painted nails and made gummy bracelets. Not sure if this is a fad in the US yet, but EVERYONE makes these bracelets here and it is way fun!

The funny stories of this week ... One day this week, it was raining a BUNCH. We still have to talk to everyone, even in the pouring rain, so we were on our way home doing a few contacts to finish off the day. To have a little break from the rain, we paused under a bus stop and began talking to a kid that had to have ... 20 años or something. His accent was so weird, but I thought it would be rude to ask him where he was from ... because I feel offended sometimes when the people ask me the same question. We talked about his life and I explained what we do as missionaries. He listened really closely and asked us the best questions in the whole world. We got his address and everything, but for some reason, I really wasn't feeling the contact. I looked over at Hermana Caceres and she said nothing. Suddenly, this kid started to laugh and said, "I am tired of lying. I am a member." Hermana Caceres and I were sooooo embarrassed. Not only was he a member ... but a recently returned missionary from Argentina. Gosh ... I still feel embarressed. Luckily, we got a reference out of him ... and now it is just a funny story to tell ... but, hey ... you never know. For that very reason we talk to everyone haha.

Also, I officially have reached fat status. Me explico. Basically, we have that great investigator Jennifer from last week. During one of the citas that we had this week with her, we asked, "Is there anything that we can do to serve you?" Usually the people say, "Nooooooo, we need man help." so I wasn't really expecting anything crazy. But, to my surprise, Jennifer said, "You know, I am dying because it is so cold here. We've got this stove, but I haven't been able to get it installed because we don't have the money. Could you help me with that?" I don't know anything about installing stoves, but I told her that we could and we set a time to come back with a member.

We came back and it turned out that the stove was going to be just a bit more complicated than we thought. We measure out the pipes and they were going to have to bring in an electric saw to cut it down. No problem ... another chance to bring a member into the house of an investigator to give service and also have a lesson with member. We sat down after figuring that out on a sofa that Jennifer had. Hermana Caceres and the member sat down first ... and then I sat down. BOOM. The sofa crashed to the floor. In English, Jennifer said, "Oh my gosh." (I say it all of the time. It's starting to catch here in Chile). I broke the stinking sofa! Oh, another embarrassing situation. Luckily, we came back, fixed the sofa and the stove and everything was okay ... but now all I hear from every turn are fat jokes. I testify that weight gain is real in the mission.

We have got this sweet little nine year old girl that is going to get baptized in three weeks. Her mom is menos activo and they came out of the woodworks this past week. We asked her yesterday, "Will you pray to know if the church has been restored?" She told us, "I already did it. I felt sooooo good. I know it's true." I LOOOOOVED teaching this little girl. So much faith and so much desire to do what God wants. :) We are going to teach her way quickly.

This week, I felt a little junky emotionally. I don't feel like I have done that much in Frutillares. There are two missionaries that these people really love and remember, ELDER KELLER AND ELDER PITCHER. They were here in the rama during the earthquake and the people literally cry when they think on the work that they did. I have worked as hard as I can, but I sure don't feel like I have reached that status. All that I want from this area is to know that I helped to strengthen the branch ... because I love these people soooo much! But yesterday, all I heard from the members was. "Dang, you haven't passed by to see us in two weeks. Where have you been?" "I am disowning you (haha, the most dramatic)." "I was waiting for you on Friday so that we could go out and work together! How could you forget?" There was one menos activa that we have been working with that came to church yesterday and refused to talk to us ... I sat in Sacrament Meeting and I felt so bad. I felt so weak ... because I felt like I was letting down these people ... but I also felt like I was being treated unfairly somehow. I was sick of apologizing for the things that I have done and the things that I haven't done. I cried and cried and cried.

I thought about the most important things that I realized that I needed to find and I thought about the atonement. I got a blessing. I focused on the people that love me. Sometimes I feel like my emotions are like the tectonic plates of the earth. When the bounce together and all of the energy gets out, everything returns to normal. I returned to normal. I really do love being here in Frutillares. It breaks my heart that I can't do everything still ... because if I am being completely honest with myself I have always been a bit of a people pleaser ... but I told Heavenly Father last night that I am going to work hard to please him first. To seek the kingdom of God and then be patient with the other things. That is my most important thing -- to find the will of the Lord, to seek his guidance, and then to do it. It was a good lesson to learn.

I am soooo grateful for Jesus Christ. I could not function without Him and His sacrifice. It would be impossible to be a missionary that is happy without him. I am going to work more to depend on this knowledge that I have. I love my life!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE BEST MOM IN THE WHOOOOOOOOOOOOLE WORLD!! I don't even know where I would be without you, mommy! I would probably be sockless ... and I would probably be a lot less sane. Thanks for letting me sit by you while you read and for talking to me about boys and teaching me about the gospel! You are awesome!!

HAVE A GREAT, GREAT, GREAT week!! I am soooo excited for General Conference!! I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today and I am so excited to listen to his words!! I love you all more than anything!

My favorite g-ma here -- Hna. Teresa. She is way stubborn
(because she tells us that she will never, ever, ever change her religion), but I LOVE her!

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