Monday, August 20, 2012

a letter from a missionary

Hello!! Wow! This week I'll already have been here for a month. Just a few more weeks and it's already my first transer out here. I can't believe it. It's just flown by. That's why I can't waste a single hour or a single minute. Otherwise it'll be over already! Crazy!
Shaun, that was so cool to read your letter that your boss has been going to work and is receiving the missionary discussions! You rock! Also, good luck Britt and Court with going back to school. Good luck mom and dad with canning all the peaches and everything. Sarah, how is the pregnancy going? Do you have any more ultrasound pictures? Or pictures in general work too haha. Ryan, YAY I got an e-mail from you! I love you all!
If you want to start looking for a book for me that would be sweet. I don't necessarily need it soon but it would be cool to get it at some point. I believe it is called "1001 Pitfalls in Spanish" or something similar to that. Evidently it is supposed to be really good because it goes through examples of how you might say something in English and then it shows how the translation in spanish isn't exactly the same. A missionary here recommended it highly, but the library's copy of the book is checked out. I think I'd like it if you're able to find it but it doens't have to be right away if it takes a while because I've got plenty I can work on in Spanish right now.
Speaking of Spanish, I love learning it! I think the first few weeks I would zone out sometimes during discussions or church etc because it takes a lot of mental effort to concentrate when you can't exactly understand everything so you're trying to figure out what they're saying by the context. But I am getting to the point where I really do understand so much of what they're saying and it is exciting! It's interesting because the Hispanics here are from everywhere... from Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador, Columbia, Chile, Honduras, Argentina, et cetera. So we will get all types of dialects but I think that is better because I'll get to the point where I can understand many types of Spanish easily! Well we have this one investigator that we found while knocking...she let us into the house because it was so hot that she didn't want to keep standing at the door. But man, that is one of the few people I can't understand a thing she says because she speaks a mile a minute and doesn't give you an opportunity to say more than a line or two. But I'm excited that at least the understanding is there and I can definitely communicate a lot in not perfect spanish. Eventually I'll get to the point where I can communicate in great Spanish too.
I guess one of the themes that's come up this week is that the Lord really sometimes has to bring people down to low points in life before he can build them back up. Here are a few examples:
1) Hermana Yengley- I believe I told you the start of her story a few weeks ago. So her water had burst so for about a week she had to just lie down flat so that her baby could stay there for as long as possible. Last week she had an emergency c-section and her baby was born last week about 3 or 4 months early. His name is Ethan. He's in the NNICU in Los Angeles and so after she got released she's been driving up there every day to see him. She isn't a member but her husband is a member and before she had the impression of the church that there are many hipocrites in the church and I guess she just expected the members to be better for some reason or another. I'm not sure what happened in the past but that was the point that she was at. But we told the relief society president about her baby being born so they've started bringing food or helping around the house or whatever they can do. We haven't been able to visit her besides texts for a while (we're hoping we can this week!) but through that and through this whole experience her husband tells us she is so much more receptive to the gospel now than ever before. In her case, unfortunately the Lord made her go through this very hard time, but she is coming out of it so much better than before. Oh yeah, Ethan is obviously fighting for his life, but they did a scan and his brain is completely functioning and normal. What a miracle of the priesthood and of God's love!
2) We have a non-active member named Marcos who had been diagnosed with colon cancer last month. The ward wanted us to go visit him (without knowing this) so we did and found that out and were able to get him a priesthood blessing (he didn't think he was worthy to have received this blessing because he hadn't been at church for so long. So it was a miracle that we went when we did and were able to set that up for him!). Luckily it is in the early stages of the cancer, so hopefully the surgeries next month will take care of it. But he also has a wife who is not a member. This news is especially hard for her because just recently she got back from El Salvador (I think) where she had to bury her brother who died. Likewise, she has rheumatoid arthritis. So between those and the news that her husband has cancer, she was just crying and is so stressed and sad. The elders were able to give her a blessing of health and for comfort as well. Then we came and visited with them last week and give them a lesson on the plan of salvation which meant so much to them. We told them how their family can be forever and how that can give us so much hope and joy and comfort in life. She said we can keep coming back to teach her! Also, he came to church for the first time in such a long time yesterday!
3) We ate lunch at a member's house this week and she has a friend she wanted us to go visit, so right after we were done eating we all went over there and met Daisy and her daughter Priscilla. They are such a great family and I especially love Priscilla. I think she's 20 and when she found out that we were missionaries she was like "Oh, so you're fishers!" and we said "yeah, exactly!". I love that she said that! And it means that she reads the Bible and understands it and loves it! But she also understands exactly while we're here. But she was telling us about how she used to be a drug addict and it was through building her faith in Christ that she was able to overcome it all. So she was so excited that we were here so we could help bring her family unto Christ too. I'm so excited for her and know that the Lord has so much in store for her. But once again, it is an example of how the Lord brings people low before he will build them up.
Honestly, I love that thought. But the thing is that after we're built up we tend to be more sure in the faith. I guess it is like Helaman 5:12 and it is because when you're built back up, you're built up on the foundation of Christ. So when the devil will send forth his hail and mighty winds it will have no power to knock us down again because of the sure foundation... the foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.
Even if we're not at the lowest points in life, the gospel can bless us and build us up more. It can become like the refiner's fire so that the little black pieces that are logged in us can little by little be chipped or melted out of us until we finally become that beautiful thing that Heavenly Father always knew we could be. I guess another analogy is a sculptor. At first the chunks being chipped away are huge. But then at the end it becomes finer and finer... there are still the pieces that need to be removed from us, but by just letting go of those things we become so beautiful. Eventually he's able to polish us up and we've become what the Lord wanted us to be. He sees the beginning from the end and he has the plan for us. He knows what he wants us to be. By letting our will not even just bend... but letting our will become the Lord's will we can become that special something that we never would have been able to be on our own.
In a way, I had a few moments this week when I was just tired or grumpy for no big reason at all, but when I was able to just let it go (like the chunks of marble) I was so much happier and had an increased desire to be more full of charity and love for everyone. I really felt like the spirit was able to be in our lessons more abundantly. Like on Saturday we had two lessons in particular where it wasn't us teaching, it was the Spirit. And it was an honor to be in there for that. By letting go of those chunks of marble that the Lord doesn't want, I know I'm becoming a better missionary, a better companion, and a better person. I love this work! I can't even imagine the person I'll be a year from now. I am so lucky to be out here!
That was a lot of the big stuff that happened this week, so I'll go ahead and send it now. But yeah, we also had zone conference this week. It is really interesting that we have so much training all the time. On one hand it could be seen as a waste of time that could have been used for finding more people or teaching more lessons or whatever. Like the zone conference lasted from 9am until 5pm on last Wednesday. But honestly, we need them! It is through all this training as well that we can be come the missionary that isn't just working hard... but is working efficiently and effectively as well.
Anyway, have a great week and may the spirit be with you!!
~Hermana Whitney Whetten

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