Thursday, April 11, 2013

April 11, 2013-Conference week

My District 
left to right: Elder Curtis, Elder Rasmussen, Elder Varney,
Elder Wengert, Me, Hermana Tanner, Hermana Cooley. 

This week was another great one here en el CCM. Thank you for all of your feedback about Conference. I honestly can't think of a talk I didn't LOVE. All of the messages were so inspired and amazing, and very to-the-point. As always, Elder Holland was a powerhouse. I loved the story he told about the father with the sick child, and how we must have faith in our faith. I loved how he said it's important to focus not on the faith we don't have, but the faith we do have. And allowing that desire to work in you. I loved his quote: "Be kind regarding human frailty. Including you own imperfections." and then when he said "Do not hyperventilate!"
I've been trying each week to choose a Christlike attribute to focus on and study. This week I've been thinking a lot about patience, as well as humility and faith. Sometimes when I do things I have a tendency to be independent and expect more of myself than I should. I had this attitude coming here that I would work super hard and be super good at Spanish super quick, and that I'd somehow become a great missionary and teacher overnight. (Yeah, it sounds dumb, but sometimes I plan unrealistically). The first 5 days I was here, I was able to pray, bear my (simple) testimony, and understand my teachers in Spanish. But then, I hit a little wall. For a few days I was frustrated and discouraged because I felt like I wasn't making any progress.
Then I started thinking about that quote: "DO NOT HYPERVENTILATE!" I was immediately humbled. I prayed so hard that night, both to apologize for being stubborn, and also to ask for greater patience with myself and in my abilities. I had been trying to do it all on my own, in MY time. The feeling I got afterwards was this: "Don't stress so much!" I've been called to Argentina, speaking Spanish for a reason. I am capable of doing it. I just need to be patient with myself. The Lord qualifies those he calls. That doesn't mean that it won't be a challenge, or take a lot of effort on my part, but it's going to happen in his time and with his help. Humility is such an important characteristic for a missionary.
We have devotionals here every Tuesday night, and it's usually a member of the seventy, or sometimes a general authority. But this time it was Gerald N. Lund. He's a released general authority, and has written a lot of church books. But he talked about Patterns and Principles of Personal Revelation. He made a lot of really good points, but he said something that really stood out to me: "It is not enough to ask that 'thy will be done' but we must ask 'thy time be done'"-Neal A. Maxwell. We need to always remember that the Lord is in charge, that he has a plan, and he will work with us according to that plan. He said "If you want to speak with the Lord, get down on your knees. If you want the Lord to speak with you, open your scriptures." Most of us do not receive revelation in a way that is "Dramatic" or "Sensational". It is by the "still, small, voice" and if we're not listening for it, we will miss it a midst the chaos and noise around us. He said one more thing that I really liked: Why would the voice of the Lord be a whisper, if it: 1. is harder to hear? 2. is harder to understand? ------the answer he gave us was: To protect our agency.
God wants to help us, and if we are worthy, there is a CONSTANT flow of revelation available to us. But what is required on our part is patience, and faith, and time to listen for those subtle promptings.
I had a really cool experience yesterday. We started teaching a new investigator, Carlos. He's had a pretty rough life. He was raised Catholic, but isn't religious himself. He had a wife and 2 sons, but they are now divorced. He says that he's very unhappy because his family is super important to him, yet their relationships are not good. He doesn't talk to his parents, and his siblings are not close anymore either. He feels very alone and very sad in life. So I asked him what his relationship was with God. We'd gone in planning to teach him the first lesson, which starts out with "God is our loving heavenly Father, Gospel Blesses Families, etc." He said that his relationship with God is bad. So I asked him why. He said he has a brother that he's close to that has been really really sick (a chronic illness, I couldn't exactly catch all of it). And that his main confusion and problem with God is that he couldn't understand why God allows such bad things to happen to good people. Hermana Cooley, who knew Spanish before and tends to kind of take over most lessons, started trying to comfort him. But really she was trying to tie it back into the lesson that we'd planned/scripted/translated. I was sitting there and the minute he said "I don't understand why God allows good things to happen to good people." It struck something in me, and I had the thought that I should share about Davis. I sat there for a minute thinking "I don't know how to say any of that in Spanish! I can't, I'm not prepared!" But the more Hermana Cooley kept talking the more I kept thinking, you have to say something. So I kind of just waited for her to take a breath, and then I started talking. It was a little rough at first, but then all of the sudden I was testifying and telling him things in words that I knew I didn't know. I told him that I have asked myself the same thing so many times. But then I told him that sometimes in this life we are given tests and trials for reasons that are unknown to us. That the purpose of these experiences is to build our reliance and faith in God and the atoning sacrifice of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I told him that I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of our sorrows and hardships, and that through it all He loves us and is there to help us find those feelings of peace. It may be hard to comprehend the extent of God's plan for us right now, but if we have faith and trust in His plan, one day we will know the answers to these questions.
The spirit was so strong in the room. I was crying, he was crying, my companions were crying, and we all smiled as he thanked me and we all knew that we'd finally been able to make the connection we'd been struggling to make. I sat back in awe at the power that had come, and how I'd been able to make sense of my thoughts in another language. I realized right then how important it is to let the spirit do the talking. Our previous lessons had all been a little bit rough. We'd gone in so focused on just knowing Spanish, and not screwing up, but it had gotten in the way of making a real connection and meaningful impact on the investigators. It's incredible how letting the spirit be the teacher can help you to better understand, trust and love each other. It made me so excited to go out and teach even more. I already have such a strong love for the people of Argentina. I know now that I don't have to be perfect in the language, or even a perfect teacher. If I do my best to prepare, and really learn to love and desire to help these people, He will provide the way for me to teach them the things they need to know, and He will in turn soften their hearts so that they are receptive.
I love this gospel so much, and I'm so grateful for this opportunity. It's hard, and some days seem like 10, but I'm realizing how short this time is in the whole scheme of things. I am going to work hard to make the most of every moment.

Hopefully that's everything for now. I'm sure mom will let me know if I missed anything. Thank you thank you for all of the packages and love letters. They have seriously saved me. Oh, I need the black mesh bag for my sleeping bag please, and will you send me a hoodie? My bed is right by the window and the vent (Dad, all those years of our sub-arctic basement were good preparation, but i'm missing my sweats.). Jeans: I think they're the 2Bw/U ones? or if you can't find those, the papaya ones will work. and then did you get my note about my black and cream striped sweater? Thank you!
 Know that I love you all, and that our Heavenly Father loves you. I had an interview with one of my teachers right after that lesson, and apparently still had some tears left to cry as I told him about all of you, and the amazing love and support that is constantly being sent my way. He told me to read D&C 100:1-2. and again, I felt that undeniable love from my Savior. Go read those scriptures. It describes perfectly my feelings about serving, and brought me more peace and comfort that this is the right thing to do.

I love you all so much!
Love, Hermana Courtney

 I have to explain these ones. Elder Wengert loves to play this game called "Pteradactyl".... Here's the gist of it. You sit across from each other, and while hiding your teeth and  trying not to laugh, you say "Pteradactyl!" and try and get the other person to show their teeth. He's way too good at it. 

Here are some cute pictures of my awesome district, and my life here at the MTC. This classroom is literally where we live for 15 hours of our 18 hour day. Love it. 


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