Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2, 2014 - You've Got to Keep Your Head Up!

 The adventure continues this week in the lives of the hermanas of Urbana B. The greatest logros of this week consist of a functioning map, a solid idea of where most of the barrios and stores are, AND we even have some investigators! 

*Elisabeth. She is a lady that has been coming EVERY WEEK to church for the last 20 years. and NEVER got baptized. Why? you may ask... i know i did...well, she had some doubts that never got resolved... really it could be a whole bunch of things, but it seemed like no one had really sat her down to tell her how much the Lord loved her, how much we love her, and how great of an opportunity and blessing baptism can be for her. After a very long, and spiritual lesson, she opened up, we prayed and read with her, and she agreed to be baptized on June 7! It just killed me to think how happy the Lord will be that one of his precious daughters will FINALLY take that step! 
*David. Testiguo de Jehová. JW. super tricky, and we finally turned him over to the elders so that they could go over more frequently. (member presents are tricky when you don´t know anyone) But he is also getting baptized this weekend! 
* Alé (y Roberto). I saw her headed home one night, she was outside smoking, and I stopped to offer her a card. I just started to talk, and she looked at the card, then up at me, put out her cigarette, and said ¨Do you want to come into my negocio for a minute?¨ We followed her inside, and she asked us to explain more about the card, ¨Does God really have a purpose for my life?¨  We taught her about prayer, she was raised Evangelica but doesn´t have a relationship with God right now. She is a young mom and her kids are her world, so we used that to explain how the Lord feels about her, and why it´s important that she communicates with him through prayer. We have now had two lessons with her there, and she is So prepared. ha she makes this face, like almost like something literally hit her, when she feels the spirit and is so dispuesta to learn more. BUT... she isn´t in our area, so we have to pass her off to the elders :(, but she´ll still come to our ward, so we´re stoked. 
*Elsa. another young mom. she was a futuro, meaning we just found her name in the book. we showed up and she just ushered us right in. She loves God and really wants to do the best and be the best for her kids. She has gone through a LOT, lots of trials with her family, but is super determined to come closer to God. Her little son, Yair was on the couch. He´s 3 and has some learning disabilities, is hyperactive, and just kind of crazy. So we asked if we could sing a song. We started singing ¨Soy un Hijo de Dios¨and he just got so quiet. Came quietly over and hugged onto his mom, looked at us with this big grin. It was all I could do not to cry. He knew who we were. He is so close to the Lord, and has been missing that spirit and love in his home for several years. He recognized it, and as a result, his mom was able to notice the difference. We have another appointment with her tomorrow. 

So now, allow me to explain the change of mindset this week. 
     There was a day this last week where we´d walked all morning, we were cold, wet, and really tired. we hadn´t gotten into any houses, and well, we decided to take a much-needed five. So there we were, in a plaza somewhere, sitting on a bench, and hermana Hales just said ¨It´s times like these where I wish I could cry. Just a little.¨ We just looked at each other and laughed. 
     But then I just had this thought. This is such a great opportunity. It´s not very often you get the chance to wash, in a hard area, with a comp who is finishing, and coming up on the finish yourself. It´s such a blessing to know that the Lord trusts us to be here. Things being what they are. There´s a lot we´re up against, but that just means that there´s something He wants us to learn. This is like our ¨last stand¨ chance to prove what we´ve learned. To really show Him how bad we want it, and what we´re willing to do to continue being shaped and changed into what he needs us to be when this is all over. 
     I´ve thought back a lot to my time in the beginning of the mission. Being a greenie and training someone else, opening an area with my MTC comp, washing my first area in Tunuyán... Those times were honestly some of the ¨hardest¨... but the thing that I remember the most is the incredible growth that I saw in myself during those times. 
     So many times throughout the mission, especially when you spend months in one area, you begin to get a handle on things, you start to feel like you´re getting it down, you get comfortable. But then, just when you think you´ve ¨arrived¨... The Lord has this way of throwing you a curve ball. 
I am SO grateful for that. That he knows me so well, and allows me to go through different ¨phases¨ that teach me such different things. All coming together to help me with that goal of being better than when I started.
     There´s a quote from Elder Scott that I love ¨Your strength of character is ultimately more important than your worldly possessions, than what you may have learned, or the ¨goals¨ that you may have accomplished.¨ How well have we taken advantage of the opportunities to learn, grow, and develop Christlike attributes? Are we better people because of it? Will we use it to our advantage the next time the storms come? 

      I think sometimes because we do have so much ¨time¨ in the mission, so much ¨experience¨, we even get harder on ourselves when we´re not perfect, or don´t have it all under control. I WILL NEVER BE A PERFECT MISSIONARY. and the great thing is, the Lord doesn´t expect me to be. My job is to be a courageous, loving, hard-working, dedicated, diligent and worthy instrument in His hands. Proving to Him through my thoughts, words, and actions that I am here to give Him everything and accomplish what HE wants of me. 

     Last week in consejo, Presidente Ávila said: ¨If the Lord wanted, he could send angels to teach and convert the people...¨ He could easily hasten the work and soften hearts so much that there would be overnight success and mass conversion.
But that isn´t the point. This is HIS work, and it happens in His time and according to His wisdom. There is a greater plan in play than just rapid success and baptisms. He calls us, and allows us to be the laborers, so that we as well are changed and challenged to become.

     While we are helping the Lord to build His kingdom, He is building US. 

The Lord knows each of us so personally, he knows what we need right now, and what we will need to get us through the ¨tough times¨in the future. Sometimes we don´t even realize all the growth, stamina, and ¨wisdom¨that he´s given us until we are thrown into a situation where we have to apply it. Only then will we realize how good He has been to us.

I heard it said once... ¨It´s not where we´re planted that really matters, it´s how we respond to the nourishing.¨

I´ve thought back on that several times as I´ve heard others say things like: ¨If I could just serve en _____ area...¨ ¨If my family could just stop having problems...¨ ¨If only I could have a bishop, ward mission leader, or companion that wanted to work... THEN i´d have success.¨  We are always so prone to that ¨grass is greener¨ mentality.. as if the only thing that really affects our success and growth are the circumstances around us that, in all reality, we have NO control over....
The success is in our attitudes. In the way we accept the frequent ¨pruning¨, trying, proving and growing.

  I often think of the quote mom often uses: ¨Adversity doesn´t build character, it reveals it, and we have a choice as to what will be revealed.¨

     I recently have received several letters from friends, family, and other missionaries who are going through some unimaginably hard things in their lives. I feel so grateful for the knowledge we have of the gospel as I read their testimonies, and feel of the strength that they are receiving from the Lord to smile and move forward in spite of the challenges. It makes me realize that  our trials are unique to us. Although we still may have those days of wondering ¨How¨ we will make it through,, the Lord knows our limits. Sure, he pushes them sometimes, but He will never, NEVER give us more than He will make us capable of handling. 

     Tough days will come. Trials, no doubt. But what matters is that we have in mind who we are. And maintain the hope of what´s to come. To remember who´s team we´re on. That all of the help, the forces, the love, and the strength we need are just a prayer away. When those waves come, when the wind is blowing hard, when the snow is falling down, and when we have those moments of wondering whether to shrink or fight, we have to remember, we are in the work of the LORD. We have every reason to hold strong, keep the faith, and keep our heads high.
He will not leave us alone! 

I love you all. Stay strong, keep the faith, and know that I love you so much! 
xoxox Your Hermana C

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