Monday, April 3, 2017

I love the Branch!

I love the branch so much, and I love my companions! I can't tell you how much fun we have together, and I feel so blessed to be in this companionship with them! Yesterday, I received a blessing from my zone leader, and in it he said that the Lord loves me and has called me specifically to this area with these specific companions. I know one of the many reasons is for how much my companions are teaching me and how much they support me.

This week has been a bit rough as far as teaching goes. It feels like no one's progressing, despite the love and hope we have for them. Luis promised us he would come to conference on Sunday ... and he didn't show up. I was sure he would be there, and it was incredibly disheartening when he wasn't. To a certain extent, I've felt like a failure as a missionary this week because NO ONE is progressing, and despite knowing that they have their agency and that the success of a missionary isn't determined in the number of people baptized, I feel like if I were in tune with the Spirit that wouldn't be the case. Hearing about Wilson really lifted my spirits.(Wilson is a friend we met in Boston who is investigating the gospel) I wish that I was there to teach him and help see him through to baptism, but knowing that I had the smallest part in that story is special. I just hope I get to experience some of that joy here and see the change first-hand.

We did have one miracle experience with a new investigator! Her name's Patricia, and we actually randomly knocked her house our first day as a companionship. We had a lesson with her on Friday night, and she is a GOLDEN investigator in every sense of the word. She has a history with many different religions - Catholic, Jehovah's Witness, Baptist, Nondenominational Christian, to name a few - and has been looking for a church where she can feel the joy of God and feel comfortable, and where she can tell the people are there for God and not for money or anything (she talked a lot about collection plates and how they bothered her). She told us that she wants to learn "poco a poco" because she's been to so many churches, so not to push her, but actually wants to learn and is actually investigating the church rather than just letting us come over. She said that she'd read the entire Book of Mormon before our next visit, and we all know the power of the Book of Mormon, so we're confident that if she does so with a sincere heart that Moroni's promise will hold true! I thought of her as President Monson was talking in conference and have been praying for her often.

There were a few days this week that were slower because of my health - I'm not really going downhill, I've just been discovering more things that don't agree with me. My companions are always on the lookout for if I'm having a flair-up or not and constantly remind me not to feel bad if I need to sit for a bit. I want to work, and I'm determined to work and have been able to keep going and bounce back fairly well, but my companions have been very patient and loving throughout this struggle and remind me not to "run faster than [I] have strength.

We had some AMAZING dinners this week - a lot of authentic food! Saturday night we had dinner with the Westbrooks, and Sister Westbrook is from Chile. She made us chorrillana, something that they eat all the time in Chile! It's basically fries, cheese, beef, chicken, and fried eggs all thrown together. It looked a little weird, but it was SO good!!

Then, between sessions of conference yesterday, we had authentic pupusas from Hna Erazo, who's from El Salvador. They were SO good (she gave us some extras and I had one for breakfast this morning). She made enough for all of the missionaries in our zone, and I did a lot of translating for the English elders and sisters, which was a fun experience.

 I had a moment this week where I realized that I actually SPEAK Spanish, which was cool. My confidence in the language is growing more every day.

It's been really fun to get some more authentic dishes, and dishes that I haven't really tried before, this week! And I love that I get to sample things from all over through people from different places in the ward. 

All in all, despite how rough things have been, I'm enjoying myself. I'm keeping my spirits up, and I know the Lord is supporting me. I kept getting that message throughout all of conference, and through the harder moments when I've wondered how I can keep doing this without seeing success I've been lifted up by those around me. I also know that I've been lifted by your love and prayers, so thank you for that!

I hope that you all enjoyed General Conference as much as I did! I would love to hear some of your favorite quotes or thoughts from conference from each of you! I was really struck by the messages of hope and light throughout the entire conference!

Anyway, here are some of the things that I wrote down:
M. Joseph Brough - "[Repentance] is a privilege."
Dale G. Renlund - "Should the scabs of the sheep cause the shepherd to recoil?" (quote from Les Miserables)
Ulisses Soares - (my summary) Trust in God, even in times of great difficulty
Mark A. Bragg - "Even in the most difficult and darkest of times, there is light all around us." 
Robert D. Hales - (my notes) Knowledge + Temperance + Patience = Godliness
Jeffrey R. Holland - the WHOLE talk, but this is the one I'll share: "Diversity is not cacophony!"
Valeri V. Cordón - (my note) The language of the Gospel IS our Mother Tongue!
Neil L. Andersen - Overcoming the world is "a lifetime of moments that define an eternity."
M. Russell Ballard - "The key to happiness lies in deciding what destinations matter" and planning accordingly.
President Monson - "The testimonies of others will only carry you so far."
Yoon Hwan Choi - "Do not lose your faith because of the people around you ... don't look around, look up!"
L. Whitney Clayton - For the Lord to direct our paths, "we have to walk!"
President Uchtdorf - Be liberated from fear by the "divinely appointed antidote to fear - the perfect love of Christ."
D. Todd Christofferson - "Stop feigning neutrality."
Joaquin E. Costa - I just want everyone I've ever taught to hear this talk!!S. 
Mark Palmer - "Let it go and follow Him."
Gary E. Stevenson - "Stay close to the Spirit, and the Spirit will stay close to you."

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