Hola mi familia!!!
I just want to hug everyone I ever meet. For reals. Maybe if I just hug random people they will feel Christ's light and want to join the Church...because I can't speak Spanish worth peanut butter.
Okay, I can speak Spanish. Pero, no muy bien. Obvs. I am getting better though. The thing is, I came out on the mission totally expecting that the language is something easy to learn, and as a missionary, it comes without effortt. But oh boy, I was duping myself big time. Learning a language is WORK, and the only way to learn it is by practice, practice, practice. I'm not kidding. There's a reason we have the SYL (HCI.... Speak Your Language/Hablar Su Idioma) program here en el CCM. It's hard work, but it pays off. I notice that days I speak for 3 or 4 hours straight, it just starts flowing. Hermana Baker and I had to speak with a couple natives from northern Mexico for half an hour, and by then we were speaking pretty fluently. They started talking to us about one of their investigators who has a drug problem, and something happened that really surprised me. In the most fluent Spanish I've spoken thus yet (which isn't saying much.... I probably made a lot of mistakes still) I told them about my dad and how God loves people struggling with addiction. It surprised me more because I didn't realize I knew that. That's something I've struggled with for a long time, with Dad. Is just realizing that God does love them too, even more so. Addiction is hard. I've never had to deal with it the way some people have, but God just testified to me right then and there -- in SPANISH, nonetheless -- that He does love them very much.
I was talking to Hermano Enciso (He got a new district this week, so he's not our teacher anymore!! Hermana Baker and I wanted to cry when we found that out. Enciso seriously is the best. He has helped Baker and I out SOOO much) yesterday, because he was chillin in our classroom, and he said that learning English for him was easy because English is very specific. It's like a math problem. This plus this plus this equals a sentence. But Spanish...ask aunt Sharon. You have to formulate sentences in a million different ways, and it's all phrased weird. I get the grammar, but it's different from English. And for a girl who is a journalism major with a knack for English grammar.... you can guess how Spanish is going in my head. It's wreaking havoc on me.
But you know what? The Lord knows that, and He is answering my prayers. He is so good to me.
First off, Hermano Cates, the director of the CCM, gave a great devotional this Sunday. My favorite quote from that devotional was this: "We don't have miracles because we never go where miracles occur. Man's extremity is God's opportunity." That really stuck out to me this week, and I realized that the Lord is pushing me for a reason, and He's not going to stop until I am the person He is trying to make me into. I think I fully realized this yesterday, and last night I just gave it all to Him. I'm not here to worry about anything else but preaching his gospel in the language He wants to me to learn. And I'm not going to learn how to do that unless I focus on Him and let Him use me the way He needs to. I'm still working on applying this, but each day something new happens that just forces me to focus on Him and learning the gospel. It's been nice!
I want to preach the gospel because it's the most important message EVER, and I can't bear to think that no one knows about it. I want so bad to share everything about it with everyone, but I get discouraged sometimes because I can't do it in Spanish. I only know simple things. But that's okay. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. And I will get better eventually, but you know me and my patience problems. Every week when I evaluate how I am doing in developing Christlike attributes, patience is always the #1 thing I have to focus on. Pray for me!
A lot of things have happened this week that really humbled me. The first was yesterday when Hermano Castellanos, my afternoon maestro, randomly put me in a group with Elders Feuz, Hopkins, and Stewart -- all very sweet guys -- and had them help me with my language study plan. It was just what I needed. They gave me some pointers on how to learn the language. They said my spanish is already better than I realize. YAY. But anyway, it really touched my heart that my teacher would help me like that.
And the second thing about Hermano Castellanos: He is so humble and open to revelation. (He told Hermana Baker and I the other day that we are the most powerful missionaries in the district, and it worried him because no one else teaches with the Spirit or the power like we do.) He came in on Saturday during the afternoon class, threw out his plan, and told us to get in a circle for a demonstration. He then proceeded for the next half hour to focus on Elder Whipple and his needs. He told Whipple about his life, then had Elder Whipple open up about his needs as an individual. Elder Whipple went on about how he doesn't feel like he helps people out enough or doesn't love and accept people enough, and what his worries are as a missionary. I can't explain everything that happened, but the Spirit was so strong during that lesson as we all just sat around and observed. We didn't think too much of it until Sunday night.
We were all sitting around after we watched the movie "Only a Stonecutter", having a district devotional review, and Elder Whipple began talking. He told us all how he had planned to go to our branch president, Pres. Machado, about going home on Sunday. He was determined. But when Hermano Castellanos wiped out his afternoon lesson to focus on him, something changed. Hermana Baker and I just started bawling because if you knew Elder Whipple.... you would be too. He is THE sweetest, most kind-hearted, funniest and loving Elder we're ever met. There is not a mean bone in his body. He is always making us laugh, and he always stays late after meals to take our trays for us. He is always saying he is an idiot, and Spanish is hard for him to learn. But after that review.... we were just stunned. I can't imagine him leaving, and it just breaks my heart that I did not pay attention to his needs instead of my own. I wish I had asked him how he was because that's what he does with everyone else. He is always taking care of us and shaking each of our hands before we leave for the night. I just am so grateful he is in our district and that he shared that with us.
Ah. Anyway. Miracles happen everyday whether we realize it or not. Heck, I'm learning Spanish!
I have a few funny things to share with you about this week, because even though we are spiritual 99% of the time, we need the comic relief sometimes.
(Oh, I forgot to mention I sang in a choir last week at devotional! It was awesome!)
1. We forgot how to draw the United States. Hermano Tapia was drawing Mexico City for us on the white board, and hermana abernathy drew the US above it all crazy, like a square. Poor hermano tapia was like, "Uhhhh... is that really the US?"
2. I eat too many Chokis. I was pulling out my planner from my purse the other day, and I noticed a thick layer of chocolate dust on the bottom. Turns out my Chokis got crushed and now there is a thin layer lining the bottom of my purse. -.-
3. I figured out why Hermano Enciso told us to tell people we were from Xochimilco. It's a VERY traditionally mexican place by the lake where people sell food out of boats. If we told people "Soy de Xochimilco" they would be baffled. Cause we're white.
4. I met a girl here who knows the Jurcas! She is actually next door neighbors with them! Her name is Hermana Astle.
5. I gave my first talk in sacrament meeting this Sunday about baptism, and as I got up and introduced myself in Spanish, I look up and Elder Whipple winks at me. My face was just all taken aback, like "what the heck did he just do?? what do I do??" and I just kept going. It was so embarrassing.
6. Elder Whipple´s words of advice: "Don't squat with your spurs on."
Oh, and this one is a story: So, Hermana Baker and I are obsessed with playing fútbol now. We LOVE it. We seriously look forward to gym time every day cause we get to play soccer with everyone. I suck, but the elders are all so nice about it. Anyway, we set up a game for p-day today, and we had a bunch of people playing, and it was so fun. I was walking back downfield as Elder Whipple, the goalie, was getting the ball, and all of the sudden, BAM, the ball hits me right in the side of my head. Keep in mind we were playing with a volleyball, and Elder Whipple kicked it from 15 feet away as hard as he could. He felt SO bad. I was totally fine, but he ended up buying me a pack of Chokis cause he felt so bad. Then a few minutes later... Hermana Baker sprained her ankle. We had to take her to the clinic to get it wrapped. So...we're not playing soccer anymore while we're here. Bummer!!
So yeah! that's basically my life here! Learning Spanish, eating a lot (they put hotdogs in the salad here.... I don't know why they think Americans like hotdogs so much...), playing soccer....told ya! Miracles occur all the time! I can't believe I will be in Kentucky in less than two weeks now. I am excited but nervous. I see all my friends here leaving every week, and it makes me nervous, but excited at the same time. I won't know everything by the time I leave, but I want to take advantage of the time I do have here in the CCM to learn Spanish and the gospel. I leave on Monday the 25th. I leave the CCM at 2am, and my flight leaves at 7 am. I am flying to Georgia with two of my elders, Seager and Fastle, but then we part ways (they are going to SC). I am going to KY with one other Hermana though! Hermana Wadley :)
Happy things that happened this week: One of our investigators committed to baptism! He is our third one to do so! And we also taught a few more people. I think we have 8 investigators right now. Woo!
Anywho... I will send you pictures right now! I hope life at home is good!! I love getting your emails familia! I miss Duffy and Steve. Also, Presidente Pratt updates us about BYU games all the time. LOL. I will be on for about another 45 minutes, so.... until next week! Next week is my final Pday, and I'm going to the temple one last time! I hope I can email you the Sunday before I get to KY, but we'll see!! Love you all!