Dear Friends and Family,I write to you from Montevideo. Today Hermana Linnell had to sign her residency so we're in the terminal waiting for our bus. Two hours here, two hours back. Tomorrow we have a conference here, so we'll have to return-- two hours there, two hours back. So I'll at least have some time to catch up on my journal. I'll need the time, because a lot has happened.
Monday, November 25, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Dear Friends and Family,As I'm sure many of you have noticed, God does not often answer prayers in the way we would hope or expect. We are taught that God answers prayers according to His will, in His way, and on His timing. This past week as I explained this principle in a lesson with a less-active family, the mom suddenly turned to me and asked, "So... what's the point of praying, if God's just going to do what He wants anyway?"
In my head I often compare life to a school. School is hard, and sometimes we feel like we can't solve the problems presented. There's always someone with better grades than us, and sometimes we feel like we're graded unfairly. But in this school, one thing is of ultimate importance: our relationship with the teacher. (This comparison works a lot better in Spanish because "teacher" and "Master" are the same word and it's easier to insert the Savior's role into the metaphor.)
If the teacher and the student never communicate, the student can sit through the entire semester and never understand mitosis or long division, etc. The teacher can teach all He wants and all He knows, but it will never benefit the student if he doesn't try to work with the teacher to figure it out.
That's prayer. No matter how many times I told my chemistry teacher that I didn't understand ions (still don't) or thought they were dumb and useless, it didn't change the fact that ions exist and that they are a fundamental part of understanding chemistry. My teacher couldn't change the principles of chemistry that hold the world together, although if he could I'm sure Mr. Gritton would have done so to ease my suffering.
In like manner, no matter how many times I ask the Lord to change something about my life, about myself, or about my investigators, He is not going to change His plan or alter the forces that keep the universe together. He will not change the things in our lives that will perfect us and help us fulfill our purpose for being there anyway. We have to pass the final, and this is the homework that will prepare us.
As much as I hated school, it is a metaphor for life.
I still believe in miracles through prayer, but sometimes I think we think about it the wrong way. This week I have been "fasting" from asking for things in my prayers. Only thanking. I have felt the love of God more, and seen my faith grow exponentially.
Love you forever,
Monday, November 11, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,I may have already mentioned this, but even so it never ceases to amaze me how different people's lives are-- how different we all are.
My sweet newest nephew was born a few weeks ago, and he will grow up in a loving, caring, gospel-centered home where his parents will teach him about Jesus Christ. I have every reason to believe that Luke will grow up to be a worthy priesthood holder and enjoy the blessings of raising his own family, which he will do after the pattern he learned from righteous parents.
There are so many people who "are kept from the truth because they know not where to find it," nor are they willing to listen to two North-American girls in skirts. People are suspicious of religion and religious representatives. The importance of member missionary work is incalculable. What they are not willing to listen to from missionaries suddenly becomes easier to hear from a loving friend, a neighbor, teacher, or whatever other important role we play. We ALL have people within our sphere of influence who could be blessed by our invitation to hear the glorious truth of the restored Gospel.
I had a nightmare last night that I was in the airport coming home my mission. My dream-self was panicking, wishing for more time. I woke up and thought how silly that was. When you're a missionary, you're set apart from the world and given a special calling. When you're released you are placed back into the world with more greater knowledge, greater understanding, and greater conviction than you could possibly have gained on your own. You only become a different kind of missionary, released into the world to continue to do good and serve the Lord. To paraphrase Elder Holland, after such a life-changing experience, how could anyone just go back to fishing? Although the mission experience is sacred and singular, it is not meant to be isolated or confined to 18 months or 2 years.
The more I am here the more I understand the continued call to "bring the world His truth." It is so much more than we can comprehend.
Thank you for your support and your prayers.
Love you forever!
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,We found out about transfers, and I'll be staying here with Hermana Linnell for another change! The elders that also serve in the ward here are being whitewashed out and another companionship of sisters will be replacing them. One of them is an oro, and her trainer, Hermana Sandoval, is only a few changes younger than me in the mission. It's weird for me to think that most of the missionaries are now much younger than me in the mission. Is this how it is to grow old?
Thanks for the pictures of Luke! I LOVE HIM SO MUCH ALREADY! I can't wait to hold him.
My ONLY wish for Christmas is to see everyone on the other side of the computer screen. We're not allowed to call more than once (more than one house), so I can't Skype mom and dad, then Michelle and Dan, then Christopher and Desiree, then Lisa, and so forth. So that's my Christmas wish: To see ALL the family. My love for you all has grown so much while I've been away, and I miss you all. I hope to see you all soon.
Love you forever,