Dear Family and Friends,
THANK YOU for the emails this week!! I am so grateful for your support.
I have so much to tell you! The first five days were HARD. I cannot describe the stress I felt. Part of it was due to the fact that I taught my first investigator in SPANISH on my second day here! To prepare, I just memorized phrases from this textbook called “Spanish for Missionaries” with my companion. We felt like teaching him about how the Gospel blesses families would be a great way to begin. Well, he was really interested in the Book of Mormon after we read a scripture from it with him. He kept asking us what it was and how it could help him. We just ignored his questions and told him about how the Gospel blesses families. I felt so much shame walking out of the room after the lesson, because if I had the words to say I wouldn’t have let that happen! But I didn’t even know any words to tell him that the Book of Mormon contains truth that will bless his life! I was frustrated, upset, and hopeless, and that feeling basically haunted me for many days following.
This is where I began to learn more about what it means to have faith in God. I felt so humiliated and hopeless and I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know how to change it. I tried counting my blessings, I tried thinking of good things, I couldn’t force a smile, and I was miserable—trying to make myself happy was futile. I prayed for help. Nothing changed, so I continued to pray. The MTC is not supposed to be like this! I am not like this! I want to be happy! As I continued to pray for help, pleading with the Lord for inspiration, a change of heart, whatever the solution to my struggle, I felt this prompting: “Your companion needs you to be happy.”
I want to testify to all of you that the Lord answers our prayers. He knows us! He loves us! He wants to help us and He can!! His answer to my prayers gave me the strength to put a smile on my face and turn to my companion and say, “It’s a beautiful day!” (In Spanish, of course) and she laughed and smiled and said, “Yes it is!” Since then, I have not had a single problem with being sad. It reminded me of Elder Oak’s talk about the different motivations people might have for doing things and how the only motivation that has power to change us is charity, because realizing that I needed to be happy for my companion’s sake made it suddenly doable.
I also believe I have learned something about faith. My struggles were a result of me believing it was all on me—I can tell all of you right now that if it was all on me I could not participate in this work. But I have learned the truth in C.S. Lewis’s words that, “to have faith in God doesn’t mean you stop trying! It means trying in a new way—a less worried way.” If I do my best—do everything I can with the time I have been given to study the language, to speak it and think in it, and to “treasure up” the words of life continually by studying the scriptures intently—I can let go of my worrying.
I can’t stop trying because by trying to learn Spanish and the scriptures, I demonstrate my desire to receive God’s blessings (His spirit, the gift of speaking Spanish, charity, etc.) Do I deserve these gifts? By my own works, absolutely not! Even if I spent every single hour here studying I would never feel truly prepared. But when I pray for His help and demonstrate my sincere desire to receive it by trying my hardest to be obedient, I can be assured that that is enough. I know that God loves me and wants me to be happy. I know that He wants me to teach by the Spirit and in Spanish.
I love you! It is a beautiful day here at the Provo MTC and I love my companion, Hermana T., and I am happy!
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