This week has been one of the hardest weeks of my life but I have found great comfort in the scriptures and understanding Heavenly Father´s plan for me. I have started the Book of Mormon again this transfer and I found a scripture in 1 Nephi 1:20 that really helped me. It talks about how Heavenly Father gives us tender mercies which make us mighty enough to deliver ourselves from bondage. For me, this was a great reminder of all of the little blessings He is giving me every day and that through using the atonement I can be strengthened to overcome my trials.
I then found great knowledge in the next chapter. Lehi is called to take his family away from their home into the desert. Laman and Lemuel begin murmuring because it is hard. They have left their home, their friends, and everything they know to travel to an unknown place. I can relate with Laman and Lemuel in this situation. I am here in a country with customs and a language completely foreign to me and it is hard. It is really easy to murmur in these kinds of situations.
But Nephi gives a better example of what else I can do. This chapter tells of how Nephi wanted to know the mysteries of God and so he cried unto the Lord. I like to think it was difficult for him as well. He was struggling and he cried unto the Lord for comfort. The Lord did give him comfort and he softened his heart so that he could understand and accept his circumstances and trust in Heavenly Father.
This past week I have found myself being more like Laman and Lemuel. I have murmured and complained in my head and made the situation more difficult. I want to choose to be more like Nephi and ask for Heavenly Father´s help to change my heart. I have already seen evidence of his help this week as I go through discouraging and frustrating events; He has helped me to get over my anger or my sadness more quickly than I know I could on my own. He is helping to fill my heart with love and charity that I don´t have yet myself.
Each month of my mission I have decided to fast and work toward one of my mission goals. This month I decided I need to work on the Christ like attribute of hope. I need to develop optimism, patience, gratitude and positivity in all situations.
I have faith that in the long run my experience in Lujan will be for my good and that I can help others while I am here but I want to develop a more positive outlook with patience and optimism so that I enjoy the work and can find peace. I have already seen the Lord´s help this week and I know He can continue to bless me as I study and work to develop a better attitude.
Things have been really really hard this week. I was able to go to an Hermanas Conference on Thursday. It was wonderful. It was an answer to my prayers this week. I was really struggling here after a few days and being able to talk to other Hermanas (in English) was so comforting. I was able to learn that I am not the only one having doubts and fears and discouragement. We all basically want to go home. The culture is so different and being with native companions is really hard and the apartments are not very nice. All of the Hermanas are experiencing these emotions. It was so nice to be able to talk about all of these things and know I'm not alone and we can get through it together. Just being able to talk about it with others who relate was so wonderful. I don´t want to scare you too much so don´t worry about me but your continued prayers are wonderful. I think your fast has already helped because I started feeling a little better yesterday.
On the way back to Lujan I was also able to talk with Hermana Bangeter, a sister from Utah. I had no idea how difficult the language and culture barrier would be with a native companion and how much I would treasure being able to speak with English speakers from my own country. Hermana Bangeter is wonderful!
I have never felt more alone than I do here where I can´t express myself or understand others. Many times in conversations I am in my own world and when Hermana Suarez and I are together we don´t talk a lot either. I am working on listening more intently though so all the noise coming out of their mouths will slowly mean something.
I am slowly learning the area, the investigators and the way the work is handled here. The way we teach, find, plan etc. is completely different than I was accustomed to in California and I am working to adapt to this new environment. We have some great investigators and members that are helping along the way.
Our two investigators with plans to be baptized and confirmed this month are Cintia and Diego. They are 15 and 14 years old and their father was recently baptized. I was able to meet Cintia at a YW activity on Saturday and both she and Diego came to church Sunday. They are great kids and I am excited to continue getting to know them and teaching them.
We also have a few other investigators who we are working with but were not able to make it to church on Sunday. Hopefully we will be able to continue to help them.
The language is slowly coming. I am trying to listen intently to every conversation, even when it is easier to zone out. I think I am understanding a little more each day. I am hoping to make language study a greater priority during our day so that I can also study the grammar and vocabulary I need, because I know that is a great way in which I learn.
Hermana Suarez is great. There are many things which she does a lot differently than I might but I am really working on being teachable and accept her style. Sometimes it is hard because I felt so capable in my last area and here I feel very much like a junior companion who is being trained and doesn´t have much to contribute but I know I can learn from Hermana Suarez if I am willing to be humble.
On Friday it rained all day here. I was happy to find out that my boots and raincoat worked pretty well. Walking in all the mud was kind of difficult but I stayed relatively warm and dry.
We walk A LOT! I am learning to adjust though and so are my feet. I´ve got some pretty blisters and bruises but hopefully they will adjust. I pretty much always feel dirty with all the dust and sunscreen (I got burnt my first day out) and bug spray (apparently the mosquito bites stay as scars for the rest of your life here) and sweat haha. I´m learning pretty quickly not to care at all about what I look like.
I´m not quite sure what to tell you about all of the day to day activities. We leave the apartment by 10 and then do a lot of walking to investigators and different people. I am still trying to get to know them all.
Living conditions: compared to the members we live in a mansion. I have never seen such poverty. They live in tiny little shacks built of cheap bricks or this metal stuff. They burn the garbage in the street and it´s just crazy. My apartment is...okay. It stinks really bad and has mold and is kind of dirty but it´s not awful. There isn´t really anywhere to put my stuff so a lot of it is still in my suitcases in the kitchen and I have to search for it in the mornings. I am going to try to buy some cleaning things and clean up a bit today so it will be better. It really isn´t too bad though so I shouldn´t complain. It is worse than anything I´ve ever lived in before though.
The stray dogs are super sad. They are really cute but I don´t ever pet them or touch them because they are not as nice and they are really sick and dirty. It makes me really sad.
I didn´t know Sarah was going on a mission!!! That's awesome! Tell her congratulations! Tell Mary Isom congrats and I love her.
I appreciate everything you do for me! Your letters are the highlight of my week. I love you all soo much and am so grateful for your prayers and love. Sorry if this email sounded negative. As I said, I´m still working on being positive.
Thank you so much for everything! I love you!
PS There are fireflies here at night which are really cool.