In the Missionary Training Center (MTC), we were taught that our missionary purpose was to:
Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.Preach My Gospel manual
One of the things that has been difficult for me here is feeling stuck in an office where everyone else is speaking Spanish, so I understand very little of what is going on around me. That’s hard. What has been even harder is feeling so limited in my ability to reach out to those around me and develop relationships or friendships. This is not how I pictured serving as a missionary.
So this week while I was in the throes of telling God about my problems (mentally whining), including customizing and sending out something like 70 form letter emails asking other missionaries to answer some questions that our Area Authority had, and NOT having been taught the possibly easier way to get the job done yet. Anyway, I was in the middle of that, and I asked Him how on earth this kind of work was helping me to fulfill our missionary purpose. And then, in a way that was so clear to me that it surprised me, the Spirit said to me, “Hold on a minute, think about this. I’ve given you an opportunity to reach out to all these people individually way and personalize these emails in a way that could make a difference in their day. They may be struggling or confused, and lonely, and you have a small chance to be the spark of light that helps them feel less alone, or encouraged to go on. Remember how it felt to be encouraged? Here’s your chance to be that for someone else. Because that enduring part is sometimes hard, and sometimes joyful, but either way it’s better when you know you’re not alone in it.”
It’s funny how the Holy Spirit can biff me upside the head a little and I actually feel more hopeful afterward. I did get more cheerful and personal with the emails and my responses after that, and life was a lot brighter because of it. I learned some things about some of the other missionaries that I never would have if I hadn’t changed. It wasn’t a big change. It didn’t take a lot more time, but it made a big difference in the outcome for some of us.
As far as learning Spanish goes. I’m understanding more, slowly but surely. I’m still not speaking it at all beyond, “Hola, como estas?” And I never understand their answer, lol.. My brain and tongue get all tangled up and I can’t get any words to come out of my mouth in either English or Spanish. Mr Hot Stuff tried to make me speak Spanish to someone a couple of days ago. It didn’t go well. I felt humiliated and wanted to make him feel that way too, but that would not actually be very conducive to the way I want our relationship to be, and I don’t think he realized how awful the situation was for me.
Church today was AWESOME. Well, as awesome as it could be without me being able to speak. But I had this genius idea, inspired by my new bestie, the Holy Ghost, to read the lesson ahead of time in both English and Spanish and write down the new vocabulary words I wanted to remember, so I can study them and hopefully unlock my tongue at some point. I understood a lot more this week and I learned a ton. Plus, I have some new words to give my language studies some good direction. I’m really excited about that.
It was a little funny though, because at the end of Relief Society (the women’s church class) the leader stood up and, I think 🤔, said that they were going to be sharing the upcoming lesson (a General Conference talk) in the WhatsApp group, and asked everyone to please take the time to study it ahead of time so that they were more prepared to share their thoughts on Sunday. She commented about how I was taking the time to write down my spiritual impressions during the lesson and encouraged the sisters to do that. Haha! I was writing down new vocabulary words! I mean I was doing that in response to a spiritual impression, so I guess it counts! I certainly don’t have the Spanish skills to clarify anything, so now I guess I have to measure up to myself! 😂
Yesterday, (Saturday) we walked to a nearby papelería. It’s like an office supply/art supply store rolled into one. For me, it was another little slice of heaven. I got some markers and some more paper, and some paint, and I can’t even tell you how that stuff seems to help my sense of well-being. Glorious!
We borrowed a car the other day and Mr Hot Stuff drove (should I be calling him Elder Hot Stuff? Hmm). Driving here is a pretty intense experience, but all went well, and it seems like we can learn to do it. You just have to get used to the friendly aggressive driving. Just trust me, it’s a thing.
Here’s my invitation for you this week. Reach out to one person that you might not normally have, and put a little light in their day. If no one comes to mind right away, pray about it and see what comes to mind. See if you can find a new way to be an encourager. 💕
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’Matthew 25:35-36 NIV