It's transfer week, and what a transfer it is going to be. When President called on Monday and said I might be getting a challenge, I immediately felt that I was going to be training. That was my very first thought. I told Hermana B that, and as a kind, loving companion who didn't want me to fret throughout the week, she convinced me that was impossible because President can't go against the training program. For those who don't know, the new missionary training program lasts twelve weeks, or two transfers. While you are training, they encourage you to prepare to train someone else at the end of 12 weeks if you are called upon to do so. I've only been out 6 weeks, so it would be against the training plan for me to train after only 6. I would have to finish training myself and a new greenie simultaneously. Thanks to Hermana B, I didn't worry about it too much this week. I convinced myself that the challenge President meant was that we would be getting three new sisters in the area and Hermana B, who knows this place like the back of her hand, would be leaving and it would be my responsibility to fill everyone in.
So. Last night President called to give us transfer news. He talked to Hermana Bfirst who is indeed being transferred to train a greenie in a trio with another experienced sister, and she has been assigned to be one of the new Sister Training Leaders for the mission. We both saw that one coming. Then the phone got passed to me. The conversation went something like this:
"Sister Christensen, are you sitting down?"
"I'm glad to hear it, because you're driving, and it wouldn't be very safe if you weren't. Well Sister Christensen, you will be staying in Del Rio and you will be training. You will also be getting another companionship of sisters who will be training as well."
So, there you have it. As much as I thought I would be shocked if that's what he said, I wasn't really. I honestly had convinced myself it wouldn't happen, but I knew it was going to as soon as President talked to me on Monday, I knew I was going to be training. So did Hermana B, but she didn't want me to worry about it, which I'm grateful for. Challenge indeed. I know that I can do it. If Heavenly Father through my mission president is assigning me to train, I'm more than happy to do it. What I'm most worried about is my Spanish. I feel like I speak pretty well, but I still have a hard time understanding what the native speakers are saying to me. I've been praying all week for the Gift of Tongues to help me understand, because I knew that even if I wasn't going to train this transfer, I most likely would be next transfer. Yesterday at church, I noticed that I understood a lot more than I usually do, and I know it's because I've been praying for help. The silly thing is, sometimes I pray and I forget to ask for the Gift of Tongues. And guess what? I don't get it. But when I pray and I ask specifically for help to understand, it comes. It gives a whole new meaning to the scripture "ask and ye shall receive." That's really a true principle. Heavenly Father has so many blessings he wants to give to you, but he has to wait for us to ask him for them. Hermana B also shared something comforting with me. She said that when you are the senior companion, Heavenly Father knows that you are responsible for helping your companionship understand and be successful, and he blesses you. Her words were "expect it." So I'm going to. I am going to expect that Heavenly Father will bless me as I am living worthily of those blessings, because this is his work and he wants us to succeed even more than we want to. I have faith in that.
I want to answer your question about why I love working with less active members One thing that I guess is a little bit different about my situation from yours, is that working with RCLAs (Recent Convert, Less-Actives) means I actually have more freedom in what we discuss. RCLAs generally have a better idea of gospel principles than investigators, and so we can talk about things on a slightly deeper level than we usually get to. Not super deep by any means, but enough that it's easier to help people see how these things really apply to them. You just get to dig around a little bit more instead of feeling like you're walking on egg shells not knowing exactly what it is they already believe (although sometimes you find out that RCLAs believe strange things too). Also, RCLA work tends to yield more visible fruit. So far, it has been much easier to help them come to church than to drag investigators kicking and screaming by the hair every Sunday when we have to do all of the work to wake them up, get them ready and get them there. In your situation, you don't have the comparison of working with investigators to make less-active work more motivating, but there's more to it that I really love that does apply to you. That part of it is that I love helping people remember the baptismal covenants they have made. I tell you what, as a missionary, it has shocked me how comfortable people feel just spilling their whole life story to you. We had an experience this week where we met an RCLA who was born, raised, and converted here about a year and half ago, but then moved, had a miserable year, went inactive, and came back to visit her family. We walked into her house, sat down on her couch and within five minutes, she had proceeded to tell us all of the things she had done in the last year that were against the covenants she had made. She even paused at one point and said "I have no idea why I'm telling you this. It's so embarrassing." But people do it all the time: Standard day in the life of a missionary. I have heard more drama in the last six weeks of being a missionary than I have ever been exposed to in the rest of my life. It's so sad to me to hear it over and over, but it has strengthened my testimony so much of the commandments that Heavenly Father has given us.
KEEPING THE COMMANDMENTS MAKES YOU HAPPY!!!!! LIVE THEM AND LOVE THEM!!!!
Commandments are not here to restrict us. The Law of Chastity is your best friend. The Word of Wisdom is your other best friend. Stay as far away from the line as possible, ALWAYS. People are so miserable when the break themselves against the commandments. They are deceived by the lies of the world that they will be happier if they are disobedient, but they are not. They are miserable. What I love about working with RCLAs is that they usually know the gospel is true, but they don't really understand it. They have big gaps of "gospel application" that are missing in their lives, and as missionaries with testimonies of these principles that have come from a lifetime of living them, we have the opportunity to pass that on to other people who are miserable and invite them to act so that they can be happy. And usually, it starts with something as basic as prayer. Then scriptures study. Then coming to church. You build slowly and steadily and it takes forever, but in the end, you have people that are really converted because they were miserable, they learned the gospel and were happy, then they were disobedient and miserable, and then they became happy again when they were obedient, and they know without a shadow of a doubt that the gospel is not only true, but is applies to us. The gospel is real life. It is as real as it gets.
This week, JG passed the Sacrament for the first time ever with his son J Jr. there to help him. Hermana B and I were on the stand to play the piano, so we got to watch their faces as they interacted together. It was literally a precious moment. Afterward, we talked to J, and he told us the branch president would interview him to go to the temple with the youth at the end of the month if he would start today to pay his tithing and not drink coffee which we figured out this week he has also been drinking. J is going to the temple!!!!! We've also spent a lot of time with a woman named V who was baptized about 18 months ago, and she told us yesterday that she finally has a desire to go to the temple and is going to start this week to schedule interviews to get her recommend. V is going to the temple!!! That's why I love working with RCLAs. You get to help people see how the gospel is not only true, but applies to them and helps them to really be happier as they live it.
Dad, I loved your thought again for the week. This morning, we were talking about how developing Christ-like attributes helps us to keep our covenants, and I love that 2 Peter1:4 starts out by saying that we are given promises that we may be partakers of the divine nature. In essence, that says to me that Heavenly Father has promised us a way to become even as he is, and that as we strive to develop these attributes, which is a part of the covenants we make with him, we will not be unfruitful. That's why commandments and covenants are so great! Because Heavenly Father is bound when we do what he says. If we are obedient, we can KNOW without a doubt that he will bless us and he will always be on our team helping us to come back to live with him. I'm just all over the place today, but we've been asked a lot this week (and I'm sure this will continue throughout the mission), that if there is a God, why is there so much unfairness in the world? It's like what Ethan said in his talk. Heavenly Father gives us challenges and trials because they help us grow, but when we have this eternal perspective of covenants and commandments, we can know that everything is going to turn out happy and fair in the end.
An item of business before I have to go (although I will probably have a few minutes this evening to check back and respond briefly to all of you wonderful saints out there who wrote to me this week). President Jones hates phone calls home because so many missionaries go nuts over them. The rules he has set to prevent our missionaries from losing their minds are that phone calls are done by phone (not Skype unless your parents live over seas) and they last no more than 45 minutes. We should definitely compare schedules next week so that we don't miss each other, but I'm sorry to tell you that I won't be able to Skype.
Also, my termination date that I mentioned last week is officially set for August 6th next year. President called Salt Lake and they changed it.
I love you all! Thank you for your letters! The church is true, the gospel is true and they apply to all of us. Live the commandments. Keep your covenants. They make you happy.
Have a wonderful week!