Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Re: A Cup of Fiery

Dear Family,

I can't believe that Alan is in Mexico!! The thought has popped into my head randomly throughout the week, and it just seems so weird! I'm so proud of you Alan! Way to go for starting up a conversation in Spanish. The more you make yourself speak it, the better you will learn it, and even if you ever feel awkward about it, just enjoy how well you can make fluent speakers laugh. Work hard in el CCM, but remember to be yourself and not to work so hard you poop out. That's not what Heavenly Father is asking you for.

Sally told me all about the BYU v. Utes game. I'm sorry it was another disappointment for those of us true believers  :)  My companion is a Ute, so I won't be able to talk about it too much this week.

We had such a great week here in Lake Austin!! To start with, the weather finally changed!! I never thought I would say this in my life, but the highs have been about 87 the last three days, and it feels so great! After 97-104 every day for the past month, and higher temperatures before that, 85 and even low 70s in the mornings and evenings feels like a dream! On Saturday, we had a whole day of driving around and looking for inactive members, and we found NOBODY, but I didn't even realize it until we got home and counted our numbers because I was happy to be outside in such gorgeous weather. What a blessing. 

Honestly, I think the best thing about this week has just been my attitude. The last several weeks I've been thinking a lot about "becoming a missionary" as President Slaughter calls it, and the struggle that so many missionaries go through because they feel like there are two versions of themselves, the missionary version, and the version they left back home. After going through their whole mission struggling to feel normal, they get home and have a crisis when they are suddenly a schizophrenic with two identities and they don't know which one to be. The problem is, they need to bring themselves with them on their mission, and then accept the changes that Heavenly Father works in them through their experiences, and then when they get home, they only have one identity, and it's better than anything they were before, so the temptation to return isn't nearly as great. I've also thought a lot about the importance of being ourselves on our missions. Heavenly Father has given us all talents and abilities that he needs us to use, wherever it is that he has placed us. We started developing those talents and abilities even before we came to this earth. We each have unique identities, and it is especially important to incorporate those things as missionaries so that we can do our work more effectively. As I've worked on that, being myself, teaching like myself, acting like myself, thinking like myself, talking like myself in both Spanish and English, and having a positive attitude, I have felt so much happier than I ever have before in my time as a missionary. My faith and hope have increased, and I just love being a missionary so much more!!

On Wednesday we had Zone Meeting and I was able to give a training on this topic. It was so much fun!! I love teaching people, especially other missionaries. A brand new Elder gave me a stellar complement at the end of the meeting. Just as preface, you should know that I love Elder Holland and I love the way he teaches. I have always thought it would be cool to be able to teach the way he does, and have now and again even thought about his style of teaching as I have been developing my own. After the meeting, Elder T told me "Elder S and I were sitting back there and decided that you got some of the fireiness from the same bucket they used to fill Elder Holland up with." That definitely made me smile.

We were able to have some great lessons with N this week. She's back on track and has realized that the dejection and despair she felt last week were not feelings from Heavenly Father. She came to all three hours of church this week and set up three visits for the coming week. I think we're going to start working on some family history with her.

We contacted 10 referrals this week, which is a record for me. We've really been trying not to knock random doors this transfer, but rather work through the people we already know to find new people to teach. So far, we haven't had to do any door knocking, and I hope to keep it up.

This Saturday is the Relief Society General Broadcast. All you wonderful ladies, GO! And if you can, invite a non-member or even a less-active friend. What a wonderful experience we have to be able to listen to a prophet of God that has the Priesthood power and authority to lead and guide us in our day and age. Everyone needs that blessing. If you're afraid to extend the invite, role play it first. Maybe that would be a good FHE activity.

I love you all so much!! I was thinking this morning about how much my testimony has deepened in the last 7.5 months. As we progress in the gospel, we don't necessarily learn a lot of shocking new doctrine, but our understanding and appreciation of what we already do know grows and deepens profoundly. I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that loves his children so personally and individually that he will put us all in the right place at the right time to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life again. I love my Savior Jesus Christ and the price he paid so that we can be resurrected and live with our families forever in his presence. I know the gospel is true, and I am so glad I have the opportunity to share it with other people.

I love you all so much!! You are all one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Hermana Emily

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sept 2

Dear Family,

Thank you so much to all of you for your letters and emails! It has been so great reading about the goings on. Alan, I'm so glad that you were able to go through the temple. I thought about you this week. Go as much as you can before you head to Mexico. It's so good to be able to think about the promises that are made to you there, and you might not get to go much on your mission. Mom, I love the covenants of the temple. I've thought a lot about the promises, like you said, and how they are such an anchor for everyone, but especially for missionaries. I need those covenants in order to be successful here.

Last night was transfer calls. I didn't mention it last week because Hermana H and I just opened our area and it was pretty certain we would be staying here. Last transfer calls I couldn't stop thinking about them for two weeks in advance, but it barely crossed my mind Sunday morning before church. So when Elder Wcalled and told us they are closing Monte Vista C, we were both pretty shocked, and pretty sure he was pulling our leg. It wasn't until he offered to let us talk to President that we actually believed him. So there it is. Now that the Zone Leaders have finished remapping and ripping up their area book for us, everything is turning back to exactly the way it was before we got here. Why you might ask? I was reading in the Book of Mormon this morning about how the prophets wrote their record without knowing exactly why, and I feel kind of like that, but I do have some insights. 

First, S. Mom, she is now on the radar. We got her and her family to church this week, and I know they were able to talk to the bishop. As a side note, we got some referrals from them for people that live in Georgia, and when we got phone numbers to go with the names, I realized that instead of waiting three days until the office would be open, I could have just called you to pass them on to the Cherokee branch missionaries, but I didn't think that would quite be kosher.  :) )

Second, X. This Saturday (after we leave), the St. Cloud sisters that we live with will be holding a baptism for X, a 15 year old young man that we gave to them as a referral. He lives in an apartment complex that is almost entirely Spanish speaking and never would have been found if we hadn't been there. Since the missionaries started teaching him, he has been to every Sacrament meeting, every mutual activity and every Seminary class. He has also stated that he wants to serve a mission. We're going to miss the baptism, which is a major bummer, but I'm so excited for him and the sisters. We've given away a bunch of other really good referrals too, and it finally makes sense why all the good people we found were passed off at the beginning and none of the referrals we received were worth a first lesson. 

Third, the temple. If I hadn't been here, I wouldn't have been able to go to the temple with the G family, or for myself. That was one of the most choice experiences of my mission, and I wouldn't have traded it for 500 first lesson referrals. I've also learned a lot from my companion and from the experience of opening an area and having very little success. Was I shocked and disbelieving when the news came? Amazingly so. But Monte Vista C has definitely been vale la pena.

Funny story to go with this all . . . the ZLs just finished tearing apart their area book for us and spent some long, boring days in doors. After one of these a few days ago, they stopped by the mission office and bumped into President Slaughter. Apparently the dialogue went something like this:

PS: Elders, how are you doing?
E: We've had a kind of a bummer day doing paper work. We finally finished going through our area book for the Monte Vista C sisters,
PS: Oh really? Well I sure hope there aren't any big changes.

President Slaughter!! I love that man. He's hilarious. 

The other other awesome thing that happened this week was training with President Slaughter. He talked about finding by faith and it was so awesome!!!! Alan, I want to give you a definition that has changed my mission and might make yours a lot easier from the get go. A goal reflects the desire of your heart and the vision you have to achieve it. If you desire to baptized 500 people in your area and you have feasible plans of how you can accomplish that, 500 people is a great goal, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. PMG says to keep your expectations high, because when you lower them, your faith decreases. If you don't baptize anybody, but you did everything in your power to accomplish your goal, you were successful. Goals are not a prediction of what will happen, and don't get caught in trying to be "realistic" like I have. Think about your desires, come up with a feasible plan to accomplish it, and there's your goal. 

I love you all so much! Have a marvelous week!!