Monday, November 12, 2012

Letter #8

Unlike the past couple weeks, when I didn't feel like I had a ton to write about, there is so much I could write about this week that I'm having a hard time figuring out where to start. se. Well, I suppose I could let you know first off that I am actually quite a bit more proficient in Spanish than I thought I was. I'm sure that's mainly just because the Lord is helping me out, since I haven't even thought about Spanish for 6 years now. But I'm discovering that I can actually understand and read a lot...I've been reading a chapter in the Book of Mormon every day in Spanish to try and get better at it. Plus, on Friday I got to be surrounded by Spanish all day and even shared mi testimonio en espanol!
On Friday I got to go down to West Palm Beach on an exchange...meaning the sister from down there came up here w/ Sister Spjut for a day and I got to go spend the day with Hermana Lake in her all-Spanish area. IT WAS A BLAST! I had so much fun. I realized that I really love Latins and also that I really want to get good at Spanish. Hermana Lake actually told me that she thought I was a "natural" at speaking it and that she felt like I was at about the same level as the missionaries who are coming out from the MTC. I don't know about that, but she told me that she was impressed with my level of understanding & even speaking. So that's awesome. It was fun to "take a break" for a day and switch it up in a different area. Sister Lake was really fun and it was especially fun to talk to her since she went to BYU and even knew my old boyfriend Travis and did murder mystery and things like that, so we had a lot to chat about. She also told me that she thinks I'll train next transfer which I hope is not the case. The rumor is that we have 12 new sisters coming in! So that means there need to be 12 sister trainers...but there's not a ton of sisters already out in the mission (although that will definitely change in a few months!). So I guess we'll see. I don't feel ready to try and train a new missionary at all, so I hope that doesn't happen.
Had some fantastically spiritual experiences this week. On Monday night I was really reminded of how much God knows each one of us individually. Sister Spjut & I had just pulled up to the apartment complex we are currently harvesting (aka knocking doors) and as we pulled up, a girl walked by on her way to the mailbox. We both looked at each other and were just like, "We need to leave a blessing with her" because we'd both had that impression. So we approached (ambushed) her and explained who we were and that we wanted to leave a blessing with her and her family. She said yes and walked us over to her building (which wasn't the building we were planning on knocking that night) and brought us into her home. Her brother and mom were there and when we came in and explained who we were, her brother just told us that he knew we were sent there by God. He is going through a tough divorce and had been at his home just crying a few hours before and asking for God to lift and strengthen him. He hadn't planned on going to his mom's house that night, but he just felt like he should go over there and so he did (which is where we met him). He was in tears as we talked with him and the spirit was super strong and it really strengthened my faith that day. I realized just how aware of all of us our Heavenly Father is. He knew that this man needed the extra strength that comes from a prayer and He led us to him that night. That day had kind of been a downer for me as well and that experience was exactly what I needed. I recognized that the Lord was aware of me and my needs as well and that He knew I needed to have that faith-strengthening experience that night.
On Wednesday we had another great experience with this kid Travis that we met. It was another one where we showed up and he was like, "Yup, God definitely sent you here. I need this today." And then afterwards, when we'd talked a bit and were going to leave, he asked, "Do you guys have anywhere you need to be right now or do you have a few minutes?" We told him we had a few minutes, and he asked, "So...what makes my church different than your church?" IT'S THE MAGIC QUESTION! So we ended up having a lesson with him right there on the stairs outside his apartment and during the course of the lesson he said, "Wow, I feel so different right now. I just feel really peaceful. I haven't felt this way in a long time." HE WAS TOTALLY FEELING THE SPIRIT! And then when we explained that and asked why he thought he was feeling the Spirit, he said, "Well...probably because I'm seeking answers?" It was one of those lessons that missionaries pray to have...and in fact, Travis was an answer to our prayers. We'd been praying to find someone who was really seeking the truth and who had been prepared to receive our message.
I also know it wasn't a coincidence that a kid named Travis entered my life this week just a couple days after I decided to let the other Travis out of my life. Being on a mission has given me a lot of perspective about my past relationships and has also made me exceedingly grateful that I didn't decide to marry Travis instead of coming out here. Our relationship has been on my mind over the past few weeks as I've come to know people here in Florida and seen the consequences of marrying the wrong person. As I've gotten to know some of the rock-solid missionaries who are serving around me as well as my MTC teachers, I've started to better understand some of the things that are a necessity in the person I end up marrying...and I've realized that Travis isn't a lot of those things. I can tell you all the reasons why I kept holding onto our relationship, but I recognize that most of them were pretty bad reasons for being with somebody. Our relationship lacked some pretty important aspects, including trust and commitment.
Anyways, all of these thoughts I'd been having were confirmed by an email I received from him on Monday. I found out that he's dating someone pretty seriously and has been basically since the moment I left (technically it wasn't "official" until the first week of October, but he let me know that he's been with her every minute for the last 2 months. so like....when you were still writing me every day in the mtc? thanks, pal). Talk about an OUCH moment! I was replaced by a 19-year-old within a couple weeks of leaving. But obviously he's not the person I want to be attached to for the rest of my life if he can't even last 2 months. So regardless of whether or not this relationship with his new teenage girlfriend works out, I've decided that Travis doesn't really have a place in my life anymore. I do want him to be happy, and I hope that this relationship can bring him that happiness he's looking for.
Speaking of happiness, I feel like I'm coming to better understand it by being out here. Last week after our district training Sister Spjut and I were standing outside in the gorgeous weather just watching the elders play "ninja" with each other and I couldn't stop smiling. I realized, this is happiness. I am truly happy being out here and serving the Lord! And you know what? True happiness really only comes when we put God at the center of our lives. Of course I knew this before, but being out here has made me understand just how true it really is. In some respects, I have very few reasons to be happy: I am away from my friends & family, I don't get to do any of the things I love (dancing, taking Sunday naps, practicing piano whenever I want), I'm constantly dealing with rude people, and I'm surrounded by 19- and 20- year old boys. But yet I am consistently happy! And that's because God really is at the center of my life. I am focusing so hard on doing His will...and striving to follow Him will bring us more happiness than anything else will. I'm thinking about Stella, too, our Jewish friend...when we first met her, she was feeling lost in life, fairly unhappy, and jobless. But just a month later her life has really turned around (including the part about being jobless...she has like a zillion job offers!) and the only thing that has changed is that she is starting to let Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ into her life! SO cool to see.
Okay, well that was super long. But like I said, it was an eventful week.
I love you all! Hope things are fabulous in the rest of the world. :)
sister dougal
ps-heard there were 20 inches of snow in northern utah. GROSS! pretty sure it's 80 degrees outside right now. niiiiiice.

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