I had a lot of "lightbulb" moments this week, which were followed by "duh" moments where I wondered why I hadn't figured it out sooner. For example, this week I finally realized how helpful "Preach My Gospel" is. Before, only the chapter with the lessons seemed of use. I really wish now that I would've studied it more in depth before my mission. I learned a lot this week and I want to impart that knowledge to everyone!
But first off, some no-so-spiritual stuff. :) So I spent 4 days this week miserably sick--probably the sickest I've been since I was a little kid. (Don't worry, though, I'm fine now.) The funny thing is, I got sick from the food our mission president's wife fed us at a meeting. Out of all the food I've eaten here, that was probably the safest and cleanest food, yet I got WAY sick from it. So... throwing up is probably my least favorite thing to do... like I will avoid it at all costs. But it was unavoidable in this situation. Keep in mind that I haven't thrown up since January 1, 2012 (yes, I do keep track of when I last threw up). :) On the plus side, I learned how to say, "I need to throw up" in Spanish. ;) ANYWAYS, so the third day I finally went to a doctor. It was pretty sketch and not sanitary... it reminded me of the doctors office I always took Sister Rogers to haha. I'm not quite sure what's wrong with me, but I think it's some sort of intestinal infection and I got some shot for it and a buttload of meds. Blech!
So because I was sick, we didn't go to church yesterday. I felt really bad and it's a 20 minute walk and there was no way I was going to make it. After church ended, I was awoken by a family who had gotten permission from the Bishop to administer the Sacrament to us. It was pretty cool, and slightly awkward haha, as I partook of the sacrament from my bed. That was a very much appreciated act of kindness. :) Also, a ton of members visited throughout the afternoon and I was touched. A ton of people brought jello (I don't know what it is with jello here, but they're obsessed with it) and other drinks and stuff. It was really sweet. :)
The longer I'm here, the harder it gets because I feel like I'm not learning Spanish at the rate I need to be or at the rate that others expect me to. I don't know whether to be more offended when people speak a ton of Spanish to me and don't realize that I don't understand anything, or when they say one sentence and assume I don't understand before I can respond. :/ When I had been here only a few days it wasn't such a big deal, but now it's been a month and I feel like there hasn't been much progress.
Fun fact! This last September there were only 17 sister missionaries in this mission and by the end of this month there'll be over 60! We'll be getting more American sisters every transfer which is gonna be weird cause I've gotten used to being one of like 6 American sisters in the whole mission and the only blonde one.
We had interchanges/exchanges (I can't remember what they're called in English) with the Sister Training Leaders this week. I went to the area of Hermana Leyva. The area was this ginormous hill with identical rows of houses, all white with red roofs. It was a hard day for me because I was just starting to feel comfortable talking to people in my area and being with all new people was hard. But I know I was put with Hermana Leyva for a mighty purpose. She told me that for the first three months of her mission she wouldn't talk to people (and she knows Spanish!) and the whole mission thing was really tough for her. Everything she said was exactly how I've been feeling. But now she's an amazing missionary. It made me feel a lot better because she understands and she was able to overcome her shyness and that's what I want to be able to do. It gives me hope that eventually I will become a good missionary.
Hermana Leyva and I on the exchanges.
Now for some spiritual-ness. First up: Perfection. Every week we get an email from the mission president. His wife always includes a spiritual thought. This week it was about perfection. She said "Many people find the commandment 'Be Ye Perfect' to be overwhelming. We may feel that perfection is unattainable and thus not worth working toward. We all need to realize that perfection in this life is not expected or even possible. Our Father in Heaven and our Savior expect us to begin the process of perfection while we are on the earth and to make a sincere daily effort towards becoming perfect." I love that! As a perfectionist, I've noticed that a lot of times I won't even try something, because I don't want to risk failure. But that's not what the Lord wants. He knows we won't be perfect but we have to put forth the effort and at least do our best.
My mission president said an interesting thing this week at the meeting we had with him. He said that the temptations we receive are because our desires are headed in that direction. Our desires lead us to action so we need to have good desires in order to be good people. It is so important for us to get our desires in line with God's in order to become like Him.
Before my mission I thought I knew a lot about patience. I felt it easy to be patient with others for the most part. But I realized this week that patience also applies to ourselves. In "Preach My Gospel" it talks about patience, saying "You must be patient with all people, YOURSELF INCLUDED, as you work to overcome faults and weaknesses."
The definition of patience is "The capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God's will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith--you must wait for the Lord's promised blessings to be fulfilled."
President Monson said "..Our problem is that we often expect instantaneous solutions to such challenges, forgetting that frequently the heavenly virtue of patience is required." Yep... that's me with Spanish.
Many scriptures talk about patience. Alma"...be patient in long-suffering and afflictions." and Alma 34:40 "...have patience that ye bear with all manner of afflictions." as some examples.
Also Ether, even thought it doesn't use the word "patience" it is all about it. "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weaknesses. I give unto men weaknesses that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
I've read that verse hundreds of times but it never really clicked until now. We can overcome our weaknesses, but ONLY though Christ when we are HUMBLE and FAITHFUL. We need to be patient with ourselves and rely on the Lord as we work to overcome our weaknesses.
I think a lot of gospel principles are intertwined. I've noticed that faith and humility apply to every principle. For example, we can't work towards perfection without being humble and knowing we won't ever be perfect in this life, but have have faith that we will in the next. We can't be patient without being humble and having faith. And we can't receive the great gift of grace from our brother Jesus Christ if we aren't humble and faithful.
I wish now to talk about this grace, since my eyes have been opened greatly to a better understanding of this concept that has always been a source of great confusion for me.
First, the talk by Brad Wilcox at one of the devotionals in the summer of 2011. I was present for this amazing talk! Read it! It is sooooo gooooood!
The main idea of this word "grace" is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ. In the Bible Dictionary it says "It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means."
Grace is the enabling power that allows us to build God's kingdom here on earth, something we can't do on our own. We need only accept this gift of grace by our humility and faith and hard work. "After all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23) the Lord provides for the rest. And that is beautiful.
I think a lot of this can be summed up in Doctrine and Covenants Section 11.
Verse 12: "...put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good..."
Verse 13: "...I will impart unto you of my Spirit which shall enlighten your mind..."
Verse 19: "...cleave unto me with all your heart..."
Verse 20: "Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea with all your might, mind and strength."
These verses all hit a chord with me. This is all I need to do to be a good missionary and a good daughter of God. This is all He asks of us. And He gives us so much in return. I testify that we will become better by striving to be more like our Heavenly Father and more like His perfect son, Jesus Christ.
"Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then if you desire, you shall have my spirit and my word, yea the power of God unto the convincing of men." (D&C)