Monday, March 14, 2016

He must increase, but I must decrease

February 29, 2016
Hello beautiful family,
I hope this last week has been the best one yet. We had a pretty great one if I do say so myself. 

Just so you know last week Hermana Cole and I had a pretty great p day. We made brownie batter and watched the restoration twice. We greatly enjoyed ourselves actually. It was kinda fun to just relax in sweats for a while and just unwind. 

After we got to teach Ir in the chapel. We talked to her about Peter walking on water, pulling a little bit from the talks given by the Durrants in the ward a couple weeks ago. We talked to her about how she needs to "jump out of the boat" so that she can witness her miracle - or get her answer. We talked about actions of faith she could possibly take. Then she laughed and said, “Clever, clever Hermana Smalley because the biggest one would be for me to literally jump into the baptismal font. I laughed, and then got all serious and said." And?" I have to apologize in advance, this is the week Hermana Smalley got a little sassy. 

After we got to go eat with the patriarch and his cute family. Funny story, here in Spain, well Europe they are super big on scarves. I have a ton of scarves, but I just don't wear them every day, but any members that see us not wearing  scarves  give us some, and won't take no for an answer or take them back. So I'm developing quite the collection and learning to always wear one. 

Tuesday we had our first district meeting! Hermana Cole's very first one! It's funny that she had a zone meeting and conference before, but off we went to Cadiz and we had an awesome meeting, to get to know everyone one district we asked each other questions and of course the one that came to me was what is your most embarrassing moment. So in Spanish I had to share being locked outside my car without pants on. Fun. After district meeting we hopped on the train to Jerez! For intercambios. It was so fun to be with cute Hermana Garcia and Merrill. We ate cookie dough and worked really hard ;) I am so sad that Hermana Garcia will be leaving us this transfer. She has taught me so much about being genuine with people and just loving to listen. Hermana Merrill and I got to chat about old times and teach my first real lesson zero in a while. It was awesome! 

Wednesday night we got back to our area and got to teach some new people it was wonderful and we ended the night with M our ward missionary tell if us at one of her friends is ready to get baptized and it was basically just awesome! 

Thursday the heavens opened and poured down their fury on San Fernando. There was so much rain and wind I thought the earth was flooding again. It was the kind of storm the rips umbrellas from hands and knocks you over. Pretty cool if I do say so. Out we went. Not a person to be seen on the road. It was funny I was thinking, isn't it so neat that for the rest of my life on days like this I'll be able to stay inside, but for this day I get to go outside and have an adventure. So off we went to teach A and he was so impressed that we had come all the way in the rain to see him he listened to us and accepted our invitations. It was incredible. We are so excited to keep teaching him. On our way home we ran into victor an RM who got home last week from London. With all the rain he laughed and told us it reminded us of London. I realized it could have been much much worse. What if every day were like this. 

Friday we ate with David and his family. It was actually super fun, they started talking about movies and all that jazz. And decided that Americas have no taste in movies because we had no idea what movies they were talking about. We also passed by a member who is going to a different ward right now even though she lives in ours. So we are trying to help her feel more comfortable in the ward. She was so cute and just gave us the boost we needed to go out and keep working. We got to teach J with D which was perfect because their crazy dog who normally attacks us attacked D instead and we got to teach the lesson :) 

Saturday morning we got to help a family who is moving. And it reminded me a lot of when we were leaving New Jersey how the whole ward came to help out. Isn't it such a marvel what we are a part of? Is church besides being the kingdom of God on the earth is a huge family. It amazes me every day how lucky I am to know of it and be a part of it. 

Saturday night we taught M. Yes dad I read your letter to him. He loved it, he thought it was pretty cool you took the time to do that and made me promise to tell you that as long as I am in San Fernando he will be watching our backs and making sure nothing happens to us. And we are working on the second part of the invitation but he really is making progress very slow but definite progress. 

Sunday was honestly a magical day, we had a bunch of investigators come to church and we just felt so full of the spirit. Taking the sacrament is still such a wonder to me, I love every chance I get to take it and then feel like a "perfect" missionary at least in that moment;) then during relief society I was just hit with how wonderful it was that I am here with ease amazing women. As missionaries we are part of the ward but also a little bit on the outside looking in because everyone knows we aren't permanent. And I just am so grateful that I can be here and know see amazing women doing all they can to build Zion here in Spain. Yes I got emotional. 

To be honest this week was a blur, we saw a lot of miracles and a lot of big disappointments. We found news and got dropped by a lot of promising people. But it's all in the Lord’s plan, he knows what is best and what we need. I at least have learned so much in his area about myself I cannot believe it. 

The weeks seem to be slipping by faster than I can accept. This week I realized officially marks my 9 months mark in the mission. I cannot believe the wonderful opportunity that I have to serve the Lord. I cannot believe how patient and understanding he has been of my faults for the past 9 months. The fact that he continues to allow me to represent him is still such a miracle.

This week I was reviewing "becoming a preach my gospel missionary" and something really stood out to me. In John 3:30, John the Baptist talks to his followers about following Jesus rather than himself: 

“He must increase, but I must decrease”

This really hit me. I realized that in this work I must stop thinking of myself, in every word and action I need to be pointing others straight to Christ. That is the goal of every Latter Day Saint no? But how much more necessary in missionary work, as representatives of Him that we completely forget ourselves, and try to do all we can work all day, and hope that for all our efforts people's attention is only pointed to Christ.

A while ago I took the challenge from conference to ask "what lack I yet?" I had been a little discouraged when I felt I hadn't received an answer. But I know now that I must work on this. It surprises me that such a huge problem was staring me in the face and I didn't see it. I came on the mission for love of God. But I really want to give all I have for a similar love, for God and his children. I want to be able to do all I can, give all I have and then just as Christ said at the end of his mission, be able to say "I did what I was called to do, but only through the merits and mercy of Christ, glory be to the father"

I am so grateful for the lessons I am learning and the ways he sent father helps me improve. I have been so grateful for every experience I have had on the mission because I have changed so much from who I was before. I look back on the last 9 months with so much joy and gratitude and so much hope for the next 9 to come. 

Love you all so much!! 
Hermana Smalley 

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