Sunday, April 3, 2016

Apparently everyone in the mission now knows how stubborn I am

March 21, 2016

Dear family,

I'm hoping you will understand the title as this email goes on, but this week we put together the missionary task force for our ward, thankfully all the RMs (returned missionaries) in our ward decided to let us on it. But it has been quite the adventure but so much fun!

I should probably start by apologizing in advance for this email, it might not make too much sense. Hermana Cole and I have been under the weather since last Sunday and finally have decided to take it a little easy. But my brain is a bit shot at the moment. So hopefully you will be able to make some sense of everything that has happened this week.

Tuesday morning we had district meeting. It was actually the saddest district meeting I have ever been to. Hermana Cole and I were sick, as well as elder Mitchell and Hermana Sanchez. So out of our 6 person district 4 were a little out of it. But that didn't keep us from learning together and having a good time. We all laughed about it in the end. After district meeting Hermana Cole and I had an eating cita with P and A. We're were kinda nervous just because eating had been a little hard for us, but we went and when we got there A answered the door and said, "Hermanas what are you doing? We don't have a cita” (appointment). Slightly embarrassed but so grateful we apologized and went home.

That night we had a cita with some awesome people who asked if we could come over to teach English. We had a great time getting to know them and then of course offered to share a little of our message. I know they got more than they bargained for, we got to establish an awesome foundation with them and I am really excited to see where it goes from there.

Wednesday morning we didn't get to teach anyone, but that didn't stop us from trying. We got to our door with 2 min to spare before mediodia, so we went to go find one more person to talk to. We contacted this man who wasn't very interested and ended up walking away midway through the contact. Awkward but normal. So we laughed it off and turned around only to see Victor sitting on his moto laughing at us. He had seen us contacting so pulled over to talk to us just in time to see the contact go south. We had a good laugh about it.

Wednesday night was actually such a good night. We taught English classes and some of my favorite students came again and we convinced them to stay for the noche de Hogar afterwards. So Iri is one of those students. She is a JAS [young adult] aged girl who knows the church because the Elders helped her father quit smoking. We haven't been able to teach her because she made it clear she wasn't interested. But we told her she could practice English with some of the JAS. So she stayed. In the end she had such a good time she forgot completely about English! So Ir also came to the noche de Hogar which was such a miracle because she has such little time.  So it started out us 4 girls. Then in walks  D, N, Ch, V, Ca, DM, and the Elders. It was then that I realized that we have an excess of JAS males in this ward. Interesting dynamic when all the investigators are girls. But finally E came in and saved the day. We had a super good time and it was the first real act of the missionary task force in San Fernando. Because afterwards E grabbed Isa's hand and starts showing her the chapel and explaining everything and Ir asked DM for a blessing. It was one of the most spiritual blessings I've ever heard and an amazing experience for Ir. Then we walked Ir home and Ca offered to walk with us talking about his conversion with Ir. The whole evening was just so perfect and both of our investigators had such a good time.

Thursday we got to teach Y again. It was so good she has officially made it three chapters into the Book of Mormon and told us she believes it comes from God. Hermana Cole and I were ecstatic. We tried to re-explain what that would really mean for her and her family, but for some reason I'm not sure she really understood what we were trying to explain. But we will just be clearer and bolder and eventually with the help of the spirit I know she will understand and see the need to be baptized. Later we went and taught ML and family with D. It was super funny because we were waiting outside for D who was running late and ML sees us standing outside her house and was like, what are you waiting for? We explained and it turned into the whole family waiting on the balcony for David and yelling at him for being late when he got there. We got to teach a fun lesson on the true church. What that phrase really means. I have realized that often we throw that phrase around like it is nothing. But what does it really mean that this is the true church of Christ.

To prepare for the lesson Hermana Cole And I spent a lot of time reading the talk by Elder Christofferson one of my favorite parts was when he talked about how God’s ultimate purpose is our progression and he chooses to use a church to help us learn and grow, how the church is about more than just feeling spiritual, it's about serving and becoming.

We finished by testifying of what it means to say this is the true church. I'd like to share with you my thoughts. I know that this is the true church of Christ. And that means that he is at the head. The counsel and guidance we receive from living prophets comes from a god in heaven who loves me just as much as he loved those in ancient times. His authority is found here and through following the gospel of Jesus Christ we can become all that He knows we can. The church is here to help us follow that path. There really is such power in that simple statement. I hope we never take it for granted.

After that lesson we had to run across town to meet up with V to go to another lesson. We scheduled this lesson earlier in the week with an Antiguo investigator but after reading his registro I was a little concerned because it seemed like he just liked to argue rather than listen. So naturally we were a little nervous to have a member with us, because I have been massacred in front of members before and I really wasn't looking forward to it again. But when we got there V asked if we could offer a prayer and he simply asked that the spirit could be with us and that we would be able to teach. And it was the coolest lesson ever.

I have always wondered how Elders teach, and I got to see just a little bit of it with V. And anytime M got carried away talking, V would just cut in and turn the time back over to us. We got to establish a relationship and invite him to be baptized. It was just super cool. On the walk home V started asking us about how the members could help us better in missionary work. We had an awesome conversation. I promise that there is a point to me sharing so much of this, but he told us he was sorry that all of his friends currently live in Cadiz so he didn't have people we could teach but he also told us he had signed up for all sorts of activities trying to make friends here. It was really nice to hear how much faith he had in the converting power of the gospel. Often we hear so much from members, o but I've already talked to all my friends they don't want anything. But Victor was like, that's no excuse, make new friends!

He also said something that kinda shocked me a little, he laughed and said, "oh sisters, missionary work is just so easy!" Dead tired sick Hermana Smalley and Cole tried really hard not to get angry. Because sometimes it just isn't. But I realized later what he was saying, sharing the gospel is easy. It is the most beautiful message anyone could hear.  It is truly the good news that needs to fill the earth. And opening our mouths to share it is so easy! If we let the joy the gospel brings fill us. I realized after talking to Victor that my faith took a little bit of a hit last transfer when everything fell apart. I stopped expecting baptisms. I stopped expecting investigators in church. I went through the motions without the hope that they would bring results.

I wish each of you could have a chat with Victor about missionary work and how easy it can be. But because you can't I want to encourage you to remember the joy the gospel brings to your life. Remember the experience of your mission. And allow that to encourage you to move forward and share it! President Morales said something that has really stuck with me, at if we aren't doing what we can to share this gospel we aren't living up to our covenants. And it is true! There are opportunities all around if we are praying and listening to the spirit. Please take advantage of them. I want to share some scriptures with you that really impacted me.

D&C 123 11 And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart-

12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it--

13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven--

14 These should then be attended to with great earnestness.

15 Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.

It is our duty and a cause that we can wear out our lives for. Sharing this good news with everyone.

Anyway. Friday morning we got to teach G again and it went well, he, as always had a million questions. But he told us that as he has been looking for God he has found himself happier and he feels the closest to God when he is with us. That night we got to teach cute Ir again and then the Elders gave us some blessings to help us keep going. Just because we still weren't feeling awesome and Satan was making us feel like bad missionaries for it.

Saturday morning Hermana Cole called the SHEs on me because I literally was miserable but didn't want to stop working. I talked it over with them and then we still went out and worked that morning. But I was so out of it I got us hopelessly lost and the Elders found us. Turns out we were in their area. That explains why I was so lost! We had an eating cita with Victor and his mom during mediodia. It was pretty funny because we were both so done. Stomachs killing us, and we get to victors house and he is like. I hope you guys like spicy food because I made some super spicy curry! I almost died on the spot. But Carlos came over to eat with us and he made such a fuss about the spice that no one paid too much attention to Hermana Cole and I slowly dying ;) nah it wasn't that bad it was actually super good. We got to teach R lesson 2 on the plan of salvation. It was a really interesting dynamic to be teaching with Victor but the investigator being his mom. But he bore amazing testimony of the plan and it was super good. Second act of the missionary task force was the tag team efforts of Carlos and Victor during that lesson.

We finally made our way back to piso and found that our door was covered in hearts and sweets. Then the SHEs popped out and surprised us. They had been so worried about us from the globe call earlier that they came to check on us. They ended up staying with us that night to work and I really was so grateful. I don't know that I could have gotten through that night any other way. First we had correlation. Third act of the mission task force. David Victor Carlos and the Hermanas huddled outside for correlation because there wasn't a woman in the chapel. But it was a really good correlation and we talked a lot about what we can do to help our investigators keep commitments (chapter 11). After correlation we went to meet up with the SHEs. After convincing them that we could still work I went with Hermana Watson to J & T’s house. We got to teach an awesome lesson and start teaching J’s brother. It was such a miracle.

Then it was Sunday! We had ward counsel and it was the best one yet! Victor talked with the bishop and made sure we started by talking about missionary work. It changed the whole thing! Everyone finally knew our investigators and how to help them! After Hermana Cole and I went to wait for M who said he would come. Victor came over and asked what we were doing and we told him. He got way excited and said, "sisters come on let's go find him!" And I said "walking out the front door won't help him get here any faster Victor" and Victor walks out the front door and what do you know. There was M. Victor saw my look of shock and said, "Revelation sister." We had a good laugh and then brought him into sacrament meeting. It was a beautiful thing to see our whole ward turn into the mission task force. M had such a good time and the whole ward was so excited to have him there. We loved it. When it came time for the third hour M was going to leave but our bishop walked in threw his arm around M and said. We are waiting for you to start the next part come on! So he stayed. It was so funny and beautifully effective. Then right before we left David's mom came up to us and handed us some food and said I just felt like you might need this!

I almost broke down crying. She had no idea we were out of food, and really hadn't had appetites for days because of our stomachs. It was the simplest act of kindness that just saved us! When the time to work came, we both felt awful. But went out anyway. We managed to work for an hour and a half then I saw my companions face. She literally looked like she was going to die. I realized how selfish I had been! I don't mind pushing my body to the edge but my poor companion doesn't need to suffer for that. We decided to go home and rest for an hour. We got home and the she's called us and confined us to piso for the night. We rested and then this morning got a call from Hermana Anderson who told me that I needed to stop being so stubborn and take it easy. Apparently everyone in the mission now knows how stubborn I am because the district leader, the SHEs, and president now were calling to tell us to slow down. So this p-day (today) we are gonna rest all day and then work tonight and see how it goes. Hermana Anderson said, "now Hermana Smalley, I know your Smalley family scripture and this needs to be a small day of rest so you can bring to pass great things later." We laughed together and I finally gave up and took the hint.

Anyway I don't want you to think that we are completely dead. It's just always been hard for me to know the limit. Especially with such precious time like the mission. But we are taking care of ourselves and seriously had the coolest week!

I also wanted to share one last thing super quick then I'll be done;) this last week McKay wrote me a letter. That I don't think he knows how much he helped me. He encouraged me to work every day a little harder. Trying to be better. He told me that he wished we could be companions for just one day, this week I have thought of that a lot. How cool that would be to go out with my big brother and teach. Then I realized that was exactly what the missionary task force is. Turns out McKay that all of them are your age, none are as cool as you;) and I still would love to teach with you, but for now we are working with them and whenever we do, I just imagine a Spanish speaking McKay and Joel. Anyway random weird fact. But this ward is incredible and takes such good care of us!

You are all wonderful keep your heads up! And wake up every day the way we do, yelling "HOY ES EL DIA!! Y voy a ser mejor"

Hermana Smalley

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