Wednesday, September 21, 2016

That's it! I'm Done! I am not celestial material!

September 19, 2016

Dearest family,

It has been the week of weeks. I am honestly speechless looking back on all that has happened. I just want to start by testifying of the love that God has for each of us. It is infinite unchanging and constant. I'm sure I will touch this topic again as I go through the week, but this week God has shown me in a very personal way He knows my name, he knows the sound of my voice, and He is mindful of all I am facing.

I talked about the wonderful consejo that we had last week with Elder Zwick. I might also mention that during said consejo I had to run to Hermana Whaley to grab some pills to try and hold off the sickness that was coming in fast. I managed to make it through the meeting, but after I kinda died. I sat down and mostly talked to Elder Adcock trying not to fall asleep. We finished writing over at Vialia so that we all made it out of the church. But as we headed home that night it became obvious that my body could not handle any more. We did splits and Hermana Hauber took me back to our piso and I took some sleeping meds and I tried to not exist. Little did I know Hermana Hauber decided to come talk to me. Mind you I was sick and on medication. You can only imagine what this conversation must have sounded like!  We were laying down in beds talking about the mission and she asked me what the best advice I could give her would be.  I told her to stay. Just stay, ride the wave, love the Lord, and choose to be happy. Not he wisest words from Hermana Smalley but that was about all I could muster. As I talked with this sweet Hermana she inspired me with her sincere desire to do right and give everything she has to the Lord. After that I promptly fell asleep.

Random throw in: San Fernando was divided into 3 areas!  President asked me to figure out how we could put a new area there and take care of the maps and all that.  It was so fun, I felt like it was my little baby. Also, “I” spoke in stake conference. And M is finally getting baptized on Thursday!  I almost cried. I am so happy for everything that is happening in that wonderful place.

Tuesday morning was, well a gem of a morning. We still had the SHES from Sevilla with us. I wont lie, I woke up at 7:30 said, "hoy Es el dia!" and then went back to sleep because I felt so awful. I woke up to President calling - we had an emergency with some Hermanas in the mission and he was telling us that we would need to be with them for the rest of the day.  Me and my cute companion were completely dead, and well, she kind of lost it right there on the kitchen floor. The cute SHEs from Sevilla did their best to take care of us and we called the elders to get my companion a blessing. We went over to the church and Elder Holman gave her an incredible blessing. The biggest thing that caught my attention was that he said, "your Heavenly Father knows you and your trials and all that you are called to do, and he would like you to remember that he is God." That line made me think of the line in Helaman 10:6 where it says, " behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God" it is a line repeated in various scripture with differing names. But that has always called my attention. I love how God reminds his servants… I know you. I know your failings. I know your imperfections. But I am God. And I know what I need you to do. It doesn't matter who you are if you know who I am. After the blessing we went back to piso and it was my turn to fall apart.

Without too many details I just want to tell you, It has been rough.  This new assignment has been more taxing emotionally spiritually and physically than I thought.  I don't mean to complain, it has been a privilege.  But it has been hard.  Missionary work is hard, but there is so much gratification knowing you are serving the Lord.  Knowing you are doing as He asks and doing His will. Yes, missionary work is hard, but not doing it is harder.  My whole mission I have not been perfect, but I have been able to get on my knees and say with confidence that I was obedient to my best ability every day. With all the new things happening I haven't felt that. It has crushed me. I have talked to a lot of people who have told me a lot of things about how serving missionaries is also missionary work. But I know that the small chink in my armor of not feeling obedient was what Satan used this week to make me feel worthless, inadequate, and incapable.  Wow, bleak right? But that's about where I was Tuesday morning. Small clarifier. I have still been obedient as much as possible it has been my own self-doubt that was the problem here.

Anywho, because of the situation we had to move the Sevilla Hermanas from our piso, so we took them to the other she's piso in Malaga and on the way back stopped by my dear Malaga 4. There the elders met up with us to give me a blessing. Elder Rivero and Elder Adcock had come in from Jerez the day before and were staying over there. It was a tender mercy for me to have them both there and be able to ask for a blessing from them. Mainly I went into that blessing just wanting to know how my Heavenly Father felt about me.  I felt like I was completely dirty and useless and I needed desperately to feel His love for me.  I honestly gave no explanation for the reason I needed a blessing (we try to avoid the emotional junk around the elders) but during the blessing 3 words hit me like cold water at 4 in the morning. You are enough. I was told over and over how much I was loved and how my efforts were sufficient.

Those elders will never know how much they helped me that day. Just how much I needed to hear those words and just how much they healed a lot of hurt. I knew that that night I needed to be strong for some other Hermanas and I just couldn't find that in me. But after that blessing I knew that all I needed to do was help them feel the love of their Father.  I have gained such a testimony of the priesthood this week. It is a scary thing, needing to rely on other people for my access to the blessings of the priesthood.  But I am so grateful for every man who keeps himself worthy so that he can be an instrument through which I can hear the words from a loving Father.  Please stay worthy. Please be ready.  We need you, but we need the best of you.

That night we had some Hermanas come in and we told them the plans to go out and work and they both just burst into tears. Blessings round 4 for Tuesday. We brought them to the church and Elder Quispe and Bussell gave them both incredible blessings that helped the situation immensely. We then went and picked up Hermana Clark and Stephens from the train station. We had 6 Hermanas in our piso. It was a party. A party I tapped out on. Too tired.

The next morning we were up at 6 to get ready for the conference at 7 I got a call from Elder Adcock telling me that his zone wasn't coming. The San Fernando zone was stranded because their bus never came. 2000 euros in taxis later, they all managed to get to the conference an hour late. Crazy stuff I tell you!  Well any way Elder Zwick shook all of our hands again. He asked us to please be thinking of what we wanted to feel and hear today. Again the only thing I could think was I want to know my standing with God. As I went to shake his hand, he grabbed my hand and said, "Hermana Smalley, I understand you had a rough night last night. I want you to know no one else could have done it better, you are needed right where you are."  My jaw dropped and I sat down and cried. Yeah, I've been crying a lot lately. The church is true folks. I needed to hear those words so much.

The whole conference was incredible. The biggest take away I got was that there is so much that I am
 not. I am not smart enough to do this. I am not charming enough, nor strong enough. But that brings on a whole new meaning to one of the Lord's titles doesn't it? The great I AM. It doesn't matter what I am or what I'm not. Because I serve the great I Am. If I trust in Him and give Him my all, He will do the rest. Because He is able.

After the conference we all ate together and I got to talk to Hermana Spangler and Hermana Bailey about San 
Fernando. I love those two!  It was so fun to talk to all of them. Also, Elder Bingham came up to me and asked, "Are you the Hermana Smalley?"  He explained that mom wrote his mom and he received a huge email all about me.  Haha - thanks mom.  It was fun to be around some old friends but I was just astounded by how many people I didn't know. Elder Holman and I decided to be unsocial together - we passed it well

That night we still had Hermanas with us, but Hermana Clark had had it. We had to wait around a lot while President did interviews ext., but she wanted to work together in our area. So we snuck out and did some good old fashioned missionary work for the rest of the night. We went back to the chapel and picked up the Hermanas and brought them back to our house to sleep.

Thursday morning we still had Hermanas with us, but we weekly planned or started. We had a lot of interruptions but hey, we tried our best. Thursday night we went on splits and I went to “F” with the elders and he passed his baptismal interview! Milagros!  Then we went to the church and had a meeting with President. Yay. Then I was back with my dear sweet Hermana Clark. We went to E’s house and ate some wonderful food and talked about what it means to believe Christ. Not just believe in Him.

Friday morning we had our first transfer meeting. Woohoo. Sorry folks no details here besides it was 
long and there is so much that goes into transfers. It's chill. We taught F that night and then got to teach an awesome member present lesson about lesson 2 to G. He is 17 and awesome! Lesson 2 just makes so much sense.

Saturday was supposed to be F’s baptism. I woke up and just knew something was going to go wrong. I had a bad feeling all day. But we went about our day doing preparations ext. If you ever get too sad, I want you to picture two Hermanas in the store looking for white men's underwear because they need it for a baptism. It was so uncomfortable! Anyway we went to the church at 6 and F was already there. Everything went smooth. He was baptized. No problem. It was amazing! Hermana Clark and I had to sing while sick, less amazing. But still fun. After he got up and bore his testimony and he talked about how up until now he had been alone, but how he had found a great family here in the church and he just wanted to do all that God wanted him to. It was so touching. He is incredible.

Sunday church was good, normal day. Except that night I just had a Hermana Smalley moment. We were walking home for the night and we were both tired and I just threw up my hands and said, probably a little too loud, "I'm done! I quit! I'm not celestial material!"  I pointed to a line on the ground and said, “I feel like I keep telling the world I won't go any farther and then I keep being dragged onward.  I refuse to go past that line. I'm done!”  Hermana Clark looked at me and said okay.  And went and sat down on some dirty steps. I sat down with her and we both just burst into tears. Yes folks. Long week. We started talking we realized that we were two very small Hermanas in the middle of a busy city on the other side of the world from home trying to take on the world. But at least we knew why. We sat and talked about how the knowledge of who we really are is the only reason we have been able to keep going.  I honestly don't know how people do it.  But it seems like a very brave and lonely thing. But that's why we need to keep going. Because even though we are small we are on the Lord’s errand.

I know that this has been kinda a downer of a letter. And yes. A long one. But I felt like I should be pretty frank about all that has been happening here. But don't think I have been left with this negative attitude. I have learned so much. That God is real, He knows me and will support me in all that I am facing if I let Him. I am Erinn, and He is God. I need to understand that Christ is more than just a friend and example. He is my Savior. He died to help me in this life. Life is a grand adventure. I am so grateful for all that I am learning even though it can be hard. It is always worth it.

Love you all!

Hermana Smalley

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