Tuesday, November 15, 2016

6 Areas, 12 Companions, 18 Months!

November 14, 2016

Dearest family,

Well here it is, it still doesn't seem real but President already told me they really are kicking me out soon. I need
to apologize - my last p-day will be spent in meetings and baptizing G. So we don't have tons of time to write so I'll see what I can do. 

Alright so last Monday was consejo! I still don't really believe it. It was a completely different consejo from the one I first came into, but it was incredible. The Spirit was so strong the whole time. I honestly was so scared to give my taller because I didn't want to ruin the Spirit. But I started my taller doing something that set mission history. I made an Elder bench press with four different spotters talking about what kind of leaders we were going to be. It went well I think. We also got to see the new Christmas initiative! I am literally so excited because it is something I can do at home. So watch out family! I'm planning on hitting the ground running. 

Honestly it was such a special and bitter sweet experience. I cried more than I ever have in my mission because it finally hit me, that I actually have to leave this beautiful country and these wonderful people I love so much. There was a time that President asked us to take off our chapas (name tags) and just look at them. So many things came rushing to my mind. I remember my last dinner at home where Joe talked to me about what it means to wear our families name right over Christ's on our heart all day, every day. Yes, I cried. My whole mission I have tried my best to live up to my Savior's name, to never do anything that would shame Him while I was His representative.  And that I could live up to the name of our family and make those on both sides of the veil proud. It was such a tender moment to just sit and reflect and be able to just feel so much gratitude in my heart for the mission I have been given and not be sitting there wishing I had done it better. Even as I wrote this, I drew so much comfort from the fact that I do not need to give up the honor of wearing my Savior's name. I covenanted to do that already.  Even if others cannot read it, I hope to always live up to the two names that will always follow me. Chapa or no. 

After consejo there was the normal lío of pictures and goodbyes. I managed to put off the worst goodbyes for
last, but saying goodbye to sweet Elder Rivero broke my heart. But after consejo we had a tender moment where all of the people still there just sat down and chatted and enjoyed the spirit of the mission home. Then we got into a meeting with President where we finalized transfers and my favorite quote from that meeting came from President, "I won't tell you the new AP, I won't give away the upper hand!  You all have out shown me too much! If I don't hold some cards close, you might replace me!" We laughed so hard and then he told us anyway. I love President Andersen. Then we all sat down and had lunch and got to chat some more. Then we all got into the car and went to the airport to greet some new couple missionaries. It was so fun to just hug them and tell them how much fun they were going to have. Then we hopped on the cercanías and got back in time to work that night. 

We got to teach A again. Man he is so awesome! Progressing so well, I know that Hermana Peters is gonna take good care of him. Then we had our last noche de Hogar with L and E and M and G. It was so fun we got to talk about family history work. I'm so pumped to get going on that when I get home. 

Wednesday was supposed to be just a normal day, but after our first cita, Hermana Portas told me that her ear was hurting a lot. So we called Hermana Frost. She told us to go to the hospital, so we went got some meds and that was that. That night we had  a great time running around and doing citas and teaching people. We were so blessed this week to be able to teach so many people!

Thursday, last weekly planning. Yay! We started and then everyone in the world decided to call us. So we had to take care of a few things before we could get down to it. But then C and F took us out to lunch at a restaurante. I don't even remember the last time I ate at one of those. It was super good and we had a great time. I love those two so much! That night we went to the ER again for my companions ear. They told her more of the same... so yeah. 

Friday we had zone meeting. It was so good! I got to give a taller and a final testimony which was so strange. I
remember all of those missionaries who have always given them every zone meeting, so strange to think that I am one of them now. We all went out to eat at our favorite Bolivian restaurant after that and we had a grand old time. 

Saturday was my last full day of work. It was crazy but we loved it. You want to know why? Because almost every plan failed. We laughed because of course it wouldn't be any other way - it was so fitting for a last day. We also got to meet with G one more time before his baptism. He made me cry because he told us that his baptism was going to be unforgettable. Then he turned and looked at us and said, " Thank you. Thank you for teaching me, just thank you for everything". It got me. We all shared our testimonies and it was one of the sweetest moments of my mission. We also got to meet with S one more time that night. He has come so far in a year and I hope to hear that he keeps going! 

Sunday was such a bittersweet day. Church went really well.  A came and he loved it!  We were going to go to class with him but the bishop asked us 2 min before if we would be willing to teach the jóvenes (youth). So we taught them about how to be a Christlike missionary. It was so special to be able to talk to them and just tell them that it was my last Sunday and I didn't regret a moment of it. Then we bore our testimonies in sacrament meeting.  Then at the very end of the meeting the Bishop called Elder Bussell and I up to the stand. We were so confused, but we went up. Then the whole congregation stood and sang, God be with You till We Meet Again. I cried like a little girl. It was so tender. I love these people so much! They have forever blessed my life. 

Sunday night was a rush of meetings and numbers and eating with the Canos. It was a great day! 

Upon request these are some thoughts. But I honestly cannot do it justice. I plan on writing a little bit more later. 

This mission has been such a wonderful experience. I have been so grateful for every moment that I have been able to spend here. It is so interesting how those words can become so hollow isn't it? We say them so much they lose their meaning, but I really feel that the words that I want to use to express just how much my mission has meant to me, will never suffice. I remember a couple letters back I wrote you about what I had learned in each of my areas and I finished telling you that we would yet see what Malaga 1 was trying to teach me. Well I am sure I haven't learned all of the lessons just yet, that will come with time and refection on my precious time spent here. I have learned one major lesson that has changed my life. 

I have learned how to rely on my Savior. I have learned that having faith in Him means taking life as it comes, with a smile on my face, because I know I can handle what is sent, if I just recognize that I cannot do it alone. My whole life I have turned away, trying to do it on my own, trying to prove that I am independent. But there is such beauty in our total dependance on God and on Jesus Christ. I have learned that His love always surrounds me. 

Before my mission I thought I knew my Savior, I thought I knew him because I had felt his love come in and wipe away guilt and shame and lift me up. But on my mission I have really come to know my Savior. I have learned that His love is not conditional on my successful performance, because I have felt it lift me up during my biggest failures. I have felt His love come to me when I know I didn't deserve it, and I have felt His love as He has shown me, bit by bit, who He knows I can become. I have never thought someone could love me so much as to think I can become all that He thinks I can become. What I have realized is that it is my love that is shown through action. His love is always there, but my love is shown by the use of my agency in the way He taught. I hope to continue using my agency in a way that will please Him.

I gave this my best. It is hard to believe that this time can become more of a treasure for me than it is already, but I know it will. I don't need to tell you that when I get home I plan on hitting the ground running. There is no time to go back. I want to continue to show God that He can trust me, even outside of the schedule and demands of the mission. 

All my love,

Hermana Smalley

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