Aug 30 , 2014
Gracias por la carta. (Usted debe send me written letters too.) I have been here for 17 years now. Or at least 17 weieks. So I decided that I should get a letter every day, since each day is really a week. Although it is probably a good thing that I don't get letters every day so that I don't get distracted. Tell Kalianne I look forward to her letter.
I love your rose bush analogy. I have been receiving tons of analogies while I am here about the Atonement, and coming to God.
-Having faith is like a baby learning to walk: the parent stands just outside of the baby's reach, so he has to keep walking. This helps him to learn and grow and become stronger (literally). But the parent is close enough to catch the baby if he starts to fall. The parent then sets the baby back on his feet to try again, but it's up to the baby to decided whether he will or not. This is so applicable in our lives. We all have individual struggles and trials that we need to deal with, and sometimes it may feel like God has abandoned us, but really He is standing an arms length away, ready to catch us if we fall, but hoping that we will learn and grow and strengthen ourselves by struggling towards Him despite our difficulties.
-The other analogy I received is relating life to a river. We must constantly be swimming upstream to get to and become like God. The process of swimming upstream is what makes us like God, because it strengthens us and makes us grow. If you stop swimming and progressing, you will get further from God because the current will carry you backwards. Christ is swimming with you through the whole process, allowing you to lean on Him when you need to, and helping to guide you through the rough patches. Christ has already swum your personal river once, when He performed the Atonement, so He knows how to help you and exactly how you will feel on your river path back to God. We are not only going back to God, but we are progressing towards becoming a God. As we accept the challenge to swim upstream and try to learn from it instead of complaining about how hard it is, we will become more and more like God until we reach Him. Also, as we swim upstream, it will (probably?) get harder and harder to keep going the further upstream you get. This is why it is important to give your bag of burdens (sins) you have been trying to drag with you to Christ. It will make you stronger to relinquish them, and give you the extra strength you need to continue to fight your way upstream. Satan will try to trick you into carrying heavy burdens with you by making them pretty or attractive, but you must resist those temptations.
The Spanish is coming along. My district is having an English fast on Monday=no English allowed, although some Spanglish is OK. This week we learned "I am going to ___" and "I/We/She/etc. is/are ___ing." Elder Durfee wrote me a letter completely in Spanish, and I actually kind of understand what it is saying (thanks in part to some help from my companions)! So that's cool. Especially since I used to have to google translate everything that he wrote, so it's a good thing I understand it better now, since now I don't have that luxury. But I still have to use my dictionary a little to figure out what he's saying.
I can't remember if I told you about Elder Bednar's talk "Character of Christ" that we watched our first Sunday here. It is SO good! You need to try to look it up if you can. He gave it at the MTC, though, so I don't know if it will be available. But it was on a Christmas if that helps. He talked about how conversion is "Consistently being what we know is true." That means that we need to LIVE the gospel, not only have a testimony of the truthfulness of it. And he said the same thing that you said--to become converted (=to become like Christ), we have to LOOK OUTSIDE OURSELVES. If we concentrate on trying to become like Christ by focusing on ourselves, it won't work. Only by losing ourselves and helping others can we truly change and become converted.
Hermano M shared something cool with us this week. He said that he ran into Elder Cook on his mission once, and asked him what his favorite part of Preach My Gospel is. He said that Elder Cook said that How to Begin Teaching (look it up in someone's PMG) was his favorite part, and is one of the most important parts of teaching (it is!) and that it was written on the other side of the veil. So that's really cool and makes me want to learn the ideas in each point better. Hermano M also had us spend 40 minutes reading the Book of Mormon to see what things were keeping us from being the best missionary that we could be. I only ended up reading about 5 verses with how much writing and reflecting I did, but it was a really eye-opening experience to have.
We had a really awesome lesson with "Miguel" (Hermano W) this week. Last week we went in with a really set lesson plan, but I didn't really feel like it went that well or that we were focusing on his needs, or that we met them. So this time we studied general topics we thought we would speak about, and had a challenge prepared for him, but we didn't plan it all out. Instead we went in and asked him what his questions were and focused more on his needs. We showed him Gracias a El (Because of Him) and it was super good. It always brings the Spirit. So it was a great lesson, and I felt like Miguel opened up a lot more and the Spirit was a lot more present. We also had much more equal participation in the lesson. That happened with our lesson with "Adrian" too--when we would plan things out too much, it was harder to follow the Spirit, but when we went in and just focused on his questions, it went so well and the Spirit was really present.
K,H,S--good luck with the start of school! Have some AWESOME missionary experiences, and tell me all about them! And make sure to study hard, but play hard too! Middle School and High School can be some pretty challenging years, but they are super fun if you make them be. Remember to look outside yourself--serve others every day, don't complain, look for the blessings in all things.
Missionary work is THE COOLEST thing you will ever do, and so life changing for you and for your investigators/friends! Make sure to be preparing your friends, addressing THEIR questions about the gospel (not saying all that stuff you want to say, but just the things they want to know/the Spirit tells you to say), and REFER YOUR FRIENDS TO THE MISSIONARIES! We had an activity during class where we went and asked some of the members that work on our campus for referrals, and almost everyone said they had no one that could use the message of the restoration! Now, I'm pretty sure that's a lie, because no matter if they are members, non members, investigators, inactives, whatever, the gospel is for EVERYONE! I know that is true. It is the one thing that will make everyone truly happy and bring them eternal joy.
Yo se que Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial. El se ama todas las personas y quiere tener una relaccion personal con todas las personas. Yo se que la iglesia es verdadera! Familias son forever! Y Jose Smith es una profeta de Dios. El evangelio makes us much mucho feliz y necesita estar shared!