So before I get into the details of this week, lemme give you more details about this miraculous invention called dearelder.com. With it, you can send me mail at anytime for free. All you have to do is click on "Provo MTC" and then plug in my information, which can be found on my Facebook cover photo. Mailbox 200! Make sure that you send it to the MTC though, or else I won't get it until I'm in the Philippines. I had always made fun of missionaries that freak out about mail, but now I'm one of those missionaries! Ugh, I love mail! Send me some? Even a few sentences of encouragement make my day. No pressure, but I'd love you foreva.
On to the nitty gritty. Last Saturday night, we practiced lesson one in English about 20 times. It was annoying at first, but I started to really understand the principles of the lesson and how flexible it is - you can fix the lesson to apply to whomever you're teaching and whatever the Spirit tells you that you need to hear. It strengthened my understanding a lot and helped me since I was being down on myself during the second half of my pday. My thoughts weren't where they were supposed to be, and I was mad at myself for that. I just get so sad that I'm not as focused a missionary as I'd like to be. I have a hard time forgiving myself, even for things I know I've been forgiven for. Trying to stay positive though. I'm my first conversion. I can't expect myself to change old habits completely with a few weeks.
Sunday was much the same. Very emotional. I fasted most of the day and looked for answers, but I wasn't feeling better. Then, after a very weepy sacrament meeting, Branch President Howard grabbed my arm and asked me if I was okay, because I didn't seem like myself. We talked for a few minutes, and though his answer was simple and something that other people had advised me to do, it hit me hard enough to make my mind snap back into place. He told me that I held the bar for myself too high, higher than what the Lord has set the bar for me. He said I expected myself to be perfect, and that is just not possible. He told me to stop hating myself for not being perfect when no one expects me to be. After that, the day turned around. I smiled. I ate dinner. I went to choir and fed my soul with music, and I wasn't down on myself for the rest of the day. I loved choir. It was almost 600 missionary singers - almost twice the Tabernacle Choir. We sang "Consider the Lilies", and it was so gorgeous and powerful - a real testimony to our Savior's love.
My experience Saturday and Sunday really made me evaluate myself. I opened my talk folder and lo and behold, a talk that the lovely Ashley Hale gave me - the I had not yet read - sat open before me, and it was entitled "What it Means to Be Perfect", by Elder Cecil O. Samuelson. And he talks about perfectionism, and it struck me as I read it how much I related to it. I loved the line that said that Jesus asked us "to be meek, not masochistic". I was amazed with how the first talk in my folder so easily reassured me that I'm not the only one struggling with perfectionism. I highly recommend the talk. It made me feel a lot better. Even though I still struggle with forgiving myself, I remind myself daily that I am a working progress. So that's been doing good. I'm not alone. I heard a song by Kaitlin Lunt called "Changed". In it, there are the lyrics: "I see a difference. I'm not the same. I've been forgiven of my mistakes. And all my weakness, and all my sins, WHATEVER happens, I will follow Him." Love that.
Monday's storm cloud took the form of our new investigator. Nel, played by Brother Roxas - or Broxas, if you will - is a quiet man with pamilya in the Philippines, and he has no mercy with us not knowing the language. Our first lesson with him was a train wreck. Worse than so. We'd walk in with a plan, only to have it completely derailed by one fatal word: "Bakit?" or "Why?" Ughhh, how I've come to loathe that word. We left the lesson laughing because like Elder Kelley says in the neighboring district: "If we don't laugh, we cry." Haha. On Tuesday, we taught Boboy, who is played by Brother Kovach. He's a bachelor fisherman. His lesson went a lot better. On Wednesday, I lost all sanity as I played patty-cake with a brick wall to distract myself from another failed lesson with Nel. Stop and picture that scene. A disheveled young sismish slapping a wall and mumbling to herself, "Bakitbakitbakitbakit." Yeah. It's not pretty. But, now at the end of the week, Nel's lessons have progressed and both of them committed to come to church on Sunday. Solid. Much like that wall.
A friend of Sister Richmond's and her companion's scriptures were vandalized in the classroom. Not as bad I was picturing, but all the same. Sister Cockrain's pages were cut on pages with dark scriptures, and the other Sister had key words highlighted with weird crop circle things in there around words like "hypocrite" and "evil". Scary stuff. It made me think of the mobs back in the old days. But we won't be scared away so easily. We have God protecting us.
The devotional on Tuesday was by Elder Lynn Robbins, and he talked about miracle missionary stories. I loved it. Our song in choir went amazingly. I miss music so much, it's such a blessing when I get to sing again.
The week definitely got better as it progressed. It went by really quickly, and I find myself singing "Woooooahhhhh WE'RE HALFWAY THERE! WoooAHHH! LIVIN' ON A PRAYER!" at least once a day now. Literally. A few more weeks of crappy food to go and then I'm off to my adventure!
Things that helped me this week: a lot. I got two letters from Margaret (thank you SO much), and they really lifted my spirits. But one of the things that helped me is this poem.
Dare to be a Mormon.
Dare to stand alone.
Dare to have a purpose firm.
Dare to make it known.
I'm making it known, guys. I'm going to be serving my brothers and sisters in the Philippines, and I am so happy knowing that I can help them. What a blessing in my life.
Sister Richmond and I decorated for Halloween, and her in a package her mom sent her, there was a little Halloween solar-powered dancing pumpkin man. SisRich gave him to me because she doesn't think he's cute. I do though. I named him Halloween Hank and when I'm sad, I watch him dance. And then I dance with him. I'll include a picture.
Earworms this week:
"Livin' on a Prayer" - Bon Jovi
"Livin' on a Prayer" - Bon Jovi
"Out there" - from the Hunchback of Notre Dame
I love and miss all of you so much. Be strong! Be brave! I hope all is well, and I pray for all of you every day.