Guess what I learned this week? Missions are HARD!!! They are hard work. They are emotional. My heart is always full of joy or sorrow or the Spirit. It’s really something that only people who have served missions can truly understand. People always told me missions were hard and I kind of didn’t believe them that much. The schedule is rigorous. I hardly have a spare minute to think. We climb hills all day. We get rejected all day. The Chile mission doesn’t have dinner so we are always hungry. Our schedule is different so we don’t sleep until 11:30. My head hurts from trying to learn Spanish constantly. I pray until I fall asleep on my knees. It’s hot during the day and freezing at night. My companion and I are both itchy all over from fleas in our beds, we have to eat whatever people feed us, we never have enough time to plan, we feel responsible for people’s salvation, and we cry nearly every day.
But…. you know what else? Missions are soooo beautiful. This week we had an investigator get married and baptized and now their whole family are members. They are planning to go to the temple in a year and be sealed together forever. We have felt the Spirit speak through us and we are watching people find answers, peace, help and change their lives forever. These people have problems that are big and real and they need the Gospel so much. I’m changing too, a lot. It’s a refiner’s fire on the mission. Both my strengths and weaknesses are magnified and I am learning to depend on the Lord with everything I am. I’m changing and becoming a new person. More patient with myself, more humble, more loving, more understanding, more trusting. It’s beautiful. It’s hard.
I love this quote from when Elder Holland spoke at the MTC in Brazil:
“Start fast. Run hard, and to the tape! You can rest later, but right now we want you to run all the way, every day, every step until this is over. To give the Lord a full 24-month or 18-month mission, for your sake, for the church’s sake, for integrity’s sake, for the prophet’s sake. So start now. Just don’t look back. Just put your face to the sun and put your shoulder into this work, and give it everything you’ve got and savor every day! This is hard work. It’s the hardest work you’ll ever do. That’s why I say it is the most important work you will ever do. Plan right now for the stories you will tell your children about your mission. Live right now in every way to look them in the eye and put them on your knee and rock them on your lap and tell them that you loved every day of your mission. That you worked your head off! That you’ve never worked so hard in your life. That you were tired and sweaty and dirty and hungry and you knew how Paul felt and you knew how Peter felt and you knew how Mormon felt and how Moroni felt. And I promise you that your children will remember and never forget it.”
Despite all that, I think that if you don’t love your mission, you’re doing something wrong. Also if your mission isn’t hard you’re doing something wrong. It’s the same way with life. So how do we find the balance between the two? We can enjoy the overall experience of life/the mission without enjoying every single moment. I’m learning how to choose to be happy despite whatever circumstance I’m in. It’s an easy thing to say but not so easy to do. The best advice I can give is to be grateful. Pay attention to all the little wonderful things that happen each day. Count your blessings, really. Write them down. Pray lots. Ask for the peace and help that you need. Acknowledge your dependence on the Lord. Forget yourself. Go to work. Help someone else. Have a sense of humor when things go wrong. There is a wonderful talk about this called, “Come what may and love it.” When my companion and I are wandering around at 9:30 without any appointments and everyone in the streets is drunk and we are tired and itchy and cold and hungry, we just laugh. We find humor in our situation and it makes everything so much more bearable.
So speaking of funny things, who knew that it takes an eternity and a half to fill a baptismal font? Not this girl! So Saturday was crazy already with our baptism and then we were supposed to fill the font and it was so slow!! And people were arriving. So we started to panic. We started a 20 minute restoration video for everyone and ran to the kitchen and started filling giant pots of water and dumping them in the font. Finally it was full enough so we went and started the meeting and had talks and everything. Upon returning to the font, we realized that we had left the water running and the font was way too full now! It was going to overflow! Wow. So we got the same pots we used to fill the font and started using them to take water out of the font! All the while everyone was waiting and had no idea what was going on. I spilled water all over myself and on the floor a few times in my haste. Super funny. It all worked out though and the baptism was beautiful. Right after, Hermana Lovell and I sang “Divina Luz” (Lead Kindly Light). I was still out of breath a bit and we had only practiced the song once together, but it turned out great. As soon as we began singing I felt at peace. The Spirit was super strong and everyone left happy.
I love you all. I feel your prayers and they get me through. You amaze and inspire me constantly. By the way, if you want to read my companion’s blog and see more of what’s going on, she is awesome and the web address is: hermanaashleylovell.blogspot.com