Whooh! Thinking about time is dangerous on the mission. Could I really have been out 3 months already!? How did that happen!? I have a new companion now, Hermana Martinez! She is from Mexico and is really awesome. She has this amazing talent of bringing the Spirit super-strong into lessons and she is full of energy and desires to work hard. We are already seeing miracles together. She actually left for the mission at almost the exact same time as me, but she wasn’t in the MTC as long so she has a little more time in the field. We are both super newbies still but it’s awesome. AND, she wants to run with me in the mornings! Which is rare with Latinas haha. I’m really, really improving in my Spanish now because…. well, I never talk English anymore. There is nobody to talk in English with! I’m starting to think and dream and even have memories in Spanish and it feels much more natural. I made a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon in Spanish and that has made all the difference. I’m already in Alma and I’m learning super fast. I feel like my English is not as beautiful and articulate as before but it will come back so I’m not worried.
It’s amazing to me to see the faith of some of the people here. Then there are other people who just hear what they want to hear. We talked with a man the other day about baptism and how this is the only church that has the authority of God to baptize. He agreed with everything we said and then said, “I respect your way of worshipping but I think all churches are good, and the important thing is that we are worshipping God.” This is a concept that is really hard for people here to understand, that God is not variable and there aren’t multiple truths. He has one church, one way that is simple that we can return to live with Him again. We can’t worship however we want and just hope that it works out! God has a specific way for us to follow Him and a baptism without His authority is nothing more than a bath. The power of God is necessary to really cleanse someone from sin. It seems like every other person we talk to doesn’t understand this principle. Any ideas of how to explain it simply? Maybe with an analogy or something easy to understand? We use an ice-cream truck analogy a lot but it doesn’t always work. The idea that if someone in an ice cream truck pulled you over for speeding you wouldn’t pay a ticket but if a policeman pulled you over you would, because he has authority. Most people here don’t have cars….so maybe that’s why it doesn’t always work to explain this. If you have ideas, shoot me an email!! ☺
But to be more positive, there are lots of people who have tons of faith. We started teaching a father named Jorge and after the first lesson, he started praying and looking for another job so that he can go to church on Sunday and bring his family! After one lesson! He is so great, so full of faith. A lot of people can’t be baptized just because they work on Sunday and they aren’t willing to make big changes in their life to go to church! For this we use 3 Nephi 13: 31-33 a lot:
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.
I know its true. I know that when we really put God first in our lives, everything else works out. He will provide for the rest. He loves us so much. He wants us to be happy and He will give us every blessing that He can and that we let Him give. I know that the commandments are blessings; they are a perfect map to happiness that is lasting and beautiful. By following them, we put ourselves in the circumstances where the Lord can bless us more. For example, if I decided to kill someone and got put in jail, I’m really limiting the blessings that God can give me because of circumstances I chose to put myself in. The Lord is always going to give us every blessing that He can. We just have to obey his instructions to put ourselves in the circumstances to receive them.
God respects agency so much that He also allows us to choose things that will make us unhappy if that’s what we decide to do. He makes it very clear how we can find happiness if that’s what we seek. It’s hard to see people choose not to accept the Gospel when I know how much it can bless them, but I have to respect their agency. It’s also because of agency that sometimes bad things happen to good people. I used to think that sometimes God would give me trials or make bad things happen so I could grow. Not true. Nothing bad comes from God. Life is naturally going to be hard because of the agency of others and Satan constantly fighting to make us miserable like he is. God helps us use the hard things to grow and become stronger. He gives us strength and comfort to get through them. He never wants to see us suffer and He doesn’t ever make bad things happen. He will only bless us and the more we choose to follow Him, the more He can bless us!