Chile, Week 41 (San Fernando District, San Vicente branch with Sister Pérez)

This week we saw the most progress with some recent converts. We have 7 converts under our responsibility and only one of them didn’t come to church because she went to visit her dad who’s in jail (you’d be surprised to know that’s a common Sunday afternoon activity here). But it’s really exciting to see that they are all progressing and those that were less active are becoming active again. There have been a lot of miracles to help them out. As far as investigators go… we need to find some more. Almost all the people we found are either getting baptized or we need to drop them now because they haven’t progressed. Hopefully this week we can find some new families to teach! The branch is going on a temple trip this weekend and a bunch of people we’ve been helping will be going for their first time. Also two families are going to get sealed! We even have some investigators that are going to go even though they can only see the outside of the temple, take pictures, and buy materials from the distribution store. That’s gonna be exciting to hear how it went for everyone afterwards.

So… I’ve been really deeply in thought all morning long and I’m still not really sure what to write. This week kind of threw my world out of balance. I won’t go into too many details, but basically Hermana Pérez and I were super stressed out and worn out Friday morning and we both kind of broke down at the same time in a mess of tears and emotion. It’s certainly not the first time it’s happened to me on the mission, but probably one of the worst. I wonder, do the elders ever have moments like that? haha. But anyway, we were feeling pretty depressed for a lot of reasons and prayed together to know what to do and have the strength to leave and work that day. I really didn’t think I could do it. I was completely spent in every way.

These are the moments when we need someone else to talk to. I wanted to talk to my parents, sisters, or good friends, but that’s just impossible. We can’t talk to our leaders cause they are elders and it wouldn’t be appropriate to call them about personal things. I couldn’t call the coordinating sister cause I am the coordinating sister. But when we prayed we both felt like we should call the nurse and talk to her. So we did. And even though Hermana Jett and her husband live far away, by a miracle they were going to be traveling nearby that day and had some extra time. Nobody ever comes to San Vicente, it’s a little town in the middle of nowhere. But they came to our house! It was super strange and unreal. Instead of leaving to work and following our plans, we sat down and talked. For hours. It was the reverse of what we do everyday. Usually we listen to other people’s problems and share with them how the gospel can help, but this time someone listened to us and shared scriptures to help us know what to do. Their visit was a miracle for me. I feel like my entire perspective was changed and I learned a lot. Then they told us to stay in the house for two hours more and rest and prayerfully study to know what we should do. What a strange day.

I feel like I’m not explaining very well. Those of you who know me, know how I am. I have an all-or-nothing, give it everything you’ve got until you collapse, extreme kind of personality. I was born that way, literally. My parents told me that as a baby I would occasionally cry until I couldn’t breathe and just passed out. Even as a baby I was passionate. As I was thinking about my life, I recognize that I have always been that way, in everything I do. If I am going to do something, I do it well and give it everything I’ve got. Sometimes it’s good, I’ve been able to accomplish a lot. But sometimes it’s really unhealthy because I don’t rest or take care of myself.

I think I’m like a short distance runner. When I run, I run fast and give it everything I’ve got. It’s an explosion of energy and passion that lasts a short time and then crashes to rest. It’s an okay thing for short distances, but the mission is a marathon. I feel like I started off running super fast, faster than everyone else and I felt good and people were impressed and complimented me on my fast progress. But anyone who has run a marathon knows that you have to pace yourself. If you burn all your energy at the start, you won’t have anything left to finish. I’ve crashed a few times on the mission, completely drained of energy and enthusiasm. It doesn’t last too long and then I get back up and run again with everything I have, but lately I collapse more and more and it’s harder and harder to get up again.

What I’m trying to learn is the balance in all things. I used a muscle analogy last week to explain how when we do the same exercise over and over again, we get stronger and it becomes easier. Something important I forgot is that even muscles need to rest to be able to grow. Exercise literally tears little fragments of our muscles and then they heal over stronger and that’s why we get stronger. But if I exercised all day and just kept tearing muscles without letting them heal, I would only get weaker, not stronger. I love President Holland. I feel like I relate to him a lot because he’s also super passionate and extreme and always makes me realize how I can be better. But even he admitted the importance of rest in his last conference address:

“In preventing illness whenever possible, watch for the stress indicators in yourself and in others you may be able to help. As with your automobile, be alert to rising temperatures, excessive speed, or a tank low on fuel. When you face ‘depletion depression,’ make the requisite adjustments. Fatigue is the common enemy of us all—so slow down, rest up, replenish, and refill. Physicians promise us that if we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill.”

I was reading in the Bible and Moses also had a similar experience. He was trying to do his duty, but working way harder than was healthy for him and the people he was helping. In Exodus 18 you can read the story.

13 ¶And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.
14 And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?
15 And Moses said unto his father in law, Because the people come unto me to inquire of God:
16 When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.
17 And Moses’ father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone.

Moses was wise enough to take the advice of his father-in-law and change the way he worked so he could have a life as well. I think a lot of good people with good intentions try to do too much. We need to follow the Spirit to know where the line is for each of us between magnifying our calling and doing too much. We shouldn’t sacrifice our health and happiness to serve God. There is always more that we can do, but that doesn mean there is always more we should do. Even good things have their limits. God wants us to be happy. We won’t be able to share happiness with the rest of his children if we don’t have it. Everything good has its season and balance. The mission is also something good, but that has a limit and must end. It’s only 2 years or 18 months because God has other important things for us to do as well. We must trust in Him and follow His Spirit to find the balance in our lives.

Ah! I wrote a ton again and I’m out of time. Sorry. Love you all and an extra extra special shout out to my little sis, Laura, who is turning 19 this week!!! AHHH! I love you so much Laura, you are seriously one of my best friends in the whole world and I’m so excited for you. The homework assignment for everyone reading this is to give her a gigantic hug the next time you see her. Also a shout out to my best friend Kent (Elder Thalman), who will be returning back to the USA this week! Super crazy. I know his family will be anxiously waiting to see him again and Honduras will not be the same without him. He is seriously one of the most amazing missionaries out there and a huge inspiration for me. Love you all and thanks for all your emails and everything. Have a great week and remember to slow down and focus on the things that are most important.

Check out this awesome video: http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2011-06-012-moments-that-matter-most?lang=eng

LOVE!
Hermana Berbert

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