I have been receiving the “dear elders” that have been sent. (Find out how to “dear elder” Julius on his contact page in this blog). I would love to hear about home life and what’s going on for everyone in the "real world". Thank you so much for caring about me while I try and make it through this 6 week "boot camp" they call the MTC (haha).
This week has been an interesting one. It has definitely been the hardest emotionally and mentally, but I made it through and I’m going into the final stretch. On Wednesday I was able to host the new missionaries, which was a really cool experience. I helped 3 missionaries get acquainted with the MTC and figure out what they need to be doing. I guess after a month of the MTC I’m considered experienced! Hosting was really good because it got me re-invigorated for missionary work! I left that day feeling re-energized and re-motivated to learn the language and to be the very best I could be. I definitely would suggest hosting to any missionary who gets the chance.
This week my companions and I had lunch with a native from the Congo, Brother Kalenga! What an amazing man! He told us about the living conditions and the baptismal rates/teaching rates which of course made me more excited to leave for Africa! I learned that the average companionship experiences 22 baptisms a month and that we’ll be washing out clothes by hand in the sinks. Heavenly Father (God) definitely sent me to right mission! (And I mean that in all seriousness). Also my companion, Elder Leavitt sprained his ankle pretty bad so hopefully it heals before we leave for Africa.
Our lessons this week have been a little rough, if I’m completely honest. We seem to be having difficulty connecting with Francis. Logically our lessons should be fantastic, we've nailed down transitions within our companionship and put a lot of effort into preparing; however, once we get into the lessons it seems like none of that makes a difference. It can be difficult to not become discouraged about the “lack of success" we seem to be having. But every day you just have to do what the Lord is asking, and for us that’s preparing another lesson every day.
I had another experience this week that was very important and a good learning lesson spiritually for me. We were teaching Eloise, our investigator; we had planned on teaching about the Plan of Salvation, but first we needed to follow up on some reading she was supposed to do. She told us she had read the Book of Mormon page after page after page. We were excited and congratulated her on her progress. The only problem was she didn’t want to pray to know if it was true. So with this in mind we continued with our lesson plan. But I felt the spirit prompt me that we should talk about the Book of Mormon. I disregarded that thought and let my companion continue with the lesson plan. That prompting kept returning and at one point in the lesson I came so close to stopping the lesson completely and changing topics. But I figured that would be foolish, so I continued with what we had planned. At the end of the lesson our teacher told us that our lesson was good (which was true, our lesson was good; we had prepared and testified of truth) but she then said that Eloise could have been helped more by hearing about the Book of Mormon and restoration. I felt awful!! I literally wanted to cry because I knew what had just happened. So lesson 1 in this email: However inconvenient the promptings of the Spirit (Holy Ghost) may be, always ACT on those promptings. We have had many lessons since and they have been fantastic, but I will always remember that one lesson and I’m grateful for it.
I also learned this week during a fireside devotional, (a church meeting held in the evening usually with a guest speaker or special topic) where we learned about Joseph Smith and the restoration, something I have learned about for years and years, but this time it took on a different tone. While learning about Joseph Smith I recognized that those humble beginnings for the Church have expanded into something far greater than any of us, and in actuality it has always been that way. During that time I learned one thing that I think every missionary has to know if they are going to participate in this effort. And that is this: "This is the work of an Almighty God." That simple truth makes everything else worth it. Every bad lesson, or missed opportunity, or short coming is replaced with faith and hope and love when a missionary knows that.
I am so grateful that I can participate in even a small portion of this work in the area I will go to in Africa. Being a missionary is hard, but I love every minute of it! I’m sure some of you read this and feel like I’m preaching to the choir, because you may all already know this! But all of this I learned is true for missionaries as well as for each of us in everyday life too, “faith, hope, love, growth, share, and be happy knowing that God does love and care for each of us, even when we feel like we are failing.”