Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Week 3: 22 Minutes and Counting

Want to know something funny? I’ve been appointed to a leadership position: the CCM music coordinator. I think this is what I get for not hiding that I’m bored in class. Fortunately, you do not actually have to be good at music to fill this job, you just have to organize which classes who want to sing in church or at devotionals get to do so on which days. This requires speaking Spanish, which I love.

This week we got brand new teachers (we have one in the afternoon and one in the evening, and both were replaced). Consequently, much of this week has involved me watching other people learn Spanish and watching teachers try to make the elders in our group remember what it means to be missionaries, as well as realize that they will in fact have to speak Spanish all the time once they leave the CCM. As a result, we have done some pretty interesting activities. It makes me sad, to watch teachers, who have been on missions themselves and seen the gospel change other people’s lives, and had it change theirs as well, try to convince a handful of pampered white Americans who have lived in bubbles all their lives (sorry for the harsh words) that they need to rise to the challenge that is before them (of understanding and loving a new culture, and realizing how important the gospel is, especially for people who've never felt God's love before.) But for one of these activities the teacher had a little box like you would put jewelry in. He told us inside the box we would see who the best missionary in the world is, and he had us all come up one at a time to look inside. I thought it would be empty, because we learn things through the Spirit of God, and only directly through the people who are teaching. But, instead, inside there was a mirror.

The real humbling experience came later in the week, though. I had been feeling angsty, bored, wishing I could be out in the mission already, trying hard not to complain about having already read everything in the manual we're learning from and knowing the Spanish we're being taught - and not succeeding very well, because it’s hard to smile lots in a room without any windows. Then we went to CRE, which is this little building next to the temple where members of the church from the city or from other parts of Central America come to pretend to be investigators learning about the church. It was our second time teaching as a trio instead of a companionship, and we taught these two little old women. They were SO SWEET. They helped us come up with Spanish phrases when we were searching for them, they asked good questions, and you could just tell that they were so happy to be with missionaries it was hard for them to keep up the charade of not already being Mormon. At the end each of them gave each of us a hug and a kiss. I walked away from CRE that day walking on air. And while the teacher's best missionary in a box activity helped humble me, the shine of that mirror could never hold a candle to the light in those two member's eyes. I dont know their stories, or when they found the church, but it was written in the smile lines of their faces how much the gospel of Jesus Christ means to them. And they loved us, automatically, just because we have Jesus' name on our nametags and are trying the best we can to be the people he would want us to be.

In other news, did you hear about the 58 new missions?!?!?! This is so exciting!!!! I feel like that is a LOT of new missions at once. There's going to be another one in Guatemala (not by me, but by where a couple of the people in my group will be going) and a temple too. Also, 8 in Mexico and 7 in Brazil!! Wow :)

So I'm in a trio now, which was initially very difficult because me and my original companion, Hermana C., were just rocking the socks off missionary training and had everything settled and were happy together. Our new companion, Hermana G, was super sad about her old companion leaving early for the mission and was acting pretty reluctant to become a part of a trio. It was a really, really, difficult process to get to where we are now, but we're here! And I will characterize this new blissful state of trio companionship by explaining that Hermana G. sent me to the bathroom at the start of dinner last night so that she could cut up by meat for me while I was gone. (I really hate bones.) I came back and was so delighted! It was the sweetest thing. (And just so no one, particularly my mom, will roll their eyes or worry about me not eating food in Guatemala, I do totally eat it, I just don't like to dissect the bones, and Hermana G. knew that and instead of judging me, served me, which was really sweet.) So now, even though our personalities are pretty different and we don’t always see eye to eye, we laugh and sing together and are becoming friends. It’s exactly what I wanted, and perfect; and I am so grateful that we are getting along better. (As soon as I figure out how this happened, I will tell you.)

There’s lots more to say, but I will just end with the delightful news that I got letters! They seem to take about two weeks to get here. Thank you SO much to those of you who've written. Okay, I have to go because time is up, but I love you all much and I love being a missionary! :)

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