Hola hermanos y hermanas y padres y amigos y conocidos!
How great it is to have someone to tell all these crazy experiences we have! I love knowing that someone cares, even if it's just my family but especially any of you who listen to what I have to say without having any connection to me that would imply that you are obligated to. I really do appreciate it!
Family, I'm so happy the new house is done! That's so fun to be able to live in it! That's got to be satisfying to know that you put so much work into a project that, though not finished, is now usable! We've been helping the Cruz family, a family we hope to teach someday but are friends with now regardless, to reconstruct basically from nothing their trailer home so that they can move in. They plan to move in by the end of the month! It's been great for me to imagine that, each time I was working on their house, you were probably doing the same each Saturday. I don't know what new skills you all have learned in building the house, but I've learned how to put up sheet rock, patch holes in roofs, paint, take out old flooring, replace window panes, and replace doorknobs and locks! I feel like I should have spent more time with Grandpa preparing for my mission! Marshall and Mason, you all are definitely getting good "mission prep"! I've been able to work on car batteries, cables, cut down vines and trees and uproot stumps! I tell you what, I've gotten pretty handy with a machete! (Minus one event that mom shouldn't read so Mom skip to the next paragraph. Basically I'm hacking at this mess of tangled branches and I get to one thicker branch that is taking a while to cut, so I get to the point where I feel like I can get it in one more swipe and when I hit the branch my hand keeps going but the branch doesn't break; the blade had broken off the handle, flew through the air, and bounced off my neck. Everyone froze and I waited for the pain but nothing came. Felt my neck and not a scratch! The BACK of the blade hit me! It was a miracle and the homeless guys helping out attested to that, whistling and saying their "I'll be darned"s. Just know, God protects us out here.)
So now that Mom read that even though I said she shouldn't, the moral of the story is, unlike Mikell's mission, we don't have close encounters with death due to traffic very often, but we definitely have them and we're always protected when we're obedient to God's directions.
Elder Scalise's Spanish is improving to the point that he doesn't get lost in conversations too much anymore; It's rare that someone doesn't understand what he's trying to say; and he has improved his studying and practice to the point that, now, he's learning as many or more words a day as me! It's just that first transfer getting adjusted to everything that seems to limit people, but once you get in a rhythm and can trust that God will help you, He works miracles through us day by day! I feel like I'm just sitting back and watching it all take place more than actually causing anything to happen out here. We're just in the right place at the right time doing the right things and BAM, someone else's need is met. Over and over I see this same pattern. It's just mind blowing to me how clear it is that God is active in the affairs of men, yet it's so easy to miss it if we don't believe or look for His hand in our lives.
And thus we come to this week's challenge: In your journal or planner or something that you see each day, write one thing every day that God did that you are thankful for. Not something general like "gave me my family" but something that happened on that specific day. "I saw a rainbow when I was feeling down" or "I almost cut myself slicing an apple but He helped me notice and avoid that." It can be something big, too, but it doesn't need to be. Just write down something before you retire to bed. Don't limit yourself to one thing either. You don't need to frustrate yourself with "Oh which one of these three is the best" or whatever, just write all three down! In fact, I expect that, by the end of the week, it will be easy for you to name off five or six things right off the bat! But if you just take that extra moment to write it, not just think it, I know that you will be blessed with more gratitude, patience, joy, and contentment at the end of each day. You will be able to recognize the small, personal blessings that God gives us each day to help lit our spirits.
I know that God is mindful of each and every one of you. I know that He knows your struggles and concerns as well as your passions and goals. He wants you to be happy and successful and as you let Him direct your thoughts and actions, you will come to feel more gratitude, and thus more joy, each and every day. I know that He lives and that Jesus Christ is His living Son, the Savior of all the people of earth, the children of God. They love us no matter what we do and will always want our lasting happiness more than anything. I love you all as well and hope that you all can continue to grow and learn and obtain the joy that comes free from being grateful.
Love you all from my head to my toes and with all my heart!