So anyway, with all that out there, life is fantastic! I'm struggling with things and learning so fast! I love how much I'm being pushed in my ability to learn, to relate to people, to recognize needs others have, to be able to help, to cook, to speak Spanish, to explain things simply and clearly, to run even (since I got here, I've been companions with someone who did track and field before their missions, therefore I have begun to run in the mornings and I'm still waiting for that moment they keep talking about when you start to enjoy running...but it's fine, Elder Scalise is more my pace than Elder Black at least. Elder Scalise can run longer than I can but I can run faster on shorter intervals so I'm not dying every day, haha)! I just feel myself growing as a person and I finally understand why people describe growing experiences as sssttttrrrreeeeeeetttttcccchhhhiiiinnnnggg. I definitely feel like I'm really getting out of my normal skin! In seminary, or example, I liked learning about the scriptures, memorized certain phrases, learning Jewish background so as to understand the bible better, etc, but I never really put forth much effort to memorize where any of the scriptures were. Now I'm paying for that as I try and play "catch-up", but it's alright. I've learned the value of learning where scriptures are, memorized, and I'm memorizing one scripture (1-3verses) a week in English, Spanish, and the reference, and I've realized that the more I do, the more opportunities God gives me to use those very scriptures throughout each day! For example, one week I slacked and I didn't really memorize more than the location of Helaman 5:12 and basically what it's about. I thought, "If I need to use that, I remember enough that I know what it says and I can find it in a lesson." Well, wouldn't you know it, that Sunday I'm translating and someone chose to use that scripture without saying the reference early enough for me to find it in my Spanish scriptures before they were reading it and I was trying the best I could to paraphrase while thinking, "Fail........" I've been much more diligent since then :) haha and so that's just one example, but I just don't have time to share all the little and big moments where things have clicked for me. The only other thing I'd share on that note is that I've gained a new level of respect for my parents. Teaching well is hard, but what's several hundred times more difficult is learning that people aren't ready to learn when they need the answer, they're ready to learn when they want the answer. Sometimes you really just can't help someone until they've struggled long enough that they're finally willing to try something else and all we can really ever do to help people learn is set up learning opportunities. They are SO hard to set up, take so much time and forethought, and are really only effective when you're willing to let one after another go to waste until someone finally takes advantage of the opportunity and learns. I'm incredibly stubborn, and I can only imagine how much effort my parents put into giving me opportunities that I just discarded due to my own unwillingness to improve. But that's what God does each day. He doesn't make any o us learn anything until we ask for it, and in the meantime he surrounds us moment by moment with chances to improve, learn, grow, and free ourselves from things that have been holding us back from a greater level of joy. He waits patiently, even when we reject everything He gives us and turn our backs on Him, still He waits, hopefully, indefinitely, lovingly, watching our struggles and helping us even when we don't want His help. And when we finally realize that we can't do it, that our way isn't working, that we need help, He's already there, prepared to comfort us and tell us that it's all right, He understands, and He has something infinitely better for us than we ever dared hope. That's the story o the prodigal son. It's not just about those who are "wayward"; we're all in over our heads. Life in one way or another is too much for us, we don't know everything, we aren't perfect. Then when we finally turn to God humbly, asking to just be His servant so that at least we don't have to be hungry anymore, He runs to us, covers us, and rejoices and feeds us a feast, giving us more than we would ever dare ask for. I love my God. I've come to Him more than once on the end of my rope, defeated and downtrodden, and asked just to be a servant and each time I've been filled to my ears with the feelings of love and reassurance that I'm doing just fine so much so that I felt I'd bust at the seems. It doesn't happen infrequently, it's happened to me I can't say how many times in just the last couple of months. It's ok to be overwhelmed. Trust in God. Ask Him and others for help. Let them lift you higher than you can climb on your own, we're all in this together.
In the spirit of the season, and because we ALL need a Savior to make it through this world, the challenge of the week is to watch this video, think about one thing you can do to let the Savior help you improve this season, set goals to do it, then share this video and challenge, or your own challenge, with at least 2 other people this week. https://youtu.be/q_TEOyhy7Bg
I love you all to death and would love to hear about all that's going on this season! What a great time of year to focus on Jesus Christ by being a little more like Him, thinking a little more about others and a little less about ourselves. I know that God loves every one of you individually and that He won't let you completely fall, even if we have to go through a few rough patches for our personal growth. I love this gospel, I know that it's true. It can't not be, there are too many miracles in my life for me to be able to deny that. The book is blue, the church is true, I love all of you!
Have a wonderful winter week!
(P.S. I need ideas on non-hymn, Christ-centered Christmas songs to translate into Spanish like "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" for practice and to be able to sing to people, so if you want to input suggestions that'd be great! If it's a song that I likely don't know all the words to, it would also help for you all to find, copy, and paste the lyrics as well if you're going to send them. Thanks a ton!)