Hola again everyone!
This week has been GREAT! We're starting to get a hang of things with Elder Black gone. My ability to speak Spanish has skyrocketed recently, and I can feel God's hand in every conversation! I honestly sometimes now finish a conversation with someone and later have to ask Elder Scalise to remind me if it was in spanish or English so that I'll know if he got all of it. It's just starting to be normal and I'm not just making jokes in Spanish, now I'm occasionally making spur-of-the-moment puns!!! I'm so happy you don't even know! Spanish people LOVE to laugh and joke around and so it's so much fun to be able to so easily put a smile on someone's face!
This week the ward held its trunk-or-treat and man did the people down here go all out! It was also their annual chili cook-off and you better believe there was as much a turn-out for that as there was for the candy! People in the South LOVE to show off their cooking (and they have good reason to)! Hermana Gomez came dressed up in my favorite costume of the night! She had a blond wig, bright pink outfit, and heels. We asked her who she was dressed up as and she said "Una Americana," an American Girl!!! HAHAHA we all died! I love the people down here so much! They all love simple pleasures in life, God, and family. That's how it should be: God, then Family, then just enjoying everyone and everything we may happen to encounter in this life. Life was meant to be enjoyed, not endured, and we can always work toward living that way even despite all the hardships and trials we go through day by day as we live according to the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ; because that's really what all God's commandments are: a roadmap of how to be the happiest we could ever possibly be in this life and the next.
Everything we do is hard and wonderful, I love it! Elder Scalise got talking about that while we were planning out this upcoming week a few days ago and at one point he expressed to me some of his concerns and then was shocked when I didn't get mad at him. Apparently someone had put it in his head that you can't ask other people to help you with hard things, that's not fair to them or something. I was just like "Ya...I'm just here to make people happy. I'm not exactly picky about...like anything." It wasn't anything big, but everyone experiencing a big change like leaving you're family for the first time really living on your own, not talking to them more than one email a week, working in a completely foreign area, speaking a brand new language that you were given 6 weeks to learn, it's not normal to just take it all in stride. It's gonna be hard. Ya we have varying degrees of abilities to adjust, but it's awesome to me to watch how God helps every single one of us to do it. I'll be honest (sorry family, don't take this wrong) I didn't really feel homesick ever out here. I miss my family and friends, but I haven't felt a tinge of regret for coming out here nor any desire to go back home or give up. I'm not normal. What I DID struggle with was feeling inadequate. I was really hard on myself for my faults as a teacher, a linguist, and a disciple of Christ for the first while out here. Then again when I started training Elder Scalise I started feeling more of the same, but this second time around it went away a lot faster because I had learned something that for some reason had alluded me all my life until a few weeks ago. We don't have to be perfect to be perfect enough. We should always strive to improve, but we don't have to wait until we get to a specific point with whatever skill we may be developing for us to be able to accomplish great things to help others along the way. I feel like I've been working so hard the last couple years to improve as FAST as I can instead of as CONSISTENTLY as I can. Elder Scalise and I are companions for a reason. One is that we have the same goal, help others to receive Jesus Christ and all the joy and peace that comes with living His gospel. Another, I believe, is that he's already taught me how to be okay with where I am and enjoy improving instead of struggling to improve. We can work hard to grow without being upset with ourselves :) Like Pres. Uchtdorf teaches us in the First Presidency message in the Ensign this month, "This race of discipleship [life] is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.And it makes little difference how fast we go."
On that note, this week's challenge will be along that same spirit: Pick a talent you have or are developing or want to gain. Pick something simple you can do to improve at it each day this week. Nothing huge, and it shouldn't take more than half an hour at most, just something you can do to practice or learn. Once you have that, plan out a specific time each day this week that you can do it. Don't set any end goal this time (although using goals is a powerful principle to help you improve), the only goal you should have this week is to do the practice part and improve. Doesn't matter how much, just do it! Then, at the end of the week, I'm going to follow up by asking how you feel about the talent, how much you enjoyed practicing, and if you got any ideas of things you will do in the future in order to continue to develop that skill. I know that as we strive to grow stronger in our faith, our relationships, and our personal abilities, we will come closer to God and be better able to serve His children on the earth.
I love all of you individually more than I can say. I feel the support from your prayers and your words of encouragement motivate me on this unique stretch of my personal "marathon" here on earth. Keep learning, growing, and becoming stronger, happier, and better!
Happy Halloween (which, btw, no one has told me what they're dressing up as yet...just saying! Haha),
Brother Reynolds has a SWEET car that he brought to the
trunk or treat!!!
Left to right: English Elder Smith, Brother Mayfield, Me, Elder Scalise, and the blur is Elder Farnsworth!