Hey there family and friends!
I am happy to report the mail people are no longer on strike, so feel free to send letters. Emails are great, too, because I can print and read them - so really, whatever. But I have yet to receive a letter in the mission (cough, FAMILY), so maybe that would be a cool experience...someday...
First, you must understand that missionary life is THE single most stressful thing I have ever done in my entire life. For those of you that know me, you know I have had a lot of stressful responsibilities...so just imagine that. THE MOST STRESSFUL. Sometimes I just want to stare at our one light in our living room and not think. In this letter, I decided to share with you a game that my companion and I play to help us laugh and stay alive. My companion gets slap-happy after 9:00, so forgive me if these aren´t as funny as I feel they are...
YOU KNOW YOU ARE A MISSIONARY WHEN:
You are sitting at night eating a snack and someone mentions a scripture about ¨let your soul delight in fatness¨... the someone goes and gets their scriptures to look up the reference. (See Isaiah 55:2)
You are in a member’s house, wondering why you are there because the nonmember son you are supposed to teach has failed to show up...and then you ask the member if they know that the church is true. The member replies ¨¨No.¨ Okay, now we know why we are here. Promptly begin lesson 1.
You purchase a treat from a street vender on your way home, and you give him a Book of Mormon. Then you laugh because he thinks he got money and a book, when really we just gave him money and the key to salvation in exchange for a treat.
You talk about your old ward more than your family and friends...aha.
You imagine ¨ideal situations¨ of contacting and teaching, and realize you need a LOT more faith to make those happen.
You are bearing your testimony in a foreign language and the door rings – twice (as if bearing testimony in a foreign language wasn´t hard enough).
You encourage dogs to bark at you...so people will come to their doors.
Planning the next day is the best part of the day you planned.
All the people disappear from the streets...but they aren´t in their houses either.... hmmmm....
Your elbows are dry and cracking and you can´t think of the last time you tended to your elbows. (It is super hard to think about bodily needs such as dry elbows here, we barely have time to shower and use the bathroom)
You pray that you won´t have too much delicious food at lunch.
You wake up and immediately pray for a desire to wake up.
You thank Heavenly Father for the opportunity that you had to mini golf on Pday, and that you enjoyed it. I will never take mini golfing dates for granted again. That game is FUN, man. FUN. (ps, I won.)
You realize you have your suitcase packed and ready to leave at all times...only because you don´t have a closet.THE END: I hope you enjoyed a few of those. We sure laugh until the tears are coming.
Many of you have asked how the language is coming. Well...I would be lying if I said it was a breeze. I generally can understand what we are talking about, but I miss out on specifics. I can testify and teach a little bit. My trainer says that I do well with jumping in and speaking. I feel like I could do more, and I want to do more. I am learning to trust the Lord through the language process. It is a humbling experience to realize I wouldn´t be able to learn it this fast alone. The spirit definitely helps me discern and understand. I am glad for my public speaking class, because I really learned how to pay attention to our audience. I am able to help my companion as I watch the faces of the investigators and can give her feedback and help draw to her attention when they are confused or interested. All in all, there are times when I feel worthless but I still have faith that it will come. I just look back to when I first arrived here and realize how much I have learned, then I feel better.
I am super tired - ALL THE TIME -but during the day when we are working I don´t notice. When we get home and finish planning, I crash. I have never slept so soundly in all my life. There have literally been tremors (mini earthquakes) that EVERYONE in the real world feels that us missionaries don´t. haha. Our ward thought we were crazy when we told them we didn´t feel the tremor the other night.
The thing that I have missed the most this week is the Utah mountains. I look up at the Andes, the HUGE Andes, and just think about how the leaves will be changing soon up Provo Canyon. Ahhh. I just want to go for a drive up the canyon and look at nature. There is my Van Cott side coming out.Anna informs me that Edwin is still alive and well. (my fish). That makes me happy.
My words of missionary wisdom to you this week: Remember that ¨Who the Lord loves, he chasteneth´¨ Hebrews 12: 6-7 &11-12. No trial is fun to go through, and when we are being humbled we usually don´t feel the greatest about ourselves, but those trials are given to us to make us better. We are God´s children. He deals with us as a father would deal with his sons (and daughters): teaching us, revoking us, humbling us, so that someday we can become just as he is. Gods and Goddesses. What a promise!
Everybody has been given their own challenges in life. It is important for us to realize our brothers and sisters challenges are different than our own, and we need to be patient with them. WE don´t know what it is like to experience someone else’s challenges. I would hope that you are also patient with yourselves in your challenges. Realize with living righteously and attending church to fulfill your baptismal covenants, you are entitled to DIVINE help. I testify that our Heavenly Father will give us help if we are worthy of it; in anything and everything.
Thank you for letters and words of encouragement! It is nice to hear from you, hear about normal life and fun experiences, and be spiritually buoyed up by your testimonies. The mission can feel lonely at times, but your words will come to mind and make me smile. Ah, that sounds super doooooooper cheesy. However, I speak truth. hah.Love you all. Be examples of the believers in word and in deed! Remember to open your mouth and share your testimony whenever you get the chance!
For my friends who are preparing to serve a mission, I would just say to study PREACH MY GOSPEL (in your native language). I wish more than anything that I would have learned the lessons and how to teach them concisely before coming out here and learning them in a new language. Be more prepared than I was, please!
Your missionary in Chile,
Hermana Van Cott