Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Difficulties and Trials

7 Julio 2014

I wanted to share a few quotes that well sum up my week:

"How much do we overlook in life as we wait for the rainbow, before thanking God for the rain?" -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

"We should never end the day as the same person as when we started the day"

"Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you" -Jeffery R. Holland

"Endings are not our destiny. In Our Heavenly Father's Plan, there are no endings, just everlasting beginnings!" -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

It has been a week of all sorts of difficulties and trials! We have been struggling to work with members, as we are looking for many new people to teach, members and investigators aren't able to make it to appointments, etc. It is all pretty normal missionary routine; it just took a bit of a toll on me this week as sometimes our numbers don't seem to show how hard we truly worked!! More than anything, I LOVE our companionship! I feel so blessed to be with Hermana Palomino... I feel like we are always on the same brainwave and I feel like myself with her. I did from day one. She loves waking up early to be able to run in the mornings and finds joy in the little things. She reminds me to enjoy life when she makes me look at the ocean view and be grateful for all we are blessed with!

Even with such a great relationship as companions, we still have difficulties! Satan seems to attack me through my thoughts, telling me that I am not capable and I cannot make a difference here. I read the talks: “Maintaining an EternalPerspective”, “Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence”, and “Grateful in Any Circumstances”... all words from the prophets that have helped me throughout my mission! I am so grateful to God as I look back in my notes of what I have studied this week, personally and for the people we teach, and He leads me to discover how I can improve and feel more happiness flow into my life. I love that the "Maintaining an Eternal Perspective" talk teaches us about the need we as humans ALWAYS have to remember God's goodness to us. I reflected a lot on why I am here... how the Lord truly guided me in decisions to choose the right friends, leave behind those that wouldn't lead me in the right directions, allowed me to attend BYU where I found so many great influences, whispering that I need to do something more. When I came to recognize more fully the goodness of God in my life, I decided to serve him... and what better way to do it with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength, 24/7 as His missionary? As I recognize God's goodness in my life, my outward symbols of God's goodness to me (my Ebenezer) are my journal entries and prayers full of gratitude to the Lord. How soon we are to forget the miracles God has worked in our lives and the blessings we have already received! Do we wait until our problems are solved to thank the Lord rather than "thanking him for the rain"? I have already noted a difference in my prayers and my happiness as I actively search each day for His tender mercies and demonstrations of his love and sense of humor. I understand why gratitude is a commandment! Because the Lord wants to bless us with the happiness that comes from searching for blessings!

Hey, I also have a funny story for you! hehe. Elder and Hermana Hatch, the senior couple here were out eating at a Chinese restaurant, and Elder Hatch sure has got such an excitement for sharing the gospel with others, so he asked his waitress if she would like to hear the message we share as missionaries, and he can bring two girls who can teach her. She kindly agreed, and they took us to pass by their restaurant this past Thursday... it was a bit awkward, like she didn't actually think we would pass by... so we bought ice cream and casually ate it, waiting for her to have a free moment. At the end, we tried talking to her, but there is a bit of a language barrier, she didn't understand much of the religious vocabulary in Spanish (she was Chinese) and when we said we would like to share a message with her, she looked and us and motioned, and motioned like she thought we had come to give her a massage!!! HAHAHA we just about died laughing, especially Sister Hatch when we told her later because she didn't understand our conversation in Spanish! haha she had accepted for us to come back even though she wasn't even sure what she had signed up for. A MASSAGE! hehehe. The incredible thing is that we actually talked with her quite a bit via her iPhone translator about passing by another day with a Chinese Book of Mormon and she accepted, saying that Christians, in comparison to Buddhists, always seem to be so much happier. So we also have a return appointment, even without giving her a massage! hehe language barriers...

Wow, it continues to amaze me as well all of the strong people I am surrounded by, like our investigator, Marcela. She has three children who live alone in Bolivia, all under the age of 17 and she is here working to support them. Her husband left them, which she said is probably better because he always came home drunk. It is better that they just live alone, go to school and cook and everything on their own. She calls them many times a day, always worried about how they are. She is a cute little woman and I admire her so much! She has progressed sooooo slowly and that has been hard for me, but she has progressed so much lately. We put her in contact with the church employment to help her find a job that can help her to bring her children here. She hasn't spent Christmas with them for 9 years. Wow, that just breaks my heart. We also gave her the address of the church near to her children in Cochabamba, Bolivia, so that they can start going to church, too. I feel so strongly that her decision to follow the Lord's path in her life will bless her and her children immensely... and although it was hard for me to love her before as I wasn't sure if she was willing to progress and learn, I have come to love her so much, with a love more profound that can only come from God. The kind of love that makes us desire she take the step of baptism. I pray that she receives this same confirmation soon!

There are moments in the mission that make me doubt myself and doubt my testimony, but I surely know that God loves us with an infinite and perfect love. I am amazed by so many of my companions who have family who aren't members or who are less-active, or fathers who left their family... they have sacrificed so much to be here and fully trust in the Lord. We are told the greatest details of people's pains and fears and lives: marriages fallen apart, children emotionally damaged from separation of parents, problems with drugs and alcohol, etc. and it really opens my eyes to many things and I feel so blessed to have this gospel in our lives and I know that if we stay close to our Savior he can find HIS PEACE and serving him will bring us the greatest blessings and joy that the world cannot offer.

I love this scripture, Helaman 10:4-6: (you can insert your name here! This is my goal, to have the Lord say these words to me at the end of my mission, and at the end of each of our lives)

4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.

5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels

I love this gospel. I love my family, and I feel privileged to have so many friends serving missions too. I hope you have a great week! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

Love, Hermana Mather

Fourth of July picnic!!!! We are quite patriotic!

I love Hermana Palomino :)
The day we went to teach the Chinese couple in their restaurant.
We can see the whole city of Santa Cruz and our apartment from here!

The beer factory we live by.. this says, How lucky to live here! heheeh

Hermana Palomino

YUMMM our investigator Clever made Venezuelan arepas!
They are my favorite :)

Family home evening with Victor and a family here from Paraguay, Natalia and Daniel :)

My decorated agenda!

Miriam, a member here wanted to give us pedicures for Pday today. Haha
I love her, she is so generous and loving and makes us feel at home.

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