Monday, May 4, 2015

One Rough Week

Leading a sector isn't a lot of fun! For those of you less-familiar with mission parlance, every once in a while we receive different companions. So of course the companion that's been in the sector for a while has to take over for a while and show the new guy around - usually for a week or two - until the new guy knows the sector well enough to really start to contribute in the daily decision-making. And of course there's a period of getting used to each other's quirks and teaching styles and whatnot. Communication is incredibly important. And it can be really rough!

So it was with my week. A little bit about my companion: Elder Gonzalez (there are two Gonzalez in the mission and now they're in the same zone here) is from Chile, from Talca, about 3 hours from Santiago. His been out for a good long time and this is his first time in the coast! He was pretty happy about that because he was in Quito for 14 months. He's been in every single zone in Quito. Anyhow, he's also the trainer of my second trainer (so in mission vocabulary that makes him my step-grandpa or something) so we already knew a little about each other. He likes soccer - pretty darn good at it - Dragonball, drawing, and playing drums. Another thing he likes to do is let the newbies learn by doing a lot on their own - which is helpful and frustrating at the same time. Honestly up to this point in the mission I've really relied on my companions a lot - and this time it's been different. Of course he helps a ton, but just in different ways, and as he was getting to know the sector it's been really hard for me because I've had to do a lot of the decision-making.

That's why this week was so hard! I don't have a ton of confidence in my own ability to do that decision-making - and I had to do a lot of it. And there were quite a few appointments that fell through! Problem upon problem seemed to pile up - I wrote down a phone number wrong, our family that was progressing towards marriage don't have the money to do it and no plans to get said money, I let my fear get the best of me and didn't contact in the park, I couldn't understand some people...lots happened. What's worse - for me - is winning the confidence of the members. Being social can be hard for me and especially in a new language.

But the week ended with a ton of blessings on Sunday! First of all, we had 11 less-actives attending church. (By the way, here in the coast that's where we do a lot of work. With less-actives.) That's the most I've ever had! The standard of excellence of 9. Next, two references fell out of the sky - we found them as we were leaving the chapel and they were like, "hey we want to come here now but didn't know what time church started." Wow! And finally, a member invited us to lunch - we didn't have anyone to give us lunch that day.

But what was most important was an experience I had in the last lesson of the week. We were with a recent-convert family (I sent a picture of them a few weeks back) and I was feeling a lot of what I'd felt during the week. I saw that my companion won their confidence faster than I did, I felt that maybe they didn't love me as much as many other previous missionaries that had passed through the house, and as I tried to share a scripture (we hadn't planned for the lesson because it was a backup plan that came to our mind at the last moment because - guess what! - another appointment had fallen through) in Spanish, I felt I was talking in circles and not pronouncing very well. I tried to finish up as best as I could and handed off to my companion. He pulled out Ether 12:27.

 27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

As he shared it something stuck out to me I hadn't realized before. It explains that if men come unto the Lord, He will show their weakness unto them. I flipped the words around a bit. I realized that sometimes, if we are more conscious of our weakness, it's because we're coming unto Him!

And I thought about later on in verse 37. Sister Richardson shared with me a few months back the amazing promise in that scripture. Because we have seen our weakness, we will be strengthened!

All of this showed to me that...I'm doing fine! Uncovering my weaknesses is a part of becoming a better missionary. If I don't see my weakness, I can never progress. And because I'm seeing them...I'm actually doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

I'm not sure if I made myself understood completely, but I do know that His grace is sufficient. I know God loves us and has a perfect plan for each one of us. I know He exists without doubt and that he will help us through the hard times.

After the lesson, I asked my companion why he'd felt inspired to share the scripture. He said, "Well, it just went along well with what you shared at first." So...I can do it. And I know you, whoever you are wherever you are, can do so as well!

1. Our zone has a tradition of putting birthday cakes on the floor. We do it because it's one of the few zones that doesn't have sister missionaries, so we can actually get away with it.

2. Some people marching around on Labor Day (May 1st here). I'm not sure why. But it was peaceful and all. My companion said the marches in Chile aren't very peaceful.

3. I still haven't learned how to take selfies properly. But anyhow, here I am with shawarma. Who would've thought my first shawarma I'd eat here in Ecuador? It's pretty popular. Also I realized just how much I look like Dad :)

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