Has this been a full week or what!? Missionaries here in the MTC say that on your mission days go by like weeks and weeks go by like days. It is odd but true. Slowly and surely my Spanish is getting better! I'm actually starting to occasionally conjugate verbs correctly (like be able to say "I will pray" instead of "I to pray" - yeah it's exciting and helps people understand you better:)
Whew, last Thursday was rough though. My companion and I were teaching one of our investigators (one of our teachers who pretends to be an investigator). We tried something new. We didn't try to memorize phrases in Spanish, we identified what we thought he needed to know and feel and then tried to rely on the Spirit. Sadly it was a DISASTER! The whole lesson I was thinking, we must be missing something here, because this isn't working out how we had hoped. I know we could have prepared better for sure! The beginning of the lesson wasn't all that bad, but somewhere we got scared and I had no idea what to say or teach, my companion didn't know what we were talking about and it was just awkward. It finally ended with me tellling my companion in english "we're going now". Ugh. Our teacher sat us down to discuss what has happened. He started giving us some suggestions, but this day had been frustrating before this experience happened and I lost it. Yes, I cried in front of my teacher. Those of you who know me well, know that i do not cry in front of people. Not as a rule, just because me emotions don't often get the best of me. For some reason everything had built up and I couldn't help it. I was weepy for like 30 minutes! I think I scared my teacher because my companion was like "Um, I have NEVER seen Hermana Bowns cry". I wasn't crying because I felt like a failure, or because i thought the lesson was the worst it could've been (it definitely could have been worse), or because I had lost hope, given up, or thought i was stupid or incapable - none of those things. Rather i was crying because the thing I hate most in the world is to feel frustrated, uncomfortable, embarassed - and I definitely felt all those things. I felt like I was trying really hard to do the things we had been taught, but I wasn't getting it quite right. I made up a good analogy for my teacher to try to explain why, although i was sitting there crying, i was okay and would be fine. I told him that it is like babies. They cannot walk until they learn how to walk. So i as a missionary cannot teach well until I learn to teach well, and I cannot speak Spanish well until I learn to speak Spanish well. It is just a natural law of life. Some growth and progression is necessary but that doesn't mean it isn't hard. We fall down over and over and over. And while we are crawling along, we are acutely aware of the fact that we can't walk yet (or at least i am in the missionary sense) I know I have so much to learn. And I know I will learn it, but it is still difficult. But I learned many great lessons from that. And I learned that in suffering hardships we become better and we become more like our Savior (who suffered more than any of us!) Some of the elders in my district have a favorite quote from Elder Holland, "The road to salvation goes through Gethsemane". This story does have a happy ending. The next lesson we taught our investigator we had prepared so much better and had figured some things out. Our investigator said he would be baptized! After the lesson our teacher told us that he had intended to put up a fight about being baptized, but (as an investigator and as our teacher) he felt the Spirit so strong and couldn't deny that feeling. our teacher told us that during that lesson we had taught as well as any missionary in the field. What a compliment! And he told us it wasn't because we wpoke good Spanish (because we didn't). I know it is because we taught with the Spirit! This doesn't mean we're in the clear and we'll never teach a bad lesson again, but we learned some things about how to teach more effectively!
Another great experience I had this week was on Sunday during our Relief Society meeting. Sister Rosemary Wixom (the General Primary President) came and spoke to us. I don't quite remember what the point of her whole talk was, but I remember vividly a video clip she showed us called "My Joy is Full". (Maybe if you can find it, put it on the blog!!) It is a clip of when Jesus appears to the Nephites and I think it might be in The Testaments. Anyway I know I've seen the clip before, but before we watched it on Sunday, Sister Wixom asked us to pay attention to what the Spirit was teaching us. And holy cow, the Spirit taught me something beautiful and precious. I don't have a whole lot of time to recount it, so I'll just type up what I wrote in my journal about it:
The images and messages in the video were so powerful. When Jesus took a man's crippled hand into His own and covered it, looked into the man's eyes, smiled, released his hand and it was made whole! Wow. In that moment I saw myself, with my spiritually crippled hands, and how if i let Christ enfold me, hold me in His hands He would make me whole and useful! Also he healed a blind woman. She knew who Christ was, she lovingly touched His hands, but when her eyes were opened and she SAW the living God with new eyes, she saw and understood God more than she ever had before. And she turned to see others (her daughter) as she had never seen them before - with greater love! At first i only saw how I am and need to be the one that Christ administers to and asked myself, "How can I put myself in God's hands?" But then i saw two other insights. First that not only do I need to experience this healing, but I need to also facilitate this healing. I, as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ, need to help others put themselves in Christ's hands so that they can be healed and have their eyes opened! Also I was struck by the powerful message that what Jesus Christ does is CHANGE us. This is what His Gospel, this life, and missionary work are all about! We want not just to be "saved" by Jesus Christ, but changed by Him; healed by Him.
If you can find it, watch that video clip. The message was so clear and powerful to me: Jesus Christ heals us and makes us whole! What a wonderful and beautiful thing! Learn to put yourself into His hands and allow Him to heal you:)
I love you all! Thank you for your constant love, support, prayers, and letters:)