Well, miracles happen. I have arrived in my new sector!! I felt a little bit like I was starting my mission over again, but after one week here I am so surprised at how much it ISN'T like starting the mission over again. The main difference is that I SPEAK SPANISH! This is the biggest miracle of all. Spanish isn't a problem anymore. Now if I don't say something, it's because I don't know what to say, not because I don't know how to say it. I'm still not 100% on my comprehension, but I get about 90% of what people say. Yesterday was my first Sunday in my new ward and the people here are so loving that I already feel like I've been here a month. And I gave my first 15 minute talk in Spanish (before I'd only given 5 minute talks). I thought that I would feel a little bit more timid, and at times I do, but we had a baptismal service on Saturday and our special musical number fell through and so I VOLUNTEERED to sing a solo. What?! Are you crazy? Yup. My companion has a cold and so I figured it would be better for her if she played the piano and I sang. So I've entered the ward with a bang!
My new companion is from Utah and is super awesome! She is at the tail end of her mission and will be going home at the end of May, so I am learning a lot from her, seeing as I'm still a newbie:) My new sector is huge! Bigger than my old sector. And we walk everywhere, we never take buses or collectivos (a mix between a bus and taxi). Never. So my toned calves are going to be REALLY toned in about a month. I live in a house with three other missionaries so we have fun. The house I was living in before is said to be the best sister missionary house in the mission (the best quality), but this new house has automatic water heating!!!! To me that's better than anything! We don't have to light the gas everytime we shower, AND the water is actually hot enough to create steam! The down side to this house is the staircase. It is super steep and the stairs are bairly big enough to put your foot on. You have to walk down them sideways. I can guarantee that I'll fall down the stairs at least once while I'm here.
In my talk on Sudnay I talked about covenants. I quoted Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from his talk in the October General Conference. He said,
One of the most important concepts of revealed religion is that of a sacred covenant. In legal language, a covenant generally denotes an agreement between two or more parties. But in a religious context, a covenant is much more significant. It is a sacred promise with God. He fixes the terms. Each person may choose to accept those terms. If one accepts the terms of the covenant and obeys God’s law, he or she receives the blessings associated with the covenant. We know that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter. Scripture declares that “ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, … and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven … [and] dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.”
There are two things that stand out to me in this quote. One is that he says that God sets the terms of the covenant and we choose to accept them or not. We can't pick and choose. He also says that the rewards or blessing we receive for keeping our covenants are received both here and now in our lives and in the eternities. I shared a parable that I really like that applies to covenants. It is the parabble of the kite!
Our covenants are a protection for us and a means through which God can bless us and help us prepare for eternal life. Looking back over my life (which isn't that much since I'm only 23) I can see how keeping my covenants has been the reason for which I have been helped and protected by the Lord. And I know that if I had not kept my covenant my life definitely would have been VERY different. I encourage you to evaluate the covenants you have made with God and recommit to live them with more diligence and exactness. Great blessings will come because of it. And if you have not yet made covenants with God (the covenants we make at baptism are the first covenants we can make) I encourage you to think about doing so.
The people of God are a covenant people, it's what sets us apart, it's what sanctifies and protects us. I love God and know that doing His will is the only way that we will "reach great heights" in our lives.
I hope you have a good week, don't forget to wear green on St. Patrick's Day (sadly no one knows what that is here, but I'm going to wear green and pinch people anyways:)
Much love, Hermana Bowns