Feliz Navidad Familia y Amigos!!!!
I miss you all more than I can say, and writing letters and receiving letters and packages is, in a way, the hardest part. Such good reminders of how much I love and miss you all, so it's a sweet kind of pain. Keep sending them!!! ;)
Life here at the MTC is some kind of strange space/time continuum. I'm not sure how, but the days seem to go on FOREVER and then we arrive here and realize that we've been here for a week. (and a day. Go Misionaros!) The days are so packed full of stuff, there's hardly time to think before it's time to go go go to another lesson or eat as fast as we can so we can prepare to teach another investigator. I'm still loving it! (except the no sleeping in part... that's kinda hard to swallow.)
Over this past week we've each been working with a particular investigator named Leandro. He's from Uruguay and grew up catholic (or so he says... there's still very much debate in our district as to whether or not he's an actor), and is very patient with us with our limited spanish and VERY limited teaching experience. We've learned and grown a lot since the first lesson, though. Ultimately, the most important thing about teaching is being able to help the investigator to feel the holy ghost for themselves. It doesn't matter how badly I screw up my spanish, (a fun story on that to come...) or how much we are able to teach about the gospel. The conversion is not coming from us, the missionaries, it's coming from the Spirit and the Light of Christ. During a lesson this week, though, I really, truly experienced a miraculous blessing of the Gift of Tongues. We were teaching about the Plan of Salvation, and had written out pretty much everything that we wanted to say. As we were going through it, Leandro would ask lots of questions about the points of the plan, when the second coming would be, etc. We were stumbling along as best we could, and flipping through our various books and dictionaries to figure out what to say, and feeling pretty small because of how unprepared we felt, but then. Then we got to the Atonement. Somehow, an online lesson that we had worked on earlier that had contained the vocabulary that we wanted came to my mind, and I just felt like I needed to bear my testimony. In broken spanish, though not so broken as before, I expressed how grateful I was to have the atonement in my life and shared D&C 122 the last couple of verses. (which is one of my favorites EVER) Hermana Humbert did the same, and as we were talking, Leandro started crying!!! The spirit felt so strong, and predictably I started crying as well. Surprise! It was a really amazing experience, though, and once again solidified in my mind the reason that I'm out here at all.
Now for the funny story. During the same lesson, we tried to explain that we do baptism by immersion because it's a symbol of death and a new life. I wasn't reading off the paper by that point, which I was feeling pretty good about, (I guess I needed to check my pride. ;) but as I was explaining that we come up out of the water and "have no more sins", I accidentally said " Pescados" rather than "Pecados". I accidentally told our investigator that when we are baptized, as we come out of the water, we are cleansed from our fishes. No mas pescados.
I'd actually probably be ok with that.
* Mom's explanation: "pescados" is the Spanish word for seafood--as opposed to live fish, which is "pez"--and since Katelyn is NOT a fan of seafood, this little sentence makes us laugh.
We all giggled, and I turned pretty red and turned the time over to Hermana Humbert to finish explaining. Humility learned! So I can laugh at it now. ;)
I meet tons of people every day! Every time we're in a room with someone, or pass a group of hermanas in the hallway, or an Elder holds open a door for us, we get to talk to them and meet them. I've meet people from all over the world, speaking tons of languages and going to everywhere you can imagine! Everyone is so friendly and nice and very patient with my spanish. ;)
We had Elder Nielson of the 70 come on Tuesday and he and his wife spoke to us. She spoke about the Savior constantly saying "I Will" and asked us to look up how many times in the scriptures He says those words, and the promises that follow. It made for some really amazing spiritual personal study! I don't have much time to go into it right now, but you should all go do that as well. :) Elder Nielson talked to us about Becoming a Disciple of Jesus Christ, and the difference between following Christ and becoming Converted. He mentioned that even during the night of the Last Supper, Christ basically tells Peter (as he tells him that he will deny him 3 times, something about "after you are converted, convert thy brethren"...I'll have to look it up.) that he does have faith, but he has not yet been CONVERTED, or CHANGED. As proven by the fact the he denies Him, and that after Christ's crucifixion, all the disciples go back to whatever they were doing before Christ came. That really struck me hard.
Also we listened to a talk from Elder Bednar at the MTC in June of 2009, which was about whether or not a thought is coming from the Holy Ghost or if it's just your own brain. His advice?
QUIT WORRYING ABOUT IT. As long as we are doing our best to be good and follow the example of Christ, He will guide our steps. He tells an incredible story about President Packer, himself, and a 20 mark note in Germany during his mission, YOU MUST LOOK IT UP. FIND IT. IT IS SUCH AN AMAZING TALK.
Listen to it, Love it, Apply it.
Also!!! I got my travel plans for Madrid! (Hermana Malterre does get to come with us after all!!! Hallelujah!!!!!!) We leave the MTC on Monday for Dallas, Texas, we have an hour and a half layover there, then off to HEATHROW (?) AIRPORT IN ENGLAND!!!! Where we have a 3 hour layover, which nobody is complaining about, ;) and then to Madrid. We're all so excited!!! As much as we like it here in the MTC, it does start to feel like Gospel Prison after a while. ;) A good prison. A happy prison. But a prison nonetheless.
The elders are hilarious, we got closer over the last week. Elder Keen, the british one, is hilarious. And elder Huff, Elder Cutrer, Elder Thompson and I are able to tease each other fairly easily. They all have really amazing testimonies, and they're going to be great missionaries. We're planning a mission reunion when we all get back, and I'm going to spend that six month difference practicing so that I can cream them in Paintball. ;)
I love you guys so much. I'm so happy that I'm here, doing my small part in helping to move the Gospel forward throughout the world! Yo se la iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los ultimos Dias es verdadera. Yo amor mi Savior.