Along the same lines, for every trial, there is an oposite and equal blessing. Sometimes we just have to make our way through the bitter to get to the sweet, else we would never really appreciate it. This week's been kind of a rough one. We're definitely being tried in Lota. All of our plans fall through almost every day and our investigadors just won't progress. It's been a little confusing, because I really feel like I'm at the top of my game at this point in the mission. I've got a fantastic companion and we get along great and work hard together. I feel like I teach better than I ever have, I'm being obedient, and trying hard, but just when things seem like they're about to go good, nothing happens. So we're kind of stumped, Elder Wood and I. We just don't know what else to do, and we assume we're just facing a trial of faith.
That's what I believe anyway. And it's honestly been one of the most spiritually draining trials I've ever had, but you know what? Something's different this time. I'm actually thankful. I'm thankful to God for this trial. Not because it's easy or desirable, but because it's helping me grow, and I really have seen a difference in myself. All my life, any time I ever had a problem or a trial, I just handled it like a child by getting frustrated or depressed, because things weren't going my way. But this time, I am committed to not letting my faith falter. I think the Lord wants me to really understand for once that, without Him, I can do nothing. I used to think I would have success in the mission because I was smart, or skilled, or for my personality, or for any number of self-centered things. Now I come to a point in the mission where, despite all my best efforts, the fruits of my labors just aren't showing up, and it's because I myself can't bring unto myself any measure of success. It is the Lord that blesses us after all we can do. He is the "fount of every blessing." It's something I'm still learning, but I think I'm really starting to grasp more now. So I've been praying, I've been working, I've been trying to show the Lord that I'm willing to do anything He asks of me so that I can just be an instrument in His hands. And regardless of the results, to tell you the truth, I'm actually really happy right now. I feel part of my patriarchal blessing coming true as it says that I will feel joy in every missionary effort that I make. I realize now the wordage of that phrase. Every missionary effort is not the same thing as every missionary success. Despite this trial of faith, I'm finding joy in the work, and joy in being "purified" by the Lord "in the oven of affliction," and I consider it a privilege that God cares enough about me and my eternal potential to send me trials. I love the Lord. I really do. And I love being a missionary. It's changed me so much, and just when I think it can't change me anymore, it changes me again. I can feel myself becoming, little by little, what the Lord would have me be, and it's wonderful. I know if I'm faithful in this trial, the blessings will come, but not because of me. Because of God.
All that considered, I did receive a wonderful blessing today that brought so much joy to my heart. I received an email from Ana, who Elder Ramirez and I taught in Carahue, who got baptized right after I left that sector. She shared with me her testimony of the Restauration of the Gospel and how her faith has grown since being in the Church. And what brought me to tears was her telling me how she had the chance to go to the temple last week to do baptisms for the dead. She said she can still feel the sweet peace of God's heavenly home as she closes her eyes and remembers how it felt to be there. She said it was an experience she will never forget and thanked me profoundly for helping her find the truth.
Wow. That is what missionary work is all about. I am the happiest person on the planet right now. I honestly think that my convert's letters to me are some of the most precious treasures I have on this earth.
Well, that's all I have for this week. I'll let you know how things are going in Lota and when we have a baptism coming up. That is if I'm still in Lota next week. We have transfers this Friday and I have no idea what's going to happen to me! Yikes!
But glad to hear all is well on the home front. Hang in there Mom, you're in my prayers, and in God's thoughts. Congrats Heather and Sam on the succesful job and parental adventures. Congrats Ashley on working on the mission papers, and congrats Anna on getting through a rough week of school. To all, I love you very much and pray for you daily.
Muchos saludos desde Lebu (we're here againg working on Elder Wood's visa),