Hola mi familia y mi amigos! Que pasa!?
haha ok enough with the spanish. How is everyone doing!? Any fun Easter plans that I'm missing out on?
This week was definitely not as.. (for lack of a better word) exciting as last week and let me tell you, I was 100 percent grateful for that little fact of life! However it was still a crazy week and so much happened that I can't wait to tell you about.
For starters, I think one of the biggest lessons that I learned was the fact that people who you would have never thought could change, can and do change through the gospel and atonement of Jesus Christ. My teacher Hermano Lebran really opened up to us this week and shared his conversion story.
He grew up in the ghetto of Ohio (wherever the heck that is) and was involved in some seriously gangs and drugs. He even showed us pictures of himself and oh my gosh he was crazy looking! He had piercings all over and long corn rows and he never smiled in a single picture. He talked about how he never thought he would live past the age of 20 because he feared for his life everyday. He explained that he would be in gun fights almost every other day and had more enemies than friends. He was constantly worried about his family and was so controlled by drugs he could see no way out. And then guess what? With the help of a mormon girl (who he later married) and some missionaries, he completely turned his life around. The Lord had prepared him to hear the gospel and when the time was right he completely accepted it and it filled all of his emptiness. He later went on a mission to Argentina and now he is at BYU and is one of the best MTC teachers I have ever had. I was completely astonished when he told us he was a convert. Knowing him now, you would never believe he was even capable of being the person who he was a few years ago. We also got some new Elders in our district and one of them is also a convert. He has tattoos all up and down his arms and talked about who he was before his conversion. He drank and smoke and had no desire to affiliate with any church or any God. 13 months ago he saw the broadway Book of Mormon play and was immediately fascinated with the Mormon culture even though he had no idea why. After reading everything on lds.org he randomly ran into a pair of sister mormon missionaries and they started teaching him. He said that as he learned the lessons, it was almost as if he was remembering the things they were teaching him. The doctrines did not seem new to him and he felt like he had always known they were true even though he didn't understand how that could be so. He ended up joining the church and now he is going to be a missionary in Argentina. Amazing. This week I realized that who am I to judge? God knows who is prepared and who is ready to accept and receive the gospel. I learned that the gospel truly does fill in those empty spaces in peoples lives. I have never personally felt that empty space because I don't know my life without this gospel, but I do know my life with this gospel and I know for a fact that without it I would be lost and something inside of me would be empty. I feel an overwhelming amount of happiness and completeness to my life and I can't wait to share that with others.
Haha this is a funny story for you. This week I had so many moments where my teacher would be talking in Spanish and I would just stop and think, "oh my gosh I am actually understanding this different language!" Like seriously I was sooo stoked and pumped because it is getting to the point where I don't even have to concentrate super hard to translate the words back into English. Its becoming more natural.... or so I thought. Our teachers decided to change some things up and so on Wednesday we had a lesson with a member living in Mexico over skype. We were so excited to talk with a real native and share a message with them but when Hermana Ramirez and I started talking to our lady on skype............ um................ I could NOT understand a thing she said.
And best yet?
She could not understand any of my Spanish.
Awesome. Mexico here I come.
So yeah thats going to be an interesting experience for me. I can definitely understand "Americanized Spanish" but the real thing is definitely a struggle for me haha. Oh another funny moment this week? I think I am the worst time teller and number sayer in the entire worlds history. We learned how to tell time this week and say numbers so we can tell investigators what page in the BOM or things like that and oh my freak I cannot do it. Seriously it was embarrassing. Soooo I'm just never going to tell anyone the time in Mexico. And for numbers I am just going to use my fingers to show them. Good plan Laurel, good plan.
Oh another awesome thing! Or not awesome thing- depends on how you look at it. Ramirez and I had a new investigator this week and he was the meanest person I have ever met in my entire life. He bible bashed with us the entire time, told us we were going to get killed in mexico, told us our church was evil, we worshiped false prophets, we were all going to go to Hell, and again told us how the Mexican gangs were going to rob and beat us in Puebla.
He was a pleasant fellow.
Apparently he even sent a sister missionary pair home the other day.
Thank goodness Ramirez and I are persistent even though it took us 20 minutes to get him to let us into his home. But yeah other than leaving him with our testimonies and NOT arguing with him we had no clue what to do and when the time was up, you bet I was crying tears of happiness. I was SO happy to be out of there and away from the lovely Mr. Daniel.
It got even better when the teacher who watched our lesson told us that that was the most realistic experience we have had here in comparison to the mission field. Yay. But hey hes a work in progress and we are going to get through to him. I just know it.
Oh ok so the highlight of my week!? WE GOT OUR TRAVEL PLANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! April 28 is the last time I am going to be in America for a year and a half. Crazy. My flight leaves the SLC airport at 12:45 pm, gets into Houston, and then from Houston we fly to PUEBLA MEXICO and I arrive at 8:35 pm. crazycrazycrazycrazycrazyyyyyyyyyyyy. I have never been more excited or more scared for anything in my entire life haha but yeah its pretty cool. Oh so familia, be expecting a call around 5ish that night because I think I will call between my layover in Houston. So you better answer!!!!
Cool things that happened this week:
-Elder Anderson came and talked to us for a devotional! That was pretty legit. We also had the BYU mens choir come and sing and OH MY GOSH if you ever get the chance to see them in concert DO IT. They were unreal. They sang Latin sons, and African songs and my favorite, a song from New Zealand. They even started doing the Haka in the middle of it and I died. Seeing white boys in suits and ties doing the Haka was too much for me to handle. It was hilarious and made me miss Hawaii more than I have ever missed it before!
-Mexico had a earthquake! I guess thats not really cool but everyone was talking about it! Our investigators even showed us videos their families had sent them during the earthquake. Kinda scary. Thank goodness I've already lived through 1 earthquake so I think I'm like a pro now. I can definitely handle another.....haha sike.
Funny things that happened this week:
-Hahaha ok this one kills me I think it is so funny. So one girl in our group is.... a little different.... but I love her. Anyways her dog died last week and it completely unraveled her entire world....like completely. Well anyways she had just gotten over it and was finally doing ok. Well our teacher was teaching a grammar lesson and it was difficult and she was getting frustrated and said that it was the worst thing ever. And he decided to say, "Its not as bad as having your dog die!" But he had no clue that her dog really did just die. So we were all silent starting at him in horror then she started laughing and then straight BAWLING! You should have seen the look on his face. I wasn't laughing at her but I was definitely laughing at him as he tried to get himself out of the huge hole he had dug. Hillarious.
-We failed another cleaning check! However no one cares anymore. Seriously we are SO exhausted at the end of the night that we throw our clothes wherever and climb into bed so yeah my room is a mess but whatever. Life goes on. Oh and making the bed on the top bunk is impossible so I don't even try anymore ha.
-Remember the story about the crazy New Zealand Elders that Ramirez and I met? Well they got way creepy and way inappropriate so we mentioned their names to our teacher and he flipped out. Watch out Elders, gangster Lebron is coming after ya!
Haha ok enough about that. This week definitely had moments where I was so incredibly stoked to be a missionary and then moments where I literally was like, what the heck am I doing here. One of my goals this week was to focus and learn more about the atonement being Easter Weekend and all and I can not even describe all of the blessings and little miracles I saw in my life this week. As I was studying the atonement, I ran across one of my favorite talks from Elder Holland and I want to share a few lines from it with you.
"I speak of those final moments for which Jesus must have prepared intellectually and physically, but which he may not have fully anticipated emotionally and spiritually- that concluding decent into the paralyzing despair of divine withdrawl when He cries in ultimate loneliness "my God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?" It was required, indeed it was Central to the significance of the atonement that Christ would feel as we do. For his atonement to be infinite and eternal, he had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine spirit withdraw leaving one feeling totally, hoplessly alone. One of the greatest consolations fo this easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. Trumpeted from the summit of Calgary is the truth that we will never be left alone, not unaided even if sometimes we feel we are."
This is by far one of my favorite talks about the atonement. I know that because of the atonement, Christ knows EXACTLY how we feel, physically and spiritually. I know that when he suffered for us, it was so personal that he suffered for each one of us individually as if we were the only human beings on the earth. I know that He is ALWAYS with us even though we sometimes feel alone, and trust me there have been many times where I have felt completely alone but I know he is there. This is why I am a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This gospel and the doctrines in it bring hope, understanding and healing. I am so thankful for this Easter season where I get to more fully reflect on my Savior and the infinite and atoning sacrafice he made for me. This church is so true! I hope you all take time to think about what the atonement means to each of you. Oh and one last thing. Go onto Mormon.org and watch the new video clip the church put out for Easter. It is seriously so so so good!
I love you all and I am miss you!!!!!!!
Quote of the week:
(On a bus without seat belts )
Sister missionary: Isn't not wearing a seat belt breaking the law?
Other sis mish: Yeah it is
Sister missionary: (dead serious) Oh my gosh we need to repent and tell the branch president what we have done!
OH MY GOSH I DO NOT BELONG HERE.
remember how the people stood by the buses to help me when i first got dropped off at the mtc? We were those people this week! that's why we took this picture haha
yup we got a picture with the creepy New Zealand guys