Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Don't let those straws break your backs

Dear Familia,
Wow, sometimes after reading the family email, I just sit back for a moment in awe at how amazing our family is.

Okay, so as for my week.  It was a little difficult emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually.  Training Hermana Perez is very different from training Hermana Morley.  I have tried to love her and be patient with her as she is going through the learning processes and adjusting process that all new missionaries go through.  Though, over the weeks my stress load has been building up, and causing me to swing between moments of frustration and desperation to tolerance and patience.

This past week, there was little unity between Hermana Perez and I, and I know that a lot of it was my fault.  Because I was frustrated and let it show, Hermana Perez was left to guess why I was frustrated.  The tremendous weight of the well being of my sector was starting to feel heavy on my back this week.  For example, a few things I have to worry about: making all the phone calls, saving lessons that start to move in the wrong direction, getting enough contacts in every day, leading companionship planning every night, helping investigators to church and progressing, inviting new investigators to be baptized, pulling through with our numbers, and then explaining it ALL to Hermana Perez.

So there is an example of the weight on my back.  Not very big things, but bunched together it makes a heavy load.  And I tried so so so so hard to keep a good attitude and a smile through the hot long days of knocking doors to empty houses.  But, on Wednesday night when we finally got up to the apartment, I was frustrated, and all I wanted to do was plan quickly and then go to bed.  I didn't even want to talk to Hermana Perez and have to answer all her question.

As we sat down to plan, I realized that I didn't have my agenda.  The straw landed on my back and I had to decided if I was going to let it break me, or if I would stand tall and resist. But, I guess I was tired of resisting and I let that straw break me.  I transformed into the old me that let all the little stuff push me over, and I had a mini freak out session.  Not like yelling, crying or screaming, but all my emotions boiling over.  The interesting thing was that while I was stressing and letting out the bad fruit, it felt unnatural.  A reaction that used to be common for me, turned into something I almost had to force.

Well, we planned quickly, despite my mood, and after planning I realized that I was wrong. So I apologized for my reaction to the situation, but I knew I couldn't change the past. Well, my simple apology turning into a companionship inventory that lasted awhile. There had been a lack of communication in the companionship, just as much my fault as hers, but in the end, she just needed to talk.  So she did.  She talked a lot about her family, her past, her weaknesses, and how she had been feeling since arriving to the mission.  It was a talk that she needed to have, and I mostly just listened.

When we finally went to bed, I was still worried about my agenda.  A missionary without an agenda is like singer without a voice.  It just can’t function right.  The next day, Hermana Perez was much better, and we were able to be more open with each other.  I called Ja* like 8 times to see if I left my agenda at her house, but she was working.  Also I distinctly remember having it in my hand.  When we left the house that day to work, I had a prayer in my heart that somehow I would find my agenda.  Maybe in the street if it had fallen, or at Ja's house.  Well, as we left the apartment building, the man at the front desk called me back.  Guess what he had found just inside the front gate of the apartment building?  Yep, my agenda.

There is a lesson in all this . . well, a few actually.  One is that God is in control of everything, and sometimes He uses small and simple things, like a lost agenda, to bring about great things, like more companionship unity.  And the second lesson would be .  . DON'T FREAK OUT ABOUT A LOST AGENDA, FOR CRYING IN A BUCKET!  Don’t let those small straws break you.  Some might say "It’s not my fault if my back can’t hold anymore."  Well, actually it is, because if you let your back break, then that means you forgot to pull from the ultimate source of strength: our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Don’t forget that you are not holding that load alone.

So I hope that I have learned that when the agenda is lost, when the appointments fall through, when the homework load builds up, when the food burns, when the kids are crying, and when the straws build up, adding more and more weight to my load, that I don’t have to break, because the Lord is right there with me, holding my load too.

Okay, mas sobre esa semana . . hmm.  We didn’t have anyone in church again.  Sad.  But fast and testimony meeting was great!  A lot of the members bore their testimonies, and the common theme was that trails only make you stronger.  It was just what I needed.  Not only to have the common message reinforces, but to see that all these people I have come to love so much are also passing through hard times, and not just me.

The noche de hoger went well.  Fa* couldn’t come, but Ja's boyfriend was there.  He comes to church and loves it, but we have never actually taught him.  So we taught about the book of Mormon and gave him one.  He was very grateful and he asked me to mark something that he could always read when he is feeling down.  I marked 2 nefi 4 verse 15 to the end. He read it right there and loved it!  He said that the words really carried to his heart.  We also took Ja* to the temple this week!  That was fun!  But taking the subway and the bus at rush hour was entertaining.  We squished ourselves in there like tuna in a can.

Also, we are teaching this women of 64 years names Sy*.  Wow, I have come to love that woman so so so much!  She smokes and doesn't want to quit.  She wants to live with God again, but she doesn't want to change religions or keep all the commandments.  She says that she is keeping the 10 commandments so that is good enough.  Yesterday we had a pretty intense lesson with her, where she cried and I was close to crying.  I read her the first commandment and told her that she wasn't keeping it because she was putting her cigarettes before God.  She couldn't disagree.  I also told her that she wasn’t keeping the sixth commandment cause she was killing herself with her cigarettes. Once again, she couldn’t disagree.

As we were teaching her, I felt the Saviors love for her so strongly, and the only thing I wanted for her was to one day see her in the celestial kingdom.  Even now, my eyes fill with tears at the thought.  She is the only one left of all her brothers and sisters and parents, even her husband has died.  When she said that, I was filled with hope, cause I know we have an army on the other side that are working with us.  I feel it every time I enter that house.  They want to be saved too, and she is their link.  She has just got to get over her pride and change her life!  She can do it, I know she can.

Yesterday we had interviews with president, which is why our pday is today.  My interview went well.  President always tells me that I should be a writer. . . well, if I knew how to spell that might work out for me.  He also said that I am a person of many talents and that I have done great work in my mission.  I know mission presidents have to say that kinda stuff, but if still made me feel good.

Oh, I finished reading all the conference talks.  I mostly read them in Spanish, but I always repassed through my favorites in english.  Yay conference! Only three more months until the next session!  YAY!  Oh, and I got my release date.  Ready?  I know I’m not.  But I will end my mission on the 11 of August.

I'm happy everyone is doing well.  I pray for you all and I am so grateful for your support. Keep your heads up and remember to not let those straws break your backs.
Con Amor, 

Hna Ostler

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