Boa Tarde Familia e Amigos!
I am soooo grateful for all the love and support I feel from all of you. I always print off and read all the emails I get before I write this one. Seriously, I have to sit next to a box of tissues. I love you all so much- know that I pray for you too everyday!This week, nope, pretty much every week, has been such an emotional rollercoaster. This week especially, though, the highs were so high, making the lows seem a bit lower, but over all, it's been such an amazing week of growth and learning.Okay, so I don't know if I've allowed this to come through in my other emails, I hope not, but I've really been struggling with my companion for a while now. We just come from VERY different backgrounds and have polar opposite personalities. What's been the hardest, though, is that we work and learn at different levels. There have been many times when I've just wanted to lay it all out on the table, but I recognize that, that would be selfish, only benefitting me and not her. So we talk about what we can, but there's a lot of underlying tension.While studying the plan of salvation one day, though, I came across a mormon message in which Elder Eyring says, "Love is putting someone else's welfare above your own." I feel like this is a lesson everyone knows, or at least understands, except me. However, hearing it while in the situation I'd been going through, it acutally clicked for once. Yes, I was trying to be a good companion, praying for her, serving her, trying to get to know her, but only as long as it didn't inhibit my own needs in the language, spirituality, etc. I recognized that this message could be "the thing" that would help me fix my problems, but my laziness and pride were keeping me from fully committing myself.Well, I finally decided to give it a try. It seemed, though, that as soon as I made that decision, Satan was right there to throw it back in my face. I almost lost my temper that night after something my companion had said. This is a huge weakness of mine, but somehow, with Heavenly Father's help, I was able to keep my cool until the next day when I could think about it more clearly.The next night we had a devotional. Nothing spectacular was said; however, I felt the spirit so strongly. It reminded me of the love Heavenly Father has for everyone, including me, and I knew, when, that I could do it, whatever He asked of me, because that's what Christ did for me.So I did. I took the reigns (ugh, I know I spelled that wrong) on companionship prayer, focused on helping my companion learn Portuguese rather than myself, tried to really listen to what she was saying a believe her, and let me tell you, it has made all the difference.That day, I felt like I learned more than what I was able to teach my companion, the spirit was so strong in our lesson with Fabio that we committed him to baptism, and I even got a package from Grandma and 8 letters in the mail! Best day ever!That was the highest of my highs this week. After that, things kind of seemed to slide downhill again. We were really struggling with our other investigator, Alesha. She needed a spiritual experience to help her know that God does exist, but I felt like no matter what I tried, I couldn't connect with her or bring the spirit into our lessons. Friday was our last day to teach her because Irma Ricks (our sub teacher) is moving back to Brazil. I prayed so hard that the spirit would be in our final lesson, but to no avail, apparently. For me, at least, the spirit was not the senior companion in that lesson. This was pretty depressing, especially after committing to try even harder. I felt like I was giving it my all. My patriarchal actually talks a little bit about this, which was comforting, and I was reminded of a talk Elder Holland gave in which he says something to the affect of, "to be able to bear a strong, lasting testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ, I believe that we will have to pay a token of that same price... So when we are rejected, when we are cast out, spit upon, and made a hiss and a by word, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with the best life this world has ever known."In a last ditch effort with Alesha, I shared a really personal experience, something I'd been trying to incorporate into our lesson for a while, but left the lesson feeling a little alone and abondoned.After learning past subjunctive (ugh) with Irma Ricks, she showed us pictures of our "actual" investigators- the people from her mission she was pretending to be. I didn't understand this until after she'd left and someone explained to me in English, ha ha, but apparently, our investigator wasn't one of her's from Brazil. Alesha is Sister Rick's sister who she's been trying to convert for years. She knows it's true, but just one get baptized. I was elated for two reasons-1. Not even the amazing Sister Ricks can convert her sister. Maybe I'm not so much of a failure after all.2. The personal experience I'd been trying to share all week correlated exactly with Alesha's life!At the time, I was just trying to bring the spirit into our lessons, but now, I can look back and see that those feelings I had were promptings from Heavenly Father, telling me I had something, the exact thing, that Alesha needed to hear. He had not abandoned me. The spirit had been there, trying to help me, the whole time.Sorry if this is awkwardly too personal to share with the general family public, but I wish everyone could have the same experiences I am having. God loves every one of us. I used to think it took a lot of effort and worthiness for Him to hear and answer our prayers, to repent and be forgiven, or to feel the spirit in our lives. While it does take effort, in fact, a mighty change of heart, He is there through everything. In our mission conference last Sunday, President Sonne cited this scripture that talk about God sharing a vision of Satan holding the world in his chains and darkness-Moses 7:29, 31, 32 " And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity? And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of they throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep? The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethern; they are the workmanship of mine own hands."President Sonne continued with, "He loves us! When the Lord says He will forgive [bless us with His spirit, help us, etc], He will! In fact, I testify that He is anxiously waiting for us to ask Him to do so." We are not forgotten. Even when we don't feel it or recognize it, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are right beside us, helping us, begging us, to do the right thing and know that they are there.I also want to thank everyone for their prayers of behalf of the visa situation.They worked!Sister Kemer got her visa yesterday, haha. I'm a little bit jealous, a lot excited for her, but most of all, I'm really just trusting that Heavenly Father knows best. Honestly, I could probably use a couple months in the States to get this gospel thing down. However, there is a glimmer of hope. Most people getting their visas went through the DC consulate. One of the five that got their visas yesterday, though, went through the Houston consulate! The one I'm going through!! Something is happening down there!Well, it's more likely though that I'll get my reassignment this week, Friday to be more exact. So scary! I can't believe that this time next week I'll be teaching REAL people! Ahhhhh!Well, that's all for now folks. Totes jelly of the family reunion happening next week. Aunt Lisa's bike rides sound really fun. I expect my picture to be on the table at every meal, just like we do with great great aunt whoever from Dublin on St. Patty's day :)Love you all!Sister Barkdull