Sunday, July 7, 2013

We Fart to Pray

She found a friend! Briana with Sister Karina Hill who will be serving in the Argentina Cordoba mission. We have been friends with the Hill family since we lived in the Washington, DC area when the Sisters were in sunbeams.

Sister Barkdull has yet to send us any pictures so this shot was stolen off of another Sister's blog who is going to the same mission:

Oi minha familia e meus amigos!  Eu voces amo, e eu espero que voces estou muito felicidade!
Here's a little about my MTC experience-
- Brother Nielson:  our first teacher here at the CTM.  Such a sweet spirit.  He laughs and smiles at everything you say, even if it's completely wrong and no one understood you.  Sometimes this can be frustrating because I want to be corrected!  Also, he only ever talks in Portuguese and I can still barely understand a single word he says, but I'm learning a lot about the spirit and loving others from him.  He's super humble and full of light- great example.
- Brother Hansen:  our first week here, he was our investigator Jorge.  Now he's our second teacher and almost the polar opposite of Brother Nielson.  He's very sarcastic and expects a lot out of us, whether it's language, spirituality, or anything else.  No Justin Bieber jokes around this guy- learned that yesterday.  Sometimes  when we're doing our online language learning, he'll stand behind me, and as I'm about to enter an answer, he'll say, "Are you sure you want to do that Sis. Barkdull?"  Soooooo intimidating!  But I'm learning the language so much better from him, and he's a great spiritual teacher as well- in a "no excuses" kind of way.  His "motto" or whatever for his mission in Brazil was "no regrets".  Everyday he worked his hardest, gave his 100%, so now, looking back, he may not have been the best missionary out in the field, but he know he gave Heavenly Father his all.  I really like that.  I think I'm going to make that my mission goal too, if not my life goal because honestly, isn't that what life is?  A big, long, "give the Lord your best" mission?
We now have 2 investigators- Maurilo and Fabio- so we're teaching everyday.  Ugh, this is kind of rough for me.  Stupid, I know, because that's what I'm out here to do.  but I've always been able to keep my cook by telling myself "It's okay, your eternal salvation doesn't depend on this", but you can't say that in the field.  Acutally, it's worse because it's not you eternal salvation on the line now, it's someone else's!  Your preparation, your knowledge, spirituality, social ski8lls, everything now all REALLY count!  Sooooo stressful!  I feel like I'm going into a chem final everyday!  I have to be careful, though, because if I allow myself to stress too much, it totally drives away the spirit.  Then all that freaking out was for nothing because there's no way, zero chance, zip zilch nada possibility of ever converting someone  without the spirit.  I am gaoing SUCH a strong testimony of this!
Sister Sprague and I spend hours everyday planning our lessons, searching the scriptures, making and going over flashcards, and praying for our lessons, and yet, everytime we teach our investigators, we never get the chance to actually do what we planned.
Sister S. and I had an absolutely horrible lesson last week with Maurilo.  I thought we were going to have to just walk out and say "sorry for wasting your time".  It was like the worst day ever.  We had a companionship inventory afterwards in which I told her how it's like the opposite of helpful when I'm quickly looking up a word in the dictionary and she asks our investigator what his favorite TV show is right in the middle of my testimony, to which she responded that it's pretty frustrating for her when I talk over her or finish her thoughts for her in our lessons... whoops.  We've come a long way since then.  We've been working really hard on listening to each other more in the lessons, but most of all, listening to the spirit.  hence, why we never actually get to our lesson plan.
Yesterday, we planned on teaching Maurilo about the plan of Salvation and really focusing on the atonement.  It was such a good plan, and I was so anxious that it go perfectly!  When we got in the there and asked about how his first solo experience with prayer went, he said he didn't like it and that felt embarrassed because it didn't feel like anyone was listening.  This broke my heart!  it took me a while to figure out waht to say and to get my emotions in check.  I shared a scripture about praying with a purpose and bore my tesimony of prayer and God's love for us.  The spirit was really stron.  He then asked why, if God loves us, do so many bad things happen all the time?  Why do good people die, why do children starve?  This is something I've asked myself a lot too.  We tried explaining to him through the plan of salvation that we are here on earth to gain experience, learn from our trials, and draw closer to God through these things, but he was nhappy with that answer.  At that moment, I remembered that chapter in 2 Nephi chapter 2, I think,  about having to know the bad to know the good, and how God has given every my his agency to choose for themselves.  This did stike a chord with Maurilo, so we committed him to read the whole chapter and pray about it.  None of this was in our lesson plan, but I know we finally got to what Maurilo needed to hear because of the spirit.
Missionary work is hard!  I drea every lesson (I know, such a sinner).  Sometimes is feels like we prepare for nothing, and most of the time, our lessons are poop, but we always make sure to bear our testimonies at the end of them, and somehow, we always leave with the spirit (I'm learning to truly appreciate my over active lacrimal glands).
On Sunday, we got to watch this MTC devotional by Elder Bednar called "The Character of Christ".  Everybody here raves about it and swears it will forever change your mission.  I think I've heard it somewhere before, but yeah, it really was THAT GOOD.  If you can find it on the internet somewhere, please watch it!  In it, Elder B shared a story from his mission.  His mish pres asked him, " How would you feel if one of the 12 apostolos fell away from the church?"  Honestly, I would be pretty shaken up, but Elder B said his mission president said, "If one the the 12 apostles fell away, it wouldn't bother me in the least.  It would be sad, but my testimony is to the Lord.  Nothing could change my witness I've received of the Savior."  Edler Bednar continued, saying every member has some degree of testimony, but not every member has been "converted to the Lord".  he cited an example from a sacrament meeting he went to where people talked about the testimonies of their pioneer ancestors, and he thought, "Great, what have you done lately?" (yeah! preach it Dave!)  You can't live off borrowed light.  If you're converted unto the Lord, you will not fall away.  I've never considered myself living off of borrowed light, but I did realize that I can't just have a testimony that the prophets and apostles are good men, that YW and relief society make me a better person, that charity and love are what unite us all.  I need to have a steadfast and immovable testimony of the doctrine of Christ, which we missionaries state every time we recite our purpose- to bring others closer to Christ through the atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
I'm so grateful for everything I'm learning here at the MTC.  This truly is a gospel of happiness and love, but most importantly, what will bring us back to him.
Thanks to everyone for the letters and the emails!  Our district leader won't hand the letters out until 9 at night because he doesn't want us to get distracted.  Honestly, that just makes me think about them more!  They are the highlight of my day!  Even if it's just like what you did today or, like Zane, what kind of ice cream you put in your rootbeer float, I LOVE hearing about it!  Also, I would really love to write you back but I never have enough time to email everyone.  So, if you could email, or Dear Elder would be faster, me your addresses, there will be a letter in the mail for you shortly.  Okay, one more thing- to everybody who's been sending me encouraging emails and letters, you have no idea what a blessing you are and what an answer to my prayers.  it's really easy to feel inadequate and discouraged on a mission.  So, even if I'm a stinky missionary out here, the thought that maybe my experiences have helped someone back home a little gives me the motivation I need to work even harder, so thanks.
I love you all!  I pray for you multiple times a day!
Pray for our visas!
Send me some zucchini bread so I can be the most popular sister in the district! haha.
Peace and blessings, or as the Brazilians would say it, Paz e bencaos!
Sister Barkdull

P.S.  Okay, so Brother Hansen is like THE BEST at keeping a straight face and acting totally disinterested when we teach him as one of our investigators.  Yesterday, though, he announced to the class that he almost lost it when a certain companionship started saying "we fart to pray" instead of "we can pray".  Yeah, guess who that was...

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