Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I Think the Fungi is Getting To Me

Boa tarde!
I really did send probably the most inspired letter of my mission last week, but the internet connection was horrible, and apparently, my email neither sent nor saved. Thus is life here in Mosqueiro.
This week was extremely stressful, but also really great and inspiring.
I think the fungi in our house is getting to me because the week before, I actually asked the president if I could give a talk in sacrament meeting. This does not happen.
On Wednesday, we had zone conference! Got to get up a 4 am to catch a bus to the center of Belem. Despite dying of cold, hunger (the president talked two hours into lunch), and sleep deprivation, we learned some really good stuff about stress management, being the kind of missionary that changes as a result of his/her mission, and cleared up some apostasy that was going on. Got a chance to see a lot of my friends and also to see Elder Xavier, my last zone leader off. He´s is one of the best missionaries I´ve ever met, and I was really sad to say goodbye; he helped me and the mission out a lot, but maybe we´ll meet again someday at BYU. That´s the thing that stinks about serving a foreign mission- I´ll probably never see these people again.

My last companion, Sister Santos, is training an americana right now. As I tried talking to her slowly in Portuguese, I could tell she wasn´t understanding anything- her face got really red. I remembered how awful it was when I first got here and couldn´t do or say anything, just felt like a burden. It´s rough seeing people go through the same thing I went through, but at the same time, makes me grateful for my experiences because now I can use them to help others. After my back surgery, I got a random letter from a lady in our ward, and in it, she cited a general authority who said something to the effect of, ´´sometimes, we don´t go through trials because we´re being punished or because there´s something we need to learn for ourselves. Sometimes, we just have trials so that we can better understand how others feel when they have to go through the same thing.´´ That letter was a tender mercy in a hard time then, and it has been now as well. I learned a lot from my beginning experiences here in Brazil, but I can also just better relate to and help others how are passing through the same thing now. For me, that makes it worth it.
At our conference, we were also told that a new focus in our mission is going to be less/in actives (FINALLY) and were given the counsel to start meeting more with the members. With this, visiting with all the people we´re already teaching, finding more people to teach, giving a talk, teaching gospel principles, and planning a ward activity, I was pretty stressed out this week. I hope my next companion is a Sister Santos too, because the name really fits the person. She´s a saint. I´m not a happy camper when I´m stressed, but the atonement´s for everyone. What was most stressful was my talk. I´d actually asked the president if I could talk, so it had to be good. We´ve been making the most of lunches by trying to give spiritual thoughts that would help unify the branch more, but this was one of my few opportunities to really talk to everyone. I prayed and prayed and prayed all week and switched topics at least 4 times. Finally, Sunday arrived, and I still had nothing- a lot of ideas, but no way to connect them all. One of the ´´goals´´ I had set for myself before my mission was to develop the ability to speak at the pulpit without notes or anything. Family. It happened. I got up there and just started talking. I talked for 35 minutes straight, without losing my train of thought or going off on random tangants. I would give myself a pat on the back, but I know it wasn´t me who was talking. I just tried focusing on the love I have for this people and the potential this area has, and the words just came. I know that miracles are real (seriously, I´m a horrible public speaker) and that when guided by a true love and desire to help, Heavenly Father makes up for the things we lack.
Well, transfers are again this week. I feel like Sister F. Santos and I will stay here together in Mosqueiro. Other than her singing all the time, I really love my companion (and I fear others), so I hope that happens. But, ´´se Deus quiser´´...
I love you all! I´m so grateful for all the support and love I feel from you. Enjoy the cold while you can.
Sister Barkdull

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