Hmmm... every other week! Can any of you returned missionaries relate to this spiritual emotional, situational rollercoater? I have to say that as a mother I find Katie's honesty refreshing, but difficult at the same time. I'm so proud of her determination to finish the course, even when it's so hard. The language will come eventually, but the amazing growth has already come in her recognition of her dependence on her Heavenly Father and her Savior. So thankful for this girl and all the amazing things I learn through her example! ~Linda
In the MTC, Mandy (Katie's cousin who served her mission in Peru) told me of how she felt on the mission when she wanted to go home. Maybe there are a lot harder times to come, but I have never felt so discouraged in my life as I did this week.
This has been probably the hardest week of my life, and that may sound dramatic, but I've never felt so incapable, so alone, so unmotivated, so down and so ready to give up in my life. Sister P. is heaven sent. She's let me break down to her every day, always having amazing, inspired advice. I tried so hard, and at times still do, to ignore it. Giving up is so much easier, and i feel like I'd be so much more helpful and happier at home. I'm so unhappy and stressed here that I am not myself, at all. It's embarrassing some days. And obviously I'm not the best faker, at hiding my true feelings haha. I can't even be fake in an email home.
This week, grabe, was hard. I was excited when Sister P. got here. Then we got to work. As you know, we switched areas with the Elders, so I know a few of the people here, and we always went shopping here, so it wasn't too unfamiliar. But I don't know where anyone lives, I still don't know Waray Waray super well (and Sis. P. speaks Cebuano), and neither of us are very confident in all the things you're supposed to know being a missionary. There's so much that we need to know that we both feel like our trainers just did themselves. Diri maupay, Dili maayo, Hindi mabuti (there's 3 languages for you haha). It's not good. So anyways, I'm leading this area on very little knowledge and a lot of pressure. She still doesn't know the area too well, so she looks to me a lot of the time. And honestly, I have no idea how to share the load. There's just so much to do and know (Forms, information for meetings, people's information, where their houses are, requirements for reactivity and baptism). The list goes on. Basta, it stresses me out, and Saturday night I gave everything over to the Lord, I was done. I couldn't do it alone, and I was stressing myself out trying. I prayed and and fasted to know whether I should go home or not. And I asked, I pleaded, for him to help me if my answer was to stay.
Here are a few things I studied and advice I got from Sister P while I fasted: In one of Mandy's letters to me in the MTC, she said, "You are capable of so much more than you think. In your toughest of times, the Lord humbles you and shows you your weaknesses and then as you endure through those times, he will turn those weaknesses into strengths". That is explained so clearly in Ether 12. I know that scripture, yet I feel like a lot of us, especially me, doubt that it applies to us. Sis. P. told me that in our life we have a backpack. We pick up rocks here and there and put them in our backpacks. Eventually we run out of room. Sometimes we toss the rocks out, so they don't burden us anymore. Sometimes we get used to them, don't mind them too much, so we decide to keep them. Those rocks are our weaknesses and trials. On a mission, we are given a much smaller backpack. We literally have no room or time to carry all of those rocks around with us. There's so much more I need to fill my backpack with. So why would I keep all my rocks? We are given the opportunity to TOSS them! The Lord will gladly take them from us. The hard part is knowing how to give them up. How do I give up the little things about myself that never held me back before, but suddenly are stopping my progression?
At home, I always got what I wanted. If I wasn't good at something, then I would just stop doing it. You don't really enjoy things you're not good at right? Well that's not an option here. I'm not good at the language, I'm not good at teaching, and I don't like not knowing whats going on when people are talking. But I can't give up here. It's not an option anymore. Going home is an option, and if you are all okay with me coming home, I'd hop on the next flight haha. But what would that do? I'd be the same, if not worse, than what I was before I left. It's like choir! When Hebert (her beloved high school choir teacher) would play the piano, and not play the last note haha. It's so annoying huh? He thought it was so funny, and it kind of is haha. But it's like working so hard on a song, like "Sleep" (all my Vocal friends know :) ), and just quitting half way because we weren't good at it and it was getting harder. Finishing and performing that song was so rewarding, because of how hard it was and how much time we spent on it.
So my point, I've never been expected to do anything this hard before, so of course it's going to be hard. But like Alma and Amulek in the Book of Mormon, Alma was kicked out of the city he was preaching in, but an angel told him to go back? He was probably thinking, "Why and how? They're just going to kick me out again. What's the point?" But He went back, and he found another way into the city, and he found Amulek, who lived in the city and who was prepared for him, to help him (If you want to know about the rest of the story, read Alma 8-in The Book of Mormon, because it's really a good book ;) ). And Moses, who was told that he would deliver the people out of Egypt, but saw no way to do that with Pharaoh in the way. But eventually, the Lord parted the Red Sea so his people could cross the waters to safety on dry ground. So many miracles come from continuing. Just like we tell all of our members. Padayun! When you don't know how to keep going, and you want to do good, just continue. Endure. Sometimes, that's all you can do.
I guess this email was more of a pep-talk for me. I bear testimony that the Lord loves us and he wants to help us. I know that He is so sad when he sees me crying and feeling so alone. And he's sad because he's there, comforting me, and I fail to feel him. When we're sad, and when we're ready to give up, that is when the Lord is there, with his arms wrapped around us. What is our purpose here on Earth? Why would our Heavenly Father want us to be sad and miserable? All he wants is for us to be happy, and we find the greatest joy when we aren't focused on ourselves, on our problems. I know that that is why i've been so unhappy. Because I WANT to speak the language. I WANT to understand the people. I WANT to be a good teacher. Those aren't bad desires! But I know, the second I just step out the door, and WANT to serve his children, that all my righteous desires will be given to me. Life takes patience, diligence, faith, and humility. It takes giving ourselves to the Lord fully. It takes time. It can't be mastered all at once. But if we have the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, then we can have hope that one day we will master everything and all our trials will be taken from us. And I share this, as a servant of our Heavenly Father, and in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
With love from the Philippines still,