I hope you´re all doing great. This week was about the same for me, same old missionary life! Time passes very strangely, I cant believe another week is already gone and I´ve been here for 4 weeks now. This whole mission thing has been one big, weird, out of body experience. Like literally, sometimes it does not feel real at all. I wouldnt be surprised one bit to wake up from this dream and have to go back to high school again. New culture, new people, new language, new everything, all at once. And its weird how traveling here by plan distorts my reality of how far from home I am. Im in a different hemisphere, like half an earth away, and I dont even realize it. Thats weird!!
Same old week here, just trying to keep my head above. Its hard to really see the progress of my spanish, its something so inmeasurable, but I feel like im progressing every so slowly. For now, im just trying my very best to understand what people are saying, always listening super super intently, because thats the only way you can ever learn is by listening to people speak it. And im just struggling through the parts where I have to speak myself or bear my testimony, but its getting a little easier every week with the more experience I get.
Something that Im going to really focus on this week during my personal study is reading preach my gospel and the accompaning scriptures with it, and im going to really develop my own personal testimony of every doctrine and principle. Im going to try to put in practice the promise of the Lord that says, ¨seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then your tongue shall be loosed¨. Im realizing that if im going to preach to people, I need to real know and believe the doctrine and principles with my whole heart, I have to really believe and know them for myself. I think people can definitely tell if you personally really believe something or not. They know because when you truly believe those things for yourself, the Spirit teaches their hearts. So this week, during my personal study, im going to focus in developing a testimony for myself rather than how I can say memorized phrases and ways to say things in spanish, and I know that the Lord and the Spirit will help me communicate the things of my heart. It took me a little while to learn this, but im glad that I understand it now. The people of South America are very bold, and if they think you have a problem, that just flat out tell you. And that happened to me this week. We were in a members home, and one man asked me how the spanish was coming along, and I told him it was still more or less, and he said that it wasnt the spanish thats my problem, but that I like the faith. So that was kind of really rude and hard for me at first, but the more I thought about it, the more that I thought it was true. I really need to believe these things for myself, my own personal deep testimony, so thats what im focusing on this week.
Our iluminador, (someone thats committed to baptism and coming to church) Enrique, is still doing great. He is the funniest, littlest man ive ever know. Everything he says is so funny. He is the most ideal of all ideal investigators that there has ever been. He is really into the Bible, he knows the Bible ten times better than I do, and he loves the Book of Mormon now too. He loves the idea of Joseph Smith restoring the truth and bringing forth the book of Mormon. Everything we say to him he just loves and automatically accepts it. He has a real testimony for himself. We are super super excited for his baptism!!!! I think that I might be the one doing the actual baptism, too. Not that its really important which missionary does the baptism, but I would just be really excited to do my first ever real baptism. Ill be sure to get a picture with him. I think that I probably dont understand how much of blessing it is for me to already have a baptism this early in my mission, I know that most European missionaries never get a baptism their entire mission. So im trying to really appreciate this.
We dont really have any other real solid progressing investigators. Other than Enrique, we have been meeting with a few other investigators, but none others that show a lot of interest. We have a lot of lessons with recent converts, re teaching lessons and sharing scriptures with them. We have about 4 converts that we consistently have lessons with other few days. Other than that, its just clapping doors all day, every day. Me encanta, por supuesto.
Sometimes when I think about english speaking missions I get really envious because I think about how much more focused in missionary things I would be. I mean, I feel like all the new missionaries here have a really hard time focusing themselves in spiritual things, or missionary skills like contacting, teaching lessons, etc. just because we cant speak the language yet. I feel like I know nothing about being a missionary, im just super lost. And when I think about being an english speaker, how much progress I would have made by now, sometimes I really wish I just spoke english. BUT, I really do believe and have a testimony that I am here for a reasons that I dont understand yet. I am here learning spanish, with a native companion, struggling, for a reason. And I know that I will see the fruits of all this down the road some time in the future. So, Im trying my best to maintain vision, and to be patient. In the meantime, im just trying my very best to be the best I can everyday. Do the most that I can everyday to learn the language, try to apply skills that im learning, etc. Its hard, but I am learning patience. Something I learned especially this week was that I cant compare myself to others. I need to take everyday personally, making progress personally, and trying my best personally. Its stressful to have to be a missionary without being able to speak right now, but I realized, I dont have to be a perfect flawless missionary. I just need to try my hardest everyday.
Well, thats about all. Every week, we go to a cyber in the morning and print off all your emails, and then in the afternoon we come back and reply, and every week before we come back to the cyber a second time, I write out a personal checklist of things that I want to remember to say, an outline basically. Something like:
-The food this week
-The specific spiritual experiences of this week
-Concluding spiritual insight/whatever
And this week, for the concluding spiritual thought I just wrote:
-Cliche missionary crap
Haha. Because I feel like every missionary pretends to have like grand spiritual insights and great wisdom that they like to cleverly, wisdomly word at the end of every email. Like how everything is a glorious blessing from the Lord and everything is tremedously happy. And I thought about doing this, and I just said, no man. Not my style. A mission isnt an on going, every second spiritual experience. There are spiritual experiences, yes, and you do learn a lot, but its not what its made out to be. Thats how I feel, at least. For the most part, im still just a normal 18 year old boy living life. Im just a representative for the church, asking people if they want to hear the message of the restoration and inviting them to church! haha. I dont know. Maybe that will be something that changes as my mission progresses. I hope that it does, actually. But thats how I feel for now. Im just going to be honest, tell my family how it really is!
Anyway, I hope you guys are all doing great. I sincerely am happy here, despite many hard things. Im learning and progressing a lot every day. Theres nothing to worry about, I think im begginging to start getting the hang of the culture here and how to live on my own. I hope you all have a good week!! I dont have any time left, so I probably cant individually email any of you this week. Sorry!
Love, Elder Miles