First of all, Thank you for the package! It was a surprise to be told on Wednesday that they had a package for me. I protected it the rest of the day like my life depended on it. =P My companion loved the punch balloon, after I explained what it was and how it worked. She actually sleeps with it! I think it's because she doesn't know that it can be deflated and stored somewhere else. She told me that the other night she woke up holding and cuddling with it. I know, I thought it was great too. :D
Thank you for all of the letters. I got all of them on Saturday. I was standing in the offices, which was a challenge because of all the missionaries there, (we had a zone conference), and the mailman walked in with a stack of letters and as Elder Trepanier, one of the secretaries, went through them it was, Hermana Parslow, other missionary, Hermana Parslow, other missionary, Hermana Parslow, Hermana Parslow, Hermana Parslow, Hermana Parslow. Wow! Did I feel loved or what?! :D I'm going to do my best to write everyone back and then I plan on sending them all back in one big envelope so that I can make sure none of them get lost. =)
Thank you everyone for your love and prayers. I feel it everyday. Thank you for your testimonies, they give me strength like you wouldn't believe. I love you all so much!
Quick story about this morning before I get started. Early this morning I got up to use the restroom. On my way there I almost fell over...couple of times...always to the left. I almost landed on my companion once but luckily caught hold of something first. Through my half awake haze I decided that because I had been sick the last couple of days, I must be so sick that my center of balance has been thrown off. I swore it must have been because I almost fell off the toilet. I was actually scared to get out of bed this morning because I thought I wouldn't be able to walk again. Bear with me here. I mentioned it to my companion to apologize for almost falling on her and she said that she had felt it too. That's when I realized, it had been an EARTHQUAKE! :D Not the kind that shakes the world upside down and destroys everything but more like the world is swaying to music and trying to rock everyone to sleep but really it just makes you nauseous. How cool is that?! We've had 3 earthquakes since I've gotten here but this is only the second one that I've felt. It's no volcanic eruption but I'm pretty sure it will do on the cool experience list. =)
Wow...what a week.
This week has definitely been an interesting one and mainly because I've hardly been in my area!
On Tuesday we had Intercambios...I have no idea what they're called in English, I'm pretty sure it's Exchanges. Anyway, our Sister Leaders in our mission came to our area and one of them stayed with my companion for the day while I left to another area with the other companion Hermana Chuc. She was great. She's from Cancun and has a year in the mission. Not to mention she's is a wonderful missionary. We talked most of the hour and a half bus ride to her area and found out that we share the same birthday. What?! I know! It was pretty cool. =) Her area is a little town on the edge of Puebla city. It was full of stray dogs, dirt roads, and people walking their cows. ...I know, awesome right? :D
I'm not gonna lie, the exchange was probably one of the worst things I've had to do since coming to Mexico, but I learned a lot. What happened is we went on splits with the members. I stayed in one town with members as my companinos and she left to another town for appointments. First a few of the members that were supposed to be my companions canceled and we were late for everything. Okay, that was fine really, you just kind of brush it off and move on.
Alright, First thing I learned: Some members like to talk....a lot.
When we went to our first appointment I had the bishop's wife and another member who had never accompanied the missionaries before. She was about as nervous as I was. I was just this little 3 week old missionary who had never before had a lesson with a member that was actually there to help.
The members were fantastic in their teaching but the lesson was supposed to be 20 minutes...we were there for an hour and a half. That's waaaaaaay too long.
Second: Members have a special spirit that they can bring to a lesson.
While listening to the members teach from their testimony and personal conviction, I felt the Spirit so strongly testify to me that what they were saying was true.
Third: Members are amazing but there is still something missing when they teach alone.
Okay, I hope I can say this right, members are amazing and definitely bring a great spirit when they bare their testimony but there is still a specific authority given to those who are called to teach. They talked and talked and talked and talked. I would try to include one of my comments but they would just talk and talk and although they were answering the investigator's questions and were testifying I could feel the difference from when missionaries teach and the members teach.
Fourth: The Gift of Tongues DOES NOT work when you're frustrated.
Okay, the first lesson went on for forever and the I hardly spoke because the members took over the lesson. Not great but it seemed to help the investigator and so now I just had to figure out how to get to the other lessons on time.....didn't happen. By the time we left the first lesson, yeah, I was a little frustrated and lost and confused and yeah, kinda scared. I just thought to myself, "Breathe, Breathe, it's okay." and it was. I didn't really get frustrated until the member who had been afraid about the lesson decided that since we maybe had 10 minutes until my next companion arrived at our meeting place that we should make a "quick" 20 minute visit with a different member. That's about when I stopped understanding Spanish for the next half hour.
Fifth:Everything they taught in the MTC about teaching people and not lessons was true.
My second and last companion was great. She was kind, funny, and very patient with me and my lack of language skills. We got along great...until the lesson we taught together. I was a little frustrated because we had missed every appointment but one up to that point and we had no idea where we were. But that's alright, we ran into Hermana Chuc who directed us to one of the investigators and we ended up having a lesson with her...this poor investigator.
The member I was with taught a lesson. Almost perfectly from a book, but it wasn't what this person needed. We were talking about prophets, dispensations, and Joseph Smith and were going to ask her to pray if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. First of all, this poor woman had no idea what a prophet was, I know...because I asked her. I didn't get to hear her answer though because I asked while the member was answering a phone call in the middle of the lesson and while she was thinking about my question the member got off her phone and drove forward with her lesson. Also, the investigator didn't know what the importance of prayer was or even how to pray. This I knew because when she said the closing prayer she was very confused on what she was doing and how to do it. That was just a little aggravating simply because she didn't have to be left in the dark. Also, throughout the lesson the member would talk and talk and talk and then look at me and say, "Would you like to talk about dispensations?" "Would you like to talk about Joseph Smith?" Yes, thank you, I would love to do my job.
By the end of the day, I was exhausted, frustrated because the members knew I couldn't really speak Spanish so they overtook the lessons and it was like I was the member not the missionary, I couldn't understand Spanish anymore, and I was depressed because I had felt like I had failed. Yeah, It was a little bit of a rough day.
On the bright side, I got to witness someone truly commit to baptism because they want an eternal family, that was beyond cool, and I got to eat these fried banana things with sweetened condensed milk and strawberries that was positively delicious. =)
I tried really hard to harness the feelings I was experiencing but I just couldn't. I wanted to go back to my area, with my companion, in the place where I belonged, and I wished more than anything that I was in an English speaking mission where I could do my job. The feelings of frustration and failure lasted for a couple days until I finally broke down right as we were supposed to practice teaching the Plan of Salvation and I told my companion everything. It was then that I got the best peptalk of my life.
My companion looked at me with the same love and kindness that I can imagine the Savior looking at me with and said, "Hermana Parslow, who are you?"
"A daughter of God." I mumbled, knowing she wasn't asking for the too obvious.
"Where are you?"
"In Mexico..a place I hardly know, with people I can't understand, and a language I can't speak."
"And why are you here?"
"I don't know, because God told me to be."
"You are here because God needs you to be here for His children. He doesn't need you in the United States, He doesn't need you in England, or Europe, or anywhere else that speaks English. He doesn't need you in Africa or Canada or China. He needs you here, in Mexico, with people you don't know...yet. A language you can't speak perfectly...yet. He needs you here because this is where you can do His work. You can do it and He will help you."
It was then that my tears changed from frustration and fear and hopelessness to tears of gratitude. As the Spirit testified to me the truth of her words, something within me changed and is still changing. Every day since I experience something that makes me realize a little bit more what it means to be a missionary, here in Mexico, and the gift and responsibility I have been given to do the Lord's work and although it seems huge at times and like I can't do it, I am beyond grateful that I have the Lord on my side to help me help our brothers and sisters.
Yup, this week was rough, I had a not so great time in intercambios, we spent two days out of our area, sleeping on the floor of another Hermana's apartment because her companion went home and to finish it off I ended up in the hospital on Saturday night. Don't worry Mom, it was just an infection that's pretty common and I'm doing great now. =) However, I got to learn something that cannot be taught in schools or classes or anywhere else but here in the field. I got to grow, even if it was just a little bit, in a way that wouldn't be possible without being dragged down to where I just don't want to do it anymore. It is amazing to me how the Lord will let us be brought down but only because He intends to build us back up. I am so grateful for my Savior and His love and His Atonement. I am so grateful that I don't know it all yet and probably never will, but it is all the more reason to rely on Him and let Him help me in only the way He can. I testify that He lives, that He loves us, and that He will NEVER leave us alone. He is ALWAYS there, always, just waiting for us to let Him in. This is the message I am here, in Mexico, to share.
"Our opportunities to give of ourselves are indeed limitless...There are hearts to gladden. There are kind words to say. There are gifts to be given. There are deeds to be done. There are souls to be saved."
--Thomas S Monson.
|This was my catch of the day on Sunday. It's our neighbors' white rabbit that loves to escape and got loose that morning. We caught him and returned him to his yard. We have no idea what his name is so we just call him "Borlito" =)|
|This is Molly. She's the dog of one of our less active members. She's sooo much fun and such a cuddle bug. She actually fell asleep on my lap during our lesson with the members. =)|
|A package from home!!!|
|Looking out the front door|