Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hurrah for Israel!

Aubrey's Letter October 23, 2014

Hola familia y amigos!!
What a happy day to be alive :) And an even happier day to be a missionary! Honestly, I still wake up every morning... put this name tag on... and can hardly stop my face from BEAMING because it makes me so happy :)

So many wonderful WONDERFUL things to tell you about this week! Hopefully I can keep my thoughts a little more collected than last week :) It´s hard when so many things happen!!

**Okay side note. If you only read one part of my email, read about Tuesday. It´ll be towards the end. **

FIRST major exciting thing - I think I mentioned last week that Neil L. Anderson was coming here to the CCM :) That happened on Saturday. And it was an incredible devotional!! There were two other General Authorities that accompanied him and spoke as well. His talk was all about the Atonement, la Expiación - and it was beautiful. There are only about 400 missionaries in the CCM right now, and Elder Anderson specifically asked if we could set apart time for everyone to shake his hand. That is the second time I have shaken hands with an apostle! (The first time being Elder Bednar at a BYU basketball game during half time. tehe.) :) What an awesome experience. Being able to literally sit at the feet of the prophets... the best. This is only the second time that an apostle has come to the México CCM, and the first was in February! So I really was blessed to be here at the right time :)

The Spanish is coming along so wonderfully. I have been working hard, speaking well, and praying every moment of every day!!! I counted how many kneeling prayers I said just yesterday alone - 37! 37 times getting on my knees and thanking the Lord for ALL His blessings and help. 37 times getting to have a conversation with my loving Heavenly Father! Not to mention a constant prayer in my mind and in my heart. I love prayer :) I wish that I would have relied more on constant prayer before the mission, too. ANYTHING you do can be done better through prayer. I testify of that.

One thing I have been diligently working on is my memorization in Spanish! I have the First Vision, D&C 4, James 1:5, My Missionary Purpose, Alma 32:21, and a handful of other scriptures in Spanish already memorized. It is so fun to recite them in my head and practice! I love it :) My goal is to memorize 3 scriptures a week, and continue to maintain the ones I already have down!

Okay funny story... so the Elders in my distrito love to play this little game. It´s called "What Are The Odds." jajaja let me explain.... so one person thinks of a dare they want the other to do. Then they phrase the question like this - "What are the odds that you will.... *insert dare here*" So like..... "What are the odds that you will talk in a Batman voice until the end of zone meeting tonight?" Then, the person accepting the dare says what they think the odds are... 1 in 10, 1 in 5, 1 in 20 - whatever they decide. Someone counts them off, and they each say a number in between 1 and whatever number was chosen. If they both say the SAME number... let's say they both say 6... then the person challenges with the dare has to do it. If they say numbers that ADD up to the TOTAL (10, 5, 20, whatever number was chosen) - the OTHER person has to do the dare. Let´s just say that this game has lead to some prrrrretty funny happenings in our distrito. jajajaja. These boys are crazy. I sure love them.

Hermana Lindstrom and I just keep getting closer and closer. We laugh SO much, and have so many inside jokes. Every day we become better and better friends. I am so grateful for her :) 

Alrighty.... Tuesday. Let me tell you what happened. 
On Sunday night, I decided that I would fast all day on Tuesday. I prayed all day Sunday and Monday to know what I should fast for.. but Tuesday morning I still wasn´t sure exactly what my specific fast should be for. I left my casa in the morning and began my fast, keeping a prayer in my heart that the Lord would bless me with the things He thought I needed. 
As soon as Hna. Lindstrom and I walked into our classroom for personal study, something was noticeably different. Usually, we chat with the Elders for a few minutes, say good morning, and then start our personal study. But as we walked into the classroom Tuesday morning, there was a strangely somber Spirit. Elder McDonald was standing at the front of the room talking to all the Elders, and Hna. and I just slipped into our chairs, not quite sure what to do. As he spoke, with a loving but serious tone, we understood that he was talking about an Elder who wanted to go home. I thought he was talking about someone in our district.... and I almost started crying. I couldn´t bear to lose any of these boys. As I listened more though, I gathered that it was an Elder in another district. I had met this Elder before - he is going to Lima South and is roommates with two of the Elders in my distrito. Elder McDonald explained that this Elder (Elder Leavitt), was going to call his family at 11:00 and tell them he was going home. Elder Leavitt hadn´t been feeling the love and support from his own district, and was struggling with the language so much that he didn´t believe he even belonged here.

His companion (Elder Rogers) specifically asked if our district could help Elder Leavitt out. There needed to be some kind of quick intervention to keep him from getting on a plane and getting home. Our district is kind of known as a power house.. just full of love and faith. We were so humbled that Elder Rogers would ask us to do such a thing. We got down on our knees in a circle as a district (something we probably do 15 times a day), and prayed together with all our hearts for this Elder. The Spirit was overwhelming. Elder Davis, our district leader, offered the prayer. I was tempted to open my eyes while, because I was SURE I would see God sitting right there. His prayer was so genuine and I KNEW he was talking to God. More importantly, I knew God was listening. 

About 10 minutes later, Elder Rogers and Elder Leavitt came into our classroom. Elder Leavitt didn´t know exactly why they were there... but once they came in, he understood. We all sat in a circle, and a feeling of unmistakable LOVE was pulsing in between all of us. A few of the Elders had planned to share some scriptures and their testimonies with Elder Leavitt. I swear... for those 45 minutes, I was sitting in the presence of future apostles. These 18 year old boys... so far away from home, struggling with their own hardships and shortcomings, came together to TESTIFY of what they knew. And what they KNEW, unmistakably, was that this is the work of the Lord, and it is worth it. They testified of the reality of the Atonement, and the healing power that it offers to each of us. There was not a single dry eye in the circle, as we all came together to help this struggling Elder, who had convinced himself that he was not enough. I cannot even explain to you what I felt as I listened to the testimonies of the Elders in my district - these Elders that I have grown to love with the eyes of the Savior. 

Obviously... after this experience.. I knew what I was fasting for. For ANYONE but myself. I have been SO blessed with an unshakable desire to serve the Lord and to build up His kingdom. I have a testimony that will not be changed by hardships... struggles... or anything. That is the biggest blessing I could ever ask for. I knew that I needed to stop asking for blessings for myself... and start asking Heavenly Father different questions - Who can I serve? Who can I love? Who can I lift? ... what can I do for someone else. 

It was an game-changer. The last two days, when I get on my knees almost 40 times a day..... I have hardly asked for any blessings for myself. I want to SHARE this desire and light that I have with other people. When I first got to the CCM, I thought that I had to wait until I got to Perú to be able to start blessing people´s lives and making a difference. But my perspective has changed 110%. NOW is the time to start serving others. NOW is the time to start living like the Savior. Now is the time to give my all to Him. 

..... And that is what I am doing. 
This is not my mission, it is His.
This is not my work, it is HIS. 
This is not my doctrine.. it is the doctrine of the TRUE and living God. 

I love this work. I hope you all know that. As a happy ending to this story - Elder Leavitt decided to stay :) He did not go home. He told our district that it was because of us that he made that choice. 
But... I believe it was because of Heavenly Father. Sometimes we, as His servants, just get lucky enough to be that answer to someone´s prayers. 

I love you all :) This church is true. This work is real. God lives. 

Hurrah for Israel :)
Hermana Sintay :)

Me in front of my casa :)
An awesome view from my casa

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