This is it! This is my last email to you all from the CCM. I GOT MY TRAVEL PLANS!!!! That means that my visa came through, and I have plane tickets and everything! I'm going to Argentina!!! We fly out on Monday morning (we have to leave at 6) then head to Georgia, then to Buenos Aires! You should of seen all of us on travel plans day (last friday). After lunch, we couldn't contain our anticipation and excitement and booked it to the mailroom. Elder Groen got there first and held the white and pink papers high over his head. We couldn't help but cheer and run a little faster, hopping up and down until we got our own plans in our hands. Our entire district got our plans. What a blessing! Elder Rawson is going to equador, but the rest of us fly out together. We all felt bad that he wont be with us, but we're just glad to have gotten to know him and that we all got our visas! This week we also finally met some of the other missionaries going to Bahia Blanca (there are only 3 in our district). Apparently there are at least 10 of us going to that one mission alone on monday! Holy Guacamole! This time next week I'll be in winter! Sorry if this letter is a little all over the place, it's been an eventful day preparing to leave the country and preach the gospel.
This week has been awesome (as usual). It has also been very humbling. I need to speak spanish more when it's just me and my companion. Heavenly Father definitely got that message across to me yesterday when I tried to teach a lesson. I don't know what happened! My usual semi-fast and decent spanish turned into a halting mess. The only time that I felt confident in my spanish and felt the spirit in my words was when I recounted the story of the first vision in spanish. I'm so glad that I memorized that. There is power in Joseph Smith's words! I will work hard to speak more and learn more, because speaking with conviction is something I never want to be without! It's hard sometimes to get out of the way and let the spirit be the teacher. The prideful natural man in me so often takes over and tries in vain to handle a lesson, or to take care of a disagreement or anything. But it's only through trusting in Heavenly Father that I feel truly like myself and can become a good missionary! I have really learned that to be true these past weeks at the CCM. I also have found that memorizing scripture can become a great strength to us. When we feel tempted or depressed or confused, we can invite the spirit back into our lives by silently singing a hymn, by praying, by reciting scripture to ourselves. I have to remind myself that I truly have come a long way though! The language that used to be so hard for me gets easier and easier every day! I'm better at understanding than speaking, but I truly believe that the Gift of tongues is real. I'm so grateful for all the tender mercies that I have seen this week. The help that I have received from my Heavenly Father has been immense!
This week we got to teach a lesson via Skype! It was so cool! We taught Maria, a member living in Arizona. She is so sweet! And her spirit is so strong. We were grateful that she spoke english too, cause we felt like there were things that we needed to say in spanglish. Through this, we were able to speak well! And I felt a lot of peace from the Holy Ghost afterwards knowing that I had successfully done something hard for me :)
I have so many funny stories this week! I wish I could share them all! One thing that we get to do to help us with the language is an online test, where we are given a prompt that we respond in spanish to. We get feedback later in the week. Sometimes we have more time to answer than we know what to do with. One elder in our group didn't know that you could just move on to the next question, and sat there for a minute after asking his "investigator" to read a scripture: "bien hecho! yaaaayyyy..... ole..... leendo....." Okay, maybe that's not as funny for you all cause you don't know this elder, but we all thought that that was pretty great coming out of our stoic cowboy.
I love you all so much! I can't believe that next time I write you all, I'll be in a different country, typing on weird keyboards, speaking a different language, and eating different foods. The good news is, no matter what is different, the gospel is the same! Heavenly Father's love for his children is the same. The atonement is still real, the scriptures are still true. What a blessing it is that we live in this amazing time when the gospel of Christ is restored! What a blessing it is that we have a living prophet today like the prophets of old. I know that Thomas S. Monson is that prophet, and that he has the keys and the power of the preisthood to lead the church of our Savior. I know with all of my heart that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I'm so grateful that we have the opportunity to make and keep sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father! I heard this week a cool insight about covenants that I thought I'd share. We know that the Iron Rod that Lehi and Nephi saw in visions is the Word of God. It was suggested that this not only can be referencing the Scriptures, but also God's word, His promise. May we hold steadfastly to the covenants that we have made and partake of Eternal Life. I pray that we can each help others to find the rod as well, to help them make those covenants that would lead them to Eternal Happiness. :) I invite you all to remember your covenants and to help others to do so, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Have a wonderful week! And thank you all for your emails and letters. Know that I get them and love them and cherish them, even though I don't always respond! :) Love you!