Monday, September 29, 2014

The Grandma Mountain Parable

District at the Temple!
Wow, I've got a lot of things to write about today! First off, the gringos (that means Americans) in our ward gave us big jars of peanut butter! I mean BIG!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D :D They were in San Jose to go to the temple, and San Jose has a Price Mart which = American food and normal prices, so they picked us and the other companionship both up a jar of P.butter! My life is great right now! Haha. Also on the food department, I have fallen in love with yogurt and peanuts. It's a little expensive but I justify it by it being pretty healthy, especially with all the protein after workouts. It is just sooo good haha. Have I told you we're living the law of consecration in our apartment? Haha no not really, but we are pooling money to buy standard food things and cook it together (eggs, bread, sausage, milk, butter, etc). We also had our first changes (I guess its transfers in English but its changes in Spanish) today. Elder Garcia left, and the zone leaders became the missionary in Tejar since it's closer to the stake meetings. Elder Johnson is sticking around companionless until Wednesday, when he gets a trainee! This will be his 4th (or maybe 5th? But I think 4th) time training! He's super excited to be able to just focus on his area and training until the end of his mission. I'm super excited to not be the newbie anymore! Haha nah just kidding I don't get any flak or anything for being new.

Last Wednesday we got to go to the 7 AM session of the temple, which involved waking up at 4 AM. Dang! haha. It was a little tricky since it was all in Spanish but it was soo refreshing and rejuvenating spiritually. The temple is such a holy place. Wednesday was our P-day last week because of the temple (although we wrote on Monday) but we didn't really get a P-day since after the temple we got a surprise call that I had to go in for fingerprints, so that was kind of lame and made the rest of the day kind of rush by.
                      Elder Henry with his trainer and ZL's who live next door
Look Mom what kind of flowers they had at the temple!

 Elder Henry and his trainer Elder Ritchie
I have 3 good stories and 1 strange parable to share with you all today.

First off, O. O and Z are Nicaraguans who live in the Nicaraguan (semi-ghetto) neighborhood, and we've been teaching them since I got here. K, the 10 year old son, is a recent convert and Z was a less active that they re-activated right before I got there. The husband, never wanted anything to do with us when the missionaries first started going. Now, he is the one that wakes everybody up on Sundays to walk all the way to church, getting there 20 minutes early! It is a crazy change of heart and they said that their marriage has been steadily improving as they move nearer to the gospel. To get O baptized, which he most definitely wants, we're gonna get them married next month! We don't have plans or a date or anything yet, but that's the goal.
     A  is another investigator we've been teaching since I got here. She started off really good, really wanting to listen and know, and then a lot of kind of petty doubts started to get in the way. Then, we had a really spiritual experience with her and now she's pretty much on board! She was going to get baptized this Saturday, actually, but some paperwork has to be delayed since she's been divorced for HER marriage! Elder Ritchie and I are just matchmakers, marrying people left and right! Anyways, the plan is to get the papers Friday, marry her Saturday, and baptize her Sunday. Guess who gets to baptize her?


I am so excited to partake in the physical ordinance of bringing somebody into the covenants to take Christ's name upon them!

My other story is about a guy named W. We taught him twice, and the first time he was definitely drunk and the second time was a maybe. His brother is an active member, though. Anyways, it was clear he was stuck in his addictions and not ready to accept the gospel yet, so we dropped him. Saturday night, however, some plans fell through and Elder Ritchie and I were left in the street appointment-less at 8 o'clock, which makes it difficult because we can't go anywhere far away. We prayed for guidance, and while nothing popped in my head he said that W popped in his! I didn't really want to go teach a drunk guy again, but I trusted in my companion and there was no reason not to. We went, and he hadn't had a drop of liquor in 2 days! He was in a place in his life ready to receive our message, and he wants to leave his life of sin behind! We had a good lesson with him but still didn't expect too much, but he also came to church yesterday! It is so wonderful to see how as we devote our time to God and tell him 'Tell me where I need to be, and I'll go there', he can entrust you with the glorious work of saving souls! It was a beautifully guided experience, and even though it wasn't a pillar of fire descending out of the sky it was one of the most crisp examples of the power of prayer I've seen.

                                         New Haircut!
It feels so great to be on this mission. I feel like everything I do, every minute I have, makes me grow so much as a person! Which brings me to the strange parable I though of a few days ago.

I call it the Grandma Mountain parable.

There is a rumor, or a legend, or a story, that's not really important. But, the rumor says that there's a grandma on top of this Mountain. All you need to do is climb the mountain, and she'll give you something very precious! So a couple guys went up the mountain to achieve this. They acted in faith on what they'd heard to dedicate time to walk a very rough trail and get to this reward.

Long story short, they both made it to the top. The one talked to the Grandma, got his reward, which was pretty cool, but he was left wondering if his effort was a little wasted. It was a pretty big mountain, after all.

The second one did something along the way, while he was heading up to the grandma. He noticed that all along this trail there were some of the plumpest, tastiest fruit you've ever seen, easily within arm's reach! Ok, in honesty, a few were a bit of a stretch, but they never took him off the trail and he was all the better for it. When he came off that mountain, he had not only gotten the blessing from the Grandma, but had tasted some of the sweetest fruit of his life, and had taken seeds back to his home town to plant so he could keep enjoying those fruits!

The mission is the same way. Every person who dedicates 18 or 24 months to serving a mission climbs quite the high mountain, and gains a certain reward. But it is when we look to pick the fruits along the way, to learn the lessons of the trail and gain the rewards that are easily attained solely by recognizing them, that a mission becomes really, really, obviously worth it, and bears sweet fruits for the rest of our lives.

I feel like I've picked some pretty awesome fruits so far in my mission. A hike is to be enjoyed, not solely walked. 

I love you all. I love this mission so much, and I hope that you are all magnifying whatever part of your life you're in as well. Have a great week!
Love, Elder Henry

               Members had us over last night for CHILI CHEESE DOGS! The brother lived in California for something like 10 years I believe and he knows how to cook really well, so he made them for us (home made chili and everything)! Cool thing about these members (carlos and karen): Carlos has done a TON of the stuff to their house, and its like half gringo (american) half tico as they keep working on it, but he built their bed! I looked at it and said 'Dang! I'd sell that for a solid 2,000, 2,500 dollars!' and that's considering one being made out of mediocre materials in China, which that bed wasn't! It was gorgeous haha my furniture salesman senses went wild!

I don't know how well a picture shows this, but it rained hard last week. We had to cross the road and we just got soaked, it felt like we were crossing a river! Haha not really it wasn't too deep on the road, just around the gutters.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I feel like a missionary!

Alright. This week has been amazing. I hope that everybody had as good as a week as I did.

First off, pictures. The first one is me standing in front of some sugar cane. Sugar cane is pretty awesome because you can just chew on it and sugar juice comes out of it yum yum!

 and the second picture is a comic shot of good old Elder Johnson. :-). 

As for the third picture, that's the view from one of the houses in the ghetto. Not too shabby view for the ghetto! Haha.

 President Wong talked last Sunday about how "he never wants the elders to be starving" and so we have had to figure out how to tell people that we can't go to all their houses and eat on Sunday haha. Yesterday people were literally walking up and giving us food, yum yum, and then a big lunch was prepped for us after church too! We were also supposed to go eat dinner which was going to be home made PIZZA!! But a surprise training from a Seventy (a church leader) came up and we went to that (which I didn't get too much out of since it's in another language haha). That last picture is the bus ride there.

I will start out with the bad. Elder Ritchie and I, to summarize, had been too focused on numbers and not on the people behind the numbers for a week or so. Our numbers were looking good except we were losing baptismal dates and progressing investigators, and we couldn't seem to figure out why. After a particularly frustrating day, where I looked at our lessons which were good on paper but I didn't feel that I was teaching by the spirit on any of them, we both stepped out and re-evaluated. We then had some really dang amazing studies, and started right up teaching with such a strong spirit. Our numbers were bad on Friday, but we were SO stinking happy with that day. We had like 3 lessons, but each one of them was so strong. Then Saturday was AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!! We had like 6 lessons and while not all of them were amazing, many of them were and none were bad! I can't even explain how good it feels to teach with the spirit. It is a great feeling of accomplishment then anything else in my life that I can think of. It is so refreshing. After teaching one of those particularly spiritual lessons on Sunday, I turned to Elder Ritchie and said "I just realized that all the times I've felt homesick are just because I haven't been teaching well. I feel like a missionary right now. I feel like I'm carrying the same wonderful spirit that the missionaries brought in to our home, and that's what I signed up for :-)

And then Sunday. Wooh man, yesterday was amazing. I don't know if I've been telling you about how our attendance has been, but here goes. My first week here we had 107 people at church and no bishop. 2 weeks in, President Wong of the stake presidency (first counselor) was assigned as our temporary bishop, and he put a huge focus on member missionary work and attendance (the norm for our ward was about 150). Three weeks later, 5 weeks in total, and yesterday we had 171 in church. HOLY COW!!!!!!!! It is so great. Even though I haven't had a baptism yet and some of my friends have, it is so great to see that we have made real progress in my area!!!! And the members are AMAZING. It's so crazy. We had 7 investigators in church yesterday. Guess how many of them we found ourselves? 1. ONE. the members brought 6 people to church that aren't members, and a ton of less actives as well! And our companions had 7 as well! We had 14 investigators at church, and it's because the members are energized! It feels like we barely do anything, and they can do so much. We are like a couple of shepherd dogs. Just a few missionaries working correctly can set a whole herd of member missionaries in to action! That is what I have learned so much this week, especially because Elder Johnson has been focusing on it in his teachings. It is so wild. When I got here, Sundays were the worst days of the week. Now, they're the BOMB! It's so great. oh and speaking of food, how are the missionaries in our ward? Do you guys have them over for dinner a lot still? There is nothing better than a member reaching out to get to know a missionary, even though it isn't your job it is a huge blessing to us :-)

Man. I wish that I could give everybody the spirit that I'm able to feel on a daily basis here on the mission. But, you are all capable of getting it! I just can't give it. Cherish the words of life continually, ponder in how best to serve your fellow men, and focus outside of yourselves and you'll encounter unbelievable amount of joy.

Alright, just like the insanity work outs I feel like I need a little bit of a spiritual cool down after writing about that.

I ate all my peanut butter. 2 Jars did not last nearly as long as I thought they would. Maybe I should just tell all the ward members to give us peanut butter instead of real food? :P

The snacks in Costa Rica are amazing. I say this all the time: Costa Ricans have snacks, treats, cookies, and  crackers down PAT. They are cheap and they are DELICIOUS. Now they just have to eat something other than rice and beans. ;-) Actually I've been enjoying lunches a lot more lately. 

One more week and I've completed my first transfer in the field! That's pretty cool :-)
Good to hear you have a busy life mom :-) Nothing more boring than nothing! Haha. I'm sure you'll get used to it just like I Oh actually fun story time! 

So we've been doing a workout program for exercise (almost) every morning called Insanity. Well, it is insane. Elder Johnson and Elder Ritchie who were both soccer players and all before the mission also are just like dying during these workouts haha. But anyways it's been really cool to see my progression from my first week needing to go to sleep by like 10:10 and sleep till 6:30 to feel kind of rested to now most days we wake up at 6 so that we have longer to exercise! It feels great to gain a body capable of doing all the work that the Lord needs. 

But you should hear us when we exercise. We say some of the silliest stuff. Shaun T. is the workout video guy, and so we're always screaming stuff like "I HATE YOU SHAUN T" or "I LOVE YOU SHAUN T!!!!" or like "WHY DO YOU DO THIS SHAUN T" and just ridiculous stuff. Sometimes "A girl worth exercising for" does the trick, or sometimes just laughing at each others terrible form as we get done with the last set of uppercuts (those things are KILLER.) Especially in the ab workout, we're all on the ground with our legs in the air and we just start practically crying haha. Not really but it's so much fun. Even though at the start of every one I dread it....

We've also started making group breakfasts (and sometimes dinners). It's really nice because we have one person iron, one person do dishes, and one person cook while the other is showering basically. Also since we normally get 10-20 more minutes in the morning since we wake up early, and it just makes our mornings start out relaxed. I've also started reading Liahonas or the Bible at night as I call it my "joyreading" where I'm not looking really to pick out anything specific, but instead just dive in, and it is so great. Scriptures are such a wonderful place of solace.

I am doing super well Mom. Holy cow. I feel like a missionary! This is what I'm out here to do. I'll explain later why haha.

I really let Elder Ritchie know how much I appreciate him this week, and it's made us really tight. Of course, we haven't really ever had any problems at all that I can think of which is super tuaniz (spanish slang-ish (its allowed) for cool or awesome) (pronounced twan-ees) but we have been really tight and constructive this week.

The league lesson went great!!! I think I might have confused you by the way I'm not playing it or anything haha it's solely pencil and paper. But anyways I had 3 kids there, Jo. and Ja. and also just a random kid who was sitting nearby who plays! So I didn't actually get around to the lesson because they were late but I got to know them and talked to them about basically my motto for that class: "A better player and a better person." Because a big part of what I plan on teaching them is how to learn to be humble, kind, quick to learn, and how to work as a team; basically just how to be a better person. So that was great and it feels really wonderful to have the spirit in a class about a video game haha. I told them how I really hoped to gain deep friendships out of the class as well, and both the kids (I didn't have time to invite the soccer random kid to church) came to church the next day and stayed all 3 hours (last week only 1 hour). Also, one of the other kids I started the class thinking or talking with, D, came and stayed all 3 hours even though he didn't show up for the class! He plays the same characters as me so I am going to be able to teach him some really cool complex technical stuff too (he's platinum, which means like top 10 or 5%). But anyways we already have a really strong bond already and they help me with my Spanish a TON (There's nothing more difficult than talking conversationally about a game, because you flip through tenses all the time going from story telling to just talking and then to what you want them to do for the next class, etc!) so it's good.  But yeah, in short, it went really well even though I didn't actually teach them anything about the game :-)

I love you!
Elder Spencer Henry

Monday, September 15, 2014

Our potential is Celestial and that our Legacy will be Eternal

Everything is going well. My appetite, in a week, went from barely being able to eat half a lunch to constantly wanting more food. I have no idea haha but for example I just ate a huuuge lunch because we had our monthly check today and now I'm hungry again like 2 hours later. (huge = one fully loaded plate of delicious food and 4 plates of cake & ice cream, oh plus an apple). 
The Wilkinsons had 85 for lunch today! All the new missionaries, trainers, and a few more. So grateful for their love and leadership of these great servants of God! 
The Spanish is coming along. I'm super slow at conjugating (putting verbs into tenses, basically) but that's alright. There are three things I want to share today. First off, church was amazing. Second, I want to talk about J and Third, I want to talk about the fact that times of our life will be difficult but we need to keep our heads up. Oh also, that picture with Andres our ward mission leader is because he forget an umbrella (almost typed paragua) and so we had to share one, and both ended up getting pretty soaked that day. It's been raining a lot this past week haha. I don't mind it.

Church yesterday. Holy cow. I've always been faithful in going to church, but I knew going out into the field that it was one of the weaker points in my testimony. No more. The spirit I felt at church yesterday was so. dang. strong. I don't know why, in honesty, but my heart was opened and I was just absolutely on top of the world. I guess part of it is that our ward is becoming so energized right now. 2 weeks ago we had an attendance of 107 and with the help of the 1st assistant of our stake (acting bishop at the moment) it was 145 yesterday. 40 more people that were able to feel that wonderful spirit. We also had 7 investigators at church, which is the most that my companion's ever had (He's had 6 tons of times, but never more. He spent 7.5 months of his mission in the office, where you get very little proselyting time). Churches are so full of the spirit, truly endowed places of power. But, we do have to let those feelings in. We can't just walk in unprepared spiritually and expect to feel it. It is when we open our own hearts that those feelings with rush in.

Second is actually also about church, but the man's name is J. I sent a picture of him and I at church together. He *was* inactive, and we have been visiting him a lot for a few weeks. We felt a wonderful spirit with them the Saturday before last (10 days ago or something) about not getting distracted by all the good things in life. The thing, he's a cool guy with a lot of cool talents. But he gets distracted by all his guitar and violin playing and toys in general that he doesn't let himself feel the spirit. Well, we really helped him feel the spirit about the fact that he needs to refocus on the more important things in life. And guess what? He didn't come to church the next day.

I was devastated. We all felt such a strong spirit that past night, I could not believe that he didn't come to church. We went and met with him that night and he was dodgy about anything gospel, just talking about his hobbies basically. We basically gave up on him, figuring that he just wasn't going to come back to church. Then, on Saturday I believe, we saw him as we passed by his house. He came over and greeted us and said that we should pass by later that night. We regretfully agreed, disappointed that our proselyting time would be dampened by this unfruitful venture.

I, in honesty, can't remember if we ended up having a lesson with him that night. I think he ended up getting busy with something else. But yesterday, he showed up to church. He showed up to church!!!!!

And the best part was that he didn't drag himself to church. There was a light about him yesterday. He avidly approached me and basically demanded we take a photo together, because he so wanted to document the spirit that he felt at church yesterday!!!

It was both wonderful to see him returning to what he knew to be true and humbling to see that I don't know diddly squat about what other people are going to do, so I just need to be relying on the spirits guidance to make decisions.

Lastly, there are times of our life that will be more difficult than others. We need to keep our heads up and carry through.

I never believed this before the mission. The thing about life before the mission was that it was only difficult when I made it difficult, in honesty. I'm born into a good family with loving parents and we've always had the necessities of life. If I was going through a tough time in life, all I needed was to improve myself and it would become sweet again.

That's not true with a mission. I'm not saying I don't love my mission, because I absolutely do, but it's difficult. It's so hard. To walk all day, every day, to see people reject the truth, to eat foreign foods and live in a foreign place, is difficult. There's no way around it. The thing is, no matter how much I 'step up my game' it will still be difficult. But that's good. Difficult is good. There's not really a point in living a life without difficulty. Some have difficulties forced upon them, and some have to seek out the difficulties, but the fact of the matter is that no great being comes out of a difficulty free life. There was a quote on our mission president's wall when we went over there to eat today. It said something like "When you strive to follow the rules instead of being hindered by them, then you will find happiness."

Okay, I can't even remember what the last part of the quote was, but it's application to difficulties is perfect. When we strive to overcome difficulties, rather than solely surviving through them, then we will find Happiness. Or peace. Or satisfaction. Or greatness. Or humility. Or love. In general, we will find growth.

Every one of us desires to grow. Let us charge at our difficulties, head on. Whether they be choking depression, or poverty, or physical ailment, let us march right up to those difficulties and show them just how much potential we have. Let us show them that we are Children of a Loving God who will never leave us to be abandoned. Let us show them that our potential is Celestial and that our legacy will be Eternal. Let us show them that we are willing to put our shoulder to the wheel.

I love you all so much. I love you! A lot!!! A TON!!! Bye bye for another week!

-Elder Henry

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

League of Legends as a missionary tool?

This week has been good! I don't even know where to start haha. I forgot to write in my journal Monday-Wednesday but my Thursday entry says "This has definitely been a week. We've had some really good lessons but it has definitely been tough" Which is funny, because I don't even remember last Tuesday and Wednesday anymore! Time FLIES here in the mission, man. If I don't write something down it's out of my head within 2 days, for good. Oh so I guess I'll start saying that I'm going to start teaching people how to play League of Legends! That's a unique one! haha. There were some jovenes and when I told them that I had been rank 500 before my mission they about flipped a lid. Anyways we play soccer every week so I told them that during that time, I'd teach them League, as long as they went to church too! They are less active so it should be good for them. I'm excited to teach it and as I prepped a lesson (I was supposed to give one this Saturday but they weren't able to make it) it didn't make me miss video games or anything at all, but it was very refreshing to use my talents haha. I plan on expanding it to more people and I hope that as I put my talents forth along with my testimony, the Lord will direct people to the church through me. I am really excited to teach it though :-) Although I don't know any of the lingo in Spanish so that's hard hahaha. 

So when I came into the area our ward had an attendance of about 105, which is super low for them. Normally, it was more like 140 or 160. Well we were trying to visit less actives and everything but it just didn't seem to be helping. We also don't have a bishop right now so it was really tough. But then, one of the counselors of the stake presidency became our acting bishop! So he's at church every Sunday. His name is President Wong, apparently there's actually a lot of Chinese people here in Costa Rica. Anyways he came in his first week and gave a really good (I think, obviously I didnt understand much) talk about being excellent members and reactivating our brothers etc. Well this week, we had 133! We had 25 increase in attendance in ONE WEEK! It was loco man! It is great to see how the Lord works when everybody puts their 100% in! We hope to have 140 next week, our goal is to go up 10 every week.
Baptismal "font" and their current chapel, 

they are getting a new beautiful chapel next month! 

I sent some pictures of my study journal by the way, which I am really proud of and thought you'd be amazed by. Good old disorganized me is finally getting organized! Every topic in Preach my Gospel has 4 pages, each page dedicated to different things (Doctrine, Scriptures and quotes, Examples, Questions and Commitments) and I number each doctrine point, each question, etc. that way I can cross reference (ex: See D1-II page 139 would mean see subpoint II of Doctrine 1 on page 139). I love my study journal haha it's my babyy.
So back to reading through my journal, We had a really good Saturday. We got to have lessons with all of our progressing investigators except for Ronald and Nazaret (they had work) and they all went pretty well, some of them spectacular. I used my faith train example, which I'll email probably when I draw a good picture of it in my study journal, but it explains the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, Enduring to the End) and it worked super well. Since Anamaria is super on board, we taught the whole lesson in like 10 minutes! (to give you perspective, we normally teach a lesson through 2-3 20-30 minute visits). Examples and pictures are a really powerful way of teaching principles, because they build off of what people already have. And that's what we're here to do as missionaries! Not tear people's faith down, but rather fulfill people's faith with the restored gospel that we've been so blessed to receive ourselves!

So sometimes I get impatient with Spanish, go figure, but it really is going along just well. I sat next to a joven on a bus today and mostly just talked to him (and of course shared some gospel principles) but I was really pleased with how well I was able to talk to him about University, his hobbies, and we just had a good conversation about "What do you think about when you have nothing to think about?" (Shoutout to Brother Holman for talking with us about that in the MTC). He talked about how he thinks about school and his hobbies (soccer and videobgames) and I shared about how before the mission, I was always thinking about League of Legends because I played it so much and desired to improve. Then I told him about how much I've come to love breaking down and pondering on the things of the gospel in the same way, and challenged him to ponder on what it would mean to him if real prophets were again in the world! I felt that it went very well, overall.

Flipping a little farther back than last Saturday, I want to talk to you about 5th grade. In 5th grade I had the most awesome school teacher in the world, Mrs. Smith. I learned a ton of things that year, and for the first time I can ever remember felt that I was excelling, that I was using my God given intelligence to expand my understanding as well as I could! What I boiled it down to in the MTC is this. This is what I learned, above all else, from 5th grade:

I don't have to stay at society's standards of 'good'. I can go above and beyond. 

And then middle school happened. If there is a place in this world which is solely constructed to make you feel average and unimportant, it's middle school. That drive was sucked out of me and I became 'good' in school, rather than putting my full effort in.

High school was a little better, I felt I had the liberty to be myself. But my grades still barely dragged up, and there wasn't that much improvement.

College rolled around and I was given a little more on my plate, and I excelled a little better. After a few quarters, I achieved a 4.0! That was amazing. I really felt like I had excelled! Then my whole story with League of Legends happened, and I proved to myself with a surety that I was able to go above normality.

If there is one thing I understand at this young time in my mission, it's frustration. Frustration that I'm not even at average yet! But I'm progressing. The important thing is that when I hit that 'average' mark, when I can get along just fine, that I will drive myself to excel. I have gotten SO frustrated at various times throughout my mission because I can't just skate along with the minimum effort (how could I, when I'm doing such an important work)? But I know that the only times that I've been pleased with myself are when I go above the minimum of what's expected of me. I guess that I just want everybody who reads this today to run an extra quarter mile tomorrow. Or read 5 more minutes of scriptures. Maybe you'll help one more person than you normally do, or maybe you'll study for 10 more minutes than what's normal. Maybe you hang out with one more friend than usual, that one who's more of a service project than a party to be around. Whatever it is that you do, it should be something that makes you dig within yourself to find that extra motivation to do it. Because when we lay it all out on the table, when we emotionally physically empty ourselves over a project, that's when we can look back on it and say "I did that, and I'm proud of it."

In God's eyes, we're all pretty much five year olds. No matter what we make of ourselves in this life, it's not really going to be impressive, the same way that my kindergarten finger paintings were no Mona Lisa's. But when we put all that effort in to doing the best we can, that's when he's gonna pick us up, hug us, and say: "Good job. I love you so much for the effort you put into this. I'm going to go hang it up on the wall where I can see it every day, because I know how much this project meant to you and how hard you tried."

I want that. I know that everybody wants that. We can all have that; The love of God is extended to all of us. We are all his children, he loves us all. Let's make him proud.
Elder Henry

From the questions Mom asked:

Life has been going well. I was really homesick on Friday but then I got to thinking about how much the Lord has blessed me and that made it all a lot better. I've been doing well since :-)

I love my trainer by the way. We're getting along sooo well and our area is improving, slowly but steadily. We're up to 10 progressing and 7 with fecha :-) Also, Elder Johnson, one of the zone leaders we live with, is like my second dad! He was Elder Ritchie's companion in the MTC and he's really cool and helps a lot too. I get double the training :-)

Monday, September 1, 2014

There is Sunshine in My Soul Today!

First Zone conference with his trainer Elder Ritchie and another missionary Elder Lewis
HUGE transfer Spence entered the mission with!!!!

First off, funny thing. There is Sunshine in my Soul Today is sung a ton here. YAY!!! Although it actually translates to there is joy in my soul today, and I really like the sunshine imagery, I still love the song. It has become my strength through thick and thin, and given me a testimony of the power of hymns. It has kept me from many a temptation and lifted me from many a sad thought. I love that hymn.

I dont know how much you've studied gifts of the Spirit, but Maestro Holman talked a lot about them in the MTC and I've been studying them recently as well. Basically, they're attributes of Christ that we can acquire through prayer, meditation, and action. They can always be further refined. Basically, they're talents of Christ. Anybody can acquire gifts of the Spirit, but some people are born with special inheritances to special gifts. For example; some people are naturally faithful. 

In my patriarchal blessing it says that I am blessed with the opportunity to realize the Gift of Revelation and the Gift of Healing in my life. This is such a powerful thing for me that I never noticed before. I've been working hard to study to realize these gifts because they sound so powerful to me. In the MTC I've already had a few very strong moments of crisp personal revelation but I am reading about revelation in the scriptures to find out how I can develop that gift. 

On Wednesday we went on splits with the zone leaders which was awesome. I started the day out tired and kind of dragging my feet but by the end of the day, I was feeling so much better. I learned a ton from going around with Elder Garcia. He is super outgoing and is the LPE (contact) king, he just knows how to make conversation. He also teaches with power and authority, something which I definitely strive to do. 

Oh on Thursday I had a slumber party! Haha Elder Ritchie served as secretarie for 7.5 months. The new secretaries had a problem so he had to go help them, which left me companionless. Luckily, the zone leaders live in the same building as me, so we just pulled my mattress into their room and I slept there. I woke up an hour and a half early Friday morning to the feeling of a very, very pained stomach and spent the whole day wrestling with that. I thought hard and frequently about asking Elder Ritchie (who had returned by this point) if we could just return to the apt. since I felt so sick, but instead I trudged on through it even though I was basically out of service. I got taught a huge lesson on Friday; success in the mission field is just the Lord blessing us for putting in our all. We had probably the best day we've had so far in this area, number wise, even though I was totally out of it. We continued this on Saturday and it was all very very good. The Lord puts trials in our life for numerous reasons, and I think that on Friday he decided to let my stomach humble me. After that day the stomach pain was gone and I'm all back to normal now. The thing about missions and really about life is this: The pain goes away but the lessons don't. I'm glad I'm getting so many opportunities to have lessons in this season of my life, even if it comes through a little bit of temporary pain. 

 I can learn so much from my trainer's wisdom :-) Physically the days have become much easier; I haven't slept in church clothes again haha. Just talking about days where it didn't feel effective, or we didn't hit our goals. I'm also really glad that I'm in the same place as the Zone Leaders because it means that I get to have 3 senior missionaries' advice at my fingertips! Feet are doing well. And I am actually trying my best to work on posture but its difficult especially when none of the furniture here supports it 

Multi-zone conference was way cray. Like I said our zone has not been doing well along with one (or two?) other zones that were there so it was pretty machete filled. But then President was going to get to the teaching part and instead he said (and I didn't catch this because it was in Spanish; I was filled in later) that he felt a spirit of constrainment because of iniquity that was present in our zones and that the Spirit was constraining him from teaching, so we ought to repent. Then he sat down. Our zone leaders (who live in the room next to us) Called our whole zone in and we all knelt down and prayed for forgiveness. It was also a very spiritual moment.

I'm glad my companion is gringo because it means that I can always check with him to make sure I know what topic we're on before I jump in and start teaching in a lesson. That said, I need to teach more because I frequently will just let it slide by under the excuse that I can't speak the language instead of pushing myself.

But all in all, I'm doing well. This week was challenging in a lot of ways but it's the best week our area has seen in a while. (Our zone is doing terrible so there has been a lot of pressure to improve).

Saturday and Sunday were both good, solid days. I strive to keep my head up and my pride down to keep this spirit with me. Sorry for the short email today, but I've gotta go get back to work. (I didn't feel the earthquake yesterday btw).

I love and miss you all, and wish the best!

-Elder Henry
(his photos wouldn't upload today, these are all from his wonderful Mission President's wife Sister Wilkinson who kindly posts missionary photos on Facebook for their doting parents at home haha)