My dear family,
I realize that I didn´t explain the email title I sent last week. It comes from a song I brought with me on my mission, but never took much thought to before. The lyrics are as follows:
I could travel over oceans
cross the deserts, climb the mountains
just to share your story, bring you glory
and win the souls for your
I could sing like an angel, song so humble
and so thankful for the drama and emotion
So the world would know your truth
I could give away my money and my clotes and my food
To restore those people who are poor and lost and down and out.
Oh I could succeed at all these things
Find favor with peasants and kings
But if I do not love, I am nothing
I could live a flawless life
Never cheat or steal or lie
And always speak so kindly, smile so warmly
Go about doing good
I could dedicate myself to do
What everyone else wants me to
Listen to them, compliment them
Say the things I should
I could show up every sunday
and lead the choir and gospel study
And they all might come to know me as a leader and a friend
Oh I could acheive success on earth
But success will not define my worht
And all these actions, all these worries won´t matter in the end.
Cause songs will fade to silence
And stories they will cease
Dust will settle and cover all my selflessdeeds.
So as I strive to serve you, won´t you make it clear to me
That if I do not love, I am nothing
And if I can live my live withought loving my brother
Then how can I love the one who lived his life for me
Sent to Earth from Heaven, humble servant, holy king
Come to share a story, get no glory
save my searching soul
You knew that we´d deny you
Crucify you, but nothing could stop you from living for me,
dying for me
so that I could know
Songs will fade to silence, stories they will cease
Dust will settle, covering all my selfish deeds
Your life here made it clear
For me to see
If I do not love, I am nothing.
I am nothing.
I have thought about this song over and over and over again, listening to it in the mornings while we exercise or are getting ready. And I kept wondering, isn´t giving other people charity love? Or isn´t saying nice things a way to love others? But as I keep listening, and keep studying Christ like charity and love in Preach my Gospel and in the Scriptures, I´m beginning to realize what love really means. It´s loving like Christ did--doing good for the people, not for us. Doing the good we do truly for the benefit of others, not to build up our own esteem or confidence. Its like that story of the mansion that President Monson shared in Conference a few years back. Just some food for thought. I´m learning all the time how Christ loves us, and truly helps us, as I square with my own inadequacy! I am also coming to realize, more and more, like the hymn says--God is love. Christ Jesus is the purest manifestation that God loves us. I know that Without him, I am nothing!
This week has been a trial of our faith--I´ll say that straight out! Hermana Alicea and I both love to work, and this week seemed to be swept from us! Almost every lesson we had planned fell through. Either investigators cancelled, or no one was home. Starting with Monday, we were paired with another sister for the first 3 days in between transfers. Hermana Guevara had problems in their apartment that needed to be repaired as part of mission wide apartment inventory, and so all of Monday was spent cleaning and helping the Elders repair the door and key problems (all authorized by President Giuliani, of course). They also re-set up the plumbing system in the bathroom. Lots of singing hymns in spanish and language study as we waited and helped with what little we could at the other sisters´apartment. We ate chocolate chip cookies and shared some homemade popcorn, popped right on the stove! Tuesday was pday (oh blessed day) and with Wednesday as transfers, we spent 3 hours or so inbetween the terminal helping the new companion of Hermana Guevara, hermana Contreras, get all of her things to the apartment and get situated. Thursday was weekly planning, which is usually about 3 or 4 hours to prepare for the rest of the week. And Friday and Saturday there was a torment of Rain! It was a total blast! We jumped in mudpuddles and took pictures of the running floods in the streets. And with our American natures, of course we went out to work, no matter the rain. But the Argentina mindset is that when there´s rain, NOBODY leaves the house unless its urgent, like the Doctor or something. Even the kids don´t go to school. As a result, not many folks wanted to listen to us either. So we spent the days walking, knocking, clapping, ringing doorbells, and trying to cheer each other up with girls camp songs and memories of home. We came up with some great alternate editions to Princess Pat. (P.S., Dad, I don´t know how I never realized this, but in `the other day I saw a bear` song, when the lyrics say `a great big tree, oh glory be` it´s glory be, not glory bee. I had thought my whole life that it was bee like the insect. I am not sure why. Well, I feel sheepish . . .) Needless to say, by the time Sunday came around, our numbers for the week were atrocious compared to the success we had previously been experiencing.
We dropped many of our investigators this week, they either told us they weren´t interested in learning any more or never are home/don´t answer our calls. We feel like we´re starting from scratch over again.
Also, Mario, our recent convert, was thrown out of his house by his father this week. His father is convinced that he has joined a cult and started raging, breaking Mario´s things, like his guitar and other possesions. Mario spent the night at the Branch President´s home, and luckily has a new apartment on the other side of town. It caused us to worry and he was really shaken up, but he´s doing better now and still leaving with every pair of missionaries in our zone to share the good word with his many friends.
This week has been a little rough. But I share this not to discourage you, but to show that hard things happen in our lives. We are presented with trials. Sometimes, things don´t go according to plan. We have to respect other people´s decisions and agency to choose as they wish, and sometimes it makes us sad. Something I learned this week is that though we don´t always have control over our circumstance, we always have control over our attitude. Though there were hard things, we also had a blast. Hermana Alicea and I LOVED the rain! I was reminded fondly of washington, and Hermana Alicea of Kirtland. We jumped in puddles . . . For lunch on Saturday, we tried to re-concoct a recipe for Niokis that one of our members shared with us, and we did a pretty great job remaking it. It was a delicious hot lunch on a cold day. We have been experimenting a lot with food, lately. I have successfully made banana bread 4 or 5 times now, trying to do mom´s recipe by memory. All of the missionaries in our zone LOVE it! Mom, I would love to have your chocolate chip cookie recipe if you could send it. And any other recipes you have time to send, especially baking ones, so I can try to remake them Argentina style with the ingrediencts we have here. Also, on October 12th, we´re doing a service project with the Primary and teaching them to make Chocolate chip cookies.
Other highlights of this week--I surprised Hermana Alicea by leaving notes with sharpie marker on her eggs in the fridge (little faces on the egg shells) and she surprised me with little notes of encouragement hidden in my preach my gospel. There was a talent show in Rama Centro 3, more northern part of Venado Tuerto, and the Elders of that ward invited us. There was a guitar, and I got to play! Hermana ALicea and I did an impromptu version of come thou fount. Music is one of our favorite ways to share the gospel with investigators.
In all, there are rainy days. But there are also delightful moments and memories made and character built through the hard times. I Know the light of Christ can shine through whatever dark time we have and lift us up, dust off our skinned knees, and help us begin again.
I love you all! Happy birthday this week, Dad!