Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Email veinte: Transfers and Miracles

January 2, 2017
This week was pretty interesting.

Feliz año nuevo!
Tuesday: we had Zone Conference in Conway. At the beginning of the conference I was holding back tears. We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, what it means to have faith. I felt so bad, because I realized that in the past few weeks I have had very little faith as a missionary. I have been so pessimistic and negative in my thinking, I really had lacked the faith to believe that I could have a good mission, and that things would work out, and that I could find success. Every returned missionary I talk to, including Dad, Joel, Erinn, and McKay, tell me that they miss the mission and would do anything to go back. I feel super guilty because I feel far too often that the mission is simply a trial that I have to pass through, a two year prison sentence for the reward of blessings afterward. I asked myself many times "How am I going to make it through the next 20 months?" But I don't want to simply "make it through" my mission. I want to enjoy it. I want it to change me. I desperately need it to change me.

My old DL, Elder Hooker is going home!
After Zone Conference we went and ate lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was really strange because I heard a ton of songs from back home, worldly music, and on the tvs they had 3 different college football bowl games on, as well as a replay of the Cavs Warriors game on Christmas Day. I couldn't keep my eyes off the tvs, jaja. The English Elders did an exchange with the Zone Leaders, so on the drive back to Russellville I told our Zone Leader Elder Johnson how I wasn't sure how I was going to make it through the rest of my mission. He told me he remembers feeling the same way.

So is Elder Carter!
When we got back to my apartment. I found a package from Grandma and Grandpa Erb. I felt so discouraged I went upstairs and vented everything out that I was feeling in an open ended prayer to Heavenly Father. "I'm struggling right now. I don't know how I'm gonna do this. I miss my Dad. I wish I could talk to him. Talking with him always really helped me out. He tells me he's proud of me, but I feel like I have done nothing to make him proud. I feel like everything that's wrong with the area here in Russellville is my fault, that the church isn't growing here because of me. I'm too scared, too ashamed, too awkward, and too weak to talk to people. I'm too weak to help the work progress. It's because of me that nothing is happening here. It's my fault. Sometimes I feel like I don't deserve to be happy." I cried and I cried and I cried.

 When finally got myself together, I went downstairs and opened the package from Grandma and Grandpa: cookie brownies (they were delicious). At the top was a note from Erinn. She told me she loved me and was proud of me, and at the end, she said: "You can do this." Then I cried and cried again, but for a different reason this time. I felt such a powerful outpouring of love, I knew that was an answered prayer. And it kept me going.

They made him a cake!
Thursday we did an exchange with the English Elders. I went with Elder Barnes. It was really funny because we are both greenies and still being trained (well...I was still being trained at that point). I tried to be super silly and animated and excited. Elder Barnes is a great guy, and fun to be around, but when he starts teaching the Gospel, he gets very timid and speaks quietly and forgets to smile. So I was trying to force this principle very firmly in him, and I exaggerated the smiling and the enthusiasm to do so. Well what did all this enthusiasm yield? Two Book of Mormons passed out and two teenagers yelling "Hail Satan" at us. Even though every appointment fell through, we still enjoyed it. I've learned the sucky experiences are just as valuable as the good experiences.

The goodbye this morning
Saturday we had dinner with S and T, and celebrated the New Year. They really are the best. Then we got the transfer news: Elder Sotomarino will be going to speak English in Blyville, Arkansas, and I will be staying here in Russellville with...Elder Toomer. I really was shocked, and to be honest, a bit disappointed. I really thought I had at least another transfer with Elder Sotomarino. We really got close, we were like best friends. I'm really going to miss having a native speaker as a companion. It has been so helpful, and got us in a lot of doors. I'm really going to miss him.

The good thing is that I've already met Elder Toomer, I met him at my training meeting. I'm excited to start working with him. He should get here in about 20 minutes. (I'm writing this from North Little Rock). When Selina and Tomás found out Elder Sotomarino was leaving they invited us over for dinner again last night. I want to say that they are the best again. And they came to church yesterday.

The Church is true, Book is blue, I'm now done with transfer two.

 Love y'all!

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