December 9, 2013
Misioneras y montanas (missionaries and mountains)
I got your package! It was so nice to see all of the pictures of our family and the little notes you guys wrote me! Sometimes I feel really lonely being so far away from you guys, so it was so nice to be able to see those pictures with "families are forever." We are always teaching about eternal families...and I am so blessed to belong to an eternal family! And no distance in the world can separate us, because we have eternity to spend together. :) The picture with the Christmas tree is in the mamita's house. She lives around the corner from us in our neighborhood, so she is in our branch. She doesn't do our laundry very often. Only sometimes. It's kind of frustrating with her because she's not very reliable. Laundry is one of the most frustrating things here, so I don't tell you guys about it. lol. I'm learning patience on that front. Like Evan told you, relationships and family are way more important than schedules here, and as you predicted, it drives me nuts because I am such a schedule-oriented person. If we go in a house, we will likely be inside for an hour and a half, sometimes two. It is a LOT of listening. In Spanish. So that is another way that I am learning patience. :)
I'm so glad that you guys could go to the temple! I miss the temple a lot. But I keep the feelings from the temple close to my heart whenever I start to feel sad. What a beautiful place! Your Christmas sounds crazy, but beautiful. It's hard being so far away during the Christmas season...but I am able to really focus on how important the Savior is to me and to everyone else in the world. He is the greatest gift we could ever receive! We have been sharing a Mormon message with people lately called, "The Spirit of Christmas." You guys should look it up! It is so inspiring and I cry every time we watch it. I love Christmas so much! I don't know a lot of details yet about how we will talk. I know that it is through my Skype account for 45 minutes, and probably on a member's computer. But I will find out and let you guys know as we get closer.
One day this week, my companion got really dizzy, so dizzy that she couldn't walk. So we stayed inside the house all day. I read General Conference talks and old letters, wrote out the emails I wanted to send this week, and studied over my notes from the MTC. It was so good to study those notes! I remembered the idealism of the MTC, and how important it is to keep an idealistic perspective. Mission life is hard. Really hard. So it's easy to lose idealism...but when we lose idealism, we also start to lose faith. And I just know that faith in Jesus Christ needs to be my center! He helps me so much. I have never felt His love more than I feel it now. Sometimes I get frustrated living in a world where I feel like I don't have anyone who can listen. My companion is great, but she talks all the time, she's super dramatic and a little bit of a princess, and she doesn't listen very well. She's super loving and hardworking, but listening is not her strong suit. So this week at points I felt very alone. But when I would get on my knees to pray, I knew that He listened to everything I had to say. I know He listens and He loves me! He understands me perfectly. Like I said, missionary life is tough. I am speaking a different language, in a different country, serving in a weak branch. By the world's standards, I don't have the things I need to be happy. People think that they need a nice car, big house, other possession-type things to be happy. But I can tell you that all you really need to be happy is to feel God's love. Because when you truly feel His love, you want to act upon it. And when you act upon it, He teaches you to be happy. Happiness is not the absence of trial, but the presence of Christ. President Uchtdorf, in his talk to the Young Women in March, said that there will be bumps in the road...but we shouldn't focus on them. I know that happiness is always within our reach! Pray to feel His love. It can really transform you. I have never felt such a general happiness. It is a deep, sweet happiness that fills up my soul. And I know that it is the happiness that Christ gives. He makes it possible for us to be happy no matter our circumstances. "Dulce gozo" means sweet joy.
This week I have also been learning what it means to receive answers to faithful prayers. I pray so hard for the branch, for our investigators, and for my ability to be the servant the Lord needs. On Tuesday, we had a meeting with the senior couple serving here, and we were able to plan what to do to help out our branch. This was a huge answer to my prayers! After 2 months serving here, it had gotten to be something that seemed completely discouraging. But with us, the elders, and the senior couple, we created a hopeful plan to help invite our branch back to Christ. I am hoping for the best! We are going to help the members understand their callings better, first, and then see what we can do next. Then, the family that Hermana Nappa and I were teaching hasn't let us in their home for 3 weeks. We have been praying that they will remember the importance of the gospel. On Saturday, we were just walking and out of the blue we saw them in the street and they invited us into their home. I know that the Lord answers prayers! I know that heaven is not as far away as we may think it is. All we have to do is get on our knees in faith, and He is there. Prayer blesses my life every day, and I hope you all will remember to pray!
Another thought--almost every day, my companion reminds me that Heavenly Father doesn't focus on our errors, but on our potential. How sweet this thought is! It destroys all the lies that Satan tells us, that we aren't good enough, can't do it, or whatever else he may try to say. Heavenly Father is merciful and patient, and in the journey of life, He loves us for who we are and for what we are striving to become.
I love you all so much. I miss you a lot, especially now that we are close to Christmas! But I know also that this sacrifice will be worth it, and that the next Christmas we are together will be so special and beautiful.
Abrazos, Hermana Latham
We had a Book of Mormon themed activity recently and a family in our branch made this tree of life!