And HAPPY THANKSGIVING! You are right. This week is going to be a tough one. I miss Thanksgiving so much! I miss spending time with you guys! But I am praying for comfort and help. I have been thinking about all of the things I am grateful for, and that makes things easier. Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting, and my assigned topic was gratitude (could that have worked out better?). So I've been studying gratitude and remembering Thanksgiving. On the day of Thanksgiving, I will have been a missionary for 3 months! WOO! It's been a long first three months, but I know that the time will begin to run away from me the more I serve. Another thing that helps with missing Thanksgiving is that people here are already decorating for Christmas. Our mamita already has her Christmas tree, and it has multicolored lights like the Christmas tree we had when I was a little girl. It makes me really happy to see it and helps me feel closer to home.
A couple of random things...fun Spanish fact for the week--to vacuum and to aspire are the same word in Spanish--aspirar. So we can vacuum for eternal life and we can aspire our rug. hahaha. Also, I didn't realize until I got a new companion what cool music we have on our cell phone! We have The Olive Tree in Spanish! AHHHH! So I wanted to ask you guys if you could send me the lyrics to The Olive Tree in Spanish (it's tough for me to understand music in Spanish). I am SO GRATEFUL that you write me every week, Mama!! I miss you so much, and being able to read your emails makes it better. My poor companion didn't get any email from her family this week, and here she is in a new area. :(
So Hermana Nappa was right at the middle of her mission, 9 months. She was going to reach 9 months on the same day I'll reach 3. She trained another hermana while she was serving in Punta Arenas. I learned a lot from her, but sometimes it got frustrating because we would just do things without her explaining to me what was going on. And then she would get irritated with me sometimes when I asked her questions. We worked as much as we could, but she was pretty exhausted. She's been suffering with this ever since she got to Chile, and she's been trying every method under the sun to resolve it, but finally all of the resources were exhausted, and she needed to go home for treatment. People knew she was sick, but I think a lot of people tried to just push it off to the side. I find that people don't want to face the reality of mental and emotional sicknesses. People would just tell her that all she needed to do was have faith and things would get better....but she was really, really suffering. She wasn't super open, so I don't know how bad it was, but I could tell it was bad. So, I am learning a TON about missionary work from my new companion. Thank you for what you said about me being kind and mature! I prayed a LOT for help, and I just tried to love her even when she didn't receive it. I find that the best way for me to feel less alone here is to give all the love I have to others. Christ gives me love in return, even if others don't. Like the quote you gave me from President Monson says, His love is always there for us. I have never in my life felt His love more! He strengthens me every day.
My new companion is wonderful! Her name is Hermana Montalván and she is from Honduras. She doesn't speak a lick of English, so my Spanish is growing by leaps and bounds (Hermana Nappa spoke English, so if I was just failing in Spanish, I could always ask her to help me out because she could give me translations and what not). She is 25 and before the mission, she was studying law. She is very put together and incredibly obedient. She likes to talk to me and give me hugs! She has a really positive attitude and she works hard. I am so thankful for her! It is very easy to feel the Spirit with her, which is essential to missionary work. She has been a missionary for 10 months (one transfer more than Hermana Nappa). Of course, no companion is perfect and every companion is a transition. We are learning to understand each other better every day, and we got along really well. The first day she was really weirded out by my contacts...she asked me why I used contacts if I wasn't changing the color of my eyes. Latinos always ask me if my eye color is natural. lol. I told her that I needed them to see! I think this transfer is going to be great. Hermana Montalván is a special missionary. On our first day together, we contacted people on the street, which was new for me. It was really cool to listen to the directions of the Spirit to know what to say. We found a lady cleaning her front yard, and she looked pretty sad, so we went to see if we could help her. As we were talking to her about prayer, she just started crying, and she invited us into her house. She was so receptive, and I just knew that the Lord had put us in front of her house because she needed His love in that moment. It was incredible. Moments like that help me to remember why I chose to be a missionary!
I am feeling WAY better this week. It always takes a while for colds to die, but I know it will in a few more days. haha I was thinking about that earlier this week, that I was sick during Thanksgiving break. You're right...so much changes in a year! :)
This week I have been studying scriptures about patience, or paciencia in Spanish. Patience is such a Christlike attribute. I am trying so hard to learn more patience! I read in Alma 32:41-43, applying it to patience (normally I apply it to faith). I was thinking about my missionary work as the tree, or the missionary I am becoming as the tree. It talks about how important it is to have patience, diligence, and faith, waiting for the tree to bring fruit. It starts out talking about nourishing the tree as it begins to grow. I am working on reminding myself that I am in the beginning of the growing process, so I need to nourish my tree! I need to have patience with myself as I learn to be a better missionary every day. Although my companion is great, it's still tough because the way she does missionary work is different than the way Hermana Nappa did it. So sometimes I feel so frustrated and feel like I don't know anything. But then I just listen to the voices of the Spirit and remind myself to have patience. Every day is better, and if this mission is going to get better every day for the next 15 months, I can't imagine how wonderful it will be! I like to think about what Elder Holland said about how his mission was the reason for all of the blessings in his life. I know that the things I learn as a missionary will affect everything else that I do for as long as I live! Learning patience teaches me to be a better friend and family member. Learning diligence teaches me to be a better student. Etc, etc. :) I know you are working on studying the scriptures every day--I would recommend studying with Preach My Gospel. It really is an inspired book. I especially love the chapter about Christlike attributes!
I miss you very much. I send you all my love and gigantic hugs! And every day I remember how thankful I am for my wonderful family. You all are one of the greatest blessings the Lord could ever give to me. I hope you enjoy Thanksgiving (and the buffet) for me! lol. And please remember to be grateful for the temple, the gospel, and our strong ward. In this tiny branch, I remember every week to be thankful for the strength of the Church back home.
Abrazos, Hermana LathamHermana Latham and Hermana Nappa
Hermana Latham and Hermana Montalvan in our Mamita's house