Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Courage means being scared to death but saddling up anyway" -John Wayne

Oct. 7, 2013
Dear Family,
I watched all 4 sessions of General Conference and the Priesthood session in English with about 11 other ``Norte Americanos`` in a classroom in the Stake Center.  It was really good, and we were able to snack during conference just like at home, because we weren’t watching with the members.  One Elder brought a pizza. 

It is awesome Becca is coming down to S. America.  I felt a small earthquake about 2 weeks ago, and I saw the mirror shaking a little bit, but the other elders say spring is earthquake season and there are frequent small tremors.  I hope you don’t worry about my safety, because I am safe, President Porter said I would be when he set me apart. 

This will be a short letter this week because I have a lot of visa stuff to do today.

I love you, more than the number of times people say brrrr in a month in Minnesota. 
I love you x 10000000
Elder Withers

Dear Family,

This week has been crazy.  I think I probably say that every week, but this week really was this time.  

Transfers for this mission, were this last week.  We had received a call from our District Leader Tuesday night to let us know that neither of us were getting transferred.  So we thought, okay cool.  We continue on with the week, and get to Thursday.  

Thursday was a day we had decided to talk only in Spanish.  We have done it before, and it normally isn't bad....but this day Hermana Woodbury thought it prudent to point out every single mistake I was making in Spanish; which wasn't a ton...just some small things, but it started to wear on me a bit.  We got to about lunch time and I was thinking to myself...."How am I ever going to live in Argentina where my whole world is in Spanish?  Spanish is okay, but I don't really like it that much, I can never express what I am really thinking, and if I get my visa anytime soon....I will be toast."  After lunch we go outside to pump the tires on our ghetto single speed bikes, come back in and there is a text from one of the APs which says "Can you call President back right now?"  and a missed call from President Riggs.

We call President back, and he says... "Hey Hermana Withers!  I have you on speaker phone in front of this transfer meeting."  I say, "Oh, awesome.....???"  He then says, "Your visa came and......" he said some other things but Hermana Woodbury started going crazy.  He said "Now that's the kind of reaction I like to hear...I'm excited for you!"  Truth be told, Hermana Woodbury was the one putting up a show,  I was metaphorically peeing my pants in stunned silence.  I have had a few days to mull over in my thoughts about my visa....and I am so excited!!!  (: The fact that my visa came on one of the few days I let myself fall into a personal pity party is ironic...but I am excited to go (:  

By the end of the day, we heard down the grapevine from missionaries that were at the meeting....that I will leave about Oct. 20th.  The other 4 missionaries that came to DC south with me also got their visas, and we will all be traveling together.  Also my dear MTC companion got her visa and is anticipated to leave the same time, so I will get to see her again too!  I am so excited.

My current companion shared some things with me in companionship study the other day that I really like. The first being, that "confidence isn't the certainty of having success, but rather that failure doesn't determine our worth....we lose nothing by trying."  And the second is a quote from John Wayne that says, "Courage means being scared to death but saddling up anyway."  I have ideas in my head about what Argentina will be like....and I usually come up with an image of starving children in the streets, moms weaving rugs on a porch, dirt roads, and busy street markets.  If some of that is true, so be it....the Lord will make me equal to the task of adjusting to a new culture.  But it probably isn’t so bad as I let my imagination think it to be  (:  And also, every person in the whole world needs the there is a lot of work to do.  As members we don't really have time to be afraid and fear missionary work.  If we get rejected so be it, but as we prayerfully look for others in our lives and follow the Spirit in how to share the Gospel with them, miracles will come.  

This was a major theme in conference for me.  Maybe that's what I noticed because I watched it as a missionary (: but I loved it!  Member missionary work is important.  Conference was so great, and I loved hearing and listening to all of the messages.  We watched the first session in Spanish with an investigator, the next two in the chapel, and the last session we were invited to a member’s home.  It was awesome.  

I'm amazed at how fast my visa came.  It is an honest miracle, and I have said a prayer of gratitude every night for all of the people in SLC and Argentina who worked on it for me.  

My experiences in this DC south mission have been life altering quite honestly.  The biggest thing I learned while serving here is how to pray.  President Riggs is so amazing, and has taught us that prayer is a form of work.  To pray as if it all depends on the Lord and work as if it all depends on us.  And that the Lord will bless with what we really want, because if our will is truly aligned with God's...we will never want anything contrary to His will....and if we really want it, we will work hard to do our part.

As I have served here in Leesburg, I have served in the most unique, and one of the most isolated parts of the mission.  And the people totally make it worth it.  I have seen a kind of poverty that I didn't know even existed in America, and I have seen people quit smoking, commit to baptism, come to church, and want to read the Book of Mormon.  When investigators keep commitments, it's like Christmas.  I know all of these things will continue to happen in Argentina, but I feel so blessed to have witnessed it here too.  

We have 4 investigators who are progressing well.  One is on date for baptism, and the other 3 are really close.  It's so fun to work with people who are willing to learn and who want to make a change in their lives.  There were lots of miracles this week and I know that the Lord is in all the details of our lives.  

I have quite the mental challenge ahead of me for the next couple of weeks, as I try to stay focused.  Right now, it’s like knowing about a transfer way before it’s supposed to happen.  Thursday was kind of weird, but I have since tried to keep my mind as occupied as possible so that it can't drift off to thoughts about Argentina.  I still have to serve faithfully in Leesburg until then.  So far, I have been reading a lot more.  I read during breakfast, lunch, and dinner (when we don't have an appointment), and I listen to hymns while studying, and when we are out proselyting we talk all about our investigators and sing hymns in Spanish.  We did a lot of those things before, but the more reading thing is new (:

Thanks for sending the verb book.  That thing is the best ever.  I have used it every day since getting it in the mail (it came Tuesday) and it is so helpful.  Thanks so much.

I love you all lots.  I love hearing from you.  

Let me know if you need anything.  I hope all is well, and I will be in Argentina soon emailing you from there!  Crazy thought. (:

I love you more than how excited I am to get on a plane and fly south for the winter (:
Hermana Withers

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