Monday, November 11, 2013

My heart, my heart

Dear Mom, Dad, Wayne, Nate, Ben, Joe, Coby, Grandma LaMyrl, Grandma Bonnie, Sage, and all the rest of you people I love:

I made a list in my planner of all the things I wanted to tell you this week, so I am going to do my best!:

1. lesson with Pedro Pimenta
We teach a lot of people on these freezing cold marble benches in a park near the church - especially single men whose houses we can't enter.  One of them this week was Pedro Pimenta.  He has a really hard time actually following through on ANY compromissos -- reading the BOM and prayer are a struggle, let alone leaving his cigarettes behind and resisting alcohol.  But we had a lesson with him this week that taught ME a lot about the atonement of Jesus Christ.  During the lesson, I felt a lot of love for him, and saw a vision of how much more peaceful and happy his life can/will be when coupled with the uplifting, magnifying power of Christ's grace.  I think we helped him catch that vision a little bit.  Then, we made a specific plan with him of what we can do to help him -- text him daily at nightfall, the time of day when he is most tempted to smoke, for example, and follow up with him about going to the hospital to put himself in touch with the quit-smoking resources there.  He picked a time of day to set aside for scripture reading and prayer.  Even though he didn't actually DO any of these things, it felt like the skeleton of something powerful and I felt like we did our part in helping him understand better the atonement of Jesus Christ, which leads me to ...

2.  teaching to set people free
I had been struggling a bit with a worry about what we do as missionaries -- like, I was feeling worried that we were kind of just trying to force or manipulate people to do these things that correspond with numbers in our planners that supposedly represent effective missionary work.  But I had an epiphany about this a few weeks ago that has changed me.  It's about teaching.  If we truly TEACH people the right way - the way Christ taught people - we are actually, rather than manipulating or forcing them, setting them free; giving them MORE opportunities to exercise their agency because they have deeper understanding of eternal principles.  This is changing the way I teach.  I am feeling more love for people - a true desire to see them grow and progress and feel closer to God.  D&C 50:21-22.

3. true service does not happen in the limelight
In fact, true service happens way out of the limelight.  True service is helping facilitate something and making other people look good.  I am so grateful for parents who really exemplify this.  Heck, parenting in general is this type of service - dedicating your life to the bettering of another's - and I was blessed with some of the best parents there are.  Mom and Dad, I LOVE YOU!

4. rough edges being battered off leads to a new lightness
I feel like this keeps happening to me as a missionary.  Missionary work is such a kick in the face!  You keep discovering things you need to change and work on.  Sometimes I feel like my rough edges are being battered off, and I'm like, "Hey!  This hurts!  That was part of me!!"  But I soon see that life is happier and lighter without that.  God is whittling us all down, getting rid of all our baggage so we can be more aerodynamic, consecrated servants of Him.  Often I feel like I have nothing left to give, but I somehow keep functioning and thereby discover something inside me that I didn't know was there. 

5. Pedro and Monica, Mafalda.  This is hard for me.
We taught this GORGEOUS family this week.  Pedro and Monica are not married but for all purposes are.  They have this 4 year old DARLING curly haired girl named Mafalda.  They are doing an awesome job of raising her in an environment filled with love and selflessness and good values.  You guys, they are just so BEAUTIFUL.  I can't describe it.  They are the type of people that really make the world a better place.  They are EXACTLY who I'd love to teach and integrate into the church to bring healing to this area and get the branch going with FAMILIES.  But.  They have met with the missionaries periodically for about a year, mostly just out of intellectual interest.  They are not really seeking for change.  They have a good life. 

I feel incapable of expressing why, but I was just bowled over by our lesson with them, which ended with a sort of, "we'll stop by sometime in the next month to check in" (and basically see if they are any more interested).  Both Sister Gutz and I were crying after we left their house, not really knowing why.  It was such a complex emotion - I mean, they are so lovely.  So, so lovely.  Like, on one hand I don't want to change anything about their situation, and inviting them to join with this broken, backward, very ill-functioning congregation would be taking a step backward for them!  I'm serious!  But they are exactly the type of people who could make a HUGE difference in this branch, if they only had a desire to build their lives more on Christ and His teachings and love and grace.  But they don't.  Gah, you guys.  I can't describe it.  My heart.

6. Portuguese are a somewhat hardhearted, selfish, faithless people
They just are.  It's okay.  I still love them.

7.  It's all about love -- Elder Yorgason, Palmira
Palmira is this almost immobile old lady in the ward who comes every now and then if we invite her on Saturday and she's feeling well enough.  We passed by this week and she GUSHED to us about how loved she felt when she got a visit from a former Elder Yorgason and his wife.  They stopped by her house during their visit here and talked to her for a while and remembered about her kids and her life and just GAVE HER TIME.  It was the highlight of her week, probably her YEAR.  She felt remembered and loved.  This whole thing is just about LOVE.  That's all that matters. 

8. Wayne: the pope!
I forgot to tell you thank you for that info on the new Pope!  I LOVE HIM!  Knowing more about him has informed some of my conversations with people in the streets, but even more than that, some of the things he said just healed little holes in my own heart.  Taught me more about being a servant of the Lord.  Yeah. Thank you.

9. Manuel came to church, we spoke
We were notified 2 minutes before sacrament meeting started that apparently the 2nd sunday of each month belongs to the missionaries and we had, well, the whole meeting to fill up.  Um....thanks a lot for the pre-notice.  They ended up asking Irmao Rocha, who has the most legit beard you have ever seen, to speak as well, which was a relief.  During the sacrament hymn, MANUEL WALKED IN THE DOOR!  He made it!  WOOOOO!  (Manuel is SO COOL you guys and is truly seeking truth.  I will try to send a picture later today if we stop by the chapel.)  Also Natalina came.  Anyway, Sister Gutz did an awesome job giving a talk in Portuguese and then I went up there and just felt so much love for these people and tried to convey that to them and express some of the things I've been learning in the sermon on the mount.  I really feel like the love I have for this area and these people is a total gift from God.  I love them a lot.

10.  Sister Gutz
Sister Gutz is such a great comp.  She's an awesome friend, sister, and missionary.  She is hardworking and obedient and helps me be a better missionary.  And she's also just tons of FUN.  I am really grateful to be serving with her.  Heavenly Father has given me so many amazing sisters in return for serving Him.  It's such a bounteous blessing. 

More than anything, I love YOU.  I love you!  I am certifiably crazy about you.

Sister Sandholtz

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