Hello family and friends!!!!!
So I've been feeling a little bad about my email last week because I felt like it was super negative and complain-y, but then I reread it today and realized that it wasn't terrible...I just felt terrible. I'm feeling much better today.
The mission is still hard, but it's ok. There are moments when the next 15 1/2 months stretches out in front of me and seems like forever, but I'm finding that when I just focus on the Lord and His work, it doesn't really matter. Something I'm learning--it really dawned on me this morning, and I've been thinking about it a lot today--is that I don't think a mission is really so much about preaching the gospel as it is a personal process of sacrifice and sanctification within the missionary. Don't get me wrong - we're definitely here to find and baptize and bring people to the Savior, but I really feel like so much of it is really what I've mentioned before: completely losing yourself in the work of the Lord; sacrificing yourself and your will - your "natural man" - so that you can really become an instrument in the hands of the Lord. And it's really a great sanctifying process.
I'm trying to be better about focusing on the work; really serving with ALL of my heart, ALL of my might, All of my mind, and ALL of my strength. The strength part I think I'm the closest to...I am more exhausted every single night than I ever have been in my entire life. And I thought I was tired in the MTC! Class all day doesn't even begin to compare to going all day, teaching, tracting, walking, etc, in the hot L.A. sun. It's HOT here. But guess what?! I already have a killer farmers' tan :) ...and I thought my skin didn't change color.
We have a car, but a lot of the time we'll drive to our appointment or a certain area, park, and then be outside walking for a while. The other day we were street contacting and walked with a guy as he walked (we just walked with him and taught as we walked), and then walked BACK to where we were originally planning to be. It was probably a good 3 or 4 miles total. Honestly though, I'd almost rather be outside talking and contacting because there you at least have a breeze. Most of the people here don't have A/C in their homes, so you get inside and the hot air is just trapped all around you. Blech.
So yeah, I'm pretty much completely exhausted every night. It's really hot in our apt too, especially when we go to bed at night (we have a small A/C unit in the front room, but not in the bedroom). I sometimes sleep with my sheet on me, but usually I don't sleep with any covering at all.
Here's a fun little tidbit - the other night just as we were getting to sleep, we heard two gun shots outside! It was ever so slightly unnerving, but it wasn't RIGHT outside, and it was just those two, so we just tried to not worry about it and go to sleep. We never did hear any sirens...
There are a lot of apartment complexes here - a LOT. And for the most part, they look pretty dumpy on the outside. But what's cool is that with most of them, you go inside the complex and there is a nice little courtyard of sorts, and the apartments themselves are really pretty nice! I'm learning not to judge things or people by their outward appearances, because so often what's inside is so completely different than what you'd expect! 1 Samuel 16:7, anyone??? (the seminary kids should know this one)
Spanish is good, but I'm still a bit timid in using it when I don't know the person...what am I saying? I'm timid using it when I DO know the person! My companion usually does the talking when we meet a Spanish person on the street, but she always tries to get me to contribute something. I feel like I can write ok, and if I have time to really think out and plan what I'd like to say I can do fine, but when it's just right there on the spot I freeze up and would rather not say anything. That and I'm usually just trying to figure out what they're saying, and it still takes a little while to process things in my poor little brain. Yesterday my companion "dared" me/set a goal for me to be confident to the point of error. She told me she wants me to make at least one "colossal" mistake in Spanish this week because I was being so overly confident/bold in speaking. I don't know how I really feel about that...I really don't WANT to make a colossal Spanish mistake. It's good though, and the only way I'm really going to learn and become fluent (which is one of my mission goals) is to open my mouth and try, without looking to my companion every time I'm not totally sure of a conjugation or something. We went to the Spanish branch yesterday, which was really great. The Spanish people are so loving and welcoming! I played the piano for sacrament meeting, and my companion and I helped them in their ward choir. I understand now what Sam and Joseph were talking about with Hispanic singing...they sing loud and strong and with all their hearts, whether or not they can sing well, and I'll just leave it at that :) I really do love it though! One of the teachers at the MTC told me and my companion about how her first few weeks in the field she just had a perpetual headache because of the language (she served in Portugal). I don't have a perpetual headache, but I sure had one last night! My biggest problem is trying to focus on what's actually going on in the Spanish meetings. I find my mind really wandering a lot because I can't understand, and it hurts my head to try to understand for the full 3 hours. It'll get better though, I'm sure!
We didn't have a baptism this week, but we're really hoping for this coming Sunday! Christine (she's the one I mentioned last week) is close, but she's had quite a few obstacles pop up in the last week. We're working through it though, and are very hopeful! I actually committed one of our investigators to baptism last week! Our mission president wants us to do a "hard" baptismal commitment (setting a date, not just a "when you know these things are true...") in the first lesson with people. The mission has seen a lot of success from that, and not just random "low-quality" baptisms either. More than anything else, it helps us find the elect much quicker, and weed out those who are just being nice. That doesn't mean that we drop someone just because they don't accept, but we try to get a hard commitment as soon as we can. Anyways, Freddy is the young man I committed to baptism; he's the boyfriend of a girl in our ward, and he's really great. He tends to be kind of quiet and shy, but he really wants to know, and he's doing the right stuff!
So yeah, life here in Downey is good. Still hard, but good.
Thank you SO much for all your continued love and support in all that I do, especially here in the mission. I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!!!!!
I Love you , and I love being a missionary :)
Hermana Sallie Wilson
Tell Bro. Tuckfield thanks :) it's nice to hear things from someone who really knows this mission