Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 53 Burning Ritual August 15, 2016

We did it!
Men and women, boys and girls, brothers and sisters. I did it! One whole year! I am currently patting myself on the back because I have even made it this far. An entire year without seeing my family let alone stepping foot on American soil. Sometimes I wake up, look at my surroundings, and think, "Wow! I'm still here!?" But here I am! They say that the most any human ever learns at one time is when they are babies, when they learn to walk and talk. Well I'm pretty positive that when someone serves a mission it's like they're thrown into the baby time period all over again. A new world, a new language. It's pretty terrifying. In just a year I have learned a million new things and gained a million more experiences.
A whole solid year!
In the book "Kisses From Katie" she describes what she calls, "The Crucible of Contradiction" and in my case, it goes something likes this: I hate living so far away and dealing with feelings of loneliness. I hate sweating 24 hours of the day and never feeling clean. I hate the catcalls and gestures from the disrespectful men on the streets. I hate feeling 100% mentally and physically exhausted after a hard 14hr work day. I miss so badly getting in a car and just driving to get some quiet, alone time. I hate feelings of inadequacy and not meeting goals or expectations. I hate eating food that I know will only make me sick. I miss spending time with my friends. I miss Sunday dinners with my family and family vacations. I miss going on dates and seeing movies. I miss hot showers and the feeling of carpet underneath my feet. I miss seeing mountains and changes in climate. I miss the comfort of my home. On the other hand, I absolutely love sharing my testimony 20 times a day. I love surrounding myself with people and the light that they shine into my life. I love studying my scriptures. I love the strong spirit I feel every time we open a lesson singing a hymn. I love recognizing the Lord's hand in my life and seeing miracles. I love all that I am learning, leadership, patience, faith, public speaking, using time wisely,etc. I love feeling my testimony grow and become strengthened. I love learning and speaking Spanish. I love this time to truly come to know my Savior without all of the distractions.

Most days joy fills my heart to the point of bursting. I have seen the most awe-inspiring changes in the lives of those around me and in my own. Others, my stomach clenches in frustration at times when those around me aren't willing to change or even when I myself fight against swallowing my pride and submitting to the Lord's will. Some days I feel so happy as I look back at my days as a missionary and see the times I did well, others I feel regret when I think of the days when I could have done better. Sometimes I feel sad when I think of everything else I could be doing, Others I am so happy in what I am doing. Most days are filled with happiness, some nights I cry into my pillow in exhaustion or frustration.

There is so much contradiction and it can be very confusing and hard at times. There are these powerful magnets pulling either side of you in opposite directions. I love my mission but sometimes it really hurts. I imagine our own Savior felt an extreme amount of contradiction when he cried, "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." The contents of that cup were so vile and bitter yet He loved His Father. Sometimes we face a lot of trial and opposition. But for some reason we push right on through it anyway, I believe there is a greater love that drowns out all of the noise, that makes everything worth it in the end. I think that during this life we would be much better off if we would look at each opposition as an opportunity. Take Ammon, for example. As a servant to King Lamoni he was sent forth to watch the King's flocks. Not long after, some of the Lamanites came through and scattered them. Think about it, that had to have been terribly frustrating for him. Those around him said, "That's it, we are through, the King is definitely going to kill us." Ammon, on the other hand, stood amongst his co-servants --who were all in tears-- and thought, "Wow this is going to be great! I'm going to get all of the sheep back and maybe Lamoni will be so impressed he will actually listen to what I have to say!" He then proceeded to casually chop off all of the arms of his enemies. Ammon in our day is something like a General Authority with a part-time hobby of body-building. Favorite food? Protein powder of course. A spiritual and physical giant. What were the ramifications to a single change in thought-process? "Thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord." Pretty amazing, and all because one man decided to look at opposition as an opportunity. "Every challenge you face, every hard thing you confront, every bad thing that happens to you, every unfairness, every conflict, every sadness, tragedy, every disappointment and heartache, every temptation and every opposition happens for one purpose only: to give you opportunity to respond by applying in your life the teachings of Jesus. As you do so you are changed to become more like Him."..."Without opposition the plan would be frustrated, you could not progress and the purpose of life would be unachievable."

Our trials are truly understood better in hindsight. We may not understand the reasons "why" in the opposition we face today. But I know that tomorrow-- or even years from now-- we will. Take my case for example. A new, energetic, ready-to-go young missionary in Morropon. We were told that we needed to either baptize or increase church attendance by 30 people to keep the branch and area open. In my mindset I thought, "Oh this is going to be the best success story!" We were fasting, praying, and working hard. My mom was even putting the names of my investigators on the temple roll. How could it possibly go wrong? In the end what happened? Church attendance decreased and in 3 months a single investigator came one Sunday leaving without ever wanting to return again. Almost a year later that branch is still shut down and there are no missionaries there. There were many, many moments when I thought, "why me?" But now thanks to hindsight I can look back full of gratitude for all that I was able to learn from that experience, everything that has helped me in the areas that followed. Each opposition is an opportunity.

My mission is not at all anything like I had expected. It has been full of opposition, in forms more than just hard companions and lack of success. There have been times when I have felt like my mission has punched a big emotional dent in me and I couldn't possibly bounce back. Yet somehow I do. Sometimes, I'll admit, opposition comes and I think, "In what way could this ever be an opportunity?!" --we all have times like that. But I know that we have the most perfect, all-knowing, and all-loving Personal Trainer that is constantly giving us just the right amount of weight so that we can become our very best selves. "We shall emerge from all of these trials and difficulties the better and purer for them."

In the scriptures we read, "The God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, and the God of Abraham." -Those must have been very personal and intimate relationships for Isaac, Jacob, and Abraham to be able to say, "Yep that's my God." My mission has really helped me to figure out who the God of Hannah is and where I stand in that relationship. I think that of the literal ocean of things I have learned on my mission the biggest and most important is that I know that my Redeemer lives. I've learned what that phrase means to me personally and what it can mean to those around me. It brings hope, it lets me know that I am never alone, it makes me happy.

Con mucho amor,
Hermana Ingram

Points from the week:
-we rode bus cama to piura, they mopped the floors in there the night before then left the windows open. Which also means the mosquitos had a hey day. 6 missionaries vs 6 thousand mosquitoes and the possibility of getting dengue. We fought for our lives.
Fighting for our lives!!! We got BUS CAMA! (like 1st class busses)
-Our new investigator is named Harold! He was almost baptized a year ago but fell away! Stay tuned- I can vision a baptism in the near future
-President gave us permission to ride on the boats at Puerto Pizarro! We made sure not to fall in...
Zona Tumbes float in on a boat (with permission....don't worry mom)
Adriano enjoying the ride! Leydi's (convert) son
Puerto Pizarro
-I bought a ukulele to celebrate one year. Then Hermana Spainhower and Elder Garcia followed... we may or may not start a band
-Jose informed us that because Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, every time we eat apples, we are cursed with an adams apple, "and that's why I don't buy apples, I don't want it to get stuck again!"
-Yesterday Elder Meier had me sit by the crazy evangelical lady that comes to church every once and while, its an adventure.
President Rasmussen in the greatest!
We love Hermana Rasmussen
The Queen in her element
Hermana leaders and tacos
Leadership of the Peru North Mission- (aka Tumbes and Puyango)
Look who I found! Her first words in English, "I am chubby"
And they're off! Elder Biedleman and Harris, mission accomplished
Teaching Jose! (convert)
"Hna Lazo! (pensionista) put Pepe by the calendar next to our year date!" *slaps him right on there
One of my favorite families!
For a second we thought Tumbes was pretty
Flowers and the market
"Someone poke it with a stick"
"This is our crocodile Sassy, she's got a bit of an attitude problem"

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