This week was good, hard too. Ryan asked what the hardest thing is on the mission and what I'm doing to overcome it. For me, at least this week, the hardest thing is being stripped from everything and really having to rely on the Lord. Even though I've been good my whole life and I'm a missionary now, I am finding more weaknesses in myself than I have in my whole life. I have such high expectations for myself and this work, but it's impossible for me to reach them. I have to completely humble myself, forget myself, and rely on the Lord. For my whole life, if a teacher would give me an assignment, I would complete it with exactness. I could do everything the teacher required of me. But here, our mission president requires exact obedience, a baptism a week, very high key indicators, etc. Things I cannot reach. I've never had that before. I've always been able to reach my goal. But here it literally is impossible to do it by myself, no matter how hard I study or how hard I work. This week I was getting stressed over the littlest things: key indicators, less active lessons, getting to lessons on time, finishing lessons on time, spending too much money (because sister laulu loves to spend money ), eating healthy, being fed too much by everyone, being called fat three times a day (not an exaggeration), having to wait for Sister Laulu to finish getting ready, etc (she tests my patience big time) Anyway, so much stress, and on top of that, criticism of my language, my stress, my attitude. It is so hard to have a good attitude with that much stress. And it truly is so hard to humble yourself in that moment to ask for help in prayer and rely on the Lord. But there truly is no one else to go to out here. That's what's so awesome about a mission. You are stripped of everything: your family, your friends, comfort, distraction, freedom to do whatever, etc. Whatever we usually do when we're down back home. There is no distraction here, no freedom to go see a movie, no family members to bring you up. It's just you working out your weaknesses with the Lord. And it's awesome and awful at the same time. Last night I prayed for two hours (well kind of slept-prayed, I was tired); I didn't want to go to bed until I had changed my attitude. Finally Mosiah 3:19 came to mind. "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man..." So all I needed to do was yield, and stop, and everything would be okay. So I went to bed. Woke up still ornery, haha. Just ornery in myself and my stupid weaknesses, stuff that I shouldn't be struggling with. But during personal study I read 2 Nephi 4:17-35. Go ahead, get the Book of Mormon and read it all together. It really helped me because I was feeling just like Nephi, just hating myself for my weaknesses. As I read, the Spirit helped me to soften my heart, and I felt as Nephi did by the end. Rejoice, all is well, praise God, do not droop in sin. So all is well. There is so much to learn on the mission.
So enough of that. This week was so awesome and miracles happened. I will just tell one right now. So while we're on our way to one of our appointments, we see our relief society president on her way home. She invites us over to her house. We're like sweet, free food, why not? While there she tells us that she saw a less active in our ward just last night. He had come back from Cebu. She said that she really misses him at church because he used to play the piano and sing and everyone loved him. We decided to change our schedule and visit him right then. He wasn't at his house though so we just set up an appointment. Instead of following our plan, I felt prompted to visit someone else, so we changed our course and ran into someone we had met earlier and decided to share with her. We knew she had a Law of Chastity problem so we shared that with her. That was exactly what she needed, she bawled. She just needed to know that she was a beautiful daughter of God and stop her ways. Anyway, that visit lasted an hour, so we didn't even have time to go to the other person but the prompting was just so that we'd be in the right place at the right time. Soon after that, we ran into the less active we were trying for find earlier. His name is Brian and he's a returned missionary that had a Law of Chastity problem so he stopped going to church for like five years because of embarrassment. We had a good conversation with him, told him how much everyone missed him, and said we'd visit tomorrow. So next day, we pick up a recent convert to join us for a couple lessons. It was really random, but we felt like it would be good for him to do some missionary work. The lesson with Brian was really spiritual. I shared about Alma 42 - how this time is probation, time to repent. We are the natural man because of the fall. We are imperfect, we make mistakes, but it's okay because we have the Atonement. Anyway, spiritual lesson that he needed. Then while Sister Laulu was sharing, (about who knows, I don't understand how she ties everything together, I'm always lost) I had the thought to share something with him; but I was a little scared because it was a little awkward to say, but I followed the prompting and said it. I told him that out of all of the people I've met here in the Philippines, he is the closest one to my heart, because he reminds me so much of Ryan. He's like my brother here in the Philippines. And it kills me so much so see him suffer because of this mistake because I just remember that summer that killed me with Ryan. I showed the picture of our family and told him that this May Ryan is getting married in the temple to a wonderful, spiritual, beautiful girl that God helped him to find. After that lesson, Brian texted us that thanked us for teaching by the spirit. He said it really touched him that we felt the closest to him. After that he told us it's time to return. He even wants to work with us. He had a dream last week that he had the opportunity to serve a mission again and when he saw Michael (the recent convert who joined us) he that that's how he can do it, serve with us. He came to church last sunday and told us that when he goes to work in Cebu, the temple is only 10 minutes away from where he lives. He will go to church and prepare for the temple. It's so awesome!!! And I totally treat him like a brother too. I am so happy for him! Anyway, that whole experience was a miracle. God is very aware of all of his children.
Ok, Ryan asked what food I miss. Olive Garden. anything baked. tomatoes. yeah.
What else? Oh! I have family home evening for you guys. So everyone read King Benjamin's speech on your own scripture study time then discuss insights during FHE. I spent the entire week dissecting this speech. It is so good. Mosiah 4:2-3. While reading the speech, try to find out what it was that Benjamin said to cause them to feel this way. If we read the speech with the spirit, we too will feel as they did, and see our own carnal state. I got to this part and realized I was missing something because I didn't feel as they did, so I went back and read it again, and again, and again. There is so much. Read it slow. We truly are nothing and owe everything to our creator.
Anyway, that's pretty much it for now. It was a good and hard week. But I'm learning so much, growing so much. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. It is what's carrying me through my mission. I hope my service continues to bless you, I am always praying for you. I love you all and will talk to you next week!
Love, Sister Watkins