“this ain’t the language they taught me in the mtc…”

To start of last week, I was an Hermana for the day! It was mildly terrifying but it reminded me of a story from the book of Judges in the Bible. The people of Israel are enslaved and Gideon is called to bring them to liberation. Gideon gathers together a great army but God needs them to know that He is bringing his children deliverance out of His power and love and that they are not delivering themselves. God commands that anyone in the great army who is afraid can go home, and the army is reduced greatly in numbers but still not enough for an undeniable witness that it is God, and not the people, who is really doing the work. Finally He commands Gideon to bring his army to a river to drink, and says that those who lap the water out of their hands will stay, whereas those who get on their knees to drink will go home. Finally the army is reduced to 300 people and they are ready to fight. Likewise, This was a circumstance in which the Lord invited me to relinquish all of my resources so that I could learn for myself that conversion is a miracle authored by God and not an effect of my own persuasive powers. What a valuable and humbling lesson. A wise and helpful former Hermana and former Sister Training Leader urged me to study Spanish in preparation for the exchange rather than just letting my temporary companion work on her own with a useless companion following her around. Excellent advice. I did my best to remember all of my high school Spanish (not much… at all) and studied the pamphlets we would be teaching in Spanish, and of course I prayed for the gift of tongues and interpretation of tongues. With all of the cramming my abilities were still pretty meager but my good companion, Hermana Rodriguez, helped me translate a few short testimonies of various principles and questions I could ask, and I wrote them in the pamphlet. Obviously a teacher who is reading straight from things they hand wrote in a pamphlet is not going to be completely persuasive, but I went for it anyway. Clearly my efforts were meager at best, but the Spirit magnified them. We taught a lesson to the family of a recent convert and I gave my little testimonies and the Holy Ghost was present!! I understood just enough that when someone asked what the covenants we make at baptism are, I could open my Libro de Mormon to Mosiah 18 and say, “Usted…. leer?” We taught another lesson to a lady who just talked and talked and talked and I could barely understand anything except that she was talking about her grandma and halfway through the lesson the Spirit told me to share the final two paragraphs of the introduction to the Book of Mormon. I had no idea why, or what to say about it, or what she was talking about, but I just interrupted her and read the paragraphs in my halting Spanish and then didn’t say anything… but my companion bore what sounded like a beautiful testimony. I still don’t know why I did that or if it was the right thing, but when the spirit prompts, I try to follow without delay.

Because we just can’t get enough of experimental companions, in addition to the usual exchanges we also had a mini missionary! Oh, having a mini missionary is the best. Highly recommended. One of the most rewarding things about serving in the YSA is helping sisters in the Relief Society prepare for their own missions. A sister who is preparing for her mission talked to the branch president and was able to get work off for a few days and join us for our missions! Highly recommended if you are preparing/not sure/want to try it out. She is a real fireball and was so excited to tract in the winter wonderland we’re living in. She had what we call the “greenie fire” in abundance. I loved it. She reminded me of what I want to be more of. The beginner’s mind has many more possibilities than the mind of the “expert”, as Brother Suzuki says. Mini missionaries also bring the miracles, for example: we ate at Panera Bread after kind of a dry day, and on our way in my faith-filled companion said, “We’re going to find someone in there who wants to learn more.” She was 200% right. A fellow who was working there came up to us and started asking us questions and invited us to come back and teach him more. I was like… wait, that’s our job! But I won’t complain. In addition to getting street contacted by someone in Panera Bread, we were trying to find a potential investigator in an apartment and accidentally buzzed on the wrong house. A young man opened his door and said the person we were looking for wasn’t there, but my companion bore a beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ and asked if some missionaries could come back and teach him more. He said, “That would be perfect” and while we were getting his info we heard a tiny voice say, “Daaaaad” and he said, “Hold on.” and went and got the cutest little one with superhero jammies on just up from his nap :’) we asked for his name and he said, “Christopher” and then we asked for his son’s name and he said, “… also Christopher” so the whole day we couldn’t stop talking about how sweet and adorable little Christopher was. Babies are the truest miracle. We had almost the exact same experience trying to figure out the correct address of a long-lost member. A final tender mercy: not one, but two members giving us hand-me-downs. How do they know??

This week we also celebrated a slightly horrible milestone: our year mark. I don’t reckon I will ever be ready to leave, so I pretended it was my six-month mark instead. We ate cheesecake and tried not to think about it too much. On a happier note, we also tried to find appropriate ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day, for example:

– giving all of our fellow sisters princess Valentine’s that say things like, “remember you are a daughter of a King!” and “never forget your royal heritage!” You know, the classics.
– going to the mission home for dinner, where they had heart-patterned napkins, and sharing a spiritual thought with our mission president’s family (most terrifying thing ever)

– telling everyone that Jesus is my Valentine

– listening to a talk by our branch president about being lonely (seriously, that was the subject… 100% of the congregants were crying. It was actually a fantastic talk)

– Sister Walker dying her hair red on Preparation Day (not really for Valentine’s Day but for something)

– giving President Christiansen a President’s Day card, ha ha

Today I also got to instruct on ~teaching doctrine~. Have you read Elder Bednar’s “The Answer is the Doctrine” yet? It’s fantastic. A must-read for every missionary.

Don’t forget that no matter how many Valentines you have or don’t have, there’s someone who will always love you! It’s me. I mean it’s God. Well, both of us. And don’t worry, if you send me a belated Valentine I will still accept it 😉 5455 Columbia Rd, Columbia MD 21044

Love you Valentine nuts!!!!

xoxo,

Hermana Asplund
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