Well, I've officially been here for a over a week. Everyone was right, after Sunday everything really does get so much easier. Those few days before sunday were definitely the hardest though. Sunday morning we had Relief Society and before our lesson we got to hear the conversion story of one of the sister missionaries. My favorite thing she said towards the end was, "I finally feel close to the God I always knew was there" and I just got chills. We're learning every single day how important it is that each person knows and understands that we are all literal children of our Heavenly Father. He loves us so much and wants us to seek out a personal relationship with him. Guess who our teacher was for the rest of the lesson... SHERI DEW. That woman is incredible. She talked about the importance of recognizing our divine nature as well as the vital role of women in the Church. She's so great. And she's from Kansas! Even cooler. Earlier our Zone Leaders had offered to give me a blessing of comfort if I wanted one because they could tell I was having a hard time. I took them up on their offer and I can tell a difference already. It's so nice having so many men here who are willing to honor their priesthood and serve us.
Sunday night we had a devotional on the Book of Mormon. The spirit in the meeting was amazing. In reality, whether or not the Church is true depends on whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. It's the evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that Christ came to the Americas and that God loves us. If it's true, so is everything else. If not, none of it matters. I receive every single day a clear and strong confirmation that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the Earth
In one of our classes earlier this week Hermano Adams (our favorite teacher) told us that we are not authorized to lower or raise the Lord's expectations of us. He doesn't expect me to be a perfect missionary or to speak Spanish perfectly right now, so all I can do is try my hardest, study, pray, and rely on the Spirit to teach me the rest. That was so reassuring. After class I pulled him aside and talked to him about my concerns and struggles with Spanish. He promised me that everything will be okay. As I was already emotional, I saw his eyes get teary and I know he cares about me and my success as a missionary. He encouraged me to read Ether 12:27 and I spent the next hour or two studying that one verse. I'm grateful for Brother Adams and his dedication to his job. He tells us that he prays for every member of our district (there's 7 us) individually by name every single night. I love having a teacher here who can also be our friend and who gives us support and is sensitive to our needs.
The other day we had a really great discussion about repentance and the grace of God and how we get so many second chances. The gospel is one of change. It's all about transformation. The scriptures tell us that no unclean person can enter heaven. But in reality, no unchanged person would want to. There isn't anything we're capable of doing that would make God not want us anymore. In essence, the point of no return is when we decide returning to Him isn't worth it anymore. In a talk Hermana Wilcox's dad gave at BYU he said, "Grace is not a finishing touch, it's a finisher's touch." We live worthy, righteous lives, not to pay any sort of debt (Christ already did that for us), but so we will be prepared to live in Heaven and be comfortable there. I have never thought about the Atonement and grace like that, but it makes so much sense.
I've been pretty sick for the last week. It makes it super hard to concentrate sometimes and between the three of us, we've been to the clinic 5 times. Apparently I have a couple bad viruses in my respiratory and nervous systems.I've been taking a lot of different medicine and praying for health and I'm finally starting to feel better. I guess they won't let us leave here if we're not healthy so I'm trying to get back to normal.
Time is flying here! Even though sometimes the days seem to last forever since we go from 6:30am to 10:30pm, but now that I've been here for over a week I can't believe it. And I didn't realize this, but since I'm in the advanced class, if I do go to Spain on the 2nd, I won't go to the Spain MTC, but straight to the field. Scary! Church is different here. We have Music & the Spoken Word, Relief Society, lunch, Sacrament Meeting, personal study, Sunday Devotional, time to watch other talks and devotionals, devotional review with our district, and then we go to bed. We have 45ish minutes for gym time every day and we can kind of do what ever we want. We've only gone to the field once, but we just played ladder golf. My schedule changes almost every day. But most days I have two 3 hour classes, lots of personal/companion study, zone teaching (where we're supposed to go help the beginner and intermediate classes, but I just do language stuff) and then meals stuff. The food is good somedays, but most of the time it gives me an upset stomach so lately I've been eating toast or salad.
I miss you all. I'm doing okay and every day gets so much better :)