Haha. Well you can definitely say that this week has been somewhat of a turning point for me in the mission and my life. I learned more about myself and the Lord this week than perhaps the entirety of my life. Haha. I feel like I´m figuring myself out and the reason why I have been the way I have been. And of course, it fits perfectly into the framework of the gospel. 9 months into my Father´s and Son´s outing with my Heavenly Father and he is really showing me who I am and what I am supposed to be. Let me tell the story this way:
So after last Valentine´s day, things were a little not so happy. Just being a little upset with the situation--stuck with a bunch of dude´s with everyone else around us buying condoms and breaking the law of chastity and getting drunk and partying like it´s 1999. So naturally, I was a little put out at the situation. But as I know, you can´t grow and be comfortable at the same time! So after some things happened that day to put me on the edge a little, I retired to my bedroom and just had a heart to heart with the Lord. We talked about it for sometime. I told him I felt like I didn't know who I was. I wanted to be so many other things and felt like I had to be good at everything. I wanted to know what I was supposed to do. I had always heard that you should develop your talents and share them with the world. To me, I was trying to find out what talent was mine--what was I to be known for? In a way, I felt a little similar to Joseph Smith, but instead of which church should I join, it was what am I going to be known for? I have so many interests and I do well in many of them but no one of them stood out. I wasn't the best at any one thing. Who am I? What am I to do? Then I told the Lord that I felt like I didn't know how to devote myself to any one thing. I was always torn between many different options. I didn't even know how to give myself fully to the Lord--to be a true servant of Him night and day in thought word and deed. I expressed the desire to make this change but that I didn't know how and I couldn't do it alone. I needed the courage to act on the answer I got and confidence in myself--confidence in my decisions and confidence in general.
The answer I received wasn't immediate nor was it perfectly clear the first time. t started with, "Don't worry about it. Be a good boy. Do what you are supposed to do. I will help you out when you need it and I will show you the path that you should take. I trust you. I have confidence in you. I love you. There are many others who feel the same way. Trust that. Forget yourself and go to work." The next day, I woke up and had a very interesting scripture study. I opened to Alma 27;27 where it talks about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's and that they were distinguished for their zeal towards God and their fellow men because they were perfectly honest and just in all things. I was particularly interested in the word zeal. They were a zealous people. What did that really mean. I turned to the GEE (Portuguese Guide to the Scriptures) to read the definition. It said, in more or less words "a burning and sincere desire to serve the Lord, be content, and walk in the paths of righteousness." I read that and I wanted it! I felt like that was the kind of desire and passion that I needed here on the mission--one that would help me focus and set goals and understand who I was. Obviously if I wanted that attribute, that means that I didn't have it. So I searched out the opposite of Zeal. I came to the conclusion--Covetous. I realized that I have been covetous all my life without really realizing it. I read the definition--a burning and overwhelming desire to have something or someone. I felt like that was me. I had an envy for those who had success. I wanted to be like other people. To be "normal." I wanted to be smart. I wanted to be strong. I wanted respect from other people. I wanted to be valued, appreciated, and held in high standing. I was coveting these things. I looked for the good in other people and other cultures so much that I ended up forgetting the good inside of me. I put other people on a pedastal, praising their good attributes and being merciful of their weaknesses. I always tried to be completely selfless--giving all I had to others because I truly loved them. But I didn't really love myself. When it came to me, I could only see problems that needed to be fixed, imperfection, and weakness--and I couldn't have mercy with myself. Only Justice. I couldn't help myself out. I wasn't motivated to give myself good things because I felt like I didn't deserve them. I had made mistakes and I wanted to punish myself for those mistakes. I didn't value who I was or what difference I made to the world.
Well, all of this realization happened as I was studying. I had good desires and wanted the right things, but cunning Satan, being very smart and crafty, deceived my own desires by fueling them to the point that I forgot my own relationship with the Divine. I have nothing to be ashamed of and there is nothing wrong with me. I am His son! Is that not reason enough to be proud? It is written, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." How can you truly love your neighbor if you don't even know how to love yourself for who you are? The answer for me was to stop being covetous of other people and start turning that desire into zeal for righteousness and for who I am. Elder Uchtdorf explained precisely what I need to do in his talk about small and simple things. Develop your relationship with yourself. Take some time to get to know yourself. I found that one of the best ways to do this here on the mission and in life in general, is through a journal. I have undervalued journal writing my whole life and now I realize why it is so important. That is how you know and understand yourself. Now that I am writing more frequently in a journal, I feel more confident and secure with who I am. I am beginning to love myself. It's hard work--this loving yourself business--but it works and it is what needs to be done. After all, it is a commandment. My zeal for missionary work is growing and demeaning comments from other people don't get at me so much. I am more merciful with myself and I am learning better how to help others along their path toward God through my own experience. What an incredible blessing this has been for me! What marvelous love the Lord has for each one of his precious children! I can honestly say now, without hesitation, I know who I am and I know my path.
The rest of the week has gone by very well. We had a powerful lesson with Eric and we know that he is feeling the Spirit. The work is going well and we are about to experience a pretty big change here. We are going from Six missionaries to 4. Elder Carvalho already went to Maputo to go home to Brasil. Elder Smith, my comp, will leave and I will be comps with Elder McCullough. Elder Freire will leave and one new Elder--Elder Reuch (sp?)--will come in his stead. It will be very interesting to see how the work goes, especially having to split a huge area between Inhambane and Maxixe for me. We had another baptism and we hope that that lights the fire for others. The work is marching on!
As far as Jason Bourne is concerned, I have definitely had some Jason Bourne type moments, like that one time when the drunk guy stole my comps dictionary and he almost punched him. Or the many times when we have had to run to the boat to catch it under the penalty of delaying our arrival at the house by another 2 hours. Or when the missionary couple got stuck in the middle of the jungle because their car broke down and we went to Inhambane, got off the boat and in 20 minutes cancelled all of our appointments, remarked, and made it back to the boat with less than a minute to spare to go back to Maxixe and make a hotel reservation for the couple when the toe truck and other couple got into maxixe. Or when we carried a crippled boy from the road to the chapa stop to help him get home at night. Ya. We do some pretty heroic things sometimes. This truly is work. They ain't called sunday clothes. They are work clothes.
Other than that, Things are going super fantastic! I am lively and happy! Gracee!! Happy Birthday today!!! I love you so much!!!! I love you all too family! Keep true to this gospel. It has ALL of the answers that you need.
With love para sempre!