Good morning! How wonderful it was to read your letters. Thank you, I really enjoyed hearing how things are at home. ...
Sis Carolan and I really do get along great. We are able to be a lot more active, although, unfortunately, I had a little mishap with my ankle playing soccer on Saturday so I'm a little out of commission. ... We even got an invite to play b-ball today that would have just made my day, I haven't been able to play forever. But that's how the cookie crumbles! But maybe each time a little injury happens I gain a better perspective and learn to remember what I do have control over.
Oh Dad, ditto. Reading your letter, I found that I really wished that today I could just spend the day in the shop with you, or even just spell you off plowing. ... I was reading what you said about how the one’s closeness to God can diminish over time with the day to day distractions. I loved what you said about being resolved to do more to strengthen that relationship, ... I had two thoughts:
1. The of the power of early study. It's the very first thing I'm doing in the morning right at 8 am after getting ready for the day. Just this morning I was thinking how powerful I could be if I had that every morning my whole life. ... I really love the part about how an early prayer and study in the scriptures sets the course for the day, and that's the part that applies here. People are always telling me "paso y paso" about my Spanish skills. Or "step by step." I think that it's a lifelong gospel principle that everything comes little by little. We do it every day, diligently, and one day find that we are completely changed beings. I used to wonder why it mattered when I studied. As long as I did it right? Well, on my mission I've found that I need that for my whole day, not at night right before I sleep!
2. Of course God has it in His plan to notice you and send what you need to rekindle those feelings of an even stronger relationship with God than that which you already have! I recently re-read the talk "The Laborers in the Vineyard" by Elder Holland... and one quote came to mind while I was reading your email:
"I do not know who in this vast audience today may need to hear the message of forgiveness inherent in this parable, but however late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized. Even if you feel you are the lost and last laborer of the eleventh hour, the Lord of the vineyard still stands beckoning. “Come boldly [to] the throne of grace,”and fall at the feet of the Holy One of Israel. Come and feast “without money and without price”at the table of the Lord."
Now, obviously you aren't inactive, you haven't wandered, you aren't the one that came at the 11th hour. Neither am I. But at the same time, we kind of are, aren't we? Even if we did come early, we each wander, even if ever so slightly at times, in our relationship with God. I sure hope that makes sense. It does in my head, but doesn't seem to on this computer screen! I think you can see what I’m saying though. It's like when I repeatedly struggle with having meaningful morning prayers, or even forget to pray right away because I'm SO tired! Haven't I been taught to pray in the morning my entire life? Haven't I constantly strived, and yet constantly failed when I forget, or groggily send up an "email" prayer, instead of having a conversation with God? Or when I repeatedly (every few months or so) seem to have the same self doubt, I feel like I'm Peter, standing on the same shore with Christ (Elder Holland's talk from this last conference). And I think, "Why am I standing here again?! Why can't I move past this? Is the Savior ever going to wonder the same thing?" And yet, the promise is real, however many times we feel we have messed up (including sins of omission), and however far from God we feel we have traveled, we haven't traveled too far. I know that is true.
I kind of went on a little rant there, but hopefully you gleaned something from it. Even if not, I did. :) I learn the most about myself through writing, I think it's one of the reasons I send such long emails. More for me than for you guys!
So yes, we did meet with Claudia! Outside of my companion, she has become my best friend here! We met with her twice this week, and she and Greysi came to church yesterday. She opened up to us about her life story and wow is all I have to say! But even if it feels like she just needs missionaries, and not me specifically, I think I've found the reason I'm in Baton Rouge. I don't know why she trusts us so much, she just does. It's made everything we're going to start sharing about the Restoration this week very natural and easy. We got a text from her this morning just wondering how we are. That doesn't happen often! Haha, and Greysi was just eating Primary up apparently, and can't wait to come back. First Sunday's as testimony meetings can be a bit worrisome sometimes, so we're glad all went well! The Spirit filters. :) I'm going to try to include a picture of us with her. Oh, did I tell you the church is right by the temple? Haha so that's the temple in the background of the pic.
Love you all tons!