Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jennica's first week in Mexico. Heartache for the passing of her friend Reagan. Speak in sacrament meeting. The Spirit is strong in any languages. She feels like she was born to be a missionary. ~ Mission Week 1

Hola mi Familia!

I come into this first email with a heavy heart. I am so sorry and sad to hear about Reagan passing away. My condolences go to the Jensen family and to his wife Lauren. Please, let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I am praying for them every day. We are all so close to the Jensen family, and I'm sure that this has been hard on all of you as well. Let me know how I can help you all through this difficult time. I am somewhat at a loss of words for what to say. One thing I want to say is that God is a just God, and he knows the intents of our hearts. I know we will see Reagan again. The thing I have learned while being here is that the holy ghost is the world´s best comforter. If you ask for the holy ghost to be there for you, he will be there. He is a constant companion to us. In addition, Christs atonement is a real thing. It’s not just for our sins, it’s for our sorrows. We can’t do anything alone. Pray to God that he can help you and that Christ can help to bear your burdens. Mi compenra y yo have been teach our investigator about these concepts, and I know that they are true. Jesus Christ knows how we feel, he weeps with us. He can give you the comfort, seguridad, assurance, and security you need to get through hard times.

This reminds me of an experience I had with an investigator this past week. On our very first day here, we taught an investigator in English. It was a class about how to teach. The investigators name was Carry. The teacher asked for a volunteer to start asking questions, and to get the lesson going. Nobody spoke up, and I felt prompted to volunteer. I started asking her about her life, and her family. She said that her father had passed away. I felt so much sorrow and empathy for this woman, to the point of tears. I told her that I had lost many people close to me and knew how she felt. My companion was also able to talk about her experiences with death. The spirit there was so strong, and it was the first time I have learned how to teach by the spirit. We started teaching about the plan of salvation and how families can be together forever. That’s the beauty about this church; we can see people we love again. However, the circumstances of losing someone are so excruciating, and sometimes it’s hard to want to go on. But this woman was so grateful for what we said about how she could be with her father again. Her love for God was so incredible, and I know her knowing that has brought her much solace and peace. This is a difficult time, but what a comfort it is to know that we can see loved ones again.

I don’t want to write about myself this week. I feel that is selfish with all that is going on at home right now.  I don’t want to write about my problems with learning Spanish. My small little problems are so insignificant compared to this. This helps me to put in perspective the challenges I have faced here. They are so small and insignificant. However, I feel impressed to still share some of the things that have happened this week. 

First, I want to share a scripture that has helped me in times of sorrow, and when I felt that I couldn’t go on anymore. This scripture is when Joseph Smith was in liberty jail, and he questioned if God was actually there for him. I urge you all to read this scripture, it has helped me when I haven’t wanted to go on with life. Its in D and C 121:3 through 9. Joseph asks God where his pavilion is where he is hiding. Even the prophet Joseph Smith questioned where God was and why life gets so incredibly hard. Verse seven through nine is the Lords response: My son, peace be unto thy soul, thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment, and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high, though shalt triumph over all they foes. They friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands. This has given me so much comfort, and I hope it will comfort all of you as well during this hard time. The lord is there for us, even when it doesn’t seem like it and all is lost.

Now, I’ll explain about how my week went a little bit. I feel so selfish for doing this, but I did have some good experiences I would like to share.

The teachers here are crazy. We had to teach an investigator completely in Spanish the second day we were here. Yes, we hadn’t learned anything. It was extremely challenging, but somehow we got through it. We teach a lesson completely in Spanish every day, and its started to get easier. I hope the language comes. Our teachers philosophy is to not teach us anything, and to through us into the deep. Sometimes, I question if that’s really the best way to do it. But, I’m going forward in faith. My companion is so incredibly good at Spanish, Hermana Steele, so she has helped me a lot.

On Sundays, we are asked to give talks, one Hermana and one Elder from each district. Of course, I was the one that was picked. I had to give a talk completely in Spanish after knowing it for only 3 days. Obviously, I was one of the worst Spanish speakers here; I am one of the slower ones. However, I have learned that teaching by the spirit is more important. I was so terrified, but it went better than I thought. I felt the spirit so strong. As I talked about baptism, the holy ghost, and enduring to the end, I talked about how I had my doubts and didn’t{t know if enduring to the end was possible. I gave my testimony without any of my notes en Espanol, and was somehow able to say what I wanted to say. I got so emotional to the point of tears. I don’t know why, but Espanol makes me so emotional. I think its because of how close I have come to the spirit and I have learned to teach by the spirit. 

To my surprise, almost everyone in the sacrament meeting was in tears. They were weeping with me and were feeling the spirit as I gave my talk. It was so incredible and humbling. It doesn’t matter how imperfect my Spanish is now, because no matter what language we speak, we all speak one universal language, the spirit. As long as I have the spirit, I am able to convey what I want to with emotion. The gift of tongues only comes through the spirit. It hasn’t been until I have gotten emotional that the words have come to me without having to think about them. I feel that I am able to express myself and be the most impactful in Spanish, far more than I ever will in English. I can’t wait till I speak Spanish fluently. 

When I ended my talk and was still standing at the pulpit, the mission president came up to me and was in tears. He grabbed my hands and thanked me for my talk and the spirit he felt. It was so validating. My mission president is a member of the seventy, has spoken in conference, and is a successful international attorney. To have him be moved to tears and to express the spirit he felt helped me so much. Once I sat down, some of the Hermanas wrote me notes and told me how much my talk meant to them and how strong of a spirit they felt. After the end of the meeting, the mission president and his wife came up to me again and told me about the spirit they felt. They said my talk proved that imperfect Spanish doesn’t mean that the spirit can’t be there and that everyone can still understand it. It was undeniable. 

This first week has been quite the week. We have had to teach an investigator completely in Spanish, no English. Obviously, the investigator is fake, but we still have to teach all of the discussions to him completely in Spanish. We had to give our first lesson on our second day at the MTC. It was so scary and crazy!! I’m grateful por mi companera, Hermana Steele. She is so good at Spanish, so I was glad to have her help. The language barrier was still definitely a struggle though! We teach a lesson in Spanish to that same investigator every day. It has gotten easier as the days go on. However, we have only learned how to say how are you, where you are from, how to pray, and how to give a basic testimony. That is it. We teach ourselves just about everything here. The teachers have thrown us completely into the deep end, and we are all trying not to drown. There is no mercy here! haha. They expect us to know Spanish completely, after only being here for a week. But I know this is good for me and it has been good for my zone and I! We are learning so much, and the gift of tongues, and the holy ghost have helped! I’ve found that when I get emotional about something, that is when the Spanish is able to come to me without me having to think about it. Teaching by the spirit is a true principle, and one I’m so grateful to have learned to early on.

I’m so grateful to be on a mission. I almost feel like I was born to do this. I love working so hard every day and using personal experiences to inspire. Now if I could just learn how to communicate in Spanish! Haha. My companion and the sister’s en mi casa are so incredible and amazing. I also love my district. The food here is delicious, and there is a nutella bar every day. Yeah.... I’m going to need to diligently work out to work that off! haha.

Anyway, thank you all for your love and support. I love you all so much. I'm praying for all of you during this time.

Hermana Failner

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