I’m happy to be writing. I continue to feel like I’m at the peak of my learning. And that is why I have been so happy. I know the language, I know the lessons, I love the people and I am completely accustomed to the culture. Every day I feel like God puts a new life lesson in my path to refine and shape me into the person He wants me to become.
On Wednesday night, we met with a man from Syria. He immigrated to Ecuador because of the religious persecution that he was facing in his home. Various times in the mission, I’ve met with people and had conversations with them, both of us talking in Spanish, a language that we are both learning that is not our natural first one. What I’m saying is that talking to a Syrian, in Spanish, feels kind of funny to me! Well, I guess even when we all gather on Saturday for P-day, we are a group of Americans + 1 Paraguayan and we all speak Spanish even when the Paraguayan isn’t listening.
Going back to the story, Hussein explained that he would have been killed if he had continued living where he is from. He told us that he loves Ecuador but that he feels that in Brazil he could have even more sustained success with his work, pay, and social atmosphere. He kept smiling and expressing that it was such a pleasure to meet us. I loved that so much and expressed back that I considered it the same to meet him. Not to mention, he also had an awesome beard. I also loved what he said about Brazil. Talking with him, I realized something that I had already known, but really stuck out to me this time: some people really live below their privileges. It was clear that the man we met was really living up to his. I felt so clearly the excitement he had to go out and seize every opportunity he can see for himself.
Sometimes living up to our privileges means recognizing that our surroundings are a privilege in the first place (a change of attitude). The privilege of leaving the house in the early morning during the week for whatever reason, to go outside and find beauty and people all around us…the privilege of going to work and progress toward a common goal with other people…the privilege of grocery shopping and being surrounded by an abundance of food and food choices that exists in the US…the privilege of knowing people that need our support, mentally and physically…the privilege of going to school to learn and grow…the privilege to smile. Every one of us has the privilege of meeting new people and trying to brighten their day. I’d consider this the privilege to be ‘pure in heart’. One thing that I now accept and honor as a privilege is the time I have dedicated to talking with everyone I see.
Something that many don’t think about the mission is that we don’t have any down time; there’s no time to relax. We wake up, work out, prepare for the day, and then leave the house knowing that we won’t be back until 9/9:30pm. During the day, we attempt to line up appointments with the people we’re teaching, but many times we have big gaps in our schedule when we “go out and work.” We talk with people in the street, we knock doors, we visit church members, and we strike up conversations all around town about God and His plan for us. It’s the same thing almost every day. I’ve been asked if the mission is boring or repetitive and, in the beginning, it did feel stressful. However, now I couldn’t possibly enjoy each day more than I do because I’ve learned to see our work as a privilege.
I felt that in a particularly strong way on Thursday. We went to the office, finished all our tasks early, and immediately returned to our sector to be normal missionaries. We looked down at the agenda and realized that we had about 3 hours to fill between 5-8pm when we had our next appointment. I looked at Elder Ross, smiled, and said: “let’s get to work.” We called references, we went out in the street for a bit, we met another family that needed to see us, and we eventually arrived at the appointment with just enough time to realize that they weren’t home to receive us. Right there, right then, in that precise moment, we had to decide if we were going to live up to our privilege. We sat for a moment to decide how best to use the last hour of our day, and then went immediately to the house of Mateo, another person we’re teaching to share a short lesson. I came home that night knowing that we had done all we could to make it a great productive day, and I felt so full. I love days like that.
I love you all family. Thank you for reading and supporting me. I can’t wait to hear from you.