Something I really wish I had seen before my mission was how hard it can be out here. Whenever missionaries write home, it's all the happy, exciting, spiritual stuff. And of course that should be the focus. Optimism is key. But at the same time as a future missionary, I wish I had seen and heard more about how hard it is. It think it would have helped to prepare me better. And I hope that I have future missionaries reading these letters as well as everyone else. So because of that I'm going to keep it positive, but real.
This was a hard week.
People aren't understanding my Tagalog. I had this one lesson where we were going to extend the baptismal invitation. So I worked super hard to get it down in Tagalog. I said it over and over again and got it memorized so that when the moment came, I could ask her in perfect Tagalog. And when that moment came, I did. It was perfect. I said it just right. When I finished, she just looked at me, then at my companion and said, "Pasensiya, hindi maintindihan ako. Ulit?" which is the equivalent to "Sorry I don't understand, what did she say?" I was heart broken. I didn't speak for the rest of the day. Or the next. I was done with Tagalog for a while.
A day or two later, we were on our way to an investigator's house and we passed a man on the sidewalk. So, like good missionaries, we stopped him and started talking to him about the gospel. As we were talking he just kept looking at me and saying something over and over. It took a few times until I understood that he was saying something along the lines of "don't look at me like that" and "innocent face." After we left him, my companion was laughing and I asked her what he had said to me. She let me know that he was interested in the message, but he didn't want me to come over because I look just like Virgin Mary and he thinks that when I look at him I can see all of his sins. So basically, I just freaked him out. Awesome. I don't know if he will ever let us in after that.
Alright now I've gone into some of the frustrating and sad things. But now let me talk about some of the tender mercies this week.
Another one of the days, we had been punted from absolutely everyone we had planned to go see. ("Punted" is a term that sounds just like the word. We had basically been kicked out from everyone for one reason or another.) We were walking down the street, tired and hot and wondering where to go and what to do and not really feeling like doing anything at all. And I was just praying in my heart to Heavenly Father, pleading for some relief or boost to help us go for the last 4-5 hours of our day. I ended my little prayer with "and Heavenly Father, I just want a coke."
Apparently He heard that part of the prayer too. We came to one of the streets where some members live and we decide to go visit them briefly and share a message and relax for just a little bit. So they let us in and we are playing with the kids and talking to the mom. The dad left soon after we came in and I had no idea where he went. But about 15 minutes later he returned with the answer to my prayer. He had a huge bottle of ice-cold coke and a bag of lumpia (my favorite Filipino food). I knew at that moment that Heavenly Father was listening and He cared about us.
Through Christ's atonement, He understands so much more than just our sins. He knows what it's like to be so sore you can't get out of bed after a super hard workout the day before. He knows how it feels to stub your little toe on that dumb chair again. He knows how annoying and painful a leg-full of mosquito bites is and how difficult it is to just be patient and NOT scratch. And He knows the two exhausted missionaries walking on the hot streets are tired, dehydrated, and miles from home. He knows. And I love Him for that.
Missions are hard. I've only been out here for 2 months and I have already experienced that. But at the end of the day as I finally lay my head down on that pillow and close my eyes, I KNOW it is all worth it. Every moment. I have such a testimony of this work.