Have you ever gotten into a time when you're just tired? kind of tired of going to school or work or whatever else and you just want to take a day off? That's what my email is about! well, a little bit since it really wasn't that bad, I just needed an awesome title for my email! Anyways, Here's how my week went
Tuesday will also include my Monday experience with a substitute teacher we had named sœur Boswell. She was possibly one of the coolest people i've ever met in my entire life. She talked about the Holy Ghost's role in conversion and she was just so loud and outgoing it was amazing. Everyone in class fell in love with her in two seconds and her out there attitude (that I think she picked up from the Tahitian mission she served) made her one of the friendliess people i've ever met in my entire life. I feel like if i could get to know people as fast as she does and if people liked me that much after two hours, I'd be an incredibly successful missionary. At the end of class she paired us up into groups and had us pretend to be an investigator. I pretended to be Jeremiah Bohon (I have absolutely no idea if anybody knows who that is, but I love that kid). I got paired up with Sœur Grunke. She was an investigator that was atheist, she grew up with her and she was one of her best friends. I'll explain the rest of the situation in my spiritual section! Tuesday was good as well. Elder Rodriguez (a hilarious Elder who doesn't speak a lot of English, but who has a spicy Spanish attitude) was sick and he didn't get to go to the devotional or do anything all day. The zone felt a little lonlier without him there. We started playing four square in Gym almost every day and it's A LOT of fun. Other than that there was the devotional, which will be in my spiritual section, and an incident with Halloween decorations. We put up Halloween decorations in our classroom on sunday and on Tuesday the French coordinator talked to us telling us that it wasn't appropriate for missionaries. I was a little sad at first, but I totally understood and so we took all the decorations down.
Wendsday was a pretty good day right up until the end. Elder Baldwin's girlfriends brother came by the class, but we weren't there so he came back later in the week to talk to him (and the funniest thing happened, but that's for later). I lost my green magnet, so I picked a new one up from the front desk, and we taught Sœur Pace and Sœur Judas. I did amazing with the lesson for Marion (sœur Judas), but my lesson with Ester was not good at all. I felt like I should have been better since I had learned how to relate better to investigators, but it seems like I just have to try harder with roleplaying! We taught Frére Mayne in English, which made it a lot easier, but I really have a hard time with teaching :/ At the end of the day the new Elder and Sisters that came into our zone had orientation. We went over to their class and showed them around, but it turned out that one of them was sick and so she went to the clinic. When we got back to the residence we found out that she had gone to the ER and so as zone leaders we had to go to the front desk and call President Merrill. It was pretty scary and when we got back to the dorms Elder Baldwin wanted to have a zone prayer and that's why I had a bad night. Zone prayers aren't allowed, President Merrill specifically told me and Elder Baldwin that they weren't, but I don't think Elder Baldwin remembered. I had to tell him that we couldn't do it since they were against the rules. I went to the rooms he had already told and told them to pray as a district and not as a zone. Then I met Elder Baldwin in the our room. We fought about it for a little while and I simply said No. Elder Jansen and Elder Pederson knew the new sister from before the MTC because they're all scananavian and so they were a little upset about it too. I knew it was against the rules, but it was just hard for me to do because I hate telling people they can't do something, especially when it's something that seems like a good thing. It was just a prayer that they wanted to have and I had to put my foot down and say no. I know I've written a lot about it and that it seems like such a simple and small thing to get upset about and nobody but me really feels this strongly about it, but it was a really hard thing for me to do. I just felt bad for Elder Pederson and Elder Jansen that they couldn't pray for one of their really good friends from back home with the entire zone and I felt bad about having to belittle Elder Baldwin or make him feel bad. I always felt like I was the leadership type in high school since I ran for all these different offices and a lot of people liked me, but something as simple as saying no to a zone prayer really made me think that maybe I'm not cut out for leadership... It's not a big deal, it's just that I'm starting to think that being likable and being a leader are two really different things and as hard as I try, I don't know if I'll ever be the latter.
And the plodding begins. We had TRC, which was exciting, we taught really well, but other than that nothing happened all day. It was so slow of a day I thought I was going to die. Other than TRC the only thing that happened was that I found out that i gained 17 pounds so far. That's right, 17. We decided that we would wake up early the next morning and go running. We did get our travel plans, which was incredibly exciting, but it just made me think that we have to go a whole other week before we're out of here.
Soooo, the internationals went to Salt Lake and had a lot of fun and we had another day of monotony. We didn't go running because Elder Baldwin hit his foot against a chair getting up, so we decided we would wait until Monday. We taught a lot of lessons and even though I feel like we're doing better, we're just not getting to the level I wanted to be at when I left the MTC. It's kind of discouraging. The days melt together and it just feels like I've been here forever, but I'm trying to stay strong and not die! I started feeling a little sad that soon me and Elder Baldwin won't be companions anymore since he's awesome. The guy literally wakes up every day exactly on time, he remembers everything, and everything I'm awful at he's amazing at. Like I said though, One more week feels short when I think about it as my whole mission, but if I think about it like the days i've been having it feels like forever and a day. Funny Story, Elder Baldwins girfriends brother teaches at the MTC so he dropped by and talked to Elder Baldwin out in the hall. When Sœur Judas saw him she hid behind the door. After he left she told us that they had gone on a blind date and he had been awful during it. A few weeks after their date she saw him holding hands with one of the Sisters that she had served with in her mission. It's crazy how different people know each other here! Small world I guess
And more monotony. The MTC is almost the same thing every day but sunday, for 5 weeks (the last week is a little bit different). Essentially I've done this same thing for 30 something days. It gets a little bit monotonious. I love it here and I try to learn as much as I can, but sometimes I just have to keep plodding :). The only thing that happened different on saturday was that we did service (which was vaccuming) and we worked out in the morning. I'm essentially on a diet now because I don't want to be a whale, but other than an unusal amount of lettuce and a little extra excersize, same old thing.
SUNDAYS ARE ALWAYS AMAAZING! This can count as part of my spiritual stuff, becuase it's SUNDAY! We had sacrament meeting on baptism and I thought all day, how does this apply to me at all? but eventually I really thought of the sacrament and the covenants that we make with the Lord and realized that even having been baptized for as long as I have, baptism is a covenant that I promised the Lord to do something, and as imperfect of a person as I am, I always try to keep my promises. Our District wore different color ties to form a rainbow, we learned that sometimes even if we're right it's better to take the high road to help out our companion, and that really applies to everyone. Whenever something bad happens to me I'm starting to try to take the high road now. We do a lot of pranks to each other just because we love having fun and laughing, but I've realized that when something goes wrong, we need to forgive others. In TRC we taught forgiveness and so i've been making it a personal goal to try to try to forgive others rather than seeking for revenge. Revenge leads to unkind feelings and so i'm trying to let everything go. Sunday night I was kind of feeling like i needed to work a little bit so I brought my bible with me to the devotional so I could memorize a scripture. I started to memorize Isiah 1:18 and then the speaker talked. And of course he talked about repentance and enduring to the end. It never ceases to amaze me that every time I think of a new goal there happens to be a sign in my life that says GOOD Idea! The speaker talked about working and being here was the right thing, but the talk really made me think about the bad things I've done in my life. I've had questions of whether this was the right place for me or not and I've prayed a lot about it and every time i've recieved the answer that I am where I'm supposed to be. Despite these answers though, I still have had doubts in myself. Last night I stopped doubting. This is where I am supposed to be, the Lord has forgiven me of my sins just as he can forgive others of theirs and just as we must forgive others when they commit sins against us. After the devotional we watched a video by Elder Bednar titled "becoming a missionary". It's an amazing video, but the biggest thing that I took out of it was that every mission is good for a missionary, but not every missionary is good for a mission. I do not want to be someone who doubts their ability to the point where they are no longer good for their mission, I do not want to be a person who doubts their ability at all. I am a missionary and my work is his work. I do not doubt the Lord and therefore I cannot doubt myself
So, with Sœur Grunke I learned that to teach in a roleplaying situation, don't think about how you would think about that person is, think about them like the person who actually taught them was. It's a little hard to explain, but essentially all the investigators we teach are real people that our teachers all taught on their missions. When I taught Sœur Grunke and I realized what this friend meant to her I tried to teach her like Sœur Grunke would want her friend taught. Everybody that is imaginary is loved by the person we're actually teaching and I realized that in order to be a teacher I need to love them as well. It's a tough principle to master, but I know that these people are important and so I'm trying as hard as I can!
The next spiritual experience I had was the Tuesday Night devotional. We sang Praise to The Man and had Dallin H. Oaks speak. I loved singing praise to the man, it made me really empathize with the prophet Joseph Smith and realize how amazing of a person her was. Unfortunately I didn't feel incredible when I heard Elder Oaks talk. It really worried me that I had heard an apostle of God speak and his message didn't penetrate me to the core. It was at this moment that I realized that I'm not going to have a spiritual experience that brings me to tears every time I teach an investigator or I hear someone talk. I feel like I'm so constantly filled with the spirit that sometimes it's hard to realize that he's always there. Just like the law of opposites, because I feel him so often it's hard to know of a time that I didn't feel the spirit. Learning and plodding onwards are sometimes all we can do and it was this experience that helped me through this week. Sometimes we just have to buckle down and work even though it feels like we're just plodding. Races are finished one step at a time and we can't expect every day to be the most amazing one we've ever had. Keeping a good attitude and hoping for the best, that's how you get through long hard treks. For everyone back home, Try hard, work hard, and anytime you feel like taking a day off because you don't feel motivated enough to do it remember that there's no such thing as a day off for a missionary and every member is a missionary :)!
Sorry about the long letter, Our laundry took a little bit longer than normal and so I just kept going! I report to the travel office at 11:30 on Monday the 28th so I'll probably have enough time to read your emails if you send them and if you're going to send letters make sure to send them to my Paris Address.
Elder Michael Beneamato Bruno