So, I think I'm finally beginning to understand why I had to serve a mission. Okay, we all know that the purpose of missionaries is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." And I got that clear. There's no doubt that I'm on a mission to teach the people of Chile the gospel of Jesus Christ, the things we need to do to return to our Father in Heaven. But I have been wondering why I, JENNIFER HOWELL, ME, had to serve a mission. But I'm beginning to see why.
Before I explain what I'm talking about, I gotta tell you what happened this week. Well, it all started last week. We went to the Registro Civil to get Hermana Quispe's ID. I sat next to this couple with a little girl. As soon as I saw them, I felt so strong that I needed to talk to them. I was scared...can you believe it...almost a year of knocking on doors and talking to strangers, and I was scared to talk to these people. I think it's because it's a lot easier to knock on a door. They answer ready to hear what you've got to say and don't wanna waste time small talkin' it. But when you're sitting next to them in silence, it's a bit awkward to start off. Can't just turn to them and say "Oh hi, so, I'm a missionary and I wanna teach your family."....and in spanish, I still don't know all the phrases for "small talk." Haha, but that feeling would not go away, so I some how found a way to start talking to them. They're from Concepción, and got here to Iquique on the 10th. After a little getting to know you stuff, I told them who I was and what it is I do. We asked if they'd let us come and teach them. I was praying that they'd live in our sector. And guess what, they do!!! Well, fast forward to our first lesson. The dad was at work, so we taught the wife and their daughter that's 12 years old. It was a super lesson. They're both really receptive and want to know more. On Saturday, we went back, and the husband was there! So we got to share with them, and he's a bit more hesitant to really learn more. Not completely "No, get out of my house" closed, but he'll take more time to get to. They didn't come to church either, but I really feel that they can progress a ton!
Ok, so why did JENNIFER HOWELL have to serve a mission. I don't think there's a straight answer to that one, but just in this last week have I learned SO MANY things! I look back at my life before, and think "Wow, I knew NOTHING. I understood NOTHING. I took advantage of everything."....and although that might be a little exhaggerated, it's true. I understand more about the Restoration, the plan of salvation, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the commandments God has given us, and so much more. I've also come to learn so many things about life in general. If you could see me now, I mean, see me during the day, talking and interacting with people, you wouldn't recognize me. I've come to develop that thing called patience. SAY WHAT! Okay, I've got a long way to go still, but I really don't get mad a whole lot anymore, or annoyed. And if I am irritated, I don't act on it. I have developed that self mastery where I think before I act, take a few deep breaths and repeat "Love, patience, love, patience." It works. Hahaha. I've also developed a great, deeper love for my papitos!!! Mommy, Daddy, I love you soooo much, and I miss you like crazy, and when I come home, I promise to do all I can to help around the house, to love and care for everyone, and to listen. Something I didn't see before is how much you loved me, really. I always knew it, that's a no brainer, but that I didn't show you guys enough love, well, I'm gonna make up for it! Don't you doubt it. As well as the love I have for my siblings. YOU'RE NEVER GETTING RID OF ME FOLKS. I love you all...
Y'all might laugh at this, but last night, Hermana Quispe and I were talking...more like she was talking, and I was crying. You know why I was crying? Because I was afraid of dying young. With the anniversary of the deaths of both my grandmas this month, with the passing of Brian, and everyone in this ward who knows someone that has cancer or recently discovered some kind of disease really got me to thinking a lot about death. We're missionaries who hear EVERYTHING about EVERYONE'S problems. They confide in us to help them feel better, and we've heard it all. Last night it just hit me how short life REALLY is, and how it can end in a second. I was scared that I could die. And I think that that scared me, because I had NEVER thought about that or felt that way IN MY LIFE. It was weird and new, and I didn't like it. So I cried. All is well now, but now I really appreciate life more.
I think of these things I've learned so far, and wonder if I would have ever learned them to the same degree had I not served a mission. I think not.
I love you all soooo much. We'll see you in no time :)