This week was the best yet! For two days a teacher named Hermana Grecco substituted for one of our teachers. She is from Argentina and was called on her mission to Japan. She only knew Spanish and was sent to the Provo MTC to learn Japanese in English because that was all that was available! I can't imagine that and we certainly didn't whine as much about how hard Spanish is. She came home knowing 3 languages and she is so amazing.
She taught us fun language games and has great insights into how to do missionary work. One activity she did with us was super amazing. She told a story about one of her companions who didn't believe she had the power of discernment. Hermana Grecco told her to pray about it and ask a question and she would do the same and then they would both open up to the Book of Mormon and then the Spirit would tell them what to say to fulfill their need, even though neither of them knew each other's question.
She testified that it worked and that the power of discernment is real and is given to missionaries so they may know the needs of people around them. Ammon used it in Alma 18:16. The Spirit flooded the room as she told the story and I was amazed at her faith. Then she said we were all going to do the same thing right now. She used my companion as an example so I was put with Elder Wellman, our district leader. I don't think I have ever prayed so hard in my life because I wanted it to work so bad. As I opened to a scripture and told him what came to my mind, I felt the Spirit stronger than I ever have before and it was amazing. He said that he beleived I was definetly led by the Spirit and helped him. The scripture and words he told me answered my question as well so now I have an undeniable testimony of the power of discernment.
The next day was our day to go out into the city to talk to people, but beforehand we had our first Spanish testimony meeting as a district! I felt the Spirit as I bore a simple testimony in the words I knew and as I heard others. It was so great and I love my district so much.
Afterwards we were on our way to our 2nd week in the city and we were in the same area. One thing that Sister Manner and I learned that we are both gullible. It was colder than last week so there were not very many people on the streets but we did have a handful of good conversations and gave out our first Book of Mormon.
Within the first hour we ran into two American Elders who were actually in the field and in our mission. We showed them our map and they told us it was really dangerous and that we should switch areas. We were given instructions not to do that so they just crossed our streets to avoid and told us just not to talk to people that didn't look nice. As we said goodbye one of them said that we should avoid anywhere with a shoe tied to the telephone pole because that was a gang sign that indicated where someone was killed. We were pretty scared after hearing all this but took comfort because we had walked all around our area last week with no problems and we didn't remember seeing any shoes.
So we went on our way and met a nice lady and sang her "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" in Spanish as was our game plan to switch things up this week. The next street we were mortified as we saw one shoe, then two and then a pile of six shoes on one telephone line. My companion and I were nearly in tears at the thought of so many lives lost. Throughout the day we saw over 20 shoes in all. As a result we didn't talk to many other people because we were so suspicious and scared wondering why we were sent to such a terrible place. Our fears were extinguished a little when we told our teacher that night about the shoes. He told us that shoes just signaled a place where people sold drugs. We felt pretty stupid but the Elders that told us seemed so sincere! I wonder if they were tricked by some Latinos in the mission or something or if they were just messing with us. My companion was so mad about the whole situation that it was funny.
Yesterday we watched a missionary devotional by Elder David A. Bednar and I loved it! He talked about how the Lord knows and loves people One by One. That is how we must teach as missionaries. He said that there have been many times that he as an apostle was sent somewhere for one person. My favorite quote was "There is no such thing as a coincidence when you are on the Lord's errand." The closing song was called "One by One" and the lyrics were written by Elder Bednar! It was beautiful and he said it is coming out in the New Era in July. My favorite line is "Strength from His power gives us power to become."
It is just comforting that God never gives up on us and that we can always turn to him for strength. "There is no progress in a comfort zone and there is no comfort in a progress zone" as President Benton said. I can use His grace to strive to become more like the missionary he wants me to be. My weaknesses can be turned to strengths. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect and I am so grateful.
To answer your question, Mom:
There is an hour for exercise in the afternoon and we all change into exercise clothes. Every Sunday President and Sister Benton speak to us in our English sacrament meeting. And then there are two firesides a week by President and Sister Benton. Somehow they have sat next to us at dinner nearly 10 times and they are great. She is so sweet and he is really loud and funny with the Latinos. I saw the picture you guys took at Chiques' Hill and you all look so good!