I just finished my full week here and it’s crazy that it’s going by so, so fast already. I can’t even believe it. I have really settled in here and it has felt like a month has gone by since I last saw all of you. I hardly think of the outside world because I barely have time to have my thoughts drift from the present task. I really love my district and all the sisters who are here. Our district is really hardworking and we are doing really well doing as President Howard says at, “being in the right places, doing the right things, at the right time.” The Tagalog is coming along really quickly, and we have now taught 5 lessons completely in Tagalog. We will have two different people to teach instead of just one this week.
It’s pretty hard and it can be overwhelming at times. Trying to speak a language you really don’t know and understand people in that language can make you feel really inadequate. There are two things you can do with this inadequacy. You can let it sit in you and stew until you begin to believe that is all you are. Or you can accept that you are not enough and let Christ come in. If you are able to choose the latter, you will have one of the most edifying and enlightening experiences of your life. Of course, you always want to choose the latter but it can be hard at times to choose this. Relying on the Spirit and letting Christ into my heart are the two biggest things I am working on right now. I know the language will come with time and diligence. While I experience this inadequacy from time to time, I try to always choose to believe that this challenge is before me for the purpose of humbling me and forcing me to rely on my Savior.
I have never had so much rapid growth at once as I am experiencing on my mission right now. Besides the language, we are very spiritually enriched here. Hour to hour and minute to minute we are given a new opportunity to expand ourselves spiritually and to have our testimony’s grow. One thing I have started to learn is how important it is to constantly desire the Spirit to be with you. The Spirit is what speaks deepest into our hearts as humans. While we might not be able to speak Tagalog, we can invite the Spirit to be with us. Because our purpose in doing so is to bless someone else’s life, we can have this gift in every single lesson.
Anyway, things are busy but really, really great. I know I am supposed to have this experience. I am looking forward to celebrating Christmas here because the biggest thing I want to do this Christmas is reflect on what Christ’s life meant to me, and what it means for the world. I am showing my gratitude now by making the sacrifice to be on a mission and by really trying my hardest. The reason I do this is not because there is anything I can do to ever pay Christ back, because what he did was so immense and overwhelming to the point we humans can never understand it. The reason I do it is not because I feel I owe something, but because I truly and purely love my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ.
As a Sister Training Leader, I am the leader for my district. I try not to lead by being very authoritarian, but by trying to create a culture where everyone wants to work hard. I feel the Sisters naturally want to work their very hardest so really I don’t do much except really try to provide support and to be a good example, though really they are all examples to me. I am no longer in a trio because Sister Sutherby’s companion, Sister Candieze showed up from Quitibez, so we now have three companionships total in our district. We also had another district of 5 elders and 2 sisters come in on Wednesday. We are still getting to know them, but the Elders are mostly really, really focused and they leave dinner early so I have barely talked to them. We have gotten to know our Zone Leaders, Elder White and Elder Salmon better and I am really impressed by their maturity and their leadership. They were pretty good at the language when we got here, and they had only been here for 3 weeks, so it is my goal to be able to get to that point. We set language goals yesterday and the basic fluency for leaving the MTC is 500 words and 150 phrases. I am trying for at least 750-850 words and a few more phrases than 150. It’s amazing how much we already know in such short time. Anyway, I was able to meet with the two Senior Companions on their own yesterday and it was an amazing experience. Sister Peet is the Senior Companion for her and Sister Kataunibure, and she is the most diligent and hardworking sister in our district, she is always up on time, and you can just tell she is leaving it all on the table here. We talked over their goals and their companionship, and they had been struggling because of the language barrier and Sister K not knowing very much English, but they are doing really well. I asked Sister Peet what she felt confident about right now and she actually said her companionship, so I know she is just so loving and accepting of her. Sister Peet has been having somewhat of a hard time here in terms of feeling overwhelmed and a lot of pressure, so we were also able to talk about that, and I have felt inspired in this meeting and at other times to tell her things that I know the Lord wants her to know. Afterwards, I was able to pray with her and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life to be able to pray for her and her companion’s needs and to really feel that she would be blessed with the things I was saying. I know some people in the Church wonder about women and the Priesthood, but really I don’t think that the Lord only works through laying hands on someone and blessing them, you can call on the Lord’s power through prayer and it will come when you need it. When we got up, we were both crying. I was also able to meet with Sister Sutherby about her companionship. She has been struggling somewhat to adjust from going to the trio, but I can tell that in the last few days she has been putting more effort forth. I felt inspired to ask her certain questions that I hope will help her and her companion Sister Candieze. The language barrier is also present here. Honestly, her companion is kinda my favorite(ok, no favorites, but I really, really love her). Sister Candieze joined the Church exactly a year ago and she is the only member of the Church in her immediate family. Before joining the Church, she was involved in a gang on her island and not leading the best life, but you can sincerely tell her heart has completely changed. She bore her testimony after devotional this week, and I wanted to weep because of her simple, sweet testimony. It was so powerful that me and my companion both started crying. She has this childlike willingness about her, and she really feels the truth of the Book of Mormon. Plus, since getting here this last Monday she has been working so hard to catch up in Tagalog and I have been impressed to see her work so hard and see the sacrifices she has been making to be here. Really when I think about these two international sisters and the other Quitebez sisters in our Zone, I can’t complain about anything. Here we are whining because of the food or because we have to get up early, and they are adjusting to an entirely new country and are constantly required to speak their 2nd and 3rd language instead of their native tongue. I really respect them and know they have had rough lives.
Overall, I really am so happy and blessed to have this opportunity. I wish I could write more but it is so hard to even think about what we have been up to. We do have a little down time every day, we have gym, and we get about 45 min for every meal. Plus about an hour every night to get ready for the next day and such. Besides that we mostly just study in the mornings, personal, companion, and language each for an hour and then we have class for three hours after lunch and again for three hours after dinner. Tuesdays and Sundays we have evening devotionals and two days a week we also have service sometimes starting at 6:15(cleaning bathroooms woohoo!) So that is our basic schedule.
The rythmn of it has really sunk into me and honestly, the regular schedule is helping me be more mentally healthy than ever. I feel like it just gives me a lot of security to know exactly what I am doing and I don’t really have stress and anxiety about figuring it out because it is all laid out right there for me. Emotionally, I feel pretty good as well, being constantly fed by the Spirit is making me more emotionally tender, but I also am learning how to manage having such a deep emotional well inside.
How are things for you guys? I want to hear. I am so grateful for the letters I have gotten, and I hope you are all happy and doing well. I pray for you and love you so much and I always have you in my heart.
Sister Marissa McLean
2007 N 900 E Unit 44
Provo UT 84602
(Write me on DearElder.com and I get it the same day!)