Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The End- Totally Selfless Service

Dear Family, 

This week was really good. It went by super fast. Nothing super exciting has happened but we are hanging in there. 

What to say..... Well I am not as tired as I used to be!! So that´s good. I feel pretty good right now. 

L is doing well. That kid is the most frustrating human being in the world. I love him to death but wow!!! He´s a hassle!! Keeping him quiet in church is practically impossible. We FINALLY got to talk his father and YAY he can get baptized!!!! We just need to plan for a day in which the family could be there. L is a great kid. He has a lot of issues when it comes to respecting his parents and being responsible. I think a lot of it has to do with the way he is treated in his home. His two little siblings are treated like royalty while he is always being harped on and criticized. It´s really sad. He´s a super smart kid and has lots of potential but I feel like his parents are going about things the wrong way. But it´s hard for them because they both work a ton and don´t have time to spend with him. But still. It´s never good to talk about one´s children that way in public. There is a fine line between constructive and destructive criticism. I really know that the gospel will help him though. I think he´s already starting to change. 

We were trying to get Angel and Domi and their family to church. They didn´t end up coming. Which is sad. Haha. I really love church as a missionary. It´s always either totally glorious or completely heartbreaking. More often than not it´s heartbreaking. We stress and worry and invite and call and do everything we can to get people to come to church and then very few actually show up. I love being in sacrament meeting and turning my head EVERY single time the doors open with hope in my heart only to have it crushed when it´s not the people we were hoping for. Ah. Working with people is hard. But I love it. I really do. I love caring so much about whether or not other people come to church. Before the mission it truly never even crossed my mind. And now it´s our entire life. There is SO much work to do. We really do need more missionaries in the field. 

We are working with lots of less actives and it´s so great to see them come to church. And so sad when they don´t. But we keep going!! We can´t give up on anyone. 

But I really do love church as a missionary. Church has become something totally different for me. I get so much out of it, way more than I ever have. I hope that this doesn´t change after I get home. I know that it won´t. We were sitting down and Sacrament Meeting was about to start when the first counselor came up to me and asked me to give a talk....within the next 10 minutes. So that was fun :) I felt kind of bad though. I didn´t act bothered or anything but I kind of sighed and smiled at him in a flustered sort of way and said ¨of course¨. I could have been better about the way I responded. The poor counselor. He honestly is such a champ. Spanish. His wife isn´t a member and wants nothing. The Bishop is sick all the time and doesn´t come to church very often. Every other Sunday maybe. And there isn´t another counseler. It´s a bishopric of 2. So this counselor, whilst juggling his whole family life with a wife that doesn´t like him spending lots of time at church, has to do everything. And after he asked me to speak he said ¨I am sorry I just don´t have anyone. All three people that were supposed to speak today decided not to show up.¨  So I felt bad for not having responded with lots of enthusiasm. Some leaders in our ward just work so hard. There are SO many sisters that are divorced. Or that have husbands who don´t want anything to do with the church. And they work so hard. The Primary president is a good example. She has four kids and drags them all to church every sunday. She is divorced and is the only source of income for her home. She works until late at night and yet still strives to magnify her calling. She also doesn´t have any active counselors. Her counselors come MAYBE once a month. It´s so sad. I admire her so much. And there are lots of other amazing examples of women in our ward. The priesthood just needs to step it up. Men need to step it up. There are so many amazing, valiant, self sacrificing sisters that should be supported by their husbands but we are too lazy and selfish to do our part. I will NEVER be that guy. My heart goes out to those sisters. More than half of the Relief Society is that way. Honestly...if it weren´t for them our ward would fall apart. 

So I gave my talk. He let me choose the subject and I talked about the importance of studying the BoM every day. I think it went well. I love the Book of Mormon and I am convinced that the members would find all of the answers to their problems if they would just strive to study every single day. But so few do. I worry about it. I think I worry a lot. Haha. Just kidding. Perhaps worry isn´t the correct word. I think about it a lot. I ponder about it a lot. Every day I am more and more convinced of the importance of daily gospel study. It is KEY. We cannot have spiritual power if we don´t study. My number one goal and priority when I get home is to find and make time to study every day. I know that´s it´s easy to say that now because I haven´t gone home yet, and that it´s SO hard once our lives go back to normal...but I am determined. I think that God is telling me that I need to make that the biggest priority for myself, because I always find myself thinking about it. 

Other than that...we are working like normal. The work I am doing now is totally selfless as Kylie put it. I like that a lot. I won´t be hear to see a lot of the fruits of my labors, but that doesn´t mean I shouldn´t work as hard. And I am trying so hard to keep striving to do my best and give my all. 

In our mission we give ¨dying testimonies¨ which are basically the last testimony of a missionary that is about to finish his mission. Usually they are given in big mission conferences, but we don´t have one of those until March 15th, so I gave mine in a normal zone meeting on Friday. I was the only one, because I am the only one from my group in my zone. It was weird. I have spent the last 2 years listening to dying testimonies and then I was just up there giving my own. It was so fast. SO fast. And yet I don´t feel like I am dying. I don´t feel anything!! It just felt like I was up there giving a talk like always in a zone meeting. I didn´t cry or anything. I just feel normal. It still hasn´t sunken in yet. Hopefully it doesn´t until I am in the mission home that last night. 

But yeah. I have had my last zone meeting. Wow I cannot believe that I have a little over three weeks left. This is so weird. 

Well I hope you are all doing well. I am certainly doing fantastic. I am going through an amazing time of my mission right now. I love Elder Salcedo and I love our area. It´s one of my most difficult areas, but I really do enjoy it. I love working with the ward and I love helping these people that need Christ so badly and don´t even realize it. I just love my mission. And I wouldn´t trade it for anything in this world. 

I love you all!!! 

Elder Sharp

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LINCOLN!!!!!!! On Sunday :) 

You´re 9 flipping years old!!! That is really really really not cool. I have got to get home SOON!!! 

I love you Linc :) See you soon!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Obedience Walk

OH man I am tired. 

This week it just hit me like a semi truck. I feel like my blood has become super thick or something and I literally cannot move as fast as I normally can. 

It was a good week. One of the hardest I´ve ever had. I don´t know what happened but everyone and their dogS failed us this week. Really frustrating. Walking around for hours on end knocking on doors that never open and looking for people that don´t live in the directions that we were given and contacting grumpy Spaniards can only be fun for so long!!! Hahaha. Oh man. Usually we are luckier and God lets us into houses but on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we had only like three or four lessons in total. Saturday night we had every set appt fail us at 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 o´clock. SO that was a very long ¨obedience walk¨. It was lovely. But we did the best we could. I am trying to be super positive for my kid. But he doesn´t get down or anything. He says that he loves the mission. I think he is enjoying it. 

But we were blessed to find some really great new investigators. Six I think. Three of them were that family that I told you about. AMAZING. We are going to try to visit them tonight. We went back a few days later and the dad wasn´t supposed to be there but he was. We walked in and he had read a TON, and he had highlighted and marked and everything. He had questions about the authority and he understood and it was just perfect. I wanted to cry. Sometimes I look at him and just ask ¨are you for real??¨ Like he´s going to start cracking up at any second and be like ¨JUST KIDDING I´M REALLY A JEHOVAH´S WITNESS, GOT YA!!¨ He´s so great. He would be baptized in three weeks if it weren´t for the fact that he works as a truck driver and is NEVER home. Every ten days he is home for 1 or 2. So that´s hard. 

It seems like that happens to me always now. We have about 8-9 people that will be baptized in the next 2-5 months that could all be baptized in two weeks if it weren´t for ridiculous reasons like work schedules and the catholic church. We have this awesome lady that we started teaching this week called Germania. She wants to be baptized and so does her daughter. The problem is that she promised her exhusband and his family that the little girl would do the first comunion (catholic ordinance) and the father has already bought plane tickets and everything. She can´t be baptized because in the comunion she has to declare her faith in the catholic church as her daughter takes the first comunion, and she can´t back out of it. It´s super confusing and I don´t understand it. She wants me to baptize her before I leave. But it´s a tricky situation. So we are just praying. Then there is Trini that was ready to be baptized a month ago but still hasn´t even been to church because of work. And then there is Luis who will be baptized as soon as we get his parents´ permission. And then there is another family who finally got around to geting a marriage date set, but it can´t happen until august because it´s almost impossible to get married in Spain. So yeah. We are just here. Waiting. And I will probably leave and not see any of it. That´s ok though. All that matters is that we work and help them and love them and do the best we can right? It does hurt a little to think that I will miss so many baptisms. But I feel very fulfilled and content with what I have done here. And i will keep doing the best I can- 

Last night everyone failed us as well. And we heard a lot of rude rejections. For about ten seconds I got a little frustrated with Him. Like, ¨why can you not make this any easier?¨ But instantly I realized that He probably felt just as sad as I did about all of His hard hearted children that claim not to even believe in Him. Though it would be nice if every prepared person had a bright golden star about their head that only missionaries could see. We could walk down the street, spot a star, and go run and pounce on that prepared person and baptize them. Life would be so much easier....but life isn´t about being easy ;) We all need to grow and I understand that. 

Anyway. Last night. REAlly hard. We walked a lot but ended up finding a new family to teach right at the end of the night. From Guinea Ecuatorial. They seem to be really awesome. Ana and her kids and sister. Hopefully they progress. It was really nice of Him to help us out like that. Cause I was going on reserve fuel at that point but FINALLY someone let us in. Thank the Lord. 

I just feel tired. I pray and plead for more energy. This week was insanely hard for me. Even people that we contact in the streets comment on it. This one guy said ¨You guys are idiots, I would never join a church that would brainwash me and make me work like slaves for them while the leaders lived like kings.¨ He pointed to me and said ¨look at those bags under your eyes, you looked like you haven´t slept in weeks!!! look what they are doing to you!! Wake up!!¨ I started laughing out loud when he said that. Hahaha. oh man. It was super funny to me for some reason. But he´s right- I really do have some dark vampire-like eyes. It´s gross. I don´t have energy to work out in the mornings. I do it, but not like I used to. I just feel drained in every way. 

I am sure that it was just a bad week. I know this week will be better. I just need to pray a ton and keep going!! I really have been strengthened by grace. I have felt it. That´s how I keep going!

Anyway. Clayton is a stud for getting the part of willy wonka. what a hero. I miss that guy. I hope you are all well. Thanks for your messages. Dad and Mom. I really appreciate that. Obedience is key. The source of Christ´s power was His obedience to the Father. It´s the same for us in a big way. 

I love you all. A lot. 

Elder Sharp