I have learned so much this week! Life has truly been challenging but rewarding. There has been so much on my mind lately that I probably won't be able to express it sufficiently. But I'm surely going to try!
Here's what I learned this week! Attitude is everything. Especially in missionary work. Yes, things have been really hard for me, I don't like change. I wish I could have stayed with my trainer forever, where I was comfortable and happy. And it seems like the strongest part of who I am, the studious overachiever, is in direct contrast to my companion, who hates reading and studying and feels insecure about it. We grate on each other. I am an overanalyzer, always wanting to push harder, build more unity, and be better, trying to fix things that don't need fixing, but this drives her crazy. "things are going just fine, JUST GO WITH IT, Sis. Woods!" she says. Haha. So I'm learning to chill. A LOT. She told me I've been being negative lately and this was mind-blowing to me. I had no idea! No wonder I've been feeling so down these past few weeks! Yep, focusing on the positive makes everything better. I'm usually very happy, so this past little while has been weird for me. I was feeling super down and not enjoying myself or my life. I'm learning to solve my own problems and deal with my emotions better, which has been a challenge for me. (I tend to let things accumulate and never know how much my family, my companion, or the mission president needs to know about them. I still don't. Especially since it seems there are few, if any, secrets on a mission. But I'm learning to deal with it.) And things have gotten lots better! She is exactly who I needed because she is full of charity, is confident no matter what she says, copes well with stress and improvises well, and loves people. She is also very sensitive and gets offended easily. I am learning to be more discerning (of what it is she's upset about) and tactful. I have a hard time with those things. :P BUT, she is teaching me so much!! She is truly an incredible, incredible missionary. She is really helping me with my self-confidence, to teach in unity with her and say what I think with CONVICTION, power, and boldness. She is super bold, but also sweet and nice. I have been experimenting with this lately, and have found it is so, so much more fun to teach people!! :) I love her! She is really great. I've just had to get over some things this week. I am happy, happy! :)
Here is another thing that has been beating me over the head lately. I've learned many things this week but here is a big one. President Cutler had us prepare to answer a question for interviews: How is your increasing understanding of the Atonement changing your desires as a missionary and allowing you to act and not be acted upon? Well, I've been thinking and thinking about that! And it is so true. Honestly, I don't know how I've survived this long out here and am able to keep going! I do know that the enabling power of the Atonement is real because I've prayed for strength, especially this week and last, and received it. I've been able to see this enabling power (grace) replace negativity and discouragement with love and joy within me. Grace is the enabling power of the Atonement that allows us to maintain and sustain good acts beyond our own natural capacity. Relying on this changes our desires and allows us keep going! It allows us to act and not be acted upon. I'm being put in situations where I am forced to "act" in ways that I never had to before and could never sustain on my own. I have to talk to people all the time and be confident all the time, which I am not. But, in the strength of the Lord I'm able to survive this and my desires are gradually changing. It is truly a miracle that because of Christ we can do anything! If you think about it, we have been snatched from eternal doom and given the opportunity to be exalted. We have all been given the ability to act and not be acted upon (2 Nephi 2:14). That agency is such an amazing, amazing gift that we have to use proactively. I've learned this week that I can't sit back and let things happen to me and not speak up. I can't let discouragement and lack of confidence keep me down though I am quite introverted by nature. I've learned that because of Him, yes I can! I know this is a lesson I'm just starting to figure out and will continue expanding on as I proceed in my mission and continue to learn to act and not be acted upon. It seems like this is something that every missionary learns. Here is a quote I loved from Elder Bednar's talk "And Nothing Shall Offend Them": "One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others." Yes, we have to power to decide how we will react no matter what our circumstance. We can't control them but we can always control our attitude. We even have the power to choose not to be offended! Of course we have to deal with our emotions, we can't just magically wish them away. But we can deal with them appropriately, rely on Christ, and still press forward and impact our circumstances. A great lesson for me! :)
Yes, I was able to get a priesthood blessing from President Cutler and it made all the difference in the world. I wasn't able to express what I was feeling very clearly so he had me pray he would be inspired to know what to include and he was! It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. He blessed me to be able to have the seeds of charity swell within me, be better at communicating my feelings, not have an emptiness of soul (that's exaclty how I felt!), be able to feel the Spirit speaking to me, feel God's love for me and for others, and to be able to press forward steadfastly with faith in Christ. Also to be able to see the good in Sis. Peterson and remember that the Lord is preparing me to be a wife and mother through these experiences. At the end, I was totally crying and he said he felt impressed to tell me how much the Lord loves me. It was a surreal experience, I wish I could reexperience it. It blew my mind!
Here is a funny story. So we saw a treadmill outside and it said "free" on it!! Yep, so we got all excited, having just returned from Sweet Frog frozen yogurt, and went to investigate. :) And, sure enough, there was a sign on it that said:" Yes, it works!" This was truly a tender mercy. So funny! And these nice people even delivered it to our apartment for us, since it was too big to fit in our car, haha! It's kind of old and super noisy, but hey! It works. :)
Fourth of July was good. We watched a parade. Oh, and we saw this drunk guy shoot Roman Candle fireworks and he totally started a fire right in front of us! Next thing we know there are police cars and firemen coming to put it out. Haha. We heard the fireworks last night, actually, since they don't actually set off fireworks on the Fourth around here. It's always the day after.
I also went on exchanges to Wausau with sister smith!! It was great!! It was the first time I've been out of Stevens Point, like, on official missionary business. :P I even got to try Hmong food, which consisted of cilantro-like noodles. I had an amazing day.
I'm super excited for Abby and her mission call!!! And I'm super proud and excited for Ashley!!! Congrats!!!!
As usual I'm running short on time.
I love you all!!!