Hey family! Happy Thanksgiving!
I forgot it was Thanksgiving yesterday until the mtc president was like ready to eat some turkey? The cooks made actual mashed potatoes and turkey and even some pie that tasted somewhat like play-do! And the president gave the longest thanksgiving prayer i have ever heard in my life. but maybe it seemed longer since i only could understand a word here or there haha.
Anyway, things have changed a lot in the last couple of weeks. The first group of latinos i knew left (they only come to the mtc for 2 weeks) along with the north americans who had been here longer. i was extremely sad to see a lot of them go because we had become friends over the couple of weeks i had lived in the same hall as them. then we got about 6 new north american elders and one new sister, hermana judd. it has been pretty lonely. at first the new latinas who came in were extremely shy, and we just kept to ourselves, but i had finally had enough and broke the ice one night when we were all getting ready for bed and asked them in spanglish to teach me their countries´dances (if i know one thing in this life, its that the fastest way to a latin american´s or african´s heart is to ask them to dance with you). we were soon rolling in laughter as they showed me different folk dances and i told the cute little venezuelan sister "despacio por favor!!" (venezuelans talk SO FAST, luckily bolivians are some of the slower talkers) and when she also showed her crazy step dance i said something like "en venezuela todos rapido, bailar, hablando, etc" (in venezuela everything is fast, the dance, the talking..) and people got a KICK out of that. Ever since then they are always calling out hermana Bingg um!! and trying to talk to me while i nod my head and pretend to understand, or counting to three and saying TING! while i burst out in the biggest smile i can muster, because i taught them that when we had to take a photo. it is going to be something else when i get my first latina companion this coming wednesday...
So unfortunately, my compañera went home yesterday. The president had me stay with her (as i expected) when we got our fourth companion, and we all hoped that she would have a change of heart. maybe i should have had more faith, but i knew from the first week that she would eventually go home. she was very set on it, and closed herself off each time spiritual experiences were presented. however, i felt empathy for her, because i know how it is to struggle to let those feelings in, to feel skeptical and pressured, and to approach the gospel with critical, worldly eyes. this is how i used to be, and even now i work each day to allow myself to feel and see with the lord´s power. so, i was able to become closer to hermana metcalf before she left, and i can´t really judge her at all, although i wish she could have softened a little. but she made me appreciate parents who have always emphasized that i must have a testimony based on my own revelation, and not just a mormon label depending solely on my parents´ beliefs.
Anyway it was difficult to watch my companion go through some of the things she did. Maestra Mendivelso, who becomes more and more a hero in my eyes every day, is so extremely brave and powerful all the time. She has been acting as one of our "fake" investigators, and she is so good at it that i literally feel like her character Katy is literally a separate person from her. at one point when my companion and i were trying to teach her how she could know for herself that the book of mormon is true, my companion could not talk, and almost cried because she did not feel like she could genuinely share such a message. it was a tense moment, and i had to take it from there. Then, a couple days later, in class we had a teaching demonstration. Mendivelso will choose one of us to be the investigator and then teaches us. She had my companion come to the front, and did not give her a story background, just asked her to be herself. Mendivelso then powerfully testified to her about the spirit and the book of mormon, and since i knew that this "demonstration" was actually real, i started crying. i could just see my companion resisting the spirit, and i knew she was in anguish because she does not think that she can know these things. i was so floored by Mendivelso though, she is incredible. When my companion left, mendivelso told me "she knows, she knows", just deep inside. i hope everything turns out okay for Hermana Metcalf now that she is home.
So now i am in a trio once again. things are better because hermana metcalf never wanted to do anything spiritual or be serious about planning lessons. my other two companions are much more willing to try to improve our spanish and have the spirit. i need this as i have been frustrated in the last week feeling that my progress had really slowed, partially because of my companion issues, but also because we had all as a district hit that spot of exhaustion where it is just so hard to stay motivated to keep learning more spanish. it has been REALLY difficult to make ourselves try to speak spanish as well, outside of class. i know i personally need to work on that a lot. it is so intimidating when i know so little, and the latinos talk so fast, plus cannot understand our accents.
the new hermana is super good at spanish because her whole family speaks spanish and she had four years before. so that is cool, she has taught me a lot. she did bug me at first because she made some really negative comments about latinos, saying that she did not want to hand in her electronics like we are supposed to because apparently our latin teachers have a propensity to steal them and that our temples never needed to have locks in the dressing rooms until we started converting latinos. you all know me, and obviously i could barely respond. americans can really be so appalling. it made me feel sick that someone who is going into another country to teach people that they are equal children of god and that we love them and believe in being christlike in our actions words and attitudes could harbor such racist attitudes that completely generalized a people, and i have heard a few other similar comments here as well. well, i have just bit my tongue and just known that we all are working on things, and that we must be unified in order to really serve others with the spirit, so for now i just let that slide. she also said some questionable things about black people, and i let that slide as well to an extent. ha.
Anyway, besides that, i have had some other great experiences here. One day some of the lil elders in my district gave me a blessing along with one of the other girls and i felt so blessed to be among young men who are truly trying to be valiant and make their lives stand for something so much higher than what is presented to us so much in this world. Also, i love the scriptures more and more, i cant believe i did not utilize them the way i should have before, it would have prevented me a lot of pain and confusion. i love the way the book of mormon makes clear the loving nature of god and jesus, how it repeats its message, the main doctrine of christ and also the missionary purpose over and over again -faith repentance baptism and enduring to the end, and even more i think PERSONAL REVELATION. I feel blessed when i think that i am sharing a bold, bold message that can only be proven to oneself through oneself, when you use your agency to ask directly of God. it is such a unique option that we present people with and inherently values their worth and identity as a true heir to the lord. Also, mendivelso is a literal scriptorian. she knows the BOM like the back of her hand in spanish and english, i cant believe it.
Anyway, i am out of time. Our next Pday is Tuesday, so then i will have more time for individual replies. but i just wanted to give somewhat of an update.
love you all! Thanks for the support. i am trying to be what God tells me i can be.