Dearest family! (and friends)
Do I have a good story for you all this week! (As always, the best stories about me and are about my relationship with food haha). Tuesday evening, I was putting dressing on my salad, and I saw a bucket of pickles. At least, they looked like pickles, and they smelled like pickles! I decided it had been a while since I had last eaten a pickle, so I grabbed one for my plate. Midway into the meal, I remembered the pickle and excitedly took a bite. An itty bitty bite. All of a sudden, my mouth felt like it was on fire! I spat it out, and, turning to my companion, said, "These are spicy pickles!" ...Turns out, they were jalapeños and not pickles!!
On another note, Mexico City has a TON of mosquitos (I guess because it is the rainy season here?). Sometimes, when there are a lot of them in our casa/bedroom, I go a little crazy, trying to kill them. Last night, Hermana G. and I spent about 15 minutes stalking around our room, hitting stuff (since they like to hide in the randomest of places) and chasing any that came free. Basically, the best way to describe my attitude towards these little fellers is: "Come closer to me so I can kill you." Luckily I only have about three bites, so apparently they aren't as fierce as the ones in Yosemite or Massachusetts.
So, spicy pickles and mosquitos aside (or included, since I still am getting a good laugh out of them!), the CCM is still great. We have been teaching a lot lately, especially since we added two more "investigators" to our teaching pool (two of the elders in our district). It is decently fun, but a little discouraging when I can tell that they are just listening out of politeness and not feeling the spirit. Since I just hit the one month mark of being out on my mission, I have been a little introspective, and wondering how I have grown/changed/developed over this past month. I think part of it is for sure the lifestyle that I have been living has changed...The things I do to fill my time here at the CCM are very different from the things I used to do when I was at home before my mission. However, I hope I have changed in more than just my habits...I hope it is my character that is changing too!
We had a phenomenal devotional on Sunday that has put into words and powerfully reminded me what I must do to be an effective missionary, not only here at the CCM or out in the mission field, but also for the rest of my life. The speaker, President (Brother?) C., spoke about Christ's statement, "Render unto Caesar's that which is Caesar's, and render unto God, that which is God's."* (M&D, if you can look up a reference for that, that would be great! I don't have it written down anywhere). Specifically the second half of it, because God has created us in his image, and this statement ought to remind us that we must render ourselves unto God. Rendering yourself unto God is a higher level of obedience than merely doing what you are supposed to according to a set of rules. It's higher, even, than D&C 58:26-27*, be anxiously engaged, rather than being slothful. It is consecrating or dedicating our time, our whole souls, everything to God.
I feel that this goes along with another idea I have been thinking about lately: admitting that we don't always know what the right thing to do is, trusting that God will guide us if we try to do the right, and trusting that His plan is better than ours, even when we have a hard time understanding how. I know that God will bring peace to our hearts if we try to follow his will. It may not always be answers to our questions, but if we are willing to follow him, we will be blessed with the ability to accept how things are. I have seen this time and time again in my life, and it is one of the greatest ways that I have felt God's love.
Also, Moses 1:39 "my [God's] work and my glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" and D&C 4:5 "And faith, hope, love, charity, and an eye single to the glory of God" are talking about the same thing. I wish I could say I came up with that myself, but it's from Brother C.s' talk. It reminds me of how someone (one of the elders in my district, perhaps?) was describing how the gospel is like a tapestry, and all of the threads are interwoven and connected. It's the same way with the scriptures...Themes pop up across the scriptures, verses that echo each other...to me, it testifies that there is a Divine revelator, inspiring all these works, and that his hand is in all of these.
Another such connection (2 Nephi 33:1*, Ether 12:25*), is something I have been thinking a lot about lately. When I was younger, I used to prefer writing to speaking, because it allowed me the time and ability to control my words, and communicate my ideas clearly. As I have grown in my understanding of the Gospel, I have started to understand what Nephi means when he says, "I am not as powerful to write as to speak" (Pardon my terrible translation from Spanish to English!). I am beginning to understand that, when speaking, face to face, with another person, not only can you understand better what they are saying with their body language and tone of voice, but you also can allow the Spirit to testify through your words. As you do this, the actual words you say become less important, and the stirrings of the Holy Spirit in the other person's heart (and what it testifies to them they must do) become more important. So cool.
Here is another cool (but slightly strange experience). We have all had to take on different characters (preferrably based on real people we know - I chose a non-Mormon friend of mine) and pretend to be investigators for the other missionaries of the district. I took this pretty seriously - when the missionaries challenged me (as the investigator) to read the Book of Mormon, that night, I went home and did that. As I read, I felt prompted to stop and pray, so I did. As I prayed a simple prayer ("Heavenly Father, if you are there, I just want to know"), and I felt an incredible feeling of love wash over me, and I KNEW that God loved the actual friend who I was praying on behalf of. Incredible.
|Hermana Romero/Baratta in front of the CCM|
[Missionary Training Center] in Mexico City
PS, Don't forget -- start sending letters to El Salvador this week, because they will NOT get to Mexico before I leave! Much much much love to you all!
|Hermana Romano/Baratta with her district|
in front of the Mexico City Temple
|"We have a beautiful view of the mountains, |
and the brightly colored houses that are covering them.
The houses are SO close together here!"
From the New Testament of the Bible:
MATT. 22:21 ... Render therefore unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
From an LDS book of scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants:
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
The next two are from another LDS book of scripture called the Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 33:1 And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men.
Ether 12:25 Thou hast also made our words powerful and great, even that we cannot write them; wherefore, when we write we behold our weakness , and stumble because of the placing of our words; and I fear lest the Gentiles shall mock at our words.