Week 3 - Oklahoma City - July 23 2012

Note:  Andrew is in the southern part of Oklahoma city working with a small Spanish branch.

Mi querida familia,
I'll be honest, this week has been kind of tough. We didn't get as much teaching in as we liked since a lot of our appointments fell through, and there were some points this week where I felt really down because of my language abilities. Don't get me wrong, I can speak Spanish...understanding on the other hand is a whole other story. We were meeting with an investigator this week who literally poured out her soul to us about her concerns about everything we've taught her...however it was all in Spanish and I had the hardest time understanding anything. Now, don't misunderstand me, but I've got to tell you, I felt pretty useless. I knew I could have said something that could have helped, and in "Preach My gospel" it says you need to listen to the investigators to discover their needs...but how can I listen if I can't understand?
I vented about this to my companion, and he really helped me through this 3 week crisis I was going through. He helped me realize that I needed to learn self-patience. The Lord works through "simple and small things" in order to bring about his great and eternal purposes. I'm not meant to become fluent in Spanish in the first month, it has to come gradually and I simply need to be patient. Also, he mentioned something very intersting, he said something to the effect that when you're listening to someone speak Spanish, it's very hard to understand them if you keep doubting yourself. This made compelte sense to me! If my head is full of doubt, how can I expect to understand Spanish? I needed to replace doubt with faith.
And so I experimented with this notion during another all-Spanish appointment this week. We were teaching an older couple, incredibly kind and very religious, about the Sabbath Day. A little background on this couple, they used to be Catholic until they started studying the Bible and realized that some of the preachers weren't living the Bible word by word. So they broke away and become part of a Christian church known as "7th Day Adventist". One of the main beliefs in this church is that they believe that the Sabbath day is actually on a Saturday, not a Sunday. This is because in the Bible, it specifically states that God consecrated the 7th day (or Saturday) as a day of rest. When they met with Elder Black before I came in, they politely told him that they would not read the Book of Mormon simply because if our Church really believed the Bible, we would worship on Saterday.
Now, there is scriptorial evidence that the Sabbath day is on a Sunday; so elder Black and I studied really hard for this lesson. In fact we dedicated a day of fast to teach these really extremely kind people. I personally fasted so that I could understand Spanish better. I replaced fear with faith.
And it worked. I didn't understand every word, but I felt the Spirit stronger, and it was able to make up the difference. We bore our testimonies of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and they finally accepted to read it. We didn't change their minds about the Sabbath Day, but we did open up their minds to the possiblity that if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a propeht and modern revelation has revealed the Sabbath Day to be on a Sunday.
Very awesome teaching experience for me. As missionaries, we have done our part; now its up to our investigators to soften their hearts and accept that they need to change (which is very hard to do since they've been worshipping on Saturday for about 30 years and they've adjusted their work schedules to accomadate this belief). Hopefully it works out, until then, we've put our lessons on hold.
I also had the chance to go on exchanges this week with an elder who speaks and understands Spanish about as well as me. Longest day of my life! All our appointments fell through, and nothing seemed to work out. However, we did get to teach one discussion...and that made all the difference. Every ounce of disappointment was wiped away by simply the opportunity to teach one lesson and invite one person to come unto Christ. I really gained a perspective on the worth of one soul in the eyes of God.
This week I also got to give my first talk. It was actually at a baptism for one of the children in our ward, and I got to speak (in Spanish) about the ordinance of baptism. I spoke about how Jesus Christ is our perfect example of why we need to witness to the Father our willingness to follow his commandments. I also mentioned how privelaged we are to hold the literal priesthood authority of God. As a closer, I mentioned to this boy who was getting baptised, to focus on his feelings. Many times when we are baptized, we don't understand the full implication of the ordinance...but we do feel that it is right. Those feelings are more important than anything because they are of the Spirit, and the Spirit testifies whether baptism is the right direction or not.
The mission is amazing! It's been great to wind down for P-day and write you guys a letter. we actually went to the zoo as a district and got to relax a little bit (don't worry, we got it approved from the Zone Leaders:). I'm gaining a deep love for spicy Mexican food!
I hope everything is going well back at home, I'm really learning so much about life out here and what it really means to love someone vastly different from yourself. I really like my companion, Elder Black, and his outlook on knocking on doors. He just simply treats everyone he meets like they're his best friend. I really hope I can develop this kind of selfless love that I've witnessed with so many people out here in Oklahoma.
Take care! And keep strong!
Love you all!
Con Amor,
Elder Powley

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