''Personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience. Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape."
Hello, world. That quote's from a letter mom sent me back in September or so, from Elder Neal A. Maxwell in a talk that was given when she was on her mission. The full quote is actually this, and it's something that's really definied my mission (shout-out to my dear insightful mother):
"We gain knowledge through particular experiences, but only incrementally, 'in that thing.' (Alma 32:34.) Hence the ongoingness of it all, and perhaps we can be forgiven for wondering, 'Is there no other way?' Personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience. Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape."
Today marks something inevitable, and thus pointless in ignoring, yet saddening nonetheless. In exactly 3 more months I shall be home. Next week marks transfers, and from that point I have 2 more transfers left. Time marches on, without heed to our personal preferences or desires. Not going to lie; it's been a little weird, especially since my companion goes home in a week. Nevertheless, it's made me cherish every moment more, as Hallmark cheesy as that sounds. I absolutely love being a missionary. So here's to living these next 3 months to the fullest, enjoying everything that comes in my path, helping as many people as possible, and learning how to become the person God needs me to be.
I haven't written in forever, so here's a small update on things here in Sonora. I love my zone! There are so many newbies in my zone this transfer, and I just love being with them and taking in their spirit. I love going on interchanges with all the Hermanas and just learning about who they are. I absolutely love people. I love understanding them, listening to them, figuring out how they think, how they tick, their needs and wants and desires and fears in life. It's been one of my favorite things in my mission. Every spirit is so unique, so individual and special. It's amazing how humans all we really want is just to be loved and understood. We just seek to connect and relate to each other. Some are broken, some are hurting, some are hardened, others are easier, but it's all the same desire underneath.
My area is full of culture. Yeah! We have a ton of Asians here for some reason, but we've also run into quite a few Cubans. We met this Cuban lady one day and I mentioned how it's basically just my life's dream to go to La Habana and visit all the music clubs and hang out with all the musicians on the street there, and then suddenly we started talking about the Buena Vista Social Club and I was like, I LOVE THEM. She was pretty surprised, but it was a super cool moment. When you seek to understand people, who they are, where they come from, you start making that connection, gaining that interest. It's fascinating. I love how I can enter a house and hear Bach cello suites playing, see African tribal art or (definitely one of the cooler moments on my mission) find some incredible Art Nouveau prints in some lady's house in the middle of the Sonoran desert.
People love to figure me out too. People here in this area love to come up to us and tell us we're crazy for walking around so young, being Americans and all. The people in this area are surprisingly open. I've been called and labeled everything from an ugly Russian girl (drunk people during Easter weekend) to a Norwegian princess (I guess they got the northern-Scandanavian bone structure right?). Seriously, people. I'm asked if I'm German, and Canadian sometimes as well, but for some reason the American comment doesn't come around as much as you think it would. Go figure.
I also had the opportunity to talk to one of the oldest members here in Sonora. His name is Nephi Villa, and his dad join the church in the early 1930s in Meza, Arizona. He was running around on horseback in a bandit band, drunk and stealing, when he found the church and was completely converted. He then went back to his home in Cuidad Obregon, Sonora, when he had the church send materials to his home where he taught his family and anyone else he could find for years. Another Mormon family showed up eventually, and they made the first established meetings of the church. They then travelled up here to Hermosillo to open up the gospel here, and this member, Nephi, was one of the first missionaries to serve here. I absolutely loved listening to his story. I loved that the entire church here in Sonora started with some rugged cowboy bandit that felt the Spirit and never looked back, devoting his life to the work of the Lord. It inspires me, and humbles me. It makes the changes I've made in my life and my devotion to God seem so insignificant. We can do better.
I just end with sharing some thoughts about the Savior, as usual. The other day I realized something. Jesus Christ is a God, He is the great Jehovah. He is the Creator of everything, one with the Father, and has always been priviledged to be in His Holy presence. He is perfect and pure, clean and holy. So can we all take a minute to appreciate how absolutely terrible it would have been to leave that state of eternal holiness and perfection, everything He had ever known, and experience the darkest of the dark, the vilest of sins, the extremities of pain and affliction, the horrendous evils, the deepest sorrows and sadnesses. It is a difference completely incomprehendable. He dropped from the highest from the very, very lowest of all lows. As 1 Nephi 11:16 says, ''And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?'' (I like the Spanish version better because it uses 'comprehend' in the place of 'know') How could a being so pure withstand such evil? How could He experience and suffer such terrible things, being so perfect? I don't understand it, but I know that that has got to be an awful lot of love, to experience such pain and evil so that we would not be stuck in the eternal torment of our own bad decisions and situations. Love's probably the only thing that got him through such an experience. His love for us, and for His Father. So may we all love His as well, for what He did for us, and follow Him in every footstep.
I love you all. Have an excellent week.