Ahora solo voy a escribir en español. Entonces les aconsejo que ustedes aprendan y puedan entender español si queiren leer mis correos electronicos :) van a ser bendicidos por su esfuerzos de entender un otra idioma de los hijos de Dios. ¡Jaja bromeo no se preocupen!
From now on, I will only write to you in Spanish. Then I counsel you to learn and understand Spanish so you may read my emails :) You will be blessed for your efforts to understand another language of God's children. Don't worry, I'm just teasing!}
No don't worry I won't do that to you. But I realized the other day that I now officially think and have dreams in all Spanish! At first it took a lot of effort to force myself to try and think in Spanish because I knew it would help me learn faster but now it comes naturally and its strange to think and speak English. The weirdest thing is that if I remember something that happened back home, I remember what happened and what was said but translated to Spanish. It's really strange and I'm not sure if that's something that normally happens with foreign missionaries but it's pretty intense.
Anyway this week we had a conference for all the new missionaries with President Amaya that was incredible. I learned a ton and have been putting into practice a lot of the insights I had there. Something that really hit me was that we need to focus on teaching the doctrine. One of the Assistants Elder Hansey taught that the doctrine=why, the principle=what, and the application= how. Often times we focus on the principle but we don't help them understand the doctrine of why that principle is so important. For example, in Ecuador its very for couples to live together, have kids, and live like a normal family but they never get married and therefore we often have investigators who want to get baptized and have testimonies but they have to get married first. Many times as missionaries we just focus on the principle or the ¨what¨ they need to do... Get Married!! We just keep telling them that marriage is important and they need to get married to be baptized and we try to commit them to do it. Much more effective than that is teaching and helping them understand why marriage is important and why they need to be married and promise specific blessings of how it will bless them. We need to teach them the fundamental doctrine that the power to create life is a sacred gift given to us lovingly by our Heavenly Father and that this gift is so sacred and special that it should only be used in the bonds of marriage or we are misusing this power that God has entrusted us with. We need to teach the doctrine that they will be blessed with more peace, self-confidence, and inner-respect by keeping this sacred commandment and being married. If we teach them and promise them that they will have more love in their home, be better examples to their children, and be blessed with greater capacity to raise their children in righteousness by being married then we won't have to try and convince them to get married. If we teach true doctrine and they understand the true doctrine, they will have a sincere desire within themselves to make this change in their life and keep this commandment of God. As President Packer said, ¨True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.¨ Helping people understand the doctrine is key.
For all the future missionaries out there remember that and apply it in your missions because it will help you be much more effective and it will bless your investigators. And really this can be applied to any situation. Future missionaries, Sunday school teachers, parents, and anyone else who wants to teach effectively. Teach the doctrine. If you have a child who won't share his toys with his brothers rather than just trying to correct the behavior by telling him ¨what¨ to do... ¨Share with your brother!¨ instead focus on the doctrine of ¨why¨ he needs to share with his brother and how it will bless his life. Teach him the doctrine that when he serves his brother by sharing he is serving God (Matthew 25:40 and Mosiah 2:17). If the child comes to understand this fundamental doctrine you won't have to force him to share... he will want to share with his brother and he will want to be better.
In our ward we our having some problems with a lot of people gossiping and saying negative things about leaders. Remember that leaders are called of God and that we need to support them and love them. Also remember that we should never gossip AND we shouldn't listen to gossip. I know that its natural to want to know what happened because we're curious but we need to not gossip ourselves and we need to not encourage gossip but not listening. It's hard but its important.
Something else a leader said is that there is never a good reason to raise your voice and raising your voice never makes things better it always makes things worse. No matter how upset we are it is much better to pause, take a walk, take some time to think, get a better perspective of things and then communicate calmly with love. I think that if we put this principle in practice it will greatly help us in all of our relationships.
I´m learning a lot from these humble, happy, friendly people in Ecuador. I can feel the Lord shaping me and molding me into the person that I need to be. For any of you out there considering going on a mission I have three simple words... just do it. It has blessed my life in so many ways and already in just three months I have made incredible changes and overcome major weaknesses like my impatience, inability to remember directions, and my pride just to name a few. On top of that I have been able to strengthen my talents even more and use them to bless the lives of others. I promise that the decision to go on a mission is one you will never regret :)