Where to start! This week has been amazing. I mean, they all are, but this week especially. I probably say that about every week, but I actually mean it. Every week is better than the week before. First of all, though, thank you all so much for the letters!
Alright, on to my week:
We got a couple new teachers, Hermana Savage and Hermano Russel. Hermana Savage served in Uruguay, so she talks with a hard Castillano accent, which was cool because it’s giving us a taste of the Argentina area culture. It was hard to understand her at first, but once we got used to it, it was fine. Hermano Russel served in Nicaragua and is alive with the light of Christ. He has taught us so much about the gospel in such a short time, and we’ve had many cool experiences with him. Our teaching has gotten much better since he’s started helping Hermano Eaton with our morning class. Hermano Eaton is amazing too, though, of course. All the people who teach here are. I think one of the things I’ve learned the most this week is that the love of Christ allows better teaching than anything else. I could be perfectly fluent in Spanish, have a well planned, carefully thought out lesson and have a perfect knowledge of the doctrine I’m teaching and it could be the clearest, most easy to understand lesson, and it wouldn’t change who I was teaching one jot or tittle without the love of Christ, careful listening, and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. Elder Bradford and I are constantly learning this and working on bettering those skills that matter most.
I woke up at 4 in the morning hacking up all sorts of nasties, I guess I had stopped breathing because I was snoring mega hard and woke up coughing and burping, according to Elder Pritchett who was awake for the whole event. I ended up getting a little sick, which has progressively gotten worse, but I’m feeling better today. Anyway, Elder Bradford and I started our duties as Zone Leaders. At first, it was a little frightening because our last Zone Leaders were just amazing, big shoes to fill. However, I had memorized 1 Nefi 3:7 in Spanish earlier in the week, and it came back to me and I wasn’t worried about it anymore. “Y sucedio que Yo, Nefi, dije a mi padre: Ire y hare lo que el Senor ha mandado, porque se que el nunca da mandamientos a los hijos de los hombres sin prepararles la via para que cumplan lo que les ha mandado.” (Not sure if I got all that right, but you get the jist.) I know that there is nothing the Lord commands that isn’t possible, otherwise he wouldn’t command it. Sundays in the MTC are just the best. Everything is amplified! I love singing in Spanish, it’s probably one of the coolest things of all time. And I love singing with the MTC Choir! Ryan Egget, the director, has two practices for every devotional with a choir of 1000+ plus missionaries. He does an amazing job with what he has. We sang “Nearer My God to Thee”. He taught us about the background to the song, found in Genesis 27-28 of Jacob being in the wilderness. Coolest thing ever! I never knew that this is what Nearer My God to Thee was about. It is often in our weakest moments that we are shaped and molded the most, when the truly incredible happens. (See also 2 Corinthians 12:10, one of Elder Bradfords favorites).
Elder Bradford had a tough day on Monday. We taught “Ana” (Hermana Savage) and he had a really hard time understanding her, she was talking about ying yang and Asian religion, and throw all the talk of energy and a Castillano accent in and you get a pretty difficult lesson. He had a really hard day, though, aside from the teaching, and I did my best to help him with it but kind of felt like it was a personal trial he was going through. Tuesday night was very special to hear him bear testimony, but more on that in a bit. I got even more sick, and had gone to the doctor to get checked out. I had the very neat experience of getting a blessing from my district on Monday night, given by Elder Bradford. I felt much better after that and was able to sleep soundly.
On Tuesday we got to be our own investigators! Super cool, Elder Bradford and I are teaching Elder Pritchett and Elder Watts, and they’re teaching us. It’s helped me a lot with remembering to teach the people, not the lessons. It’s cool to sit on the other side of things and be taught instead of teach. Tuesday night we had the devotional as usual. I didn’t get to sing in the choir because I was sick, and I was super jealous. Nearer My God to Thee was beautiful. Elder Richard G. Hinckley came and talked to us, it was a really cool compendium of tips for missionaries. Tuesday night after devotionals we always have a district meeting, and this time our Branch President, President Stewart and his wife came to our meeting. We all get the chance to get up and talk about what we learned and bear testimony. Elder Bradford got up and shared how he had prayed for a solid twenty minutes Monday night because he was having a bad day, and how amazing it was to see the hand of God all day Tuesday in answer to his fervent prayer. I testify that God does know us all personally and loves us all, and that he does answer prayers in the way that is best for us according to His great knowledge.
We taught Ana again, and this time we went in their ready to love and understand and listen, and it was the best lesson ever. The Spirit is there when we have Christ’s love filling our beings.
It was really cool to delve into the deep prophecies and interesting historical facts of the Bible as it relates to the Book of Mormon on Thursday. We talked about everything from Job to Jacob and Nehemiah and all sorts of stuff in between. I think what I’ve gotten out of study like that the most is just more small testaments that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. We are so blessed to have the fulness of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the knowledge of God’s plan for all His children. I absolutely cannot wait to go and teach people about it. We’re definitely going to get reassigned (except for Elder Watts, apparently Argentine visas are as simple as $100 and a couple of clicks on the internet for Australians), so it will be cool to serve somewhere in the US for a while to continue working on the Spanish before going there. Two missions!!! I think the coolest thing I got out of Thursday though was a quote that Hermana Pinnock shared from an Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem: “Earth is crowned in Heaven, and every common bush a fire with God: but only He who sees takes off his shoes.” We were talking about the grand expanse of the universe, all the intricate weavings of God’s creation last night, and I remembered that quote and just felt overwhelmed in the beauty of life. Too often we take for granted the milagros that we are sitting right in front of us. This world is a beautiful place. The tender mercies of God are endlesses, and his mercy and justice defy all our comprehension.
The Church is true! I love you all so much. Keep writing, I love hearing about the way God is blessing each and every one of your lives.
Love, Elder Hoffman