This week was not overly exciting. Or at least when compared with the other few weeks. We are studying a lot more now that we are getting pretty close to leaving and it was hard for my ADD brain that loves to play to focus. I struggled a little this week and my faith kind of faltered. For whatever reason I was just struggling with the whole concept of the gospel and I feel like I waited until I came here to look for the truth rather than find it beforehand and allow it to drive me. Since then I have just read the Book of Mormon as much as possible. I had never really thought about it before but embarrassingly I have never read it through on my own and then prayed to know the truth. I realized that I have to ask for the truth before I can ask for anything else.
That is kind of how the whole week went. I learned little things here and there that really forced me to look at my beliefs and decide what I was ready to believe. It sounds kind of obvious in words, but what I didn´t realize is the first person I have to convert out here is myself. So that has been exactly what I have been working for this week. It put a very real and heavy strain on my testimony and I had a very hard couple of days but I am beginning to pick myself up out of it.
Probably the two most powerful lessons I learned this week are: 1. Our stories are not just for us, they are for others to learn and grow from also. 2. God loves us more than we can comprehend.
So every so often the people in my district have been sharing their ¨Why I am on a mission¨ stories and it has been a pretty cool tradition so far. Last night I was in the classroom with everyone with my nose buried in the scriptures when Elder Marshall asked me to share mine. I really didn´t want to because I felt it was personal and just for me. I was about to say no when I just figured, ¨why not¨.
I have told parts of my story to people and even had to share some of it in stake conference but there are lots of things I have kept to myself. No one has ever heard most of my story and I was planning on just giving the version everyone else has heard when I felt I needed to tell the whole thing. I just kept my eyes on the floor and told them every detail and what I felt and cried somewhere in there and just let all of my feelings out.
When I finished it was time to go back to our apartments so we prayed and then everyone did this huge group hug, which was weird and then went to their apartments. I was feeling stupid and embarrassed and vulnerable and I was crying and I just wanted to get out of there so I walked in front of the group just trying to get away. Elder Germann caught up with me and told me how much he loved me and we were both crying like babies and then everyone else caught up and then we were all crying. It was pretty much an all around bro love session. I was still feeling embarrassed about what I had shared when one of my absolute favorite elders, Elder Cluff pulled me aside and said, ¨I hope you know God gives us these things so we can share them. Never be shy about your story and sharing it with others.¨ I felt so much better after all of that and we all ended up staying up until around midnight talking.
When we finally went to bed, Elder Germann and I were saying companionship prayers. He has been very worried about this elder who has really been struggling with Spanish and he was praying for him when he choked up and could not go on. After a while he finished his prayer and then looked at me. He told me he had felt God´s love for this elder so powerfully and he could barely comprehend it. He told me how much we are cared for and I did not know what to say. We went to bed and I am pretty sure neither of us slept.
That is what I want. I want to KNOW he loves us. I want to KNOW he is there. I am sick of this ¨believing¨ bull crap and I just want to know. I am going to work hard and keep working until I know and I feel I can not be the missionary I need to be until I do. I can´t do it alone though. I need everyone´s help. There are so many people who read these emails that have amazing, powerful testimonies and I need that. I also need those who are in the same boat to work alongside me.
Now that all of that is said I fell I need to assure you I am fine. Yes it is a struggle, but is not that exactly what it is supposed to be? Did I not walk straight into this knowing how hard and testimony-challenging it would be? I knew exactly what I was doing and I did it anyway. It is hard and I won´t try to be tough and deny it, but it is also the first time in my life I have ever really challenged my beliefs so that they could transform into knowledge. It is the first time I have ever had so much purpose. I love everyone so much. The one thing I do know is that I am supposed to be here. I have learned so much and though I am far away, I have never been closer to all of you. May God bless all of you.
With absolutely sincere love,
Elder Aidan Daley Rich
|Elder Rich and Elder Cluff in the CCM|