I almost don´t know where to even begin. I guess I´ll just start at the beginning.
So after I walked through security I got right on the plane and was off to Salt Lake. I sat by a very cool man and he told me about his missionary experiences and was a great comfort to have someone to talk to. We landed and then sat in the airport for 7 hours. I was with Josh Eardley, Luke Heaton, and Spencer Blazzard but that didn´t last long as we met up with four other missionaries. We all settled in a Cafe Rio and because we couldn´t leave our bags unattended Elder Heaton and I took orders and cash from everybody and went to get us food. At the register as I was about to pay for our food a man walked up, swiped his card, said, ¨haven´t fed the missionaries for a while", then walked away. Everyone, even in Atlanta, were so kind to us and were very respectful. The rest of the flight was uneventful other than the fact that the pilot who was supposed to fly us from Atlanta to Mexico just didn´t show up to work so there was a delay as we waited for a back up to come in.
The next 24 hours were a blur of moving in, receiving instruction (very little), and then being left to our own devices. The first day was all classes and orientation and stress. Everyone kept telling us it would get easier (every time I say ¨us¨ I mean Elder Germann and myself) and it did until the next day we got made district leaders over our little district of 14 missionaries. Right after that surprise we were told that in an hour we would be teaching our first discussion to an investigator who DID NOT SPEAK A LICK OF ENGLISH! That was a hard and stressful trial to say the least. Surprisingly though the Spirit was very strong and we got our message across smoothly. When Elder Germann and I came out of the room we looked at each other then started jumping up and down and high-fiving because we felt hope even though the lesson absolutely sucked. Still, everyone assured us it would get easier.
The next day we were learning Spanish from a teacher who does not speak much English and she could tell we were all frustrated with ourselves. So she had us close our books and open our scriptures and we just read 1 Nephi 1. I have read it a million times but never has it spoken to me like that. She delivered one of the most spiritual messages I have ever heard and it gave me such hope because she has a very heavy accent, spoke almost entirely in Spanish, and what little English she spoke was broken. Yet she was able to bring the Spirit to us through her incredible faith and testimony. About ten minutes later we taught Carlos his second lesson. I would rather not go into detail but suffice it to say that it went very poorly. We came out feeling so bad inside and I wanted to puke. We went for a walk and got very far away from all the buildings and then all of our emotions came out. Elder Germann and I broke down and I got so angry. I just punched this pole until it was bent and dented and my knuckles were gushing blood. We couldn´t understand what we were doing wrong and why we couldn´t teach the way we wanted to. We hit a deep low and I went to bed that night with wet eyes, a heavy heart, and bloody hands.
The next day was Sunday and we didn´t want to get out of bed or even try. We got up though, threw on clothes, and dragged ourselves to priesthood. The lesson went over my head as I wasn´t paying attention and I just continued to feel like crap. After the meeting our branch president Presidente Ruiz pulled us into his office and asked to talk with us. We thought we had blown it as district leaders and were ready for scolding and humiliation. He looked at us and told us he was releasing us as district leaders. My heart shatttered and I was about to tell him to send me home when he told us it was and honorable discharge so that he could appoint us as zone leaders over the 6 districts in our zone. All of whom have been here more than twice as long as we have. My head was spinning and I was waiting for the punch line of this obvious joke but it never came. We accepted, and walked to sacrament in daze.
Sacrament meeting was a fast Sunday meeting and a district was leaving (why they needed new zone leaders) so they all bore their testimonies and it reminded me why we I am here. We came out of the meeting full of the Spirit and I realized a very important thing. We had asked eachother how the two of us, who were such newbies, could take care of so many people and ahndle so many responsibilities. I then realized that there isn´t two of us. There is three. There is no such thing as a companionship. Only a trio. I read Alma 17:11 and now I KNOW nothing can touch me.
We WRECKED Monday. We learned so much and in the middle of our third lesson with Carlos during my part of the lesson I just stopped mid sentence, looked at Carlos, and bore my testimony in perfect Spanish. This is all that I can remember:
Yo se que el Evangelio de Jesucristo es verdadero. Yo se que su Expiación es real. Yo se que los principios en el Libro de Mormón pueden hacerlo feliz. Yo amo mi familia mucho, pero los deje para que Usted puede tener a su familia para siempre. Quiero que Usted sea feliz Carlos. Este es camino.
I know this work is true and this is where I am supposed to be. I love everyone back home but I am staying right where I am. I miss you all so much and I feel your prayers here. I have never been closer to my Savior. May he protect and watch over you.
Forever and always a Rich,
Elder Aidan Daley Rich
The Lord may let you falter so that you may learn, but never will he let you fall.