Well this is officially my last letter to home from the Bolivia Santa Cruz North mission. I can’t believe el momento ya ha llegado. Honestly, I still don’t feel like I’m going home. The work keeps going with or without me and the agenda is filled with visits to go on all week and I feel like I will still be a part of all of them.
I have a couple of brief things I would like to mention now to finish up my sharing of the Gospel with y’all. I’m not particularly eloquent but I speak from my heart so bear with me please 🙂
Anyway, I think the phrase “siga adelante” is a pretty good description of my mission. When I first heard that phrase en el CCM I didn’t understand a whole bunch what it meant…. follow forward? But I’ve learned that what it actually means is “aspire higher” or “keep going!” Pdte Zambrano told me that for MNOTHS en entrevistas, that was ALWAYS my take away and I took it, but now very happily. It didn’t make any sense to me, like I said that I wanted something of more worth from my mission presidente, something that actually, to me would make sense. One time, in a totally inspired moment he asked me, “Hna Butikofer, do I always tell you the same thing?” and I said out loud “No”, but in my head I frowned and said “Yes”. Here in Trinidad tambien, Elder Quispe(my LZ en Riberalta for 8 months) has been my LD for the past 6 months, always,always alwaaaays tells me the same thing “Siga adelante Hermana Butikofer.” But I just sort of shrugged it off as just another bleh statement. But last transfer I was pryaing a lot about THIS transfer and about going home and getting a little stressed about it and a thought came into my head, a somewhat vague thought, but one that I needed to hear– “Just keep going.” I realized that what Pdte had told me and what Elder Quispe still says, is actually what I needed to hear. It WAS actually inspired words from Pdte, it IS what the Lord wants me to now. To “just keep going”. So that’s what I’m going to do and in all, that’s what I’ve done. Even when it was insufferable hot or my companions were boobs or mean or nasty or when the work was slow and didn’t go anywhere, I just keep going, “seguí adelante sin saber de antemano lo que tendria que hacer”(1 nephi 3). And it worked! It’s what has gotten me through my mission and what will get me through the adjustment of going back home to my spoiled American life.
I wanted to talk a little bit about the many blessings I felt I have received from serving a mission, primarily starting with the promised ones in the welcome letter we receive and mentioning briefly my setting apart notes from when I was officially called to be a missionary, representative, and servant for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Dear Sister Erin Butikofer:
One of the things in my setting apart said that I would need to fill my lamp with the oil of personal conversion– as I have read and studied the scriptures diligently EVERYDAY for the past 18 months I have felt my little tree of faith planted in the soils of my heart change and grow. I KNOW that the things I have been teaching and preaching for the past year and half are TRUE. I can;t deny it and I hope that the actions of my life can seal that testimony with me when I die.
One of the things I was most praying about for before leaving was that I would be albe to share the spirit and help my friends and family back home when I left on the mission. I prayed for that in every prayer for months and I have prayed for it many times every week throughout my mission. In my setting apart the Lord promised me that “through my correspondence home you will be able to share your spirit with your friends and family.” And I set out to see that promise through. I have diligently prayed as I have prepared and written these short emails to y’all every week to know what to share and how to share it. From the letters I have received from a few of you over the course of my mission I know that he Lord has answered my many pryers. As such if any of y’all would like to request a free copy of the Book of Mormon or a visit from a pair of hardy elders or powerful sisters here’s a handy dandy web page to help yopu out. https://www.mormon.org/missionaries
Or you can just ask me, but here pretty quickly I will be losing my preaching authority so. :
(RANDOM SIDE STORY! Hna Debbie, our Jewish investigator thinks I should become a preacher bajaja. She wants me to become a leader in the church or something. She says that I have the gift of the convincing power as described in the scriptures. She says that if I had a church in the states that many people would go and listen to me. Can’t decide if that’s a pleasant compliment or just kind of a weird one, but I am always very flattered when she mentions it jajaja )
My setting apart also mentioned that I would need to open my heart up to the people that I teach. As many of you know, I was not a particularly open person with my feelings of love of charity or even just plain old kindness. But I have experienced the joy one can receive by inviting others to come unto Christ and seeing them make the changes neccesary to do so. I have learned to truly love mis familias bolivianas and the many members and investigators and menos activos that I have come in contact with. De hecho I’ve never been so happy in my life! I’m not grumpy anyore, practically EVER and I wake up every morning looking forward to the work I get to do. And honestly, I have yet to encounter someone on the mssion(other than disobedient companions) that I have not gotten along with. I’ve loved getting to become a memebr of the family in many households and I hope I can rememebr and cherish all of the sweet moments I have passed with them here en Bolivia.
I have learned to follow the Spirit to avoid danger and to use the scriptures effectively to help other people gain faith in Christ. I love my Saviour, I know that because of His Atonement that repentance can actually change us. I have been changed because of applying the Lord sufferings in my life, I know that if we ALWAYS OBEY THE COMMANDMENTS we can retain a remission of our sins and that we can live one day again in the presence of our Heavenyl Father.
1. Help me teach with inspiration;Grant this blessing, Lord, I pray.Help me lift a soul’s ambitionTo a higher, nobler way.
2. Help me reach a friend in darkness;Help me guide him thru the night.Help me show thy path to gloryBy the Spirit’s holy light.