As a missionary, you have hard weeks. Of course we are all aware of this. This last week was one of the hardest of my mission. On Wednesday, I said goodbye to my trainer, Sister Carter. It was harder than I thought it would be. We became such good friends in the time we served together, and I learned so much from her. :) She taught me that while missionary work is work, we are allowed to laugh and smile and have fun along the way. God didn't send us on missions with the intention of us having no fun for 18 months or 2 years.
So now I have my new companion, Sister Jeong Hye Min. She is Korean of course, and she definitely knows how to work hard. She just came from an area with a very strong large ward. So when she got here and saw our small ward of about 30 active members in 안산, she was very surprised. She definitely misses her old area. But I am sure she will come to love Ansan as I do.
We had a less active come to church this week! That was so exciting. And there was an investigator family that attended church as well. Work is blossoming here in Ansan. :)
Now why was my week hard? Well, since I now have a Korean companion, she is pushing me to learn Korean. When we teach lessons, she provides no padding for when I say something wrong or cannot think of a word. Sister Carter would expound on my Korean if I didn't make sense or wasn't completely clear with what I said. She would help me if I couldn't think of a word. But Sister Jeong doesn't help me if I can't think of a word or any of that. So I am left there, feeling alone and helpless. I love sister Jeong, she is a great missionary. And I know that she is just trying to push me to learn Korean as quickly as possible. But it is definitely hard. I know that I will appreciate her pushing me in the long run, but for now and until I get used to this new teaching method, I will struggle. But what do we gain if we don't struggle?
God has placed me in the refiner's fire. He wants to make me into the tool he needs me to be. This means that I am being placed into the fire, pounded and sculpted, bent, melted and solidified into the person that God wants me to be. There are people out there that I am meant to teach, and this may just be part of God's plan to prepare me to teach them. There is a Mormon Message about a refiner's fire, and while my trials are not the same as the woman's trials, I can relate. Right now, I am being forced to learn Korean more than ever before. No it is not easy, I want to cry because it is so hard sometimes. My heart breaks when members try to talk to me and I cannot understand. But this may just be God's way of putting me into the refiner's fire. Sister Jeong is pushing me, telling me to use Korean at every possible moment. She is teaching me faster than I have learned before, and I feel as if I can hardly keep up. This last Sunday was Fast Sunday. I fasted for the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation. I need it more than ever before right now. I just have to keep remembering, I am in the refiner's fire. God is sculpting me into who I am meant to be. I have to trust that I am in the Master's hands, and He will make me who He needs me to be.
We are given trials to give us strength. It is like running long distance. During the run, you feel tired, exhausted. Your legs ache, your lungs hurt. You breathe hard and you just want to reach the finish line. But after you reach the finish line, you look back and appreciate that you ran all that way. You see how far you came from where you started. I am running right now. I am running and running. My legs ache, my lungs hurt, I am breathing hard. I want nothing more than to stop running sometimes. But I know that if I stop running, I will regret it. I will have not grown at all. I have to keep the end in mind.
I trust in God to help me through this. I know that He will. God doesn't put us in situations we cannot handle. And while I feel very overwhelmed right now, I know He will lift this burden (of learning Korean) when the time is right. I just have to trust Him and work hard to do my part. I am in the refiner's fire. I am running the distance. God will help me. :)
Love you all, miss you all! I hope your Easter was great! And I cannot wait to watch general conference next week since we didn't get it here in Korea this week. :)
Love, Sister Maughan