Hello friends and family!
This week I want to talk about a good friend of mine. His name is..."Mr. I Propose" considering he LOVES to say,"I propose" and to voice his opinion ALL THE TIME. Mr. I Propose is a very smart fella. He is one of my English class students. Every Wednesday here in Fushimi we teach a free English class as part of our service as missionaries. Mr. I Propose has taught English on various levels from elementary to university level English. He sure loves to show that kind of stuff off all the time, always making comments about his vast knowledge of history of basically anything you can think of, using words I'm pretty sure my great grandmother would never use, and just energetic all the time. When I first met this man, I HATED/DISLIKE (ok my mom always told me I can never hate, so dislike is a better word.) him. I thought he was so obnoxious, rude, weird, and so forth. He always interrupts when I'm teaching to share something completely unrelated to the topic. Drives me CRAZY! I noticed that every week, my feelings worsened little by little towards this man. I would leave class with a headache all the time trying to deal with him and keep class in order. He just made everything so hard. But I must say, he is my FAVORITE man in that class out of all of them.
I'll never forget the day A few weeks ago that I got down on my knees right before class started and pleaded to God to allow me to love Mr. I Propose. I walked in to class, and it was the worst class yet. At first I thought, "Heavenly Father what the heck! I asked you to help me out!". I evaluated the situation. And I realized something. I was focusing too much on trying to get this guy to be quiet, focusing on changing him and his actions. That, is basically impossible if you ask me (trust me I tried it already on him)
The next week I thought in preparation for it, "How can I make this a better day at class?" And I realized I can't focus on the things I can't control. Those things are in a group of things I "worry" about. I can't do anything about them but worry about them. In this case, I was so worried about trying to change Mr. I Propose and his actions. But what I SHOULD do is focus on my circle of influence. The things I can affect and can control, and so on. For me, I realized I should be emulating my calling. As a missionary, I am a representative of Jesus Christ. What better way to represent Him than to BE like Him? One who is filled with charity, and pure love, not selective love, or hatred, or contention and harsh feelings.
I walked into class, with the right frame of mind, and just loved the crap out of this man. I focused on what I COULD control, which was a my actions, my feelings, and did EVERY single thing possible to show him some love. For me, it made it a little better that day. For him, seemed normal to me from what I observed.
Being the smart guy that I am, I realized, "hey, when I truly try and do what I'm called to do, and truly strive to be like Jesus Christ, my feelings get better"
So I continued this process every week. I've never prayed so strongly before an English class every week just to be nice to someone. Every week. I kept going. Doing ALL I could to make it a good day for me, and to make the guy feel loved. It never changed him, he still always says his remarks and what not, but what it did change, was ME. My feelings and actions toward this man became more natural, more real, and more pure. I was able to love him no matter what he did.
He came up to me last Wednesday after class and said to me in such a sweet humble voice:
"Excuse me, Mr. Elder Preciado. I have to tell you something"
(He pulls me to the corner)
"Sure! How can I help you!?" I said
He says, "You are so big! And strong, and colossal. But you have a very, very warm heart. Yessss yes and a very warm spirit about you. You are so nice! I feel good talking to you! Thank you very much. I'll see you next week, I can't wait to come back and feel good again!"
I was crying inside with how touched I was. That was when I realized, my prayer was answered, and that I love Mr. I Propose.
I have learned a lot from this man, not only by his constant stating of facts and history, but because of the personal experience I was able to have from him.
There were three simple yet powerful principles I learned from this.
1. God hears our prayers. He is there to help us and guide us in HIS own way. He allowed me to have such an experience to learn and grow from. He knew the desire of my heart and helped me achieve it.
2. Don't focus on things you can't control. I couldn't do anything to change this man. I still haven't! But the one thing I COULD do was change myself. This is where the whole, "we need to change ourselves first, if we want others to change" principle comes into play. Mr. I Propose changed in a sense, from being a student, to being a friend. I don't know where we would be right now had I not tried focusing on things I could control. When we worry about such things, we just make ourselves miserable. It is like trying to go after or date someone who is WAY out of your league! You are just continually breaking your own heart in a sense! When you do the things you CAN do, "date people you can date", you will find more happiness in yourself. It's a silly analogy haha, but it works.
3. Charity is a spiritual gift. I always knew it was, but I guess this was another testimony of that haha. In order to obtain any spiritual gifts, We gotta work for it! Work is always required on our part. Loving someone you once hated is not easy, but I had to work every week, through constant prayer, patience, and meekness in order to obtain the love I have for my now good friend Mr. I Propose. He's a great friend! And I look forward to seeing this old fart every week now!
I love my mission for the things I learn like this! And also getting to meet people like this too. My mission has been very awesome, life changing, difficult, hard, backbreaking, but ultimately rewarding.
I am a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and I freakin love what I do.
Love you all!