¡Bom dia! (That means good morning in portugues). Here in the mission, we set a lot of goals, and I mean a lot. We set goals in the morning, we set goals for every week, we set goals for companionship relations, personal scripture study, teaching methods, emotional wellness, prayer, exercise, budget, organization, language, and just about everything else. I admit that at times, my goals slip away in the dizzying laundry machine of life as I try to stretch myself in every direction at the same time. In the MTC, we performed an exercise to explain why we set so many goals. Every companionship was given a piece of paper and asked to tear it up. We had about twenty or thirty seconds to tear off as many pieces as possible. We got maybe twenty. Other groups had more, around thirty or thirty five. Next, they asked us to set a goal. We decided to try for forty. We had our papers ready, and when they announced that the time had begun, an idea popped into my head. The first time we tore the pieces one by one, plucking them off as if we were tearing a tough piece of bread. That wouldn´t be enough for our goal. I folded my paper in half and ripped it right through the middle, then I doubled it and tore again. This time, I was getting four pieces per rip, and my companion caught on within the first two seconds. When they called time, we counted the pieces; I don´t remember the exact number, but we broke a hundred. Our goal was effective in pushing us to work harder.
So what happens with my other goals? Why can I tear paper five-fold with a goal but still struggle to see improvement in the goals more related to missionary work? For me, achieving my goals has less to do with how much I think about them than it does with the measures I take to begin action. Last conference, I was blown away with all of the great talks and wanted to remember it all, but it didn't happen. For all the desire that I had, leaf subsided to leaf, gold faded to green, and the joy I felt at conference became more of a memory. (Read "Nothing Gold can Stay" by Robert Frost if you didn´t understand that line.) This time, I acted before that happened again, downloaded the sessions of conference, and have begun listening to them at home. We´ve got more spare time now that the winter schedule is starting (home by 8:30), and I´ve spent a good amount of time throwing a tennis ball against the wall and listening to talks. (Unfortunately I only downloaded in English, but I´ll get it in Spanish today so that my companion can understand.) If you want to get better at something, act now. If you want to write, buy a notebook and begin to fill it fearlessly. If you want to be a missionary, share the gospel with someone. If you want to read the Book of Mormon, read a chapter. Take a step.
There is nothing more important than the family. I love you guys, and I´ll try to take steps to get closer to you, even if it´s all the way over here in Argentina. If we self-evaluate and try our best to carefully live the gospel, there is nothing more we can do. I have a firm testimony of the mercy of God, and I know that He helps those who seek His help. Trust Him, and trust that He knows what´s best.