That's the lesson learned for the week. Seriously, the header of this email has changed my life - just by thinking a little bit about what I would write you all about this week has really changed me. (Btw, bc I remember always trying to pronounce things out loud in Spanish when Dustin would write home on his mission, you pronounce that word, "car-ree-da-ge." It means Charity.)I wrote that on a little sticker and put it on the back of my nametag so I see it everyday. Let me explain myself.My companion - 'Nuf said. There have been times in the past two weeks when I wanted to call President Monson and request him to transfer me. Sorry for speaking so harshly with him but at the end of this letter, hopefully you'll be able to capture a little bit about the person who I am now. I'm changing everyday and it feels so good. (a quick side story. When I was in the Atlanta Georgia airport flying to Utah for the MTC (I know, kinda ironic right?), there were a few missionaries there who were coming home. (which btw added acid, not just "salt", to the burn of having to say goodbye to you all just a few hours earlier because when I landed I had to walk through about 7 families cheering and yelling with signs of "WELCOME HOME ELDER....") anyway, I asked them if they could give me any advice, what would it be. One of the Elders told me this and for some reason it's really stuck with me. "Don't be afraid to change on your mission. But don't change for anyone but the Lord." I'm taking that to heart and I'm really changing. I wish you could see me through this computer as I type this- not for arrogant reasons or anything like that but I feel... I don't know... different. I feel good.)So about my companion.. I literally wanted to call Dustin, break the mission rules, and ask him how in the world I deal with companions like him. He NEVER talks at any door approach. I walk up to people on the streets, in stores, even at red lights when people are on the phone talking (I'm trying to get that desire the Sons of Mosiah had when I can't bear the thought of anyone "burning in endless torment" (which btw is a metaphor, not to be taken literally - we have to clear up "Hell" all the time here because people seem to think it's a literal place with fire and brimstone and God doesn't want anything but to just drop us in it...) So I made a commitment that I would talk to everyone. It's such a burden and sometimes so frustrating, especially when people make fun of you, laugh at you, etc. but I'm hoping that I can say that I have that desire and love for people by the time I leave my mission.) Anyway, I keep getting off topic. My companion will stand behind me, look at the ground or just not pay attention when we're talking to people. I've had multiple conversations with him of how he's supposed to be my trainer and teach me how to do things. District meeting was straight up embarrassing because I didn't know half the stuff we were supposed to work on. I had one of the longest prayers with Heavenly Father this week when I was just pleading with Him to help me understand why in the world he's my "trainer". He even said in his own words that he felt I was training him. He got emotional one time and told me he didn't feel adequate which made me feel even worse... Haha I'm new to the mission field and my trainer tells me he feels like I'm training him while I have absolutely no idea what's going on. Anyway, the thought hit me - "You really think I would hold you back from being the best missionary you can be by having him train you... Just trust Me." I thought, and thought, and thought. I made an effort to just love him no matter what happens. To not grow frustrated and to have unwavering faith in why he is my companion.So I started off on my way. Laughter is the best "cure" right? Not when your companion doesn't think you're funny... Haha SERIOUSLY! Worst insult ever. We were in the church and I said, "Elder, if I ask you a question, will you promise to tell me the exact truth?" He agreed. "Do you think I'm funny?"This is his exact words. "To most people, you are probably funny. But to me, I don't find your sense of humor, humorous.""Well okay then... Thanks for being honest."Hahaha no joke! I wanted to run in to a wall. My goal from then on was to make him laugh. Seriously, I tried EVERYTHING! We were tracting forever one day and I finally said, "Elder, I think we would have more success if we tried something new. Because music brings the Spirit, when they open the door, we are going to sing them a carol. Like a Christmas carol but a Hymn instead." Haha I thought that was hilarious so I kept acting like I was going to do it but he made promises that he wouldn't do it (to be honest, I don't think I could do it anyway... haha) so I asked him what his favorite hymn was. He told me and I didn't know the words to it. (It was some song that is song once every five years, haha seriously I can't even remember it) So I asked him to sing it, he said no, I asked him to just tell me the words to it, he said no, then I asked him to just hum the tune of the song, he said no. I then started singing the title to "Praise to the Man", "Called to Serve", "I'll Go where you want me to go Dear Lord", etc. etc... He literally swung his fist at me and stopped right in front of my face! I thought I was going to be seeing stars! He scared me to death (he has kind of a temper and is flustered really easily) He told me to stop or he was going to do it for real next time. Because I promised myself not to get mad I didn't say anything and just changed the subject... Pretty much talking to myself or memorizing a scripture. At the end of the apartment complex I looked at him and was so tired of everything happening. I faced him and pointed my finger at him and said, "Elder, YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE ME BY THE END OF OUR COMPANIONSHIP!" I didn't yell it but I said it sternly. Haha now that I think back on it it's kind of funny but at the time I wasn't joking. He just said something else like it wasn't possible.... Ohhhhh baby... just wait I thought.A lot of other things happened throughout the week. Investigators would gang up on him (multiple people have told him to "lighten up", be "more open", to just "listen to them", or one even said, "you need to be more flexible." Haha I started laughing (inside of course) because he sounded just like the girl in the "Incredibles" movie.) and I was sometimes tempted to join their side and just point out all of his qualities that drive me insane. He takes 45 minutes (not kidding, I timed it) in the shower, he sometimes takes 75 seconds to answer me (again, I timed it one time), and on and on and on. I kept trying to think, how does someone DEAL WITH THIS GUY! There's no wonder after transfers an elder came up to me and said "good luck. do your best" - I actually don't think I told you that story.Anyway, more stories. We were riding our bikes down a hill this week (OOHHHHH I NEVER TOLD YOU! Haha we got bikes. Whooo! I wish I could write an entire email abt how nerdy yet awesome I feel on a bike and helmet) and I'm not going to lie, it's a pretty wicked hill. We were going really fast down it and at the end I was just coasting for a good 30 seconds when a car honked at me as he drove by. I was like "Man! Why do people hate missionaries?" Haha but I kept riding... I then turned around because he is SO SLOW on a bike. And not in shape so we always have to get off and walk (one time I had to push his bike along with mine he was so tired). I turned around and he wasn't there... Uh oh. I'll just wait here. I pulled off to the side of the road and waited for 30 seconds. He didn't come. I then turned around and started riding back. A guy in a truck picked him up because he fell and was LAYING down in the middle of the road. Anyway, Man! I'm out of time (sorry we had to do this questionnaire for our mission president which took up all our time...)Long story short, I had more compassion on him than I ever have had in my entire life. It was the coolest feeling. Later that night we were laying in bed and I told him I loved him... Haha sounds weird but I don't want him to forget it, and HE SAID IT BACK TO ME!!Let me repeat that. HE SAID IT BACK TO ME!!I about died. I immediately said a prayer of gratitude. It's so lame to write home a letter about how another guy told me he loved me but I guess you just don't quite understand. I've literally tried EVERYTHING to have success with this guy. I have wanted to do everything to him imaginable (and to be honest, I could because I don't think he's ever touched a weight in his life) but I just had patience with the Lord. I'm learning more than I ever thought I would from him through the Lord.Helaman. "...Sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts to God." I'm not claiming I'm holy by any means, but I did feel like a million bucks that night because I yielded to that prompting to just stay the course and trust in Him.I love you all. I'm happy. And I feel like I'm becoming exactly the type of person my Heavenly Father wants me to be. Which of course, is only possible through the grace and mercy of my Savior, Jesus Christ. I'm humbled to have His name on my tag everyday.
Thanks for the letters. They are medicine. Seriously.Elder Welch