Merry belated Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful day and enjoyed spending time with one another. I hope you were all able to reflect on the birth of our dear Savior and the wonderful gift that He is to each one of us. I had an amazing day and it was so good to see your sweet faces and hear your voices. It was too good to be true. I am grateful for each one of you and for your love and support. I was so overwhelmed with joy and gratitude in my heart when I would get a letter or a package almost every single day up until Christmas. I am grateful for those of you who thought of me and expressed your love. You have no idea what it did for me. It got me through the holiday! It was definitely really hard being away from my family on Christmas.. especially being my first one.. but having the love come in really helped me and got me through it! Thank you thank you thank you! I couldn't thank you enough. I am so blessed!
We had a really good week full of ups and downs! It was pretty busy with the holidays and everyone was just running a million miles and hour. The streets and the stores were so busy, I couldn't even take it. It was a nightmare! I was worried that no one would want to talk to us or that we wouldn't be able to teach very many lessons.. but surprisingly God led us to some hearts that were open and we were able to share the Gospel with lots this past week. We were able to continue to share the Savior is Born Christmas initiative and that helped us get into some doors.
This past Wednesday we had a mission conference with half of the mission and that was really fun! It was so nice to see some of my friends and was good to be with President and Sister Alexander. I love them! There were four zones there and each zone was asked to come up with a special Christmas musical number, a unique talent, and each member of the zone needed to prepare a 1 minute testimony. It was a really powerful meeting and the spirit was definitely felt. My zone sang a really neat version of "I heard the bells on Christmas day" and I was able to be a part of that and it really put me out of my comfort zone.. but I loved it. I am really grateful for the opportunity that I have had to share my talents.
President and Sister Alexander's son and daughter in law came and gave a wonderful training. His son gave us three things to work on. 1. Have the ability to repent and recommit. He invited us to try to have the faith to have a perfect day. I really loved that! Sometimes, almost all the time, missionary work can be really hard. Sometimes we get lazy and unmotivated. He invited us to work on recommitting to the Lord and repenting on a day to day basis. It has really helped me! I know that I cannot be perfect and cannot go go go all the time, every single second of every single day, but I can try my best and I can take some breaks and still be a good missionary. It was good for me. 2. Remember that you make an impact. There are a lot of missionaries in my mission who feel as if they are not making an impact. It absolutely broke my heart to hear this because we have some wonderful missionaries and no time or effort is ever wasted if you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and if you are trying your best. He told us that we can ALWAYS make an impact, no matter what. No matter what stage of our mission we are in. We can make a difference. I am really working on being committed to make a difference and to stand up and have courage. One of the transfer goals that Sister Cottis and I set was to "leave a legacy" here in Tanglewood. We want to leave a mark here and make the best of our time here. The Lord needs leaders and kingdom builders here and we need to let our lights shine and we cannot fear man! There is no time for that! The third thing he talked about was learning to work hard. This one particularly stood out out to me because I have been able to see wonderful examples in my life of hard workers. My other brother Kaiden is one of the hardest workers I know. He has been such an incredible example to me and I know that developing the skills and attributes of a hard worker will get you far in life. There is no substitute for hard work. It also made me think of the legacy of hard workers that we have in the church. I look at all of the pioneers and the early saints. If they are not hard workers, I don't know who is. They went though and endured SO much, more than we have ever had to do, and they were blessed. I know that as we access the atonement, the Lord will help us to work hard. One of my favorite quotes is, "Work more. Sleep less." Such a good phrase for missionaries too! :) I also came across a quote in Preach My Gospel this week that really stood out to me. Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “We do not preach and teach in order to ‘bring people into the Church’ or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives. … We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this." That last line really hit me. No one else can do this. Realistically, only missionaries really can invite others to be baptized and get them into the church. It's not typical for others to just go around inviting people to be baptized. This is my responsibility and I must do better. I am excited for the new year and am excited to recommit to myself and to the Lord to do better. My time is so short and I must do all I can to help these people of North Carolina.
So, needless to say, the conference was wonderful and I enjoyed every second of it. We also received a wonderful Christmas meal and were able to play some fun games and do some Christmas activities. :) Later that evening my district all went caroling and that was SO much fun! Oh my goodness! We went to a neighborhood that had a ton of houses close together and we just went door to door changing lives! People were so happy! I was loving it! There was this sweet older lady that answered the door in a wheel chair and we started singing and a few seconds into it tears started rolling down her cheeks. It made her so happy. Sister Cottis and I got her information and we are planning on going back and seeing her this next week! After that we went and got some hot cocoa and donuts and ended the night off with a bang!
Christmas Eve was pretty good. We had weekly planning and that took up 3 hours of the day. We spent 2 more hours making some homemade banana pudding and cookies that we were going to deliver on Christmas day, and wrote lots of little cards. We had dinner with a fun family in the ward and I tried some split pea soup for the first time. It was interesting.. but good at the same time. Right after that dinner appointment we went over to a Christmas Eve party with the elders. We went over to a member's home and there were lots of other families there. We had some yummy appetizers and chatted all night long! Everyone was 20+ so it was super nice to not have any kids around. We all gathered in a circle and played a game called "things". Family, you would love it. It is kind of like the name game we play... but a lot funnier! I have never laughed harder in my life. It was such a fun night and will be one that I will remember forever! We still managed to make it home by 9:30 and slept super good. I think it was the first Christmas Eve I have actually slept well. I think not having any gifts and surprises to wake up too really made a difference haha. Although I missed all of that stuff, I am grateful that I was able to sleep well!
Well, Christmas day for Sister Worthington was so amazing! Oh my goodness! We woke up and went running and that just started the day off perfectly. I had some wonderful Christmas studies all about the Savior Jesus Christ and got my mind in the right frame for the day. I love personal study time so much because of the sacred time that I have with myself and the Lord. After studies we went over to a recent converts home. He was baptized 1.5 years ago and his wife is still not a member. They have 4 little kids and it was SO MUCH FUN. They are one of my favorite families. They are from Ecuador and so we were able to have a really yummy Ecuadorian meal! Wasn't your typical Christmas morning breakfast, and I really missed my momma's crepes... but it was so good and will again be something that I will never forget. After that we went to the church and we skyped y'all! That was so good, but really hard, and not long enough!! I am already looking forward to Mother's Day! It was good to see everyone though and get the assurance that you are all still there, alive, doing well, and cheering me on! It just made me want to work harder and make you all proud! After that we went home and opened our gifts. That was super fun and it was pretty neat to have a little Christmas on the floor of my apartment with my sweet companion. Unforgettable. After that is when the real fun of the day began. We went to sooooo many houses and dropped off little goodie bags of cookies and treats! We went to some investigators, members, less actives, and recent converts. Everyone that we wanted to see we caught home and that was really really nice. I know that the Lord blessed us that way! Mom, guess what! Surprisingly we were able to hand out all of those little bags that you made for the kiddos! Thank you SO much for doing that! Any time we would see children, we would pull over the car and go up to them and give them the little gift. They were so happy and it made me so happy. It made me think of Haiti and Mexico all over again. Do you remember our last Christmas in Mexico and how on Christmas day we went out and did the same thing? How amazing that was. Another something that I will never ever forget. We had Christmas lunch/dinner with our recent convert Pat and the member that she is living with, and that was a really special experience. I was nervous at the beginning.. and wasn't all that excited, but they went to so much work and made it so special for us that I will never ever EVER forget it. They have absolutely nothing, yet they saved every penny they had this month to feed us a special meal and get us a little gift. It was so special and so sacred. Something that will forever touch my heart. It wasn't your usual big Christmas dinner, but it taught me a great lesson and it was all that I needed. After that we just visited some more homes and ended up doing that the rest of the evening. We were actually able to teach a few lessons and share some special Christmas messages with some people so that was definitely a highlight of the day.
So I have many more things that I could share with you today, but being my last email of the year, and my "Christmas" email if you will, I have decided that the greatest gift I could give to each of you would be my personal testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So as I said earlier, this past week for me was absolutely miraculous! It was way better than I thought it was going to be. Being my first Christmas away from home, I was worried I was going to struggle. Instead, I did the complete opposite and was actually just fine, and better than usual! I wondered why that was... But then had an overwhelming feeling of love, peace, and joy come over me. The real and true meaning of Christmas came into my life. The real miracle of Christmas is that through giving, instead of receiving, you grow SO much closer to your savior. Being able to go out and serve people on Christmas day was the best thing ever. Never have I done that before on Christmas Day! A real Christmas comes to those who have taken Christ into their lives.
For the first time in twenty years, I found myself understanding Christmas rather than just enjoying it. I finally was understanding the message of Christ's birth and his life. His mission and his sacrifice for me, and for others. This is what it's all about! We cannot fully understand the meaning of Christmas unless we understand the meaning of the Savior's life, atonement, and resurrection. Oh how I wish I could've made this connection earlier in my life. I feel like every Christmas from here on out will be different because of this one simple experience I had while on my mission. I was just so happy and felt a glow within myself! This was a Christmas that I finally said to myself.... "I get this. I get what it's all about."
Something else that really hit me this week was the words that I heard an Elder say. He said, "He is why...." And those really stuck with me. I haven't been able to forget about them. Since then, I have really been reflecting on my life and have come to find out that He (the savior) is why I have everything that I have. He is why I am on a mission. He is why I am alive today. He is why I have a family. He is why I can learn and grow. He is why I can enjoy the beauties around me. HE IS WHY EVERYTHING. Everything comes from Him and because of Him and it's really been a neat experience for me reflect on how much I am blessed with, because of Him.
I want each and everyone of you to know that I KNOW that God lives. I know that he loves each and everyone of us. I know that this is his Gospel. I know that this is His work. I know that the priesthood power was restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that because of that priesthood, we have temples. I know that what happens in the temples are real. I know that because of the priesthood authority and because of the temple, we are able to live with our families for time and all eternity. What an amazing thing that is. There is nothing that brings me more happiness, than knowing that. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that combined with the Bible, we have the fullness of the Gospel. I know the atonement is real. It can heal any wound, take away any pain, and can fix any broken heart. In Revelation 21:4 it says, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." We all have struggles. There are also SO MANY struggles of mortality such as....addiction, pain, temptation, sin, abuse, depression, worry, poverty, anxiety, employment, health, mistreatment, etc. But guess what, we all agreed to come down and deal with them! So, thankfully we have a way out! Through our Savior Jesus Christ. Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “Having ‘descended below all things,’ He comprehends, perfectly and personally, the full range of human suffering.” We might even say that having descended beneath it all, He is perfectly positioned to lift us and give us the strength we need to endure our afflictions. We have only to ask." All we have to do is COME TO HIM AND ASK.
One day all of these mortal burdens will pass away and there will be no more pain (as Revelation 21:4 says). I hope that we will all understand the hope and strength of our Savior’s Atonement. The assurance of immortality, the opportunity for eternal life, and the sustaining strength we can receive if only we will ask him. One of my favorite hymns is #129. Study the words!
Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
When you think there is NO WAY LEFT- I testify that there is a way out and that is through the savior. It may not be the way you want or the way you think it's going to be, but there is a way. If he brought you to it, he will get you through it. We have to remember that righteous people will suffer. Righteous people will have trials and tribulations. Righteous people will have pain. Psalms 34:19 says "Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the lord delivereth him out of them all." Keep enduring and I promise it will all be okay in the end.
My mission has had the greatest impact on my life. I have learned to rely more on the Lord, to seek the guidance of the Spirit, and to feel an overwhelming love for God’s children. My knowledge of the scriptures and my understanding of the doctrines have increased. My desire to be obedient and to keep the commandments with exactness has been increased. My testimony of the Savior and His infinite Atonement has been strengthened. My missionary experiences have become a part of who I am and what I am. Missionary work has become my passion. It has impacted my life more than anything else. North Carolina is my holy land. The place where I have come to know my savior Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of change. My mission has taught me how to fully access the atonement of Jesus Christ and because of that, my life has been forever changed. I will never ever regret my decision to serve a mission, and if you are even thinking about a mission in the slightest of ways... GO. It will be the best thing you could ever do. I love my Savior so much. I love my family so much. I am so grateful for the new year that is ahead. My prayer is that each of you will take time this next week to reflect on your 2015 year. Set goals and give an accounting to the Lord of this past year. Let's commit to making 2016 even better and committing to become true disciples of Jesus Christ. I know that you will be blessed and I know that God has miracles in store for each one of us who submit ourselves to Him and His will.
I love you all so much. I pray for you every single day. Let me know if there is anything I can do for any of you. Have a wonderful week. I love you! See ya in seven! xo
Sister Kyla Worthington