Thursday, November 12, 2015

November 9, 2015

Hi hi hi!
Oh how grateful I am that it's Monday! How is everyone doing? I hope it's been a good week for y'all back in the 801. I sure miss it over there! It's just not quite the same here. It's been raining buckets for the past week. Every single day. It's been absolutely awful. The skies are so dark and cloudy and it really makes me sad. No one is outside and the whole town just shuts down. Thankfully I am in a full car area. That has been such a huge blessing. It's definitely been a better week, and I owe it all to the atonement and grace and to my Savior, Jesus Christ. He helped me get through this week! I honestly couldn't have done it without him. And, without all of your loving words of encouragement & love. I appreciate it more than you know. Keep it coming! I also received some cute little letters from all of my primary kids in the new meadow wood ward! That was so special. I am so excited to meet everyone and can already tell that it's a wonderful ward. Mom & dad, please tell them thank you thank you thank you. It lifted my spirits so much, and I've got their little pictures up hung up on my wall. It's amazing the spirit that little children have and the I most they can have. Yesterday in church I was playing with a recent converts child in sacrament meeting and was just amazed at the pure spirit that she has. She is the cutest 3 year old I know. I am so grateful for children and cannot wait to have some of my own one day! :) It really made me think of all of my babies in Haiti and all of the scriptures that talk about how we need to "become like a child." They are so perfect, pure, and simple. They just understand life! Okay, sorry to get off on that tangent.
The week was great! I am really starting to enjoy Tanglewood. We've got some good things happening here! Melissa is getting baptized on Saturday!! AH! It's been such a miracle working with her. This past week we had a lesson in a members home and we taught about temples, family history, and enduring to the end. We had a powerhouse couple bear their testimonies of the temple and the power that it has. They have been married for 17 years and haven't been able to have children and it's been a real struggle for them. But, they have received all of their strength and power from the temple. They are temple workers and work in the temple every week, and drive 2+ hours to get there! Melissa lost her only child last year in December and so she has had a really hard year. Her daughter Addison died of cancer at 8 years old. She loves and adores her SO much and every time we talk about families, or children, Melissa just cries and it breaks my heart. I feel for her. I know she is hurting, and I couldn't even imagine what she's experiencing. Anyways, after a great lesson talking about baptisms for the dead and temples, we got a text from Melissa a few hours later and she was asking us if we were still awake. Being an STL, we don't sleep. So, even though it was 11:00 pm, we were awake. :) We told her we were up and asked her if she needed anything. She replied and said, "Sisters, I want to go to the temple and get baptized for Addison the Saturday following my baptism." AHH! Chills just went running through my body! She said she has been praying for this knowledge and comfort for a long time. She was SO worried that her daughter never got baptized and she is so excited to be able to do it for her. The members that have been fellowshipping her are going to take her to the temple next Saturday for her first time. Talk about miracle! There has honestly been nothing that has made me happier. Baptisms are great and all, but I know that the TEMPLE is the goal and if you can get them to the temple within 1 month of them being baptized, their chances of staying strong and active in the church go up by 80%. President Alexander said our work is not done here until we get individuals and families to the temple. I am SO excited. I told her I would come back in a year and be there when she goes through the temple to get her endowment... So mom & dad... Start planning our trip to NC! :) So needless to say, it's been an exciting week. Planning for baptisms is the best. Please pray that everything will work out and run smoothly! I know that I am supposed to be here for this. She's ready to make this covenant!
We are also working with a sweet lady named Pat and she is doing well. She is still super sick but we have lots of members helping her and she is making progress. She is on date for the 21st of November and I'm looking forward to that as well. The elders have also been helping us with her and last week she received an amazing blessing and it was just another testimony to me that the priesthood is REAL. Wow, it was such a powerful experience. I just wish you could all be serving my mission with me. It really makes me frustrated sometimes that you can't be here. I'll have so many stories to tell when I get home, but will not be able to remember everything. You just have to be here! I'm literally in the best mission in the world and will argue with anyone about it!! Robert is doing good. We had dinner & a lesson in a member's home with him and he loved it! He's going to get baptized in December. He is one of my favorites. We just click so well and he's like my second dad. I love him! He's going to be a stake president one day! I'm just feeling it. Not a whole lot of update on him though, just please keep praying that he'll continue to progress. He is from California and has recently gone through a divorce and so is currently just with his 11 year old daughter and trying to get back on his feet! We've met a few more new investigators and have a new family that seems quite promising. Families are the BEST, and I think we've found a jackpot. President Alexander has asked that we EACH individually talk to 10 people per day, and that's really been a challenge, but has brought lots of miracles thus far! :) Which brings me to my next point.
On Tuesday we had MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) in Charlotte! Oh my goodness! It was the best meeting I've had on my mission thus far. I really really really hope I stay as a sister training leader for the rest of my mission just so I can attend this meeting every single month. It was OUTSTANDING. There was 30 missionaries, and president & sister Alexander. We all sat in a circle and met for 6 hours. Towards the beginning, President Alexander said that this meeting might be the most significant meeting he & Sister Alexander will attend on their entire 3 year mission. It took everyone by surprise and we were all so curious as to what was going to happen. Nothing super intense happened, but... we made some huge changes. President took away our standards of excellence, which are the goals set for the whole mission to try to reach each week. He took those away because he wants each companionship to be able to set their own goals and accomplish their own goals. The SOE have been a huge thing for our mission so it'll be interesting to have them gone, but will really help us with setting goals, which is a life long principle! He also said that he wants to start doing distributive leadership and wants to let all of the missionaries be set free! He wants us as leaders to start distributing things over to the missionaries so they can make their own choices and kinda do their own thing. President has a lot of trust in our mission and knows that this could be interesting, but could also be super powerful. Anyways, it was just a really neat meeting and one of those things you can't really understand unless you were there. I did get to see my trainer, Sister Ekstrom and that was SO fun. I love that girl! I saw a few other missionaries that I absolutely love and it was such a good little reunion!
On Friday we had a zone meeting and it will be a zone meeting that I'll never ever forget. Being my first zone meeting as an STL, I was a little bit nervous just because we had to give lots of trainings and lead a lot of the role plays and discussions, but it actually ended up going really really well. The spirit definitely took over and helped it all run smoothly! I love my zone so much! Towards the end of our meeting, my zone leader Elder MauMau got up and told everyone that he wanted us to go into the chapel. He pulled me aside and asked if I would be willing to play the NCCM mission song, along with a few other hymns. What ended up happening was he basically took us on a journey back to the moment when we were filling out our mission papers, and when we got our call, and left on our missions. He read part of his call letter to us and really helped us reflect on the sacred calling that we have. During the middle of his training, he said, "okay elders & sisters, close your eyes. Now imagine you're sitting at your last transfer meeting and that your mission is coming to a close. (And then I started playing the mission song, which is played at every transfer meeting). Then you're on the plane, you see your family, and then you meet with your stake president and are asked to take off your name tags. He told everyone to open their eyes and asked everyone to remove their name tags. It was SO weird, but so powerful. He basically went on to say that our time here on a mission is SO short and it will come to an end before we know it. He told us that we need to take every opportunity we can to serve with all of our whole hearts and souls. The spirit was SO strong and it really made me reflect on the last 9 months of my life and how I'm already almost half way done with my mission. It goes way to fast. President Craven once told me that I have 18 months to serve a mission, and an eternity to think about it. He preceded to ask me, what are those who knew you as a missionary going to say about you? Did you give it all you've got? Did you try your very best? Did you help others come unto Christ? He asked me a bunch of questions and it really helped me focus on what's most important and what I need to be doing, and be focusing on most. I know my mission will impact me for the rest of my life, and I'm sure there won't be a day that goes by, where I don't think about my mission, the people I've met, or the experiences I've had. Anyways, it was a powerful zone conference and I'm ready and determined to work harder than I've ever worked. I'm ready to give everything I have over to my heavenly father and dive into this great work. One of my favorite quotes says, "Our greatest desire for our missionaries is that by the time they return home, all of them will have the new and everlasting covenant written in the fleshy tables of their hearts, that each will personally become an "epistle of Christ". All are capable of doing so, no matter their personal situations or challenges, if they rely upon the Lord Jesus Christ." That is what I am trying to do and I'm really working on trying to have the doctrine of Christ written on my heart.
I was able to go on another exchange this past week with some more sisters and it was like another sleepover and I loved it! I am learning so much from these sisters and they are teaching me so much. It's amazing the miracles that happen while on exchanges!! I love them! I am so excited to continue to work with these lovely sisters and learn from them! They are wonderful!
Let's see, my studies have been good this week, but kind of all over the place. I received a really powerful email last week from Elder Parkinson's mom and she really really helped me and shared some things with me that I want to share with you all! She shared a story with me called "Anchor Points" and I absolutely loved it. It goes like this.

"It was general conference weekend when I received a phone call from a friend. His daughter, Isabelle, was having trouble with her eyes and experiencing trembling in her hands.

She is eleven.

The doctor had found a tumor. It's cancer.

I asked my friend how he was doing. He said, "brave."

I then asked him if he was okay and asked how he was ever going to get through this.

He replied and said, "We will hold onto our anchor points."

I asked, "What are anchor points?"

He said it is the times in our life when we can look back on and know for certain God was aware of us. He explained, the moments when we saw his hand in our life. We write them down in a journal for times such as these. Then, in the hardest moments, we have something to hold on to. A testimony that is sure.

Anchor points. Anchors that will not fail.

What are your anchor points? What do you know for sure? Think back on your life to moments when you have been guided and directed. Sure, you might chalk it up to coincidence but think about that moment when you were impressed to walk outside and you happened upon a friend who needed you just then. Could that have been God's hand?

That's a witness. An anchor point.

And if there was that one, are there others? The sunset after your sister died. That phone call. The way your job lined up. The story you heard in church. That scripture that stood out to you this morning, the one you needed to read right then and there.

Those are whispers from Heaven. Answers. Anchor points.

If they have been there before, they will be there again.

Perhaps it is worth the time to set anchors.

Perhaps it is time.

Little tender mercies or revelations become anchor points in our life and I know we have all experienced some of those. Anchor points are little things that happen that let us know that God is real and that He is aware of us. If something is important to us, than its important to Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father gives us these little anchor points so that when the storms of life come, we will have experiences that anchor our testimonies in the gospel and help us get through adversity. We must use these anchor points to keep us going and to keep our testimonies strong.
We have to remember that our testimonies are fragile & we must keep them going. I know gaining a testimony is hard work and keeping a testimony is even harder work! No good thing comes without effort and sacrifice though! We have to work hard to obtain a testimony, and by doing so, it will make us and our testimonies even stronger. The need for a testimony is these last days is paramount. It's absolutely essential. A testimony is the most precious possession because it is not acquired by logic or reason alone, it cannot be purchased with earthly possessions, and it cannot be given as a present or inherited from our ancestors. We cannot depend on the testimonies of other people. We need to know for ourselves. Our firm personal testimony will motivate us to change ourselves and then bless the world. I came across a scripture this week that I have decided to make my PONDERIZE one for the week! It's doctrine & covenants 62:3 and it says, "Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; and they rejoice over you, and your sins are forgiven you." I LOVE THIS. Each and every time we bear our testimonies, it is recorded and our sins are forgiven. How glorious is that! We best be sharing our testimonies often! Elder Holland said, "Honestly evaluate your personal life. How strong is your own testimony? Is it truly a sustaining power in your life, or is it more a hope that what you have learned is true? Is it more than a vague belief that worthwhile concepts and patterns of life seem to be reasonable and logical? Such mental assent will not help when you face the serious challenges that will inevitably come to you. Does your testimony guide you to correct decisions? To do so, fundamental truths must become part of the very fiber of your character. They must be an essential part of your being, more treasured than life itself. If an honest assessment of your own testimony confirms that it is not as strong as it should be, how can it be strengthened?" I would invite you to really think about where your own personal testimony is at. And how you can make it stronger! President Uchtdorf give us 4 things to strengthen our testimonies. First: Desire to believe. Second: search the scriptures. Third: do the will of God, keep the commandments. Fourth: ponder, fast, & pray. It really is that simple! And if we share our testimony, it will grow. I've noticed that our church is so different from everyone else's because of the testimonies of the members. Our convictions are so strong that we live it, and it shows. I'm sure everyone else has testimonies of Christ... But they don't seem to really "know" like we as Latter Day Saints "know".
I also studied a lot about CHARITY! My eyes were so opened and I learned so much. My new favorite quote is “Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others." Oh how true that is! It's easy to love those who are easy to love. It's more difficult to love those who are different from us, or who may have hurt us. We are all different. We all came from different places and different backgrounds, we all have problems and weaknesses, but we're really all in this together! The test of this life is the kind of charity we develop for those around us. I am here on my mission to develop and work on charity. CHARITY is everything!! President Alexander said, "If we only knew how much the prophets & apostles loved us, we would never want to do another bad thing again." They love like the Savior loves. We need to love like they do, and like the Savior does! I came across 1 Peter 4:8 this week and was amazed at footnote b. AH!! It's a Joseph smith translation and he said, for charity preventeth a multitude of sins... Think about that!!!! As we have greater charity, we will make less mistakes, and therefore be happier!! Do all you can to develop charity!! I'm really trying to love my companion more and I guess one of the things I've learned is that you can have strong differences of opinions sometimes, you can have different personality traits and can be very different people in many ways and yet be one. As long as everyone loves the Lord. Just as long as the Lord is first in each one's life, then you can be one with each other. That love of God is what unites us, what knits our hearts together. There's probably other things on which we could be unified, but I've learned that unity comes when you love God. Keep the first commandment. Love with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. That allows you to be one with your brethren. The church ought to be one, the Lord says, 'if ye are not one ye are not means you don't love me enough. If Ye are not one with each other, your love for me is Inadequite.' So I guess that may be the most important thing. It's important to love God enough that I can love everybody else and be united with them. Those who feel the same serve the same God, and it ends up working out just fine.
I am grateful for the atonement and for grace. I am grateful that I can be cleansed and that even all my bad thoughts, words, and actions, can all be taken care of! We can be cleansed by grace, or in other words, sanctified. When we sin, it has an impact on us, on our being. A negative impact. It does something to us. And when we are forgiven, that grace, that atoning grace...doesn't just take away the guilt! It also takes away the stain, The effect that sin has had on us so that we are pure. We are clean, and eventually holy. So the atonement does both of those things, and grace is the power or the name that we give to the atonement, that atoning power of the savior. Forgiveness...cleansing. Guiltless....spotless. Both of those things come with it. The atonement is everything. Everything we have ever done can be forgiven and left behind. We all need to gain a testimony of the atonement, because in essence, that is the Doctrine of Christ. We must not spend too much time being guilty. Give it up to the Lord. I think so many of us think that repentance is a horrible thing, and we think that we have to suffer, but really, the Savior has already suffered for us. He has already done all of the suffering so that we don't have to do it. When I truly repented of my sins, that was when I became truly converted to the Gospel. I had felt the redeeming power of the atonement and felt the love and mercy of my Savior Jesus Christ. That is when I knew without a doubt that this was all real. When we experience the power of repentance and of the atonement, THAT is when we truly become converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Anyways, okay, this is getting WAY too long. I'm so sorry for everyone that is reading this. Hahahhaha. Please forgive me. I just want you to all know that I have a sure testimony of this gospel. I KNOW IT'S TRUE!! Everything inside me knows it's true and real. The gospel has brought me so much happiness and I will never ever leave it. Another good quote for ya: "Happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have." I know that Christ is at the head of this Church. I know this is his work and I know that we have a living prophet on the earth today. HE LIVES and I am so grateful for him and for the knowledge of the plan of salvation that I have. Share it with everyone! Share your testimonies. Do not be afraid! Everyone needs to hear this and needs the blessings of the gospel in their lives. I love you all so so much. Thank you for all of the love and support. You all mean the world to me!! Couldn't do this without you!! Let me know if I can do anything for any of you! You are all in my prayers! See you in seven!! Xoxo

Sister Kyla Worthington 
Say hello to Ronnie. He's a great guy!!! One of my new favorite
investigators. Just gotta help him stop smoking.

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