hey my cute fam!
Happy Spring! Whoa, before I forget, Happy birthday daddy! I hope you had a wonderful day. I was thinking about you ALL day, wishing I could be there to celebrate with you. I hope it was a magical day. I will be there for you next year, I promise. :) Well, what a beautiful time to be alive and share the good news that our Savior lives! It still hasn't quite hit me yet that Easter is next week. What! Where is all the time going. What is everyone's plans for Easter? This time of year is probably one of my favorites being a missionary because everyone seems to have Christ more on their mind and seem to be a little bit more open. We have been sharing the new Easter initiative with everyone and it's been super powerful. The church does such a good job with their holiday videos. Has everyone been able to watch that yet?
If you haven't, go watch it. #hallelujah :) It's also pretty exciting that I came upon my year mark this past week. What a day. I cannot believe that it's been that l long. I never thought that day would come. It was a magical day and it was super special to be able to reflect on the past year of my life and everything that I have learned. It has hands down been the very best year of my life. Nothing else will ever compare to it. I don't have words to even express the feelings that I have when it comes to my mission. I just will never ever be able to express it. Kind of like Haiti, there just isn't any words. :)
This week was wonderful! It seems like every week I am always amazed at the tender mercies that God shows me. I am grateful that he allows me to witness miracles and feel his love on a regular basis. It keeps me going. This morning I was reading in Jacob 7 and came across Sherem, the first anti Christ in the Book of Mormon. It started talking about how he demanded Jacob to show him a sign, that God was real. I was pondering on that thought, and it took me to Matthew 12:39. "An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it." How true that is. I had an experience this past week that even explains that perfectly. We had a lesson with this pastor dude and we were talking about the gift of the Holy Ghost. He was convinced that the Holy Ghost was the power of God, and the power to perform miracles and all that kind of stuff. Little did he know he was talking about the Priesthood. We tried to tell him that, but he was just not having it. To make a long story short, I looked at him and said, "because I have been baptized by the proper authority, I have the gift of the Holy Ghost." He looked at me with a real serious face and said, "So you're telling me that YOU have the gift of the Holy Ghost?" And I said, "yep". Well, after that, he was shocked and tried telling me that I didn't have it and that only Christ's apostles could have the Holy Ghost. So, he said "well, if you say you have the Holy Ghost, I want you to make this water bottle move." And pointed to the water bottle on the table. Like what.
Clearly he didn't understand. Anyways, after studying this morning, it took me back to that experience. So many people in this generation just want proof and signs. Clearly we must exercise faith FIRST. We must not feed upon signs, miracles, and visions to keep us strong and steadfast in the church. We must have faith, humility, and trust that as we keep the commandments and obey, God will bless us and will let us know that he is there and that this is all real.
In Doctrine and Covenants 63 the Lord said, "Faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe." The righteous will have signs in their lives as a result of their faith. I have seen that happen time and time again in my life and I cannot deny that signs are real. I know that God will bless you and show unto you things as you first exercise your own faith. Elder Bruce R. McConkie once said, "“Signs flow from faith. They may incidentally have the effect of strengthening the faith of those who are already spiritually inclined, but their chief purpose is not to convert people to the truth, but to reward and bless those already converted. Signs are sacred grants of divine favor reserved for the faithful and concerning which the recipients are commanded not to boast” I loved that. So, I just want you to know that I have a testimony of miracles and signs. I know that God is aware of what his children need, and will show them what they want to see, according to their diligence and faith. I am so grateful for what I have been able to see and experience on my mission, as a result of my faith and obedience. I have seen SO many things, you don't even know. I cannot wait to come home and share some of my most sacred experiences with you. All I know is that it works. Faith is the beginning of everything. Everything comes because of faith. No wonder it is the very first principle of the Gospel. :) Think about that one.
The very first thing taught in the Doctrine of Christ. There is a reason for that. Do some studying on that one!
Sister Cottis and I were able to see a lot of miracles this past week.
It was a good week. We were able to teach a lot of the new investigators that we found the previous week and that was super exciting. It was neat to see that most of our new investigators kept their return appointments and we were able to see them again. We are working with quite a few people and are really just trying to get them to progress and work towards baptism. We are working with some solid people who have committed to baptism dates, but they are just having the hardest time coming to church. I don't know why that's always the hardest thing for people. It's such a struggle. I am convinced that if they would come just one time, they would love it and would continue to come. Statistics have shown that investigators who come once, 9 times out of 10 come back another time. Our miracle people Tiffany and Teresa are doing well. We had a good lesson with them and we are just trying to get them to church as well. We have a lesson with them tomorrow and a member is coming out with us so we are hoping that as we get some fellowship for them, they will feel more comfortable coming. I will keep you posted on that one. :) Robert also came out teaching with us a lot this past week and that was super fun to have him with us. His testimony is SO powerful and it just shakes the investigators. There is nothing like a recent convert teaching. I wish he could just come with us everyday. I swear he is going to convert all of North Carolina one day. He is actually considering moving to Utah..... So hopefully that'll happen and you can all meet him one day. He's my favorite. :)
The highlight of the week was our mission leadership conference in Charlotte with President Mike Hemmingway and Elder Jackman. Elder Hemmingway is the head person for proselyting in the church and Elder Jackman is the head person for all referrals in the church. Both quite a big deal in the whole missionary side of things. All of the district leaders were also invited to the meeting and it ended up being the best 9 hours of my week. I learned SO much. My mind was just blown on so many levels. We learned so many new ways to teach, preach, find, plan, and everything else. Sister Cottis and I were just on fire after the meeting and were so excited to get out and find people to teach. A lot of the meeting was focused on our purpose as missionaries and the main reason for why we do what we do. Elder Hemmingway went on to say that the reason we live the morning schedule, the reason we eat, the reason we have Facebook, the reason we email on Mondays, the reason we paint our nails and do our hair, the reason for EVERYTHING we do is all to TEACH REPENTANCE AND BAPTIZE CONVERTS. It put that into a whole new perspective for me. All that I do out here is for that main purpose. Once we as missionaries can connect those dots to all that we do, everything will change. I am working on figuring that out and have been able to start to see how everything I do and why I do everything is to help God's enter into covenants with him. He gave us an example that really helped me see what he meant. He asked us to imagine ourselves placed on a boat in the middle of an ocean. He then asked, which way we would go? We wouldn't have any idea which way would lead us to the shore. He then said, What if a big wave came and when you were on the top of the wave, you could see the glimpse of a mountain.
Then would you know where to go and which direction to take? YES! When you have a vision and know where to go, everything else becomes easier. It's so applicable to life as well. As I understand that my purpose and vision is to teach repentance and baptize converts, everything else will change. I will know where to go and what to do. I will know what direction I need to head and it will all work out. It was a really powerful meeting, that's about all I can say. :) My favorite quote of the meeting was "If you want to improve, you have to change. If you want to be perfect, you have to change often." Now I know we all can't be perfect, but that's definitely what we're striving for, right? If we want to start seeing different results in life, we must start doing different things. We cannot keep doing the same things we are doing or we will keep getting the same results.
I was able to go on an exchange this past week with one of my favorite sisters in the zone and that was a real good time. We taught some super powerful lessons and found some new investigators. There are always so many miracles that come on exchanges. I love them. I hope I can continue to be a STL so that I can continue to go on exchanges.
I don't have much to talk about, but I do want to talk about the very special day that I had on March 18th, 2016. I started the day off with a very heartfelt prayer. I wanted to thank my father in heaven for the time that he has allowed me to spend in North Carolina. It was so interesting to think that a year ago on that very day, I was saying goodbye to all of you and I was giving up everything that I have once had and once known, to come out and serve the Lord. I didn't have a clue what I was getting into. I had no idea what to expect, but I was trusting the Lord that he would take care of me and that my decision to serve was the right decision. I never thought that this day would come, where I would be saying that I am on the downhill of my mission.
It kills me inside. I don't even like to think about it. However, I do love looking back on the past year and reflecting on how much growth has taken place in my life. I will never forget what President Craven said to me when I first came out on the mission. He told me that if there is one person I convert on my mission, it better be me. After being out and serving for a year now, I can now say that I have been converted to this gospel. I have converted myself and because of that, my mission has been absolutely worth it. I have such a strong testimony of this gospel. I know it's true with everything in me and I will stand up to it until the day I die. I cannot deny what I know and what I have experienced. I am also very grateful for the power of the priesthood and for the Prophet Joseph Smith. As a mission we have really been focusing on the first lesson, The Restoration of the Gospel. I think I have taught that lesson probably 10,000 times on my mission, no joke. I have recited the Joseph Smith account so many times. It has been amazing to me to see that each and every time I share that experience, I feel the spirit. I get chills up and down my body. It's such a testimony to me that it's true and that it really happened. We had a great lesson in RS yesterday about the Prophet Joseph and I am so grateful for what he did and for his sacrifice to this work. Because of him, my life has been changed. He is one of my heroes and I cannot wait to meet him one day.
I am just so very grateful for my mission and for the life changing things that I have been able to experience. I have been able to see the power of the atonement work in my life so greatly here. I know that it's real. It's so strong, powerful, and so so real. During this Easter time I have really been reflecting on the atonement and what it means to me personally. The atonement made by Jesus Christ brought about the resurrection from the dead, and restored life. I love in the new Easter video how it talks about how all of our family that has gone before us can live again because of Jesus Christ. What a powerful, yet so simple teaching. That is why Jesus said: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25)
This wonderful principle extends to all the human family, to all men of every nation. I am so grateful for that. No matter who we are, or how we lived our lives, we will all be able to be resurrected. I think that is another sign of how much God truly does love us. I hope this Easter Sunday each of you will be able to take some time to reflect on what the Savior means to you. I would invite you all to take a few quite moments throughout the day to reflect on his life and his atonement, and how you have seen it bless your life. Easter is more than just a holiday. I would also invite y'all to start preparing for general conference. I am SO excited to hear the words of our dear prophets. Right now I think we desperately need their council with everything going on in the world at the moment. I hope you will all spiritually prepare and I cannot wait to hear all about it.
I better wrap things up. It's about time to head to dinner. I want you to know that I have a testimony of this gospel. I know He lives and because of that, we will all be able to live again. I am grateful for the power of prayer and the power of repentance. I am thankful for my family and for the knowledge that I have that we can be eternal. :) I have the best family in the world. I hope you all have a marvelous week. Remember that there is a girl in NC who is thinking about you and praying for you. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do for you. I love you to the moon and back. Sending all my love and more your way. Talk to you in seven! Xo