Tuesday, March 29, 2016

March 28,2016

hello my cute, adorable family!

Happy belated Easter. :) I hope y'all had a wonderful day yesterday and hope you were able to take some time to really reflect on the Savior and his atonement. I cannot believe that Easter has already come and gone. Time just goes so fast. I am really grateful that I don't have to miss any more Easters without you! Holidays on the mission are always a struggle. I don't typically get homesick, except for holidays and when it comes to family traditions. I got through the day and am doing just fine again so all is well. I cannot complain. I am grateful that it is P-day though and that I get to take a little break and relax. We went to Target today and I almost cried because of how much I love that store. I just wanted everything there haha. It was fun to get out and be out in the town today. I am grateful Sister Cottis loves shopping. :) I didn't even spend any money... So be proud.
Well, I guess I'll just skip the whole week and go straight to Easter and my half birthday haha. Yes, we celebrated my half birthday as well. I'm kind of a big deal I guess. Any reason to celebrate right?
:) Sister Cottis and I had a really great day and I am grateful for her and for her friendship. I am grateful that I have been able to spend some holidays with her. She has made it fun and easy to be away from the family. We woke up and made a big breakfast and finally got to eat on our new kitchen table. (Yes, that's another story for another time.) We made peanut butter banana pancakes and had our hot lemon/honey water that we drink each morning. :) We also had a mission wide conference call at 7 am Easter morning and got to hear from President and Sister Alexander. They are the best. They sent us all some Easter love and really started the day off on a spiritual high.
It was neat to be able to use technology to be united with 200 missionaries. We had a wonderful time at church and the talks and lessons were absolutely fabulous. I have really been blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people and be amongst so many good members of the church. I love this ward and the people here. Everyone really takes care of the missionaries. I have made some amazing relationships and have met some unreal people that have really impacted my life. I cannot wait to come back to my mission and see all of the people that have supported me and have made an impact in my life. I know that the relationships I have gained here will be some of my most cherished relationships in this life, and in the eternities.  Sister Cottis and I also got to sing in the ward choir so we really enjoyed that and it was fun to be apart of that! Music definitely brings the spirit and I am SO grateful for it. :) It keeps me sane.  The rest of the day we went out and visited a lot of recent converts and less actives and brought them treats and Easter goodies. I love holidays because it gives us an excuse to stop by and drop little gifts off and see people that we don't normally see. We were able to show the #hallelujah video to a lot of people and actually had lots of success. We taught a lot of part member families and definitely brought the spirit into their homes. We had dinner with one of my favorite families from Orem, Utah. Todd and Michelle Jaramillo! Their parents both live in Orem and I'm sure Grandpa and Grandma know them somehow. Anyways, they invited another cute young family in the ward over and also invited Robert to come over with us. We had a wonderful meal and a great time talking and hanging out. We had a really good discussion on the Easter story and were able to read some scriptures regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ and each share our testimonies of the atonement. It was a powerful evening. The best part of the night was the surprise Robert had for us. He went out to his car and brought in a CAFE RIO bag. Sister Cottis and I literally dropped to the floor and almost started crying. He went to Richmond, Virginia to visit a friend and saw a Cafe Rio there. He decided to get a lot of food and they packed it up in a freezer/cooler thing and he brought it home to us. Today we had sweet pork tacos and it was the best thing ever. You have no idea. All the missionaries from back West talk non stop about how much we miss Cafe Rio and how it's one of the first things we want to do when we get home. I have been craving it for the last year of my life and then Robert decided to show up with some. He is the best of the best. Oh how I love him so much. My life was just made today as I was eating it. Just one of those tender mercies from the Lord. Anyways, the rest of the night we visited more people and just had a wonderful evening spreading the beautiful message that the Savior LIVES. He lives and that is our special message to the world. Sorry this paragraph was super long. I should probably start a new one haha.
The rest of the week was really good. We saw lots of miracles and I learned a lot. It's amazing how similar, but how different each week is. I'm out here doing the same thing, but everyday is so different.  We meet so many different people and experience so many different things that it makes for a new story every single day and every single week. The highlight of the week besides Easter and Cafe Rio was probably Women's Conference and my Shelly miracle. I absolutely loved Women's conference. We were able to go out to dinner with one of our favorite widows in the ward before the conference. She spoiled us and took us to Panera. :) We then headed over to our stake center and did a little service project with some of the ladies in the stake before the meeting and enjoyed some treats and social time. I was so grateful for that because it was hard not being able to be with my mama, sisters, and grandmas. I sure missed you guys. It just isn't the same not being able to be right by your side. Oh how I am looking forward to next year with you! I learned so much and received so many answers to my questions. It was amazing to see how every talk was regarding service. It made me think of my divine role as a woman and as a full time missionary. We are truly called here to earth to serve and love our fellow men. I am so so grateful for the opportunity that I have had to devote every single minute of every single day to serve and to turn outward and give of myself freely. I love missionary work so much. Lately I have been studying more about the doctrine of Christ and my divine calling as a missionary. I am called to teach repentance and baptize converts. That is why I am here. I am trying to really figure out what works best and ways that I can better magnify my calling. I know that I must be patient and that I must rely on the Lord in ALL things. This is his work and I am starting to realize that more and more everyday. I cannot do this on my own. I need him. I need him to guide me and help me do it His way. Sister Cottis and I had a really neat experience this past week. After our ward coordination meeting with our ward mission leader, we had a good meltdown/cry session in the car for a good 45 minutes. We have just been struggling lately because we feel like we are working SO hard and giving it our complete ALL but we just aren't seeing much success. We really came together and really repented and figured out that we need to rely on the Lord more. Both being out for a fair amount of time, we feel like we just "get it" and know what we are doing and how to do it, but have been forgetting that we HAVE to rely on the Lord and do it His way. We feel like we have been just doing it our way and relying on ourselves and each other to get the work done. Together we came up with some things that we want to change! I am excited to implement some of the things that we have talked about and really work on improving my relationship with the Lord and the Holy Ghost. I am grateful that I can be so open with Sister Cottis and that we are on the same page all of the time. That really has made a huge difference. We both have such a strong desire to do the work and to improve. I love it! She is so good at being humble and teachable and it's really helped me a lot.
She is so good for me. I cannot say enough good about her. It's going to absolutely kill me when I have to say goodbye to that girl. We just won't even go there right now. Anyways, long story short, Woman's conference was great.
Now to my Shelly miracle. After district meeting on Wednesday we all went to Cookout to get lunch. Cookout is a popular restaurant here in NC and everyone always wants to go there. Everyone ordered their food and me and this one Elder were the last two people to order. You order outside and talk to the people through a window. Kind of like Sonic, but you're not in your car. I don't really know how to explain it, anyways, we were all just hanging outside ordering. Well, this elder and I decided to give the girl who took all of our orders a #hallelujah pass along card. She seemed really sweet and had to put up with 10 hungry missionaries so we thought we'd leave her with a good video to watch. :) We all ate and got fat and then left. About an hour after we left, this Elder called us and told us that he felt inspired to go back and talk to her. We were about 30 minutes away doing other things so we just told him to go back with his companion.
They went back and ordered waters and decided to talk to her. They just talked more about what they do as missionaries and how they felt inspired to talk to her. They wrote their number on the pass along card and wished her well. Later that night she texted the Elders and thanked them for talking to her that day. She said she went to the link on the card and watched the Hallelujah video. She said she really really loved it and wanted to discover how she could "find new life"
though Jesus Christ. (That's what the video talks about.) The elders were obviously ecstatic and we're excited to set something up with her. They found out she lived outside of our area so they talked to her and decided to transfer her to the missionaries in the area that she lives in. Well, long story short, the missionaries in Welcome, North Carolina met with Shelly the next day and she is getting baptized in APRIL. AHHHH! Miracle upon miracle. You have no idea how excited I was when I heard this. We literally talked to her on Wednesday and I found out she was getting baptized on Friday. That, my friends, is how we do missionary work. It was such a testimony to me of how God is preparing his children to receive the Gospel. She was ready and all it took was opening my mouth and talking to her. It made me want to repent and be better at talking to EVERYONE because you never know when the person you talk to is the one who is going to be ready to change their life around and be baptized. Ohhhh God is good.  I needed that experience. I am so happy for her and am so grateful for simple pass along cards and powerful videos that the church creates to further the Lord's work and build the kingdom of God.
We had the great opportunity to go on an exchange with the Spanish sisters in our zone. I got to leave my area this time and went over to the glorious town of Winston- Salem. I had such a wonderful time, although I REALLY need to work on my Spanish!! (Elder Parkinson HELP  ME???) The sister I went on exchange with is such a great missionary.  I don't know how she has only been out for six months. She is amazing.  There were so many times on our short exchange where I witnessed her going out of her way to talk to someone. We were getting in the car after our dinner appointment and as we were turning around and driving away, she saw a Mexican man clear up on his driveway fixing his car and she pulled over and parked the car and we went up and talked to him. When we were finding in a neighborhood, she saw a man getting out of his car and he was definitely out of our way and she went up and talked to him. We saw another Mexican family eating outside on their porch and when we drove past, she turned around and we went and taught the whole family. I was amazed. I kind of sat back and watched because I couldn't do much due to the language barrier, but I was absolutely amazed at the powerful teacher she is and how she definitely goes the extra mile. She is a great example to me. While we were teaching this one couple, I sat back and watched her teach the whole first lesson.  It was amazing how I could still feel the spirit SO strongly, even though I had no idea what was being said for the most part. I then pictured myself being her mother and how proud she would be if she were sitting in my spot, watching her daughter teach. It was amazing.
I loved being there and not being able to speak the language because it allowed me to be on the other side of things. Since I couldn't speak and I had NO idea what was going on, I was able to sit back and just watch. I love love love exchanges but have such a desire to learn Spanish. Today as we were leaving our apartment to begin our P-day their was this cute little Spanish couple asking us where the dumpster was and they could barely speak any English but it was just another one of those times when I wished so badly I could speak. Maybe one day. :)
My studies this week have been on fire! I love my personal study time.
The Holy Ghost has been teaching me so much this week. I have been studying all about prayer and about keeping God's commandments. This week in my Book of Mormon reading I read Enos 1 and Mosiah 2 and that is where it all started. I was really trying to figure out what prayer really is and what it means to me. I want to improve my prayers and be more diligent because I know that that is one of the ways that my Heavenly Father speaks to me. I have really tried to cry and wrestle with the Lord in my prayers, instead of just saying rote prayers and saying them because I have been asked to say them. This is the only time in my life where I feel like I have had TIME to actually sit and be quiet and say a prayer whenever I want, with really nothing else to have to think about or do. I have also been really trying to study how the spirit speaks to me because after I watched the Face to Face with Elder Holland, I feel like I need to understand that. :) Elder Neal A.
Maxwell compared receiving answers to prayers to the opening of a combination lock. It is a step-by-step process: “Petitioning in prayer has taught me, again and again, that the vault of heaven with all its blessings is to be opened only by a combination lock. One tumbler falls when there is faith, a second when there is personal righteousness; the third and final tumbler falls only when what is sought is, in God’s judgment--not ours--right for us. Sometimes we pound on the vault door for something we want very much and wonder why the door does not open. We would be very spoiled children if that vault door opened any more easily than it does. I can tell, looking back, that God truly loves me by inventorying the petitions He has refused to grant me. Our rejected petitions tell us much about ourselves but also much about our flawless Father” I loved that quote and it really helped me. Receiving answers to our prayers are a step by step process and are all on God's timing and I must remember that.  The blessings and answers WILL come, we just must be patient and wait for them. It is part of the test of life. I would encourage each of you to try and tweak your prayers a little bit more this week. As I have tried it, I have noticed a huge difference. I have been able to see the Lord's hand more in my life. I have been able to feel his influence more and I have felt closer to the spirit and to my father in heaven. Try it! We were meeting with an investigator yesterday and she really opened up and was just saying how she feels like she has NO time to pray and literally cannot find time to do it. It made me think of my mother and how crazy busy she is... But if she can do it, anyone can do it. :) I asked her to just start with 2 minutes. To make sure that she sets just TWO minutes aside in her day to not worry about a single thing but to just let it all go and say a prayer to her Heavenly Father. She committed to do it and I promised her very specific blessings. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I can promise specific blessings. I know that God will make more time in her day and she will have more time to accomplish all that she needs too. I know that you will be able to receive the same blessing, if you even start with two simple minutes!!
Now... Keeping the commandments. Holy smokes!! I wonder how many times in the scriptures it says, "if you keep my commandments, you shall prosper in the land." Or something along those lines. If anyone ever wants to count that and get back to me, I'd greatly appreciate that.
:) In Mosiah 2:24 it talks about how we need to be indebted to our Savior and I really wanted to study that. How can we ever repay the debt we owe to the Savior? He paid a debt He did not owe to free us from a debt we can never pay. Because of Him we will live forever.
Because of His infinite Atonement, our sins can be swept away, allowing us to experience the greatest of all the gifts of God, which we know is eternal life. (D&C 14:7) We will never be able to pay the debt. The gratitude of our hearts should be filled with overflowing love and obedience for the Savior's great and tender mercy. For what he has done, we should never fail him. He bought us with a price, the price of his great suffering and the spilling of his blood in sacrifice on the cross. One of the best ways for each of us to demonstrate gratitude for what Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give us and to repay the debt, is to keep the commandments. President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “We are extremely ungrateful to our Father and to his Beloved Son when in all humility with ‘broken hearts and contrite spirits’ we are unwilling to keep the commandments. The violation of any divine commandment is a most ungrateful act, considering all that has been accomplished for us through the atonement of our Savior." Now, he has asked us to keep his commandments. He says they are not grievous, and yet there are so many of us who are not willing to do it. That certainly is ingratitude. We are ungrateful. “Every member of this Church who violates the Sabbath day, who is not honest in the paying of his tithing, who will not keep the Word of Wisdom, who willfully violates any of the other commandments the Lord has given us, is ungrateful to the Son of God, and when ungrateful to the Son of God is ungrateful to the Father who sent him” That hit me SOOO strong. It was just so bold and made me want to rethink how I'm living. And right now I think I'm living pretty dang good.. Since being a missionary is pretty strict.. But there is still room for lots of improvement.
I also found it super interesting that the prophet's last talk was on keeping the commandments. I really didn't think he was going to make it this long either.. So I found it really interesting that out of all the things that he could've chosen to talk about, that's what he chose. During the face 2 face with Elder Holland that we watched, he also addressed same sex marriage. He went on to say that it's not about the gender and about same sex marriage in general, it's about the fact that they are breaking the COMMANDMENT of chastity. That is where the problem lies. Not that it's gender and same sex, but that it's violating a commandment of God. That was just another example of how important the commandments are and how everything stems from them.
"We show our love for God and our faith in Him by doing our very best every day to follow the course that He has laid out for us and by keeping the commandments that He has given to us. We especially manifest that faith and love in situations where we don’t fully understand the reason for God’s commands or the particular path He is telling us to take. As we trust in the Lord, exercise our faith, obey His commandments, and follow the course He has charted for us, we become more the person the Lord wants us to become. It is this “becoming”--this conversion of the heart--that is all-important. As Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught us: “It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”
I loved loved loved that quote and it was probably one of my favorites for the week. I am so grateful for the commandments that God has set out for us and it has really helped me stay on the path and course that Heavenly Father wants me to be on. I know that as you exercise faith and try to obey the commandments with exactness, you will be blessed and EVERY promise that the Lord has given will be fulfilled.  President Alexander talked about how EVERY single promise the Lord has ever given in the scriptures, in patriarchal blessings, in baby blessings, in priesthood blessings, in talks through his prophets, in anything regarding heavenly father's promises, THEY WILL COME TO PASS.
Whether in this life or the next, he will keep his promise. I found that super comforting and it has really given me the desire to work harder and be better. I owe so much to my Savior. He has given me everything. My life. My mission. My family. My spirit. My everything.
Everything I have is because of the Savior and the Gospel.
My favorite scripture for the week is Ecclesiastes 12:13. "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his
commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Remember that.
I hope you have a wonderful week, and a start to a new month! I love you so so much. Thank you for everything you do to love and support me. I couldn't do this without you. I know this is His work and His true church. I hope you all take some time to reflect on your life and the many blessings you have because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Talk to you in seven! Sending all my hugs and kisses from North Carolina your way! I love you!
Sister Kyla Worthington

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