Hello my sweet people!
Ah! It was so good to see you all yesterday and hear your special voices. You all looked so good and it made my heart happy. There is truly not a better sight, than seeing those whom I love the very most all gathered around in one place! It gave me a little glimpse of what heaven is going to be like. I cannot wait for the day when we can all be reunited and can live with one another for time and all eternity. That is one of my favorite things about the Gospel. The fact that I get to be with my favorite people FOREVER. I had the hardest time hanging up yesterday. Crazy to think that I will never get to Skype as a missionary again. Such a bitter-sweet experience. However, the next time I get to see you all and hear your voices, it will be in person and will be LIVE, so I can't complain. Oh how excited I am for that special day!
Mother's Day is also such a special day. Not only for mothers, but for all the missionaries serving throughout the world. Mom, I hope you had a wonderful day and could feel of the love and appreciation that I have for you. I read a quote from Elder Holland yesterday that said, "No love in mortality comes closer to approximating the pure love of Jesus Christ than the selfless love a devoted mother has for her child." And then I starting thinking about that the other way around and how much love a child can have for her mother. I never thought I could love someone so much, but my love for you mom has grown so much. I find myself loving you more and more every single day. My love for you gets stronger daily. It's a love that cannot be expressed, explained, or comprehended. Thank you for everything. I hope you had a special day and could feel my love all the way from Charlotte.
Well, it was quite the week. Lots of ups, and lots of downs. It was a particularly hard week, but full of lots of growth. I have loved being a missionary because I have been able to learn so much. It's amazing how much God can teach you when you are humble, seeking knowledge and revelation, and worthy of his spirit. Never in my life have I learned so much about myself and about my Savior Jesus Christ and his gospel. Sometimes I don't think I can receive anymore, but then another day passes and I am reminded of what I learned that day. It's amazing! Learning so much has also changed me and who I am. Boyd K. Packer once said, "True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior." I love that. It just goes to show how important it is to learn the doctrines of the gospel. That is what will make you do the right things and choose the better path. When you understand the principles of the gospel, and truly embed them in your heart, you act differently. I am no longer the same Kyla Worthington that I was before my mission. I have changed. I now understand the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and as a result, I act differently. I now know who I truly am and what my divine purpose is. President Craven always told us "When you know who you are, you act differently" and I never really understood what he meant by that, but now I get it! I know what he was talking about. It's as if a light bulb clicked in my head! Unfortunately it took me 20 years to understand that, but I'm happy I figured it out when I did. Oh how I just love and adore the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This past week we were able to have an amazing zone conference with President and Sister Alexander. It was incredible. One of those meetings that I just never wanted to end. The spirit taught me SO much. Sister Alexander talked all about service and got everyone more excited to serve! She shared the story of Ammon in Alma 18 and talked about how as he served the king and was so faithful, he King was astonished. His heart was truly softened and he changed. I have really come to see that doing service really prepares the hearts of others. As others see us serve, they become astonished like King Lamoni. She challenged us to go about doing good and always trying to be looking for more unplanned service opportunities. I have been really trying to pray for more opportunities to serve and it's been amazing to see how the lord provides opportunities for us.
Just this past week, we stopped by to see a former investigator and she opened the door and said she didn't have time to meet because she was busy doing other things. We asked what she was busy doing and she told us she was putting together a new TV that she had just bought. (I don't understand how a TV is more important than the gospel, but whatever?) Anyways, we asked her if we could help her set it up and she said, "Sure!" So, we ended up going inside and helping her set up her TV. After we got it all set up, we were able to sit down and have a 20 minute gospel discussion with her. It was a miracle! Service truly leads to miracles. There have been several other times on my mission where we have looked for random ways to help people and have been so blessed and have been given an opportunity to share the gospel because of it. It's also a win-win situation because it helps someone out, and makes us so happy. :)
President Alexander gave an AMAZING training. Oh my goodness. I wish y'all could have been there. His training was all about becoming master teachers, and about repentance. My whole perspective on repentance and what it actually is is so different now. He began by telling us that this training is really for us, more than for our investigators or those we are working with. He told us that we cannot teach what we don't know. We cannot teach our investigators about repentance and expect them to repent, I unless we know and understand repentance ourselves. It made me think of a quote in Preach My Gospel that says, "You cannot convert someone beyond your own conversion." How true that is.
Being a missionary, repentance is super important because all day long, we are supposed to be declaring repentance. In doctrine & covenants 6:9 it says, "Say nothing but repentance unto this generation; keep my commandments and assist to bring forth my work, according to my commandments, and you shall be blessed" In doctrine & covenants 11:9 it says the exact same thing. In section 15, it talks about how the thing that will be of most worth unto us, will be to declare repentance unto the people. Section 33 verse 10, "Open your mouths saying, repent, repent, and prepare the way of the Lord." It's everywhere in the scriptures. In Moses 6:57 it talks about how no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God. We know that every single person on the earth sins and falls short of the presence of God. No one is perfect. Therefore, we have to have repentance. It's the most important thing. Without it, none of us could make it back to our father in heaven.
I learned a new definition of repentance and what it really is. Repentance literally means "to turn" or to TURN TO CHRIST. Repentance is a real change. It is a real conversion. It is the process of making a change from one type of behavior to another. All it really is is coming unto Christ. Repentance is not a negative principle, but rather a positive and glorious one. It is a melting, softening, refining process that brings about a mighty change of heart. I grew up thinking repentance was such a negative, scary thing. On my mission, I have learned how joyous it really is and what it truly means. I want to teach my children differently than the way that I was taught. Nothing against you mom & dad, I just see it a little bit differently now. :) Haha. I want to talk about it more openly with my children and help them see what it really is and that it is one of the greatest gifts we have been given. The ability to repent. I want them to know that it's not just all about going to the bishop if you make a serious mistake, but rather it's a DAILY process and is something that should be apart of our everyday lives. I knew how happy my parents were when I repented and chose to serve a mission. I knew how happy my bishop was when I set an appointment with him to start preparing for my mission. Repentance is happiness! The earlier people can understand that, the better off they will be, and the much happier they will be! President went on and referenced a conference talk by Elder Anderson. In his talk, he mentions five elements of repentance and I want to share them with you.
First, the invitation to repent is an expression of love. When the savior taught others, it was all out of love. He loves us, and that is why he wants us to repent. He has already suffered for us, and if we don't use his atonement, we are not being appreciative of what he has done for us. Second, repentance means striving to change. Real repentance, real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving. If we do not invite others to change or if we do not demand repentance of ourselves, we fail in a fundamental duty we owe to one another and to ourselves. Some professor named Noel Reynolds once said, “The choice to repent is a choice to burn bridges in every direction [having determined] to follow forever only one way, the one path that leads to eternal life.” We must strive to change, strive to turn to Christ, and have the desire to do so. Third, repentance means not only abandoning sin but also committing to obedience. The Bible Dictionary says, “Repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, [as well as] a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined.” For our turning to the Lord to be complete, it must include nothing less than a covenant of obedience to Him. With that covenant in place, the Holy Ghost, the messenger of divine grace, will bring relief and forgiveness. Obedience is the first law of heaven and if we want to truly repent and sin no more, we must be exactly obedient. Fourth, repentance requires a seriousness of purpose and a willingness to persevere, even through pain. Repentance is not always easy and sometimes has a lot of pain involved, but it's worth it. Any pain involved in repentance will always be far less than the suffering required to satisfy justice for unresolved transgression! Remember that. Fifth, whatever the cost of repentance, it is swallowed up in the joy of forgiveness. I love this last point. It made me think of the story of Alma 36 when he was so harrowed up with his sins and guilt and had never felt so much pain and misery in his life, but then when he came unto Christ and repented of his sins, in that very same chapter, he talks about how there was nothing more exquisite and sweet as was his joy and how his joy was as exceeding as was his pain. I have truly come to know of this principle for myself. Repentance is hard and painful, but when you truly repent and feel the love of the Savior and the healing power of forgiveness, there is peace, love, and joy that is indescribable. Repentance is the gateway to accessing the atonement of Jesus Christ and returning to Heavenly Father's presence. Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life.
We live in a time where the message of repentance is often not welcomed, and I have definitely come to see that while being here in North Carolina. Satan is tricking everyone into thinking what's wrong is right and what's right is wrong. There are so many people in the world who think they don't need to repent. As a representative of Jesus Christ, I am here to tell you that EVERY single person that comes to earth needs to repent. Only repentance leads to a better life, and that is eternal life with our Father in Heaven. And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation.
Elder Anderson said, "Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the worldly celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration. The divine gift of repentance is the key to happiness here and hereafter."
I want each of you to know how much I love my Savior and how grateful I am for the gift of repentance. If you ever find yourself thinking that you've fallen too far for Heavenly Father to rescue you, remember you can turn to Him and that through the miraculous Atonement of Jesus Christ, you can be made new. You can have a new heart. "All is not lost, for with God our potential is endless." Don’t you believe in the Atonement? Didn’t the Savior suffer for ALL of our sins? Do you really think you’re beyond His power to save? No. He will save every single one of us if we just do our part and turn our lives towards him. None of us are perfect, but that is okay. It's all part of the plan. Worthiness is progressiveness. You can never and will never be perfectly worthy. But, through Christ and his cleansing power, we can be made whole one day.
Okay, sorry this is getting long. I just have so much to say and such a strong testimony of repentance and just can't hold it in. I am so grateful that I have this time to declare repentance to the people of North Carolina. They need it! It's been amazing to see many people whom I have come to love, turn their lives around by simply turning to Christ. In fact, we saw a miracle this past week and I definitely was able to see the hand of God in the work.
I love when little things happen that I just know without a shadow of a doubt that God was involved in the situation. Just this past week we got a call from a man named Orlando Parker. He said he was going through a really hard time in his life and found that on Mormon.org you can get a free bible. He ended up calling some missionaries in another state and chatted with them. They then referred him to us and he got our direct phone number, which is rare because usually referrals go through our mission office first and they email and text them out to the assigned missionaries, but he just got our phone number somehow. We ended up dropping the plans we had and met him right away to give him his bible. We ended up having a really neat restoration lesson and gave him a Book of Mormon as well and just had a powerful experience. He isn't a YSA, but we are working on referring him to the elders. It was just so neat to see how someone exercised their faith and TURNED TO GOD, instead of turning to something else. He kept commenting about how impressed he was that we got ahold of him so quickly and just immediately helped him out. He said he had been going from church to church and no one would get back to him. He appreciated so greatly how quick we were and how on top of things our church is. It was just another testimony to me that God is preparing his children and their are people out there who are trying to repent and get their lives back in order.
We were also able to see our investigator Jose Garcia this past week and he got work off and came to church! It was so good to see him there. I think he had a super positive experience and we are going to baptize him in May. I just know it! I am excited for him and it's been amazing to see another one of God's children make the simple steps of repentance and coming closer to him. Everything else is going really well. I think I updated you on everything on the call last night. :) I am happy, healthy, safe, and doing well. Can't complain one bit. I'm figuring this all out and am excited for the things that are to come.
I love being a missionary. I love my savior. And I love each one of you. I couldn't do this without you. It was SO good to see you and feel of the love that you have for me. I have the best family and friends in the world. I owe it all to you guys. Thank you thank you thank you! I hope you each have a good week and I hope you each make a little 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 180, or 360 degree turn, or whatever it needs to be, and turn your life towards Christ. I promise there is GREAT joy in repenting and coming unto him. He is waiting for us with his arms stretched out! I love you all so much. Talk to you in seven! Mom, have a happy birthday this week too. I'll be thinking about you ALL WEEK LONG. It's birthday week! Sending all my biggest hugs and kisses your way! Xo
Sister Kyla Worthington
1. Drew the POS at a park and had a good time!
2. Some nice guy we met gave us deer jerky and we were super excited.
It was so good. Not quite as good as Tami's, but still pretty decent.
3. Cried a little bit because I saw a Cheesecake Factory. That is probably my #1 request for when I come home. & some cafe rio.