Wednesday, July 6, 2016

June 20, 2016~Joy Beyond Measure

Hello my favorite people,
How grateful I am for the opportunity I have, once again, to sit down and share some of my thoughts with you. My heart is so full of gratitude and joy this day and I hope that I can express what I'm truly feeling! First and foremost, I want to wish all the Fathers out there a Happy Father's Day! I hope that each of you had a wonderful day and that you could feel of the love that I have for you. Especially my own Papa T. I love you daddy! It was such a good day to be able to reflect on my own father, my Heavenly Father, and on all of the 'fatherly figures' that I have been blessed with in my life. I have too many to count! I am so grateful for all of your love, support, example, and influences that have gotten me to where I am at today. I wouldn't be who I am today if it weren't for you. I was also reflecting on how much I love and respect President Craven and President Alexander. They have been my rock and "my father" while I've been out on my mission. I am so grateful for the love that I feel from them and the lessons that they have taught me. I will never be able to repay them for what they have given me. I love them both so dearly. I also want to thank everyone for all of the prayers on my behalf. This week we saw SO many car accidents and I just felt so grateful for all the people that are praying for me and my companion and our safety. It's really scary driving here and everyday I feel like I'm putting my life at stake, but then am reminded that I have all your prayers coming my way, and I really appreciate it. Keep them coming!
This week was miraculous. Another one that I hope will never be forgotten. Some days I just have to pinch myself and make sure that this is all real life. A mission is sometimes too good to be true. This past district meeting was really powerful and my district leader said something that has really stuck with me all week long. He said, "A mission is the best kept secret." And oh how true that is. Until you serve a mission, you will have no idea what it really is. Not only how extremely difficult and hard it is, but how glorious and joyful it is. There has never been a time in my life where I have felt more happiness, more purpose, more strength, more confidence, more joy, more love, more hope, and more EVERYTHING good! It's amazing. But then again, there has never been a time in my life where I have felt more sadness, more confused, more weak, more down, more upset, more stressed, more fear, and more EVERYTHING bad! Haha, that's just how it goes. But, I am SO grateful that I have been able to be apart of one of the greatest kept secrets in the world! :)
Monday through Saturday was decent. Just another week! In the mission we had a little bit of a change with our key indicators and the things that we will be reporting on each week to our leaders. We are now only focusing and reporting on baptisms & confirmations, investigators who have a baptism date, investigators who attend sacrament meeting, lessons that we have a member present at, and new investigators. Due to that change, Sister Nunies and I have really stepped up our game on inviting people to be baptized, focusing more on church attendance, and getting member presents! We have seen so many miracles as we have just focused on that. We used to teach so many "other lessons" each week, which are basically just lessons that we teach people on our own and through our own efforts, but we really stepped up our member present game this past week. We got a member out with us every single day and saw so much success!! It makes all the difference in the world. If you EVER get a chance to go out with the missionaries, TAKE IT PLEASE. You have no idea how much it helps us, and helps the investigators. We now have 3 individuals on date to be baptized in July, and we had 4 investigators come to church yesterday. Miracles are happening left and right in Charlotte. This transfer is going by way to fast too. Sister Nunies and I are freaking out. We cannot leave because so many good things are happening. Hopefully the Lord is going to answer our prayers haha. Anyways, we had a super successful week and it felt nice to really focus on what really matters and what will ultimately help these children of God make covenants with their Father in Heaven.
Monday night was FHE and after that Nicole joined us in teaching a lesson to one of our investigators. Yes, she is on fire and LOVES teaching with us. Tuesday we did our community service all day and then taught a few lessons in the evening, all of which were member presents, so we had 4 in one day and that was just grand! Wednesday we had district meeting, decided to pull out the bikes, and saw many miracles. We talked to so many people and it was so much fun! Due to being in Charlotte, there are SO MANY PEOPLE outside just walking the streets. We would just go from bus stop to bus stop and stop and talk to the people. We would get off our bikes and would act like we were waiting for the bus to come, and then just share the gospel like crazy. Then when the bus would come, we would just act like we changed our mind and didn't need to take the bus anymore. Hahaha it was hilarious. But overall, we found bus stops super effective this past week, until we ran into our competitors, the Jehovah Witnesses, at one of the bus stops with their booth all set up. Yeah, that was awkward. But hey, they were jealous, so it was all good. :) Thursday was great, minus the fact that I woke up with really bad heartburn that lasted for 3 days. Anyways, over that now. We did service at the soup kitchen and met some new people. It was packed this week. I'm sure people just wanted to come inside and get some nice AC while enjoying a nice meal. It was really really hot on Thursday so I'm sure that's why we had so many people. It kept us busy though and we loved it! The pastor of the Lutheran church that we serve at also came up and talked to me a lot this week for some reason. I'm not sure why.. But we had a really good conversation and he just wanted to get to know me more and my plans for the future and everything. It was interesting and I was kind of creeped out at first, but, it ended up being really good and I was able to talk to him a lot about my mission! We then had a good weekly planning session and tried a few new things. Our zone leaders have really been emphasizing planning and how important that is. We came up with 5 p's of planning. "Proper planning prevents poor performance." How true that is. Not just with missionary work, but with life in general! I have also been working on really trying to plan, and then actually working that plan. President Alexander always says, "Plan to work and then work your plan." So many times as missionaries we plan to be somewhere or to see someone, but then end up doing something else or going somewhere else. When we plan, Heavenly Father is preparing people for us, and if we don't work our plan, we are missing out on opportunities. It's important that we plan ahead and then follow through because the Lord is preparing and he needs a little bit of time to do so! One night we just had NO idea where to go because all of our plans fell through, and it was raining SO HARD, and so we just decided to go try to see this less active since we really didn't have anything else to do and it was getting late. Well of course when we get there, she wasn't there. I was kind of frustrated because we just wasted some miles and some precious time, but then I quickly realized that it was our fault and that we didn't plan effectively the night before and that we didn't give the Lord time to prepare her. Of course she wasn't home. It was because we didn't give the Lord time to prepare her. I just expected her to be there and prayed right before we went to see her that she would be there, but I learned my lesson. Since then, we have been better planners and are becoming masters!
Thursday night was super super good. We got to have a lesson with Fernando Aguilar. He was someone that was being taught by a different set of sisters, but he is YSA age, so he decided to come to our ward and FHE one week. He's been coming for about 3-4 weeks now, but we didn't really know what to do with him because he was still being taught by the other sisters. Well, the sisters finally got in touch with us and told us that they talked to Fernando and he wants to start coming to the YSA ward. They transferred his record over to us and we picked up where they left off and have been teaching him. Thursday night we taught him about tithing and fasting/fast offerings. It was AMAZING!! He is so prepared. He wants to get baptized on July 3rd and is 100% ready. He is 29 years old and is from Mexico! He has his life all put together and is just so solid. While we were teaching him, I could just see him being a future bishop or stake president. He's going to go far in the church, and will be a big contribution to his country. I'm just feeling really good things with him. He's been another HUGE miracle that was just handed to us. I feel so blessed and so humbled to be able to meet such amazing people and work with so many of God's children who are truly prepared to receive his Gospel.
Friday was really good! Right after studies we drove down to Rock Hill, South Carolina and helped our lovely recent convert Nicole move out of her apartment. We also got to meet her father and her younger brother! It was amazing! We were all able to help her and then all went to lunch afterwards. They really opened up to us and I think have better views of the church. It was really good for them to see us as 'normal people' and to just get to know them better! Nicole has a few hard months ahead of her as she is moving back in with her parents, but I have full faith that it will all work out. She is crazy strong right now and God will take care of her. After helping her, we got back and pulled out the bikes again. We are in a full car area, but we just had so much fun and saw so many miracles on bikes the other day that we couldn't help but pull them out again! This time, we got a few #1's (aka the middle finger) and that created some good memories and some good laughs. Oh how we love people! We had a lesson with one of our progressing investigators named Nazea, and after our lesson, we played some pick up ball in our skirts! It was a blast! He's this huge 6'6 black kid and loves to play basketball. We got destroyed, obviously, but built some solid trust with him and had a good time. We finished the night off strong and slept well.
Saturday was mediocre. We did a lot of finding and visiting former investigators. Most were home, but we weren't able to actually teach them. There were a few that we were grateful we at least met and put a face to the name, so that was good, but I wish we could've done some more teaching. We decided to pull out the bikes one more time for the week and rode around some parks and just hung out in the town! We taught our investigator Damon on his lunch break and was going to drop him because he wasn't keeping his commitment to come to church, but.... he exercised his faith and came to church for the first time!! So, we will not be dropping him anymore! The rest of the night was long, but that's just how Saturday nights go. It's so close to Sunday that it just seems to drag on.
Sunday was probably one of the greatest days of my mission. OH MY GOODNESS. I swear, ever since I came to Charlotte, miracles just happen every Sunday. Sunday is our miracle day. Church was really good, but it was kind of hard having all the talks be centered on Father's Day, and not being able to be with my own daddy, AGAIN. One of the talks was really good and was given by a kid that I went to high school with, Brian Vaudrey. He is out here selling pest control for the Summer and he is a solid kid. I got over my emotions real fast though and moved on with the rest of the day. Besides having 4 investigators at church, we witnessed another miracle. Last Sunday all of the bug boys brought one of their friends to church. His name is Alan Ginger. He is from Orem, Utah and came out for the Summer to sale. He is not a member of the church and is surrounded by all of the other bug boys who are members. He had a good experience at church last week and decided to come again. We had dinner scheduled with some of the bug boys Sunday night and they came up to us and asked us if we could teach Alan the restoration after dinner. Of course we agreed and got super excited. 6:00 couldn't come any sooner! We had linger longer after church and that was really fun. Then we went and visited a few people before dinner, and then headed to dinner!
BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE. We were just hanging out and eating dinner with 15 Rm's, mostly from Utah, and having a good time. Then it was time for our lesson. I'll admit, I was so nervous. I am usually not nervous to teach, especially the Restoration because we teach it SO MUCH, but for some reason, I was super scared. Probably because I was surrounded by 15 RM's. Talk about pressure!! We've never had 15 member presents in one lesson haha. I think Alan was a little bit overwhelmed as well, but he knew everyone and was used to hanging out with all of them, so I think it was okay. We all pulled some chairs into a circle and started the discussion with a prayer. Thankfully that invited the spirit. Then we began to teach the message of the Restoration. It was the best lesson I've ever been in, hands down. The spirit was SO strong that it brought me to tears. We had one member share the Joseph Smith story and as he was talking, the spirit bore witness to me that what he was sharing was 100% true. Alan really opened up and told us how he's been looking for more and wanting to find his faith, and he thinks he found it. After we finished the lesson, we asked him how he felt. He said he felt good. He felt different. And for the first time in his life, he felt truly happy. We pointed out that that feeling was the spirit. We then had a short discussion on the power of the Holy Ghost and how that is going to help him figure out if what we are sharing is true. We finished with a prayer and the spirit was SO REAL in that little apartment. You could tell that every single one of the people in the room was just beaming. We were all so excited and so happy because I think it'd been a long time since all of us have felt the that strongly. It was unreal. I wish each of you could've been there, or that I could've recorded it or something. Alan really wants to get baptized and loves what he is experiencing. We have another lesson with him on Saturday and I couldn't be more excited. Saturday couldn't come quicker.
On the ride home, Sister Nunies and I were full of so much joy. We talked about it for a few minutes, and then just rode home in silence for the rest of the ride home. We were listening to a talk by Elder Bednar and he was talking about Jesus Christ, and how he is the light of the world. It was talking about how through him, and because of him, we can be happy. We can find peace and joy ONLY through him. Tears started rolling down my cheeks as I had just witnessed the power of Christ touch someone's life. For the first time on my mission, I REALLY felt the powerful love that my Savior has for me. For the first time on my mission, I honestly had the thought that I NEVER want to go home. I never want to leave this place. I never want to remove my name tag. This is pure joy. More than just happiness. I have never felt myself so close to my Savior and have never felt closer to Heaven. I really felt like I left earth for a few minutes and was in my own little world with my Savior. I was overflowing with the spirit and with gratitude for the experience that I had just had. We got home, sent in our numbers, planned for the next day, and got ready for bed. I found myself on my knees for a good long while, basking in my own tears. A few other things happened that night, but due to how personal and sacred it is, I won't share it with you today. All I want you to know is that I KNOW that my Savior is real. I know that the Holy Ghost is real. I felt it and I watched it touch 16 other people that night. It was a feeling that I will never be able to deny, and something that I will defend until the day I die. Best night of my mission. I'll leave it at that.
Okay, sorry this is getting long. I'm getting emotional just writing about my experiences this week. Now I'll share with you some things I learned. :) This week my studies were in 3 Nephi 12, and all about the Beatitudes. In the book of Matthew, Jesus delivered the Sermon on the Mount to encourage His disciples to strive toward perfection with full purpose of heart. Following His Resurrection, Jesus appeared to the Book of Mormon people in the Western Hemisphere and again delivered this sermon.

President James E. Faust once said, “The Savior’s transcendent message in the Sermon on the Mount is of burning-bush importance to all of us. This message needs to penetrate into our hearts and souls. As we accept this message, we are taking our personal stand in this life." The Sermon on the Mount as contained in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon is the Lord’s blueprint for perfection. President Harold B. Lee said, “Christ came not only into the world to make an atonement for the sins of mankind but to set an example before the world of the standard of perfection of God’s law and of obedience to the Father. In his Sermon on the Mount the Master has given us somewhat of a revelation of his own character, which was perfect, or what might be said to be ‘an autobiography, every syllable of which he had written down in deeds,’ and in so doing has given us a blueprint for our own lives."
Beatitude means “‘to be fortunate,’ ‘to be happy,’ or ‘to be blessed'"and the dictionary defines the word as “a state of utmost bliss." Such words describe the results when we apply the teachings of this beautiful sermon! Rather than being isolated statements, the Beatitudes are interrelated and progressive in their arrangement. I found it very interesting that they are put in the order that they are put in! I know that they are that way for a reason. The Beatitudes truly embody the “constitution for a perfect life." The first four have to do with our individual selves, and then the last four have to do with man’s social relations with others.
3 Nephi 12:3. “Blessed Are the Poor in Spirit Who Come unto Me”
The poor in spirit, of course, means those who are spiritually needy, who feel so impoverished spiritually that they reach out with great yearning for help. “Every one of us, if we would reach perfection, must one time ask ourselves this question, ‘What lack I yet?’ if we would commence our climb upward on the highway to perfection." I loved that question "What lack I yet?" And have pondered it many times. We all have the responsibility to come unto our Savior and turn to him.
3 Nephi 12:4. “Blessed Are All They That Mourn”
The Beatitudes are a recipe for righteousness with incremental steps, beginning with the poor in spirit who come unto Christ and then the next step in the celestial direction is to mourn, especially for our sins, and to have godly sorrow, for that worketh repentance to salvation. After we have made the decision to come unto Christ, it is important that we mourn and that we truly have the desire to change.
3 Nephi 12:5. “Blessed Are the Meek"
The dictionary defines meek as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment." To be meek is to be teachable. Those who are willing to listen can learn much. Those who are unwilling to listen deny themselves great blessings. Humble and meek suggest virtues, not weaknesses. They suggest a consistent mildness of temper and a willingness to learn and grow. "How does one get humble? To me, one must constantly be reminded of his dependence. On whom dependent? On the Lord. How remind one’s self? By real, constant, worshipful, and grateful prayer." We must be humble and willing to change and repent. We must be humble to accept our faults and our weaknesses, and be willing to learn and grow from them.
3 Nephi 12:6. “Hunger and Thirst after Righteousness”
While serving in the general Relief Society presidency, Sister Sheri L. Dew explained the connection between desire (hungering and thirsting) and action, or the ability to work to achieve the desired results. “Our ability to hear spiritually is linked to our willingness to work at it. President Hinckley has often said that the only way he knows to get anything done is to get on his knees and plead for help and then get on his feet and go to work. That combination of faith and hard work is the consummate curriculum for learning the language of the Spirit. The Savior taught, ‘Blessed are all they who do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled with the Holy Ghost’. Hungering and thirsting translate to sheer spiritual labor. Worshiping in the temple, repenting to become increasingly pure, forgiving and seeking forgiveness, and earnest fasting and prayer all increase our receptivity to the Spirit. Spiritual work works and is the key to learning to hear the voice of the Lord." After we have repented, we must try our very best to continue to fill our lives with righteous things. We must constantly immerse ourselves in the scriptures and meaningful prayers. We must serve our fellow men and be examples of the believers at all times and in all things.
3 Nephi 12:8. “Pure in Heart”
"To be without guile is to be pure in heart, an essential virtue of those who would be counted among true followers of Christ. …“If we are without guile, we are honest, true, and righteous. These are all attributes of Deity and are required of the Saints. Those who are honest are fair and truthful in their speech, straightforward in their dealings, free of deceit, and above stealing, misrepresentation, or any other fraudulent action. Honesty is of God; dishonesty of the devil, who was a liar from the beginning. Righteousness means living a life that is in harmony with the laws, principles, and ordinances of the gospel." I think is one of the most important ones. Virtue and purity is so important, especially in these latter days. Being pure in heart will be the test if we have truly repented and have truly forsaken all of our sins and have committed to the Lord that we are willing to follow him in all things.
3 Nephi 12:9. Peacemakers
“Coming unto Jesus Christ as the ‘Prince of Peace’ is the pathway to peace on earth and goodwill among men. Elder Bruce R. McConkie described how to become a peacemaker: “Peacemakers: In the full sense, only those who believe and spread the fulness of the gospel are peacemakers within the perfect meaning of this Beatitude. The gospel is the message of peace to all mankind. Children of God: Those who have been adopted into the family of God as a result of their devotion to the truth. By such a course they become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." Once you have attained this complete attribute of Christ, you will be one with Christ and will be on your way to perfection.
3 Nephi 12:48. “I Would That Ye Should Be Perfect”
It is not possible to be perfect in this life. However, President James E. Faust explained that we must seek for perfection now so as to be able to attain it in the next life. “Perfection is an eternal goal. While we cannot be perfect in mortality, striving for it is a commandment which ultimately, through the Atonement, we can keep." We will not be exalted, we shall not reach our destination, unless we are perfect, and now is the best time in the world to start toward perfection!
I hope that each of us are taking this sacred time on earth to prepare to meet our Savior Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father and are working towards being perfect, as they are. I know that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and our Savior and our Exemplar who will direct us along the right path that leads to exaltation. There is a reward, but it must be earned and we must do our part. Perfection is our goal and can be achieved as we are working on living the beatitudes and applying them in our lives. I am really going to work hard this week on those beatitudes. Will you work with me?
I LOVE THIS GOSPEL. I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY. It is the greatest calling in the entire world. Hitting my 15 month mark this past week was the hardest thing ever. Time is going by way to quickly and I never want this to end. I am so excited to see everyone, but will be so sad when I have to leave this place that I have come to call home. I love North Carolina, and I love the people here. I know this gospel is true and I know that the Savior is with us all the way. Turn to him and do all that you can to STRIVE to become like him, and you will be blessed.
I hope you each have a good week. Thank you for your prayers and your support. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do for any of you. Keep working hard and trusting in our perfect Lord and Savior. He knows you. He is here for you. He will help you. And he can heal you. LET HIM!
I love you all! Talk to you in seven! Xo
Sister Kyla Worthington

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