Tuesday, August 9, 2016

August 8, 2016~ Charlotte has my heart

Hi family!
Happy Monday! How is everyone doing? I cannot believe that it's already a new week and that I'm already emailing you. It's real hot & humid here in Charlotte. The forecast is looking nice and rainy. It's rained a lot this past week. Kinda depressing. I love the rain and the thunderstorms, but when it's everyday, I don't like it. It makes missionary work harder too.
My companions and I just returned from a nice visit to the Cheesecake Factory so I'm feeling really full and happy. My goal on my mission was to go to the Cheesecake Factory at least once on my mission, and I'm finally serving in the place where the only Cheesecake Factory is. Score! My miso salmon has never tasted so good. Mom, I was definitely missing you, but was thinking about you the entire time. We also got to shop around the southpark mall and that was really fun. Super expensive, but really fun. :) I love my shopping.
This past week was another one full of ups and downs. I am so grateful for all that I am learning and for the miracles that God is bringing into my life. I am being blessed with so many amazing experiences and don't have words to express my gratitude to my Heavenly Father.
Our investigators and recent converts are doing really well! I absolutely love being in the YSA ward. It's so fun and so many wonderful things happen. Lately we have realized how crazy and spontaneous single adults are. Sometimes it's a blessing, but mostly it's a curse. Our days never go as planned and we are often having to switch things around all the time. It keeps things interesting and fun. We are really busy and are always having things to do. Only having one more transfer is killing me, and it's getting really hard, but the fact that we are so busy is really helping me focus and keep on keeping on.
I'll attempt to give you an update of the week. Monday was great, typical preparation day and FHE. Tuesday was full of service and teaching! We were able to have dinner with a returning member and we had a great lesson afterwards. His name is Hyrum and he's been recently coming back to church. He is a really good kid, but is struggling with his testimony. We have really been inviting him to do specific things and it's been amazing to see how it's helping him! He expressed to us that he felt the spirit this past week. His countenance changed so much this week and he definitely was glowing. That is my favorite part of the gospel, watching people change and seeing repentance work in their lives. It's so real. So so real. We were able to teach him the gospel of Jesus Christ and ended up drawing out the cycle on a subway napkin. The spirit was really strong and it was a really good lesson. At the end of the lesson, we told him that he would be blessed for serving the missionaries and he looked at us and said, "Wait, I will get blessed for feeding you?" It was so cute. Obviously he will be blessed! Anyone that feeds the missionaries will be blessed! :) After that lesson we headed over to a lesson with a man named Javi. Javi randomly showed up to church the previous Sunday and wanted to start taking the missionary discussions. We ended up going to his house and taught an amazing lesson! He made snacks for us and was so happy to have us over. Our lesson with him was pretty last minute and so we didn't have time to get a member to come with us, but we had this genius idea. We decided to skype a member in! BEST THING EVER. We are really trying to use our technology more and all of our tools and it was so amazing! Our member was able to testify of the restoration and it was so convenient for him! He didn't have to leave his house or anything, just had to pull out his iPhone and bear his testimony! So great. Javi came to church again yesterday and is really excited to continue to learn. Unfortunately, he's not a YSA and we have to transfer him to our elders, but he's going to be taken care of. :)
Wednesday was long, but good. We had 4 lessons and that was nice. We had a lesson with a less active member and taught a bold word of wisdom lesson, while he had a glass of wine in his hand haha. It was funny, but he needed a slap in the face, so we gave him one. Hopefully it was a wake up call to him. Then we had a lesson with our investigator Alex Tetteh, the one from Ghana. Our ward mission leader came with us and we taught the plan of salvation. At the end of the lesson, we invited Alex to be baptized on August 28th! He accepted the date and we are really excited for him. When we were following up with him and asking him if he read his Book of Mormon, he said, "Well, my dad actually was interested in the book and took it from me because he wanted to read it, so I didn't get to read it." Haha we were super happy about that and gave him a new Book of Mormon for himself. :) Nonetheless, the lesson was good and I'm loving Alex a lot! After that lesson, we went straight to our lesson with Damon. Damon is also on date for August 21st and he is doing so well. He is exercising so much faith and I have loved watching him stretch himself and grow! We taught him some of the bigger commandments and he seemed to have no problems with them. He came to church yesterday and it was good to see him there. We are really praying that he continues to progress and that he continues to work towards his baptism date.
Our other progressing investigator is named Qua Jones. I cannot remember what I have said about him.. But we were not able to see him this week. He got in a pretty bad car accident and has been in bed on medication all week. We are so so sad and it's literally crushed us inside. He is having trail after trial and we are just hoping that he continues to stay strong. It's hard when you're trying to do the right things and bad things still happen to you. It's hard to not want to blame God and turn away from. I have strong faith that Qua will get through it and that he will still get baptized. He is probably the most solid out of the 3 that we have on date right now. Please keep him in your prayers. :)
Our recent converts are all doing really well. This past week we had to say goodbye to Alan Ginger. He finally drove all the way back to Utah. :( He finished up his summer sales and headed home. We were able to get in contact with his new bishop and the missionaries in Orem and he's going to be taken care of and will be just fine. Thankfully I'll be home in a few months to get him back in shape if he hits a rough patch. He's a really good kid though and I'm so excited for his new adventures. When we saw him and taught him this past week, he said that he's been thinking about serving a mission. Say what! He's only 18... So this would be perfect for him. He said that he is going to continue to pray about it and will keep us posted. I told him to stop by and meet the family, so hopefully he does that. I gave him our address.. So hopefully he'll show up soon. Sorry for giving our address out to everyone... I just want you to meet all the wonderful people that I have met and associated with! :) Nicole is also doing really great. She is actually heading to Utah on August 22nd and will be having a working interview. She is super excited and is really hoping that she gets the job. I told her to also stop by and say hi too, so hopefully she will find some time to do that. I'm super pumped to have her in Utah. She is like my new best friend and I love her so much. She got asked to speak at the mission president's fireside last night and she did great! Her testimony is so powerful and I think it really helped some of the investigators that were there. Fernando is also doing great, just living the recent convert life. He gets the priesthood next week and then is going to the temple next Saturday! We are soooo happy for him and he is glowing. He's loving everything about the church and just wants to know everything right away. It's the best thing ever.
Other than that, we are working with some other amazing people and are starting to see the fruits of our labors. I love having people to teach and love inviting others to come unto Christ. It's the best job in the world. Some days I never want to leave this place, but then other days I'm so ready to come home. Either way, I love being a missionary and love being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Guess what. Last week I finished reading the Book of Mormon. I cried. Literally sobbed when I finished it. It's always a bitter sweet moment finishing the Book of Mormon. This time around I really focused on studying each individual chapter and really broke it town and took some really good notes. It was probably the best experience that I've had reading the Book of Mormon in all my experiences of reading it. I want to share some of my thoughts with you regarding that precious book. I have come to love the Book of Mormon so much. It is literally my favorite book. I couldn't say that before my mission, but I can definitely say it now. If you don't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I would highly encourage you get one. It will change your life. The Book of Mormon is simply another testament of Jesus Christ. So many people out here do not understand that and think that it is just the "Mormon bible" that we read and that it doesn't talk about Jesus Christ. It blows my mind. Of the 6,607 total verses found in the Book of Mormon, 3,925 reference Jesus Christ’s name. This means that some form of Christ’s name is mentioned approximately every 1.7 verses. I don't understand how people can deny that it's another testament of Jesus Christ. The last time I read the Book of Mormon I highlighted every time it mentioned Jesus Christ's name. Without fail, it mentioned his name at least one time on every single page. The Book of Mormon TESTIFIES OF JESUS CHRIST.
The Book of Moroni really touched me this time around. The book of Moroni focuses on three things. First, the need to learn and have a witness of the truths found in this sacred record. Second, it is a charge to understand and acquire the spiritual gifts available to us. Finally, he pleads with each of us to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him! All three are really powerful and really significant. Learning truths, understanding and gaining spiritual gifts, and becoming perfect through Christ.
I know that we are all familiar with the verses 3-5 of Moroni 10, but I REALLY want you to ponder those verses and really think about them. As you come to understand those 3 verses, you will understand how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon for yourself. I grew up thinking the Book of Mormon was true and having a good idea that it was true, but I didn't know for myself. I didn't have a firm witness that it was true. It wasn't until I truly applied Moroni 10: 3-5 where I gained my testimony.
"Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
The word EXHORT really stands out to me. Exhort means to strongly encourage or urge someone to do something. Not just a good idea or a suggestion, it's an urge. Go read the book of Moroni and see how many times it says the word 'exhort.' So, I also, exhort you to read the Book of Mormon.
The next thing I noticed was in verse 3. It offers an important admonition, "ponder it in your hearts." What is the translation of ‘it’--the thing that we are supposed to ponder? It is ‘how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things.’ We are to remember how loving, how good, how merciful, and how forgiving our Heavenly Father has been toward all of us. What usually begins to happen when we begin to ponder how merciful the Lord has been to mankind? To us personally? What happens when we count our blessings, or perhaps our sins for which we must ask his forgiveness, and recognize his hand in our individual lives? Is it not true that our hearts turn to the Lord in love and gratitude? Does our faith and humility increase? Yes, it does! And that is the impact of verse 3. Following the counsel in that verse helps us to become more humble, more willing and ready to receive new information and knowledge with an open mind and heart.
I know that every time I ponder and think about how truly good the lord has been to me in my life, my heart is changed. My heart is softened and I am more open to the spirit and to the teachings of Jesus Christ. I love taking time to reflect on how blessed I have been and I truly feel the love of my savior when I take time out of the day to be grateful for all that he has done for me. I would encourage you to take some time out of your crazy busy day to reflect on how merciful the lord has been to you.
I have truly come to learn that anyone, anywhere, can read in the Book of Mormon and receive inspiration. My experience has been that a testimony does not burst upon us suddenly. It grows day by day, as we do our part. Do not be disappointed if you have read and reread the Book of Mormon and have not yet received a powerful witness of its truthfulness.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie offered some of his insight into how to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon by pondering a question while reading. “There is another and simpler test that all who seek to know the truth might well take. It calls for us simply to read, ponder, and pray--all in the spirit of faith and with an open mind. To keep ourselves alert to the issues at hand--as we do read, ponder, and pray--we should ask ourselves a thousand times, ‘Could any man have written this book? And it is absolutely guaranteed that sometime between the first and thousandth time this question is asked, every sincere and genuine truth seeker will come to know by the power of the Spirit that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the mind and will and voice of the Lord to the whole world in our day."
President Hinckley's challenge was: “I offer a challenge to members of the Church throughout the world and to our friends everywhere to read or reread the Book of Mormon.…“Without reservation I promise you that if each of you will observe this simple program, regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."
President Ezra Taft Benson said: “There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’, and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.” 
Those are three beautiful promises from prophets of God and I know that they are true. I have not only seen that in my own life, but I have been able to see it in the lives of others. I know that each individual who prayerfully studies the Book of Mormon can also receive a testimony of its divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost will testify to you that it's true, if you really have the desire to know, and it'll be a witness that you will never be able to deny. Moroni did not promise a manifestation of the Holy Ghost to those who seek to know the truth of the Book of Mormon for hypothetical or academic reasons, even if they ‘ask with a sincere heart.’ The promise of Moroni is for those who are committed in their hearts to actupon the manifestation if it is received. Prayers based on any other reason have no promise because they are not made with real intent. Which real intent means with the willingness and commitment to ACT upon what is given to you.
The Book of Mormon can help with personal problems in a very real way. "Do you want to get rid of a bad habit? Do you want to improve relationships in your family? Do you want to increase your spiritual capacity? Read the Book of Mormon! It will bring you closer to the Lord and His loving power. He who fed a multitude with five loaves and two fishes—He who helped the blind to see and the lame to walk—can also bless you!! He has promised that those who live by the precepts of this book “shall receive a crown of eternal life.”
I know the Book of Mormon is true with my whole heart and soul. It has brought me so much peace and joy in my life. I have found great comfort in the words on those pages and my life has been forever changed because of that book. The spirit has testified to me and it's something that I hold so near and dear to my heart.
And without forgetting about spiritual gifts...... ACQUIRE THEM, SEEK THEM, and PRAY for them. “One of the great processes you go through in life is to discover yourself, to find those gifts and capacities God has given you. He has given you great talents, the smallest part of which you have just begun to utilize. Trust the Lord to assist you in unlocking the door to those gifts. Some of us have created imaginary limits in our minds. There is literally a genius locked up inside each of us. Don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise."
I have to get running, but I just want you all to know how much I love you all. I am SO grateful for all of your prayers. I sure need them. I am so thankful for the amazing people that I have in my life and for the chance that I have to share this gospel with God's children in NC. I know that it's true and I know that I am doing the work of the lord. There is nothing else that I would rather be doing and there is no where else that I would rather be. I know that God lives, I know that he loves each of you, and I know that he has a plan for every single one of you, even if you can't see that plan. Never doubt his plan and constantly turn to him and rely on his grace. None of us can get through this life without his grace and mercy.
I hope you all have a great week. You're in my prayers. Let me know if you need anything. Knighton Cole, Happy Birthday on Saturday! I love you so so much. Talk to you in seven. Sending all my hugs and kisses your way! Xo
Sister Ky Worthington

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