Hey cute people,
Another week down. How's everyone doing? Crazy how fast the weeks are going over here in Charlotte. I'm not sure if they're going by fast over there in the 801, but they are sure flying by over on this side of the country. Isn't it crazy to think that I'm clear across the country? That's weird. And when I really start to think about it, it freaks me out. Sometimes I feel like I'm not that far away from you.. And then I look at a map and realize that I am really far away and it kind of makes me sad haha. Let's just not think about it. :)
This week was another one of those weeks full of some ups and full of some downs. Some days I've never been so happy and then other days I've never been so sad. You just never know what you're going to get! There was nothing that happened this week that made me particularly sad, I just felt Satan getting to me and trying to bring me down. Sometimes it is really hard being out here and feeling like you are alone and that you are living in the unknown. I don't like it one bit. When I start thinking about it, Satan knows exactly how to get me and bring me down. I know that he is real and I know that he knows our weaknesses and our shortcomings and that is how he gets us. However, I know that we have a Savior Jesus Christ and I know that he is more powerful and if we turn to him, I know that he can help us escape the darkness and help us feel calm and at peace. I've had to rely on him a lot the past two months, more than I ever have before, and I have one of the strongest testimonies that HE LIVES and that he is there for us. I have felt his love and have felt his warm embrace. He has healed my heart and has literally wiped away my tears. I am so thankful for the Savior and for his loving grace, mercy, and peace. I have learned that there is a God and there is a devil. And the bringing of peace requires the complete elimination of Satan’s influence. Where he is, peace can never be. Make sure you always stay close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
Anyways, sorry about that. Let's talk about missionary work now! We had a pretty good week as far as the work goes. We had a few meetings and some administrative stuff to take care of, but amidst all that, we were still able to teach many great lessons and were able to talk to a lot of people. We were able to meet with each of our progressing investigators this week and were able to get a member out with us each night. That was a huge blessing! :)
Alex (from Ghana) is doing great! We taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ and he ate it up. We had one of the summer sales guys come out teaching with us and it was a perfect match. Instant friends and instant fellowship. Alex said one of the most sincere prayers I've ever heard and asked God to help him be able to get work off on Sunday's to be able to attend church. It was so precious! Yeyo is also doing really well. He has almost been taught all of the lessons and just has to meet with our mission president to discuss a few legal things. We aren't sure if he will be able to get baptized right now or not, but we are having lots of faith! He is so ready and is so elect. He has been coming to church every week and he has even been helping reactivate his less active brother. They both showed up at church yesterday together and had their arms around each other and I just wanted to cry. That's what the gospel is all about.
Damon is doing fantastic! We taught him the law of tithing and fasting this past week and he loved it. Most people have an issue with tithing around here, but he was all for it. Didn't have a single problem with it. Our bishop asked us to really emphasize tithing when we teach our investigators because it's such an important commandment. We really really want Charlotte to get a temple and the only way for that to happen is if the members here pay a full tithe! So, we have role-played that lesson so many times and are pro teachers when it comes to teaching the lesson of tithing and fasting/fast offerings. :) Damon is still wanting to get baptized but just doesn't feel quite ready yet. Although he is totally ready, he still says he needs a little bit more time. We are being patient and am hoping that the Lord will continue to work through him. He's so close!
I don't know who else I have talked about in the past... My mind is all over the place on preparation days. We've been meeting with this man named Javi for the past 2 weeks or so and we finally had a lesson with the elders and passed him on. He's such a good guy and I know that he will be baptized in the future! We transferred wards and got him involved with the other single adults and it's going to be perfect for him. It was sad saying goodbye and having to pass him on.. But I know it's ultimately what's best for him. Sometimes it's hard serving in a YSA ward because if you find someone that is older than 30, you have to refer them, and that stinks. :( Oh well, it's all the same work and I'm just grateful to be apart of it in one way, shape, or form.
So, biggest highlight of the week was finding out that my boy Chris is getting baptized this Saturday! I don't know if you ever remember me talking about a boy named Chris like three months ago.. But he is totally getting baptized!! We lost contact with him a while ago and ended up just referring him over to different missionaries that lived more in his area and just told them good luck! I guess they ran into him and started teaching him again and he's totally getting baptized. We were teaching him for a while but he lives like 45 minutes from us so it was really hard to meet with him consecutively and although he is of YSA age, we just decided that it would be more convenient for him to go to the family ward and get baptized there if he ever wanted to continue to progress. He randomly showed up at FHE this past Monday and told us he had a baptismal date. I freaked out and was so happy! Then, earlier this morning, we got a text and he asked if I would give a talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost at his baptism. I feel so honored and so special! It's been so neat to see how someone we found a while ago, has met with different missionaries and is now making the covenant of baptism!! Love it!!
We also had a really neat zone conference this week. We were able to meet up with another zone about an hour away and have a great conference! A lot of the conference was on technology. Our mission is piloting another technology phase and we are super excited. Miracles are happening with technology. I have never seen technology be used for so much good. We are now having skype lessons almost every day. We are skyping in members to our lessons, we are skyping in investigators to our member lessons, we are face timing and adding many different people to our chats, we are creating Facebook groups and chats, sending videos and prayers via Facebook, voice recordings and pictures, it's just going crazy and we have been able to see so many miracles. I never thought that it would get to this point, and I know a lot of the members are really confused, but this is how the gospel will get preached to all the world. Of course face to face visits are still our #1 priority, we now have technology access that is helping the work move forward so beautifully! It's only there to enhance and compliment face to face interactions. Not to replace or to take away from. We are already seeing so many blessings and I am so grateful for all of the tools that God has given his missionaries to further the work. However, we must be careful with all forms of technology. I heard a quote the other day that said, "Technology is God's greatest tool and technology is also Satan's greatest tool." We gotta be careful!
This past Friday we had the opportunity to go to a member's house up in Huntersville. It was the brother in law and sister of a YSA member in our ward and they had us over for dinner. After dinner the father of the family asked us to teach them a lesson and wanted to have them pretend like they were the investigators. They asked if we could teach them the Plan of Salvation. We taught the lesson with lots of crazy kids running around, and it was very good for all 3 of us. It's been a long time since we have taught a family, so it was definitely needed. After we taught, the members gave us some solid feedback and suggestions, a little bit harsh, but it was SO good for us. I have such a powerful testimony of teaching members and practicing with them. It was so helpful and really helped me see what I need to work on. It's been such a long time since I've been in a family ward and it really made me miss it. It made me miss being in the "home" setting and hearing little kids running around everywhere. I am so grateful for the experiences that I am having each and everyday and I am just learning so much. So, that was a really neat experience.
Saturday was a great day! We were able to meet up with some of our less actives and teach a few good lessons. Our Saturday's are usually long, hot, and full of finding, but it really helped to have some set lessons set up. After all of those, we went over to our church for a sports night! Some of the ward missionaries set up a sports night and invited a bunch of members, less actives, and investigators. We all got some little Caesars pizza and had a bomb time! It was so much fun! Nothing like playing some intense volleyball and basketball in skirts and dresses. I was in heaven though and it was so much fun. A few of our investigators and less actives came and made it absolutely worth it. They all made some new friends and had a really good time. I am hoping that we can continue to do something like that every weekend! It was a great finding event.
Sunday finally came and once again, it was a day full of miracles! I love love love love love my Sunday's. If you don't love Sunday's, I don't know what's wrong with you! It is the best day of the week! The talks were excellent and our lessons in gospel principles and relief society were amazing. I really felt the spirit and the whole day I was really thinking and pondering about what I learned and what the spirit taught me. I have been really impressed with this YSA ward and the preparation that they put into their talks and lessons. It's absolutely phenomenal. For Sunday dinner, we got invited to another YSA family's home. We were able to have a hot homemade cooked meal and it was wonderful and so amazing! As we got talking to these members, they really opened up to us and shared a lot of things with us. They used to have sister missionaries living with them in their home so they always had lots of love and compassion for the sister missionaries. As we were talking, I was looking at their wall of photos and started asking about their children and their family. Come to find out, the father passed away in 2012 due to cancer, and the youngest kid was killed about two years ago while on his mission in California. My heart instantly broke. I just couldn't help but imagine the pain that the mother, and two sisters have had to live with for the past little while. While we were talking about it, it amazed me at how loving, kind, and gentle they were. They were all okay and had so much faith, peace, and hope. I was astonished. They talked about how they knew where their father and brother were. They talked about how they are continuing to serve on the other side and that right now, they are experiencing joy that is indescribable. Elder Zwick spoke at Andrew's funereal and told the family that Elder Page (the missionary who passed away) was still serving his mission with his new companion, also Elder Page. (The father)
I left that house feeling so grateful and so blessed for the knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. I saw how that knowledge worked in that families life. I saw how peaceful and calm they were and I want that for myself, and for the whole world. The gospel is truly so beautiful and it's only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that we can have that peace and that we can make it back to Heavenly Father and make it back to all of our loved ones. The atonement is the bridge that gets us back to our Heavenly Father. As I have been reflecting on that, my thoughts today are regarding the principle of peace.
I'll be honest. My mission has been really hard for me. I have hid a lot of my deepest feelings and worries and have tried to "fake it" and continue to move forward as if nothing is wrong. Especially during the last two months, I have really had a lot of pain and emotions inside of me. It has been in these times that I have felt the love of God and the peace of God the very strongest in my life. I have been able to gain such a strong testimony of the reality of peace and I want each of you to know that God's peace is available to anyone and everyone, at anytime and anywhere. All we have to do is seek it and desire to feel it. It's also a feeling that surpasses all understanding and comprehension.
"The value of peace within our hearts cannot be measured. When we are at peace, we can be free of worry and fear, knowing that with the Lord’s help, we can do all that is expected or required of us. We can approach every day, every task, and every challenge with assurance and confidence in the outcome. We have freedom of thought and action, and freedom to be happy. Few, if any, blessings from God are more valuable to our spiritual health than the reward of peace within. In modern-day revelation the Savior said, “But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come. (D&C 59:23.)"
Don't we all want to feel that kind of peace in our lives? I know I do! And more than that, I know that I need to feel that peace to get through this crazy life of mine! I know that receiving harmony and peace within ourselves depends on our relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ, and our willingness to emulate him by living the principles he has given us. He invites us all to "Come unto him, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
How is your relationship with our Savior? Do you talk with him every single day? Do you ask him to bless you with his love and his peace? Are you keeping his commandments and doing what he has asked us to do? If you don't have a relationship with him and if you are not keeping his commandments, I am going to tell you right now that it's going to be hard to feel peace in your life. Can anyone’s mind be at peace if they are breaking commandments? Think about how much mental anguish results from a little lying, a little cheating, or a little stealing, even if they are never discovered and no one finds out. Do we have peace of mind if we are knowingly disobeying the law? Or do we have peace of mind if we are not honest in the workforce or in our schooling and education? Do we have peace of mind when we are under the influence of drugs and alcohol or being immoral? Are we at peace if we are less than honest regarding our tithing and fast offerings? Do we have a peace of mind if we are angry at a family member or holding grudges? NO. We cannot be at peace when we are doing any of those things. I once heard someone say, "Anger doesn’t solve anything. It builds nothing, but it can destroy everything."
President David O. McKay said, “The peace of Christ does not come by seeking the superficial things of life, neither does it come except as it springs from the individual’s heart. This peace is conditioned upon obedience to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No man is at peace with himself or his God who is untrue to his better self, who transgresses the law of what is right either in dealing with himself by indulging in passion, in appetite, yielding to temptations against his accusing conscience, or in dealing with his fellowmen, being untrue to their trust. Peace does not come to the transgressor of law; peace comes by obedience to law, and it is that message which Jesus would have us proclaim among all men.”
I absolutely loved that and I know that it's absolutely true. I know that the reason I have felt the most peace and the strongest peace since being out on my mission, has been because I have been trying SO hard to be obedient to my Heavenly Father and I have been truly trying to live the way that he would have me live. By doing so, he has blessed me with his peace. However, I know that you can feel that peace while not being on a mission too!
This morning I was studying about peace and came across some really good talks and scriptures. Our dear beloved prophet Thomas S. Monson gives us three things to do to increase the peace in our lives and it's the challenge that I want to give to each of you this week.
1. Search inward. True peace will reign triumphant when we improve ourselves after the pattern taught by the Lord. Evaluate your life. Fix what you need to fix. Repent. Keep the commandments and obey God. Make amends with those that you have wronged and commit to be exactly obedient. I will always remember a fireside that I once went to at BYU where Elder Ballard was speaking. He talked about having a personal interview with yourself and sitting down and literally talking out loud to yourself and interviewing yourself. I've tried it a few times, and surprisingly it really works. I want you to each try it this week.
2. Reach outward. Service truly brings miracles and peace! As you turn outward, your problems seem to disappear and you seem to be filled with joy and happiness. Another reason why these past 17 months have been the best months of my life. I have been focused on others and not myself. No is a better example of service than our Savior Jesus Christ and our dear prophet. Follow their example. The Savior always turned outwards when you and I would've probably turned inward. Focus on serving those around you this week and I promise your life will be full of more peace.
3. Look heavenward. Trust God. Look to him. Pray EVERY SINGLE DAY. Don't rely on the world and the outsiders to give you peace and hope. Don't rely on materialistic things and worldly appetites and pleasures. Rely on the atonement of Jesus Christ and on our Heavenly Father. He loves you so much. More than you will ever be able to comprehend. He knows you perfectly and he knows how to help you. He knows what you need and he knows how to heal you and give you peace.
Will you all try working on those three things for me this week? I know you will be so blessed and I know you will notice a difference in your life. As I was thinking more about this concept of peace. It made me think about a big, warm, winter fire. The peace of God is like a winter fire. When you're just sitting in front of a fire, your are warmed. That's all you have to do, sit in front of the fire. That's all. You don't have to be perfect, you don't have to have this or that, you don't have to be the richest person in the world or the most amazing celebrity....The fire warms everyone. Every single one of us. God's peace and love is there and accessible for everyone and all we have to do is sit in front of the fire.
I want each of you to know how much I love you and how grateful I am for you. I know that this gospel is real. I know that God lives and I know that he is waiting to offer us his peace. He wants us to be happy. He wants us to find joy. We just have to do our part. I hope that each of you will work on becoming who Heavenly Father needs you to be and I hope that you will work on being a better person so that you can feel of the indescribable peace that he has to offer. Remember, You cannot become who you are supposed to be by staying who you are. You may have to change a few things, but I promise it'll be worth it.
I couldn't have been able to do this without you! My joys have been multiplied and my sorrows divided because of YOU. Because of your love, faith, prayers, and support. My mission has been the best thing I have ever done in my life. Next week I will be starting my very last transfer as a missionary for the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am ready to give everything I have to the Lord and I am going to continue to need all of your prayers and your support. Six more weeks. We can do this!
I love you all more than you will ever know! Have a great week. Sending all my hugs and kisses your way! Your sister in Charlotte loves you!! :) talk to ya in seven & see you in 50.