How's everyone doing? Can you believe that it's already a new month? Who knows where August went. My goodness. It flew right by me! I am so excited for this month though. I absolutely LOVE September and love the spirit and feeling that is in the air. Fall is definitely around the corner and it's my favorite time of the year, so I couldn't be more excited. Definitely coming home at the perfect time. :) Pumpkins, sweaters, hot cocoa, blankets, cuddles, & holidays. So. Dang. Excited.
Well, it's been another beautiful week here in the Carolinas and the time seems to be ticking real quickly. Sometimes I don't know how it slips away from me. We were able to experience a few rainy days and a few cloudy days. Both of which I absolutely love. The weather here is really amazing and I am so grateful that the heat is dying down. Man, it was miserable this Summer. Whew! I'm not sure if I could do another one. It's killer. But, the trees continue to stay super green and I love all the beauty that is in this part of the country. Y'all are going to love it so much.
We spent most of our preparation day out and about getting Sister Mabey a haircut, suit shopping with the elders at the mall, grocery shopping, playing basketball, and all sorts of other things, and my time is getting limited and quite frankly, I just don't feel like emailing all that much. I love you all SO dang much, but emailing can be so frustrating and so annoying sometimes, so please forgive me if this weeks letter is lame. It's not that I don't want to write you, I just don't feel like sitting here for hours and typing. I really could actually use a nap. You have no idea how tired and how exhausted I am getting. I think you can tell that I'm getting to my end and that my body cannot go much longer. However, I realize that I only have a few more chances to email y'all and share my thoughts, so I figure I better take advantage of it. :)
I'll give a quick update on my week and our investigators and then share with you some of my thoughts and gems from the week.
We were able to see lots of miracles this past week. We found two new solid investigators and had lots of members present at our lessons. That really helped! All of our investigators are doing pretty well and progressing. We may be putting a few of them on hold because they are not able to get work off on Sunday's to come to church, and without church attendance, they can't really progress, but other than that, things are going really well. This past week we went into our investigator Damon's work and tried to talk to his boss about letting him get work off on Sunday, and that was a complete nightmare. Oh my goodness. Worst idea ever. She was so upset and we got chewed out and kicked out of the grocery store, so that was definitely memorable. Then we got Damon in trouble and now he doesn't want to come to even the first hour of church (which is what he has been doing in the past) so hooray for that. Rough day.
We got two referrals this past week and were able to get in contact with both of them and start teaching them. Add Grace and Emily to your prayer list. They are super cute and really solid! I have strong faith that they will get baptized. They are both dating members and I know that because they have that solid fellowship, they will progress and will be helped significantly! So so grateful for the members out here and all the hard work that they put into sharing the gospel with their friends. I wish people in Utah were more missionary minded.
Let's see, our recent converts are doing well. Nicole is officially moving to Utah on September 15th and will be living in Lehi and I'm so excited. We are going to hang out so much and already have so many plans. Fernando is doing great and progressing in the gospel. He is giving a talk in church in a few weeks and is nervous for that, but I know he'll kill it. I've been blessed with the BEST recent converts anyone has ever had and I am just so grateful for God letting me be apart of their lives and letting me witness how the gospel can change anyone. No matter who you are and no matter where you've been or what you've done. It's there for anyone and everyone and is the perfect message of peace and hope.
A couple tender mercies and bitter sweet moments occurred. This past Friday I had my last real interview with my mission president. It was an amazing experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. He is truly a man of God and I have come to love and respect him so much. Instead of having a typical 15 minute interview, he kept me in there for 40 minutes. We had an amazing conversation and he gave me so much peace, comfort, advice, & counsel. It was unreal. I feel so much better about things and have gained some new insights on what to do and how to handle my situations. It's amazing how spiritual he is and how in tune with the spirit he is. He knows exactly what I need to hear every interview and he knows exactly how to calm my troubled soul!
Yesterday was incredible. Another Sunday full of miracles and full of the spirit. As I was sitting in sacrament meeting and partaking of the sacrament, the spirit whispered to me and told me that it was my last fast and testimony meeting as a full time missionary... And that hit me pretty hard core. And then of course I lost it and couldn't hold back the tears. Of course being my last one, I got up and bore my testimony and bawled the entire time.. You have no idea the gratitude that is in my heart and soul and how THANKFUL I am that I chose to serve a mission. You just have no idea and I have no way to even express it, so I'm not even going to try.
So besides that bitter sweet moment, we had four investigators come to church and had two inactive people that we have been working with randomly show up to church (we didn't even reach out and invite them). And then they went up and bore their testimonies. Ahhhh put me in tears. One of them even has a little girl and went up to the pulpit in a singles ward with his daughter and admitted to him being inactive, but how he felt prompted to come to church today, even though it had been 6 years. It's amazing how much the gospel can change people and I KNOW that it works for everyone. Life is not black and white... There is a whole lot of gray in everyone's lives.. But the gospel is the one thing that is constant and never changes. How grateful I am to have such a steady anchor in my life and such a sure foundation to always draw upon and hold onto. We are so so blessed.
Later Sunday evening we went with one of those inactives to uptown Charlotte, in the city, and just went walking around a fountain and a park, with the city in the background. It was amazing. Sometimes I just have to stand back and realized how blessed I am and sometimes it doesn't feel real that I literally came out on a mission and that I get to walk the streets of Charlotte every single day and meet so many different people of so many different backgrounds, and share my message and simple testimony with them. Too good to be true. We ended up having just a really great rest of the evening and we ended the week off on a spiritual high! I LOVE WHEN WE DO THAT. Helps me be so much better prepared and ready for the next week.
Well, so many other little things happened this week, but none of them really matter. We walked in a parade on Saturday and that was super fun and we got exposed really well.. We celebrated Sister Mabey's birthday and that was fun.. We had a lame district meeting and I miss all my old peeps... We got to see Sister Garlick at the soup kitchen and serve with her... We taught lots of great lessons and Sister Warner is killing her 12 week program... I'm working on My Plan (a specific program for missionaries returning home) and that's been stressing me out.. But I'm over it. So yeah, just a ton of little things happening everyday, but overall it was a great week. My studies were really good and I learned a lot about Ether 12:27 and that has been weighing heavily on my mind this past week so I'm going to share some of my thoughts with you and hopefully they help ya this week and make you think and ponder. :)
So, one thing that I have been thinking a lot about is the concept of weaknesses. What they are, why we have them, how we can over come them, where they come from, and blah blah blah. Well, I've learned that weakness comes to us through the Fall of Adam. After the Fall, our physical body and mind became susceptible to disease and decay. We became subject to temptation and struggle. Therefore, resulting in us experiencing personal weaknesses. But, the beautiful thing is that the Lord clearly teaches that as we come unto Him in humility and faith, He will help us turn our personal weakness into strength. His grace is sufficient to make this transformation by lifting us above our own natural abilities. In a very personal way, we experience how the power of the Atonement overcomes the effects of the Fall. President Alexander once told me that until we come to recognize the importance of the Fall, we will never fully understand the need and dependance of a Savior, and more importantly, our Savior Jesus Christ.
Elder Maxwell described how recognizing our weaknesses is one way that the Lord has chosen to increase our learning: "When we are unduly impatient with an omniscient God’s timing, we really are suggesting that we know what is best. Strange, isn’t it--we who wear wristwatches seek to counsel Him who oversees cosmic clocks and calendars. Because God wants us to come home after having become more like Him and His Son, part of this developmental process, of necessity, consists of showing unto us our weaknesses. Hence, if we have ultimate hope we will be submissive because, with His help, those weaknesses can even become strengths. It is not an easy thing, however, to be shown one’s weaknesses, as these are regularly demonstrated by life’s circumstances. Nevertheless, this is part of coming unto Christ, and it is a vital, if painful, part of God’s plan of happiness."
Now I know this is getting long, but I read this talk this morning and HAVE to share the whole talk with you, to basically sum up everything that I'm thinking and feeling, and as much as I wish I could try to explain my words, this lovely lady who wrote the talk just says it so much better so I'm just going to copy and paste her whole talk and you can read it later if you don't have time at the moment.
It Isn't a Sin to be Weak: by Wendy Ulrich.
“Am I really worthy to enter God’s house? How can I be if I’m not perfect? Can God really make my weakness into a strength? I’ve fasted and prayed for days to have this problem removed from me, but nothing seems to change. In the mission field I lived the gospel more consistently than at any time in my life, but I have never been more aware of my shortcomings. Why, when I was being so good, did I sometimes feel so bad? As we ponder such questions, it is crucial to understand that while sin inevitably leads us away from God, weakness,ironically, can lead us toward Him.
Distinguishing between Sin and Weakness:
We commonly think of sin and weakness as merely different-sized black marks on the fabric of our souls, different severities of transgression. But the scriptures imply that sin and weakness are inherently different, require different remedies, and have the potential to produce different results.
Most of us are more familiar with sin than we care to admit, but let’s review: Sin is a choice to disobey God’s commandments or rebel against the Light of Christ within us. Sin is a choice to trust Satan over God, placing us at enmity with our Father. Unlike us, Jesus Christ was completely without sin and could atone for our sins. When we sincerely repent—including changing our mind, heart, and behavior; offering appropriate apologies or confessions; making restitution where possible; and not repeating that sin in the future—we can access the Atonement of Jesus Christ, be forgiven by God, and be clean again.
Becoming clean is essential because nothing unclean can dwell in God’s presence. But if our only goal were to be as innocent as we were when we left God’s presence, we would all be better off lying snugly in our cribs for the rest of our lives. Rather, we came to earth to learn by experience to distinguish good from evil, grow in wisdom and skill, live values we care about, and acquire the characteristics of godliness—progress we cannot make from the safe confines of a bassinet.
Human weakness plays an important role in these essential purposes of mortality. When Moroni worried that his weakness in writing would cause the Gentiles to mock sacred things, the Lord reassured him with these words:
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
The implications of this familiar scripture are profound and invite us to distinguish sin (encouraged by Satan) from weakness (described here as a condition “given” to us by God).
We might define weakness as the limitation on our wisdom, power, and holiness that comes with being human. As mortals we are born helpless and dependent, with various physical flaws and predispositions. We are raised and surrounded by other weak mortals, and their teachings, examples, and treatment of us are faulty and sometimes damaging. In our weak, mortal state we suffer physical and emotional illness, hunger, and fatigue. We experience human emotions like anger, grief, and fear. We lack wisdom, skill, stamina, and strength. And we are subject to temptations of many kinds.
Though He was without sin, Jesus Christ joined us fully in the condition of mortal weakness. He was born as a helpless infant in a mortal body and raised by imperfect caretakers. He had to learn how to walk, talk, work, and get along with others. He got hungry and tired, felt human emotions, and could get ill, suffer, bleed, and die. He was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin,” subjecting Himself to mortality so He could “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities” and succor us in our infirmities or weaknesses.
We cannot simply repent of being weak—nor does weakness itself make us unclean. We cannot grow spiritually unless we reject sin, but we also do not grow spiritually unless we acceptour state of human weakness, respond to it with humility and faith, and learn through our weakness to trust in God. When Moroni fretted about the weakness of his writing, God did not tell him to repent. Instead, the Lord taught him to be humble and to have faith in Christ. As we are meek and faithful, God offers grace—not forgiveness—as the remedy for weakness. Grace is an enabling power from God to do what we cannot do on our own; the appropriate godly remedy by which He can “make weak things become strong.
Exercising Humility and Faith:
From early on in our Church experience, we are taught the essential elements of repentance, but how exactly do we foster humility and faith? Consider the following:
Ponder and pray. Because we are weak, we may not recognize if we are dealing with sin (calling for an immediate and pervasive change of mind, heart, and behavior) or with weakness (calling for humble, sustained effort, learning, and improvement). How we view these things can depend on our upbringing and maturity. There may even be elements of both sin and weakness in a single behavior. Saying a sin is really a weakness leads to rationalizing instead of repenting. Saying a weakness is a sin can result in shame, blame, despair, and giving up on God’s promises. Pondering and praying help us make these distinctions.
Prioritize. Because we are weak, we cannot make every needed change all at once. As we humbly and faithfully tackle our human weakness a few aspects at a time, we can gradually reduce ignorance, make good patterns habitual, increase our physical and emotional health and stamina, and strengthen our trust in the Lord. God can help us know where to begin.
Plan. Because we are weak, getting stronger will require more than a righteous desire and lots of self-discipline. We also need to plan, learn from mistakes, develop more effective strategies, revise our plans, and try again. We need help from scriptures, relevant books, and other people. We start small, rejoice in improvement, and take risks (even though they make us feel vulnerable and weak). We need supports to help us make good choices even when we are tired or discouraged and plans for getting back on track when we slip.
Exercise patience. Because we are weak, change may take time. We don’t just renounce our weakness the way we renounce sin. Humble disciples willingly do what’s required, learn resilience, keep trying, and do not give up. Humility helps us have patience with ourselves and with others who are weak too. Patience is a manifestation of our faith in the Lord, gratitude for His confidence in us, and trust in His promises.
Even when we sincerely repent of our sins, obtain forgiveness and become clean again, we remain weak. We are still subject to illness, emotion, ignorance, predispositions, fatigue, and temptation. But limitations and inadequacies are not sins and do not keep us from being clean and worthy of the Spirit.
Weakness to Strength:
While Satan is eager to use our weakness to entice us to sin, God can use human weakness to teach, strengthen, and bless us. Contrary to what we might expect or hope, however, God does not always “make weak things become strong” unto us by eliminating our weakness. When the Apostle Paul prayed repeatedly for God to remove a “thorn in the flesh” Satan used to buffet him, God told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness."
There are many ways the Lord makes “weak things become strong.” While He may eliminate the weakness through the dramatic cure we hope for, in my personal experience this is somewhat rare. For example, I see no evidence that God eliminated Moroni’s weakness in writing after the famous verse in Ether 12. God may also make weak things strong by helping us work around our weaknesses, gain an appropriate sense of humor or perspective about them, and improve on them gradually over time. Also, strengths and weaknesses are often related (like the strength of perseverance and the weakness of bullheadedness), and we can learn to value the strength and temper the weakness that goes with it.
There is another, even more powerful way that God makes weak things strong unto us. The Lord says to Moroni in Ether 12:37, “Because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.”
Here God is not offering to change Moroni’s weakness, but to change Moroni. By tackling the challenge of human weakness, Moroni—and we—can learn charity, compassion, meekness, patience, courage, long-suffering, wisdom, stamina, forgiveness, resilience, gratitude, creativity, and a host of other virtues that make us more like our Father in Heaven. These are the very qualities we came to earth to hone, the Christlike attributes that prepare us for the mansions above.
Nowhere is God’s love, wisdom, and redemptive power more evident than in His ability to turn our struggle with human weakness into the invaluable godly virtues and strengths that make us more like Him."
I know that our weaknesses can be turned into strengths. I have seen it happen in myself on my mission, and in others around me. Focus on the beauty of weaknesses and recognize how our weaknesses help define who we are and make up a part of us. We wouldn't be the same without them. I loved this talk so so much and would encourage you to go look at some of the charts that were written out in her talk regarding the difference between sin and weakness. I know that this gospel is real. I know that the atonement is real. IT WORKS FOR ANYONE AND EVERYONE. Even you, who is reading this right now and who thinks that it doesn't work for you. "Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ." Let him fix you so that you can become whole and can feel the calming effects of the atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that we all have so much to work on, but I know that our weaknesses can be turned into strengths and can help us prepare to meet God and to become more like him.
Be humble. Be teachable. Realize that there is always room to improve. The book True to the Faith explains the meaning of true humility: “To be humble is to recognize gratefully your dependence on the Lord--to understand that you have constant need for His support. Humility is an acknowledgement that your talents and abilities are gifts from God. It is not a sign of weakness, timidity, or fear; it is an indication that you know where your true strength lies." I know that as we do that, we will be blessed and we will see our lives change.
I love y'all so dang much. I cannot wait to see you & wrap my arms around you. Thank you for everything & for all the support. I hope everyone has a great week. Kam, happy birthday sweets. Make it a killer day. Nathan, happy birthday & welcome home! Can't wait to see you. & I know I'm missing a few others since we have so many birthdays in September.. But I promise when I get home we will celebrate.. Cause trust me. Remember my birthday is this month and I'm all about birthdays, so be ready! Have a super week. Turn those weaknesses into strengths! LOVE YOU SO MUCH!! Sending all my hugs and kisses your way. Talk to ya in seven, see ya in 30! Ah!
Sister Kyla Joan Worthington