These past couple of days have been a whirlwind and crazy. We have done lots of missionary work and met with our investigators and born our testimony a lot. Many stories, laughs, adventures, hard times, spiritual moments. The works.
Today I want to try and share with you some of things that I have learned over the last 18 months and that have meant so much to me as I have had the opportunity to be a representative of our Savior Jesus Christ.
1. "Be kind regarding human frailty. Your own as well as those around you" We often preach to others about the grace and mercy of the Lord and then we think that it doesn't fully apply to us. So be patient kind and forgiving.
2. Those times when all we can think about is how weak and imperfect we are. All the times we have messed up or sinned or didn't try as hard as we should have. Beg the Lord to change you and remember "acknowledge and face your weaknesses but don't be immobilized by them because some of them will be your companions until you depart this mortal existence." It wasn't until Peter denied Christ and went back to fishing that he realized what the Savior wanted and expected of him. Even the best fall down sometimes, so get up brush yourself off and keep going.
3. LAUGH. Don't ever become a lifeless walking breathing Mormon robot. This is the gospel of happiness and we are to live it fully. The counsel Joseph Smith gave to the early saints states it perfectly. D&C 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we standstill, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." Cheerfully is part of the commandment and what God expects of us. If you can laugh at it you can live with it. Just laugh. When you are quoting the first vision and you get thumped in the head by a bulky child's light up shoe - laugh. When you fall down rain saturated stairs and your dress flies up or the wind just makes a tent out of it - laugh. When it is hard, people tell you "they don't care what you have to say" you're tired, you are forced to start swatting roaches with a fly swatter there are so many, the unexpected happens - JUST LAUGH.
4. Nature's characters and hearts can be changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In Alma 5: 12-14 it states:
12. And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart. Behold I say unto you that this is all true.
13 And behold, he preached the word unto your fathers,and a mighty change was also wrought in their hearts, and they humbled themselves and put their trust in the true and living God. And behold, they were faithful until the end; therefore they were saved.
14 And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?
Isn't the greatest miracle of all the changing of a human heart? Isn't that worth whatever it takes on our part to see if that will happen? We know that the Lord won't force anyone to be what they don't want to be but we also know that he can and will soften hearts and change things." It is the greatest miracle of all. It doesn't matter to God who we were but who we are and who we are becoming."
5. Love is the answer to every problem and is the catalyst to change. Preach my Gospel says "people will not likely change unless invited to do so" Love invites them to do so. God loves us unconditionally and we change with his help. In returned he asks that we follow the first and second commandments. To love him and love others. There is a reason Christ asked Peter 3 times if he loved him. That love is forever and eternal. It changes us - it is what creates true, devoted, converted, disciples of the Lord.
6. Live in the now. Love where you are and learn from it. Don't wish for the past, yearn for the future or better circumstances. God knows where you are and has placed you there. He needs us where we are but if we are to help him we have to have a willing heart and a willing mind. Don't wish it away. Became a force for good wherever you are. Be a creator of circumstances instead of a creature of circumstances.
7. I love and appreciate my parents and grandparents. Family is everything - it is eternal and a God-given gift. I have recognized how much they have taught me through words and example. A mothers quiet example of selfless Christ-like service. Pops example of a worthy priesthood holder, good fashion sense and love. Both who are always there to talk and listen endlessly and offer advice. Gramsy and Gramps diligently attending the temple weekly showing their love for the Savior and an understanding of the covenants they have made. As well as my siblings and Melissa who is pretty much my sister. Your example, kindness, love, prayers and letters mean the world to me. As well as everyone else who took the time to write and pray for me.
8. An emphasis on simply just going misses the mark. Too often we focus of going on a mission, going to church and going to the temple. Simply just going misses the mark. Instead we must focus on truly becoming letting the Lord change and mold us (Jeremiah 18:1-6) We are all in the hands of the divine potter. We must actually become a disciple of Jesus Christ worshiping, renewing our covenants and keeping them in our heart continually.
9. "Get really really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly." and "Accept trials set backs and surprises as part of your mortal experience." Elder Jorg Klebingat. He says it well.
10. Jesus Christ is my Savior and best friend. This hasn't been easy. But worth it in every bit. By going through these trials and struggling I have come to know Him. By participating in this work I have been able to see in a VERY small part some of the path that he walked. It will never be easy but we can find joy and it will always be worth it. Our afflictions are swallowed up in the joy of Christ and I look back and see all the times he has carried me, comforted me and how he always loves me. I am unworthy of that love but he does it anyway. He lives. Words cannot describe the depth and magnitude of my feelings but I love him with all my heart. One day every tongue will confess that he is the Savior of us all.
No matter how hard I try, words just can't describe what I have learned in Georgia. How much I love these southern people. The fire burning in my heart for the work of the Lord, this mission that has shaped the new me. This is the greatest work to ever be on this earth it is not hapless nor hopeless, it is the work of the Almighty God and "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing..." Words just can't do it justice. To steal the words of Ammon (Alma 26:16) "Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord? Yea, who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel."
Love you bye!
(Well I have to say I will miss our weekly letters and the blessing that come from having a missionary in the service of the Lord. She has been a great missionary and a wonderful example to all of us. We all look forward to giving her a big hug. We are very proud of what she has done and who she has become.)
Her Homecoming will be Sunday, April 19th. Our church begins at 12:30 but we end with Sacrament meeting that starts at 2:20 pm. The church is located at 2200 Miller Avenue in Burley Idaho. We will be eating after at the house.