June 2, 2014
Well hello hello to all of you!
I hope that all of you had a wonderful week and weekends and that life is just fantastic!
First of all, I just want to invite you all to feel free to send me letters, cards, pictures, gifts, etc. (mostly letters and pictures) Because I like mail. Just like I like Mayle(s)…. 😀 hehe. Plus, your pictures may or may not make it up onto my wall of awesomeness, which for the time being (until I receive your fabulous pictures!) is only of my mission adventures and family. And a couple other friends.
My week was great and my life is quite fantastic! Work is still slow, BUT Sister Hall and I have been having fun posting mormon.org cards and flyers for our scripture study class ALL OVER the towns we cover. It’s great and so far, we haven’t seen the fruits of our labors in that particular effort, but we hope and pray that we will soon! 😀
The weather is now summer-like. AKA… HOT. It’s….not my favorite. But I’m just thankful that I’m not somewhere REALLY hot like Arizona or somewhere in the south like that (shout-out to those friends!) 😉 Heavenly Father blessed me to be able to serve in an area that I can survive.
On Monday evening, we went to a member’s home, the Dauk’s, for Family Home Evening. That family is AMAZING! They’re ones that I never knew really well until that night. They’re quite awesome at missionary work – all of them share their beliefs in one way or another, by example, invitation, discussion, etc. It was so great to talk with them and learn about what they’re striving to do in their lives!
On Wednesday, we taught Shizele. Boy oh boy! I LOVE that woman! She wants so badly to be baptized, but she doesn’t want to be a hypocrite, so she’s wanting to stop drinking coffee completely, and know that she won’t pick it back up again ever before she even picks a date to be baptized. Which is wonderful because we don’t want her to be a hypocrite, neither does God. So we’ve been helping her a lot with that and she just has so many amazing questions, comments, and concerns. She’s trying so hard to understand everything we teach and when she finally does get it, if it’s something new, she gets all excited and smiley. She LOVES learning new things and loves being able to find out so much about herself and God when she meets with us.
And Brenda! She’s the same way! She’s not sure she wants to be baptized, but she LOVES to learn from us. She’s seen a big difference in her life since she’s let us teach her – in her study habits, her faith, her love of God and others, her service, etc. Learning more about the scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ has changed her in a way that makes her try so much harder to improve and become like Christ. She is amazing and it’s so edifying to talk with her!
It’s people like that that make this whole thing – well, life in general – completely worth all the trials, tribulation, turmoil, hardships, craziness, frustration, grief, etc. As long as I can touch at least one person’s life, change the world for them, I have accomplished my purpose and my greatest desire in my own life. 🙂
Friday was also good. Sister Erickson took us out to Brooklin (a 45 minute drive) to visit a less-active, Charlotte. She’s from Kentucky and she’s SUPER cute! I love her! And she’s wonderful because she’s trying so hard to align her will with God’s. She’s trying to quit smoking and to understand the Gospel. She studies and tries to be better. She serves others and she’s so spunky and fun! Our lesson with her was almost all about prayer and how we can improve them. Prayer is how we talk to God – when we talk to a friend right next to us, we don’t say the same thing every time, do we? So it’s the same with God. Our prayers should always be sincere and thoughtful. They shouldn’t be set or rehearsed. They come from the heart – tell Him what you would your best friend, your sister, mother, father, brother. Tell Him what’s on your mind, your cares and troubles, your worries and accomplishments. Tell Him everything you think your Heavenly Father would want to know. It’s easy to fall into a pattern, to rush your prayers so you can get on with what you’re doing, get to bed or do what you want. I know I do it a lot, even as a missionary. It’s easy. But it’s definitely more edifying, fulfilling and comforting, more personal, strengthening and loving to take the time to think about what you pray for or about, to truly make it a conversation rather than a one sided list of what you want. Make it sincere and two-sided. That was a really awesome lesson for all of us. Sister Erickson told us that we answered her prayers with that conversation – she had been praying for help to make her prayers more sincere. I love when things like that happen! 🙂 It’s amazing the way the Lord works.
On Saturday, we had the opportunity to go to a woman’s conference in Bangor for the stake, but we decided not to (mostly because we weren’t sure we COULD go) so we did service at the Clothes Closet instead, as usual. And I was thankful that we did. They were closed over Memorial Day weekend and received a TON of donations. They were completely swamped when we came in and the owner was so grateful we had come. She always prays that we come on the days she needs us most and we never fail to answer those prayers. Again – it’s amazing the way the Lord works! 🙂 That night, we also taught a lesson to a less-active, Roseanne. She’s not interested in coming to church with us because she disagrees on some of our teachings, but she does let us talk with her about the similarities. So this time, we discussed the story of Namaan in 2 Kings – how the prophet told him to go and wash in the river Jordan to get rid of his leprosy. He got upset that Elisha hadn’t come down to do some big crazy thing but had instead simply told him, through his servant, to wash in a dirty river. The point of our message was “small and simple things”. We demonstrated that through small and simple things, the Lord can bring about great things – we cut an 8.5×11 piece of paper in such a way that it made a circle big enough for all three of us to fit in. It was a really neat lesson – we had a great discussion about our own lives and how we can do better about seeing those small and simple things. During that lesson, I learned, once again, that the Spirit is amazing and there’s no way we could accomplish the Lord’s work without Him! 🙂
Sunday we taught Brenda, who I already talked about, but we also contacted this guy, Brian, on the street. We had a sweet short discussion with him about what we were doing, the Book of Mormon and what makes us different from other Christians. It was super cool and I loved it! It definitely lifted me up to talk with someone that seemed genuinely interested to know what we were about. It always does!
Finally, I had some pretty cool studies throughout the week.
I was reading in 1 Nephi 16 in the Book of Mormon and focused on what’s called the Liahona. In verse 10, Nephi describes it as “…a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither we should go into the wilderness.” What does that sound like to you? A compass? Yep. Me too. Throughout chapter 16 Nephi continues to describe it saying in verses 16 and 28-29:
“And we did follow the directions of the ball, which led us in the more fertile parts of the wilderness.
And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them.
And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”
That sounds like the best compass I’ve ever heard of. Kind of like Jack Sparrow’s compass that points to what you want most, except it points to where God needs you to be and when Nephi’s family was not in line with God’s will (when they were not faithful, diligent, or heeding it), the ball stopped working to show them the way. As I studied these passages about the Liahona, I thought of some questions to ask myself – Do I follow the directions God gives me? I know they will lead me to places I can benefit from the most, but do I listen? What stops me? Why? What can I change in order to always follow His directions? – I also related the Liahona to the scriptures. Scriptures guide you, they change when you read them according to your faith and diligence even though it doesn’t literally change. They may not seem like much, but they surely do bring about many great things!
So, what can you do to better answer those questions? What is your Liahona? How does God guide you?
Another great study I had: One of the scriptures we were supposed to memorize this week was John 11:35. It kind of makes you laugh when you first read it because it’s the shortest scripture there is – “Jesus wept.” But then, I took the time to study it and really think about it in context with the rest of the story. Verse 36 goes on to say “Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!” The story that these verses are a part of is the story of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, had come to find Jesus and finally found Him four days after her brother had died. She had such great faith and knew that if Jesus would come and ask of God, Lazarus would live again, even though he had been dead for four days. Verses 32-36 are my favorite because it captures so well the way Christ feels for us, the way He has compassion on us.
“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!”
Christ feels our pain as if it were His own. In truth, it is His pain, too. He feels it, He knows what it’s like, exactly. He wishes He could keep us from the pain, but knows it’s a part of life, and so all He can do is weep with us, sometimes even for us if we choose not to let Him help us.
While I was studying verse 36, the footnote led me to Doctrine and Covenants 42:45 which says “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die…”
which then makes me think of part of the scripture Mosiah 18:8-9:
“….as ye are…willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort…”
It is our responsibility to do these things. Christ did them. Perfectly. It is a commandment that we follow Christ and become like Him. Aren’t these things one and the same? I think so. How can you be more like Christ?
The more that I study the scriptures – the Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the words of modern prophets – the more I can see God’s purpose and plan for me and, in general, His plan for each of His children. The scriptures are there for us to study and apply. They’re not just good books for interesting reads. They’re sacred and the most important books we can ever study. I LOVE THEM! 🙂 I hope that you can take time each day to study and come to love them as much as I have! I promise that as you study them, your excitement to gain more and more knowledge will grow, your understanding of life and all of Christ’s teachings will be stronger and you as an individual will be more confident and have a better relationship with the Lord. I know that is absolutely true and I love it!
Have a wonderful week!