Week 23: Changes and Challenges

December 9, 2014

Well hello everyone! 🙂
This week was pretty crazy. We had a ton of member meals in Lebanon, which is the Elder’s area, which means that we can’t do much finding there otherwise we call that poaching. Which MEANS, we spent a ton of time with members! We visited families, did some service, studied with people and enjoyed delicious food. It was wonderful! I’ve come to really love and cherish the members here. They love the missionaries and more importantly, they love the Lord. They want to help in any way they can to help others come unto Christ and they’re willing to make sacrifices to do it! It’s amazing to be able to SEE their testimonies, not just hear them. I really love to visit with each of them and hear the ways the Gospel has changed them and hear about their studies and what they’re working on. I love having Gospel discussions with them! Just yesterday, we visited Sister Ward. Wow. She really gets you thinking about things that don’t necessarily matter as far as our eternal salvation goes, but yet are quite fascinating. It’s like she’s Gospel oriented ALL THE TIME. We walked in and she was listening to a lecture from Yale on the New Testament. Apparently she does that often. She has discussions with her husband all the time about Gospel topics like what our bodies will be like after we’re resurrected or how we can become like God. Her example is amazing and I definitely want to be like her in the way that she seems to constantly be thinking about spiritual things and finding ways to get rid of all the negative and bad things in her life. She told us that she’s learned that she doesn’t have time for those kinds of things so she tries to avoid them as much as possible. Even that simple thought – not having time, even when you’re thinking about eternity, for negative things – got me thinking. I LOVED it and I’m still thinking about it!
We were able to do some service at a roller skating rink in Enfield, which was SUPER fun. At first, she wanted us to clean this nasty fridge that has been sitting there for who knows how long, unplugged. We started to clean it, but then realized that there may possibly be some black mold in there. Soooo, we stopped pretty quick. They’re now planning to chuck that appliance. Instead, she had us change wheels on the skates. Interestingly enough, that was quite fun! I really enjoyed that. So when we came back yesterday to do more service, I was happy when we got to do more of that. Haha! But we also painted, swept, vacuumed and hung up decorations. We had an interesting conversation with the manager, Gayl. She’s Wiccan and it was kind of fascinating to learn that she’s really not that different in her beliefs besides the fact that she’s an eclectic witch. I don’t know exactly what that means, but what I do know is that she still believes there is a God and she believes in being kind to people and doing good and serving others. She truly is a very kind hearted woman. Now, I don’t judge people based on their beliefs because first of all, that’s not my place. Second, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ have always been persecuted for what they believe, even way back in Old Testament times! So, why would I persecute someone else? It’s not right. But I will admit that whenever I heard about Wiccans or Pagans, I definitely thought that it was a strange religion. Now, I’m quite interested to know a little more about them so that I can better understand rather than sit and think they’re crazy. It’s little lessons like this that drive home the fact that no matter how many things we hear about other people, religions, beliefs, etc, you never know until you talk to the source. I’m glad that I can continue to find examples of that in my life and recognize how much I still have to learn!
On Sunday, we had dinner with the Amundsen’s. I love that family! They’re super cute and she makes DELICIOUS dinners. Definitely the kind of dinner that my mom makes for the missionaries! The best part, though, was that I got to practice with her for the duet we’ll be playing in church this next Sunday. I am SO excited for that. It’s wonderful to be able to play still as a missionary. I just love to play the piano! 🙂
Also on Sunday was the Christmas devotional! It’s AWESOME! I loved some of the points that the auxiliaries mentioned and talked about. You can watch it here:
I sure hope you take the time to watch it and remember the reason for the Christmas season! It’s truly quite wonderful! 🙂 Also, you can visit christmas.mormon.org to watch a short video about Christmas and learn how Christ is the Gift! #SharetheGift
Some challenges that we came across this week: Well, first of all, on Saturday, we found out that our area is being closed. There won’t be any sisters in Lebanon for a little while because there just aren’t enough missionaries to let every area have two sets anymore. There’s a total of 10 areas being closed throughout the mission and since there are 18 sisters going home next week, and none coming in, there are more sisters areas getting closed than elders. It’s really sad, even if I am going home and would’ve been leaving anyway because the ward is so upset. There are quite a few sisters who can’t have the elder’s over because they’re not married, their husbands are usually not home, or things like that. Plus, now it’s a GINORMOUS area that the elders have to cover, so I’m afraid some people are going to fall through the cracks. And that, everyone, is what home and visiting teaching is for – to make sure that everyone knows that they’re loved, watched out for, cared far and wanted. The missionaries can’t do that job since we’re always changing and there’s always the possibility like this of us being pulled out. The members who live here HAVE to be the ones to make the connections and show the love of God to their fellow brothers and sisters. Not only is it a commandment for us to love God and our neighbors, but as you learn and live the Gospel principles, you come to WANT to love those around you and serve the people that you come in contact with. I have a HUGE testimony of visiting teaching since being out on a mission. I know how much it really does for people – I’ve SEEN what happens when it doesn’t happen and I’ve seen what happens when it does. There are some pretty drastic outcomes when it doesn’t get done. Because of my testimony of this, I am SO excited to do visiting teaching when I get home – I already love those people that I know I’ll visit SO much, and I don’t even know who they are yet! THAT is the miracle of God’s love that can change your life forever. If you can feel God’s love, even just once for someone, you can feel it all the time for anyone in the world. Charity is the pure love of Christ. It’s the only thing that never fails, and truly, it brings us to know the true nature of God even more when we can have charity for others. 🙂
Another challenge has been snow. Actually, that’s mostly just today. The ride that Sister Crook and Sister Keown had for the temple today decided not to go because of the storm that had been predicted. Which means they’re not going at all this transfer. Sister Crook was really sad about that, mostly because her hopes got dashed twice in a row. I hope she gets to go soon!
My studies almost all this week were fabulous. I really loved being able to learn and find ways to apply, but sometimes, it wasn’t always for my mission. I was learning things that I can apply when I get back home. Which is great, but I still have a week! So I wrote a list of things to do when I get home down so that it won’t be distracting this week. Yay! Most of the amazing things I learned this week came from my Book of Mormon studies. I’ve been reading through the Book of Mormon and highlighting any name that refers to a member of the Godhead (Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost/Spirit) in pink and anything about the Atonement in blue. In the Book of Mosiah, chapters three and four are basically a “How To…” guide for applying the Atonement. In order to apply the Atonement, we need to be striving to live the steps of the Gospel – Faith, Repentance and Baptism/Sacrament. If we do those three things continually, we are promised that we’ll have the Spirit with us always, which means something else we need to do in order to fully utilize the Atonement in our lives is to listen to the Spirit and yield to Him. If we don’t do that, then we’re essentially rejecting the gift of the healing power of the Atonement that’s right in front of us when we worked so hard to have it placed in front of us in the first place. In order to yield to the Spirit and accept the gift of the Atonement, we need to be humble and become as a child – humble, patient, meek, submissive, full of love – because without those qualities, we’ll never realize that the power of the Atonement comes BECAUSE of the love of God for all of His Children. Along with that, we need to trust in the Lord and His timing, which means we need to be diligent in keep His commandments, otherwise, are we really showing faith and trust in His timing if we’re impatient and wishing relief would come NOW? We have to REMEMBER who God is and all that He has done and will do for us if we’re willing to let EVERYTHING be in His hands at all times. Of course, what always follows when Heavenly Father or the Savior command us to do something? Promised blessings! Here are some promised blessings of applying the Atonement and allowing it to change who we are: we receive forgiveness and a remission of our sins, our hearts are purified and we are filled with joy and a peace of conscience. We receive salvation where we can always rejoice, be filled with the love of God and continually grow in the knowledge of the glory of Him who created us and the knowledge of that which is just and true. We will be blessed with the desire to live peaceably as well as the desire to teach and share the Gospel – AKA what we know to be true! We will be blessed with the desire to serve, love and succor those that we come in contact with.
My oh my, those promised blessings sound mighty delicious to me! I testify to you from the very bottom of my heart that those blessings truly are sure if we can learn to apply and live the Atonement in our own lives. I know it because as I’ve learned to change and use the Atonement to help me get to where I am today, I’ve received so many of these wonderful blessings and miracles! The last ones that I listed, about being blessed with desires, are absolutely just wonderful and amazing. The more I use the Atonement and have my testimony of the truth of it and other parts of the Gospel strengthened, the more that I want to share it with others, help them to feel God’s love and know that it’s possible for them and everyone to change and become who Heavenly Father can see us becoming. I have such a desire to serve and love and succor those around me. I want to live peaceably and just bask in the love of God all the time! But I don’t want to do it alone – I want everyone to know the truths so that they can feel these joys as well. That’s why I’m sad to leave my calling as a full-time missionary next week. I’ve learned so much about serving and loving others. I am so sad to go back to normal life where I won’t have all day to spend serving and teaching others about Jesus Christ. But I am SO happy to have learned these things because now, it will drive me to MAKE time to do what’s truly important to me. I’ve learned what’s important – I know now better than ever what my priorities are. I HAVE to share the Gospel and there are so many different ways to do it – service, love, testimony, my example, etc, etc. And I can’t wait to do it every day for the rest of my life. A mission really is the “best two years” (eighteen months). I have a stronger testimony of who my Father in Heaven is, who Jesus Christ is. I know better than ever what my purpose is. I have a testimony that God lives, that He loves each one of us, and because of that, He has blessed us with prophets to direct the world today. He has blessed us with more scriptures to continually teach us and testify of His Son, Jesus Christ. He has given us commandments and covenants that bless our lives so immensely that we can’t even recognize all the blessings we’ve been given. One of my favorite quotes: We aren’t obedient because we are blind, we’re obedient because we can see! I love it because it’s true. I love to be obedient because I know obedience is how I will improve and become who I know I need to be – a wonderful and divine Daughter of God.
I invite each of you to find out for yourself these things – what’s true and what’s not, how to apply the Atonement, who God is, who YOU are, what your purpose is, etc. I know that as you find the answers to these things through prayer, scripture study, and applying the principles you see there, you WILL come to know of a surety these things I’ve testified of. You WILL be able to better know your Father in Heaven and your Savior and Brother, Jesus Christ. Your life will be happier and you will find greater joy today, tomorrow and forever. I’m not saying tough times won’t come, but you’ll have a better understanding of why they do come and you’ll be able to get through whatever comes your way BECAUSE of what you know. I know that and I am SO grateful for it. Life is hard, but everything is worth it. 🙂
Have a fantastic week! 🙂
Sister Mayle

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