Holy cow this week was CRAZY. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned how insane it can be as a missionary to see the progress you make throughout your time…. It’s like you just keep progressing and as it keeps going, you wonder how there’s any more room to progress, but then it just keeps going! WHOA! Seriously, though… I don’t even know how it works, but it does and this week, I saw it again! But first, we’ll start with other awesome stuff.
There are only a couple things that I really truly want and I want it from everyone, regardless of religious background. The only ones exempt are the ones who don’t believe in God at all:
So there. I hope that our PO Box will blow up with beautiful envelopes full of testimonies of Christ. That would be just glorious!
Monday to Tuesday was the new missionary meeting down in Manchester. It was fun to stay with a bunch of other sisters in the mission home and get to know some more of them. A few of them are ones that came out the same transfer as me and some of them just before or after me. Then, of course, there were all the new sisters – 8 of them. And the meeting was wonderful! A nice refresher course for those training to remember all the things we need to be doing as missionaries. There was a lot of discussion on obedience as well as just some technical things like record-keeping, driving, health, etc. It was inspiring, uplifting and full of joy and love! YAY!
Wednesday was our Zone Interviews up in Plymouth (lots of driving this week!) and that was just as good, if not better than the new missionary meeting! We got to see President and Sister Stoker again, and we got to learn about obedience again, and we got to learn about Christ-like Attributes! President Stoker has challenged each of us missionaries in the New Hampshire Manchester mission to pick one Christ-like Attribute from Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel and study/apply it for a whole transfer. Then pick a new one next transfer, and so on. The attribute that I picked is Virtue. It’s one I haven’t spent a whole lot of time studying and one that people seem to avoid because they’ve only got one view of what it is – being morally clean and pure. Which, yes that’s part of it, but there’s so much more to it than that! Let me share some insights real quick.
I’ve learned that Virtue is so much more than just purity and chastity. Webster’s dictionary says: “General moral excellence, a specific moral quality regarded as good, chastity, excellence in general, a good quality.” I also wanted to know the exact definition of moral, which is: “Dealing with or capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, good in conduct or character.” So basically, chastity is a pretty small part of virtue. So then, what is it? Preach My Gospel says: “Virtue starts with your thoughts and desires…What you choose to think and do when you are alone and you believe no one is watching is a strong measure of your virtue… Virtuous people are lean and pure spiritually. They focus on righteous, uplifting thoughts and put unworthy thoughts…out of their minds.” While studying it this morning, I thought about what it means to have unworthy thoughts when you’re not doing anything bad – How can I be more virtuous even though I’m already a righteous person? How can I be better? So I defined “unworthy thoughts/actions” as being those that distract you or take you away from your purpose or away from the work of the Lord – as a missionary, those kinds of “unworthy” thoughts are things like worldly songs (anything besides what we’re allowed to listen to – hymns, songs that bring the Spirit and help us focus on the work), movie quotes, questions “what am I going to do when I get home?”. Basically, any thoughts that distract me from what I really need to be focused on – bringing others unto Christ. In every day life, it’s basically the same, though more of things that distract you from coming closer to Christ and being an example of Him in all ways, in all things, in all places and times. So that’s what I’ve learned about virtue so far. It’s pretty awesome!
In my interview with President, I shared with him some goals that I have for the next little while. Back in November, at a Zone Conference, we all got cards with five bullet points and a title of “Things I Will Change”. We had to fill out the five bullet points with things about ourselves that we wanted to improve on. When we finished with those, we could get a new card and start on five more things. I finally got a new card on Tuesday and chose five more goals. I’ve only got a few months left of my mission and I hope to be able to improve on them and accomplish them before I return home. Those goals are: 1 – Exact obedience to mission rules, to the Lord, and to the promptings of the Spirit. 2 – Invite and testify to everyone about this wonderful message we have that will bring them so much joy and peace! 3 – Lose myself in this work. Forget about things going on at home, things I’ll do when I get home, things I did before, movies, music, books, etc. I want to be 110% dedicated to the Lord at all times! 4 – I want to have a daily conversation with the Lord, not just a quick prayer here and there, an actual conversation when I end my prayer feeling like I truly talked with the Lord. And 5 – I’m going to seek the counsel and companionship of the Lord in all that I do. If I don’t have it, is it something I really should/need to be doing? I will of course make my own decisions, but I need to rely more on Him.
So those are my five new goals for the next few months. My challenge for you: Pick five things that you want to change about yourself and work hard to at least improve on them before I get home. What will you do to become more like Christ? I know that as you work hard on these five things, you’ll see your life change in ways you might never have thought it could. You will see more blessings and miracles from the Lord and you will find greater happiness as you strive to become more like the Savior.
I’m going to jump to Saturday because that was probably the most exciting day after all the meetings, plus I’m running out of time. First off: The Smith’s! They’re doing quite fantastically. Sam is still set for baptism on September 20 and she is SO excited! She and Nick invite their dad to church every week, even though he keeps saying no. Hopefully he’ll at least come for the Primary Program on the 21st! Nick and Sue are still praying about baptism, but it sounds like they’ve already decided to be baptized, they just might be a little afraid to just jump right into it. They’ll get there, and I’m hoping and praying that they’ll be baptized before I leave the area. If not, though, that’s okay, too. It’s all in the Lord’s timing! 🙂
Second: Do you remember a while ago I was talking about the Christ-like attribute of humility? Well, I think that I learned another very small sliver of what true humility is. We have a woman who is less-active. She hasn’t been to church in 15 years because her husband was really sick. He passed away a few months ago and now she’s afraid to come back because she doesn’t know if she can survive the pain of it. For a few weeks now, I’ve been thinking that she really just needs to put her trust in the Lord and come because the blessings of coming to church, having the support of the members and more importantly, the support of the Lord as you take the sacrament and renew your covenants can really strengthen you in times of great trial and difficulty. I know that, but it seems that her fear is greater than her faith, even if it’s only a fraction of an inch greater. She has great faith and a strong testimony, but it’s time for her to put it to the test. Last week, while planning what we would teach her, Sister Crook and I decided that we just need to come out and say it – she needs to come back to church. We played with so many different ideas, wondering which one was best. We tried so many different ways to come into it, but finally, the Spirit just told us “Just tell her.” We realized that there was no skirting around the issue – there was absolutely no way to address the topic without it being bold. So on Saturday evening, we went over, praying all day and anticipating what might happen. We were afraid that she might throw us out and tell us not to come back because we’d talked very briefly about how she’s working on it and she’s waiting for the Lord to tell her when she’s ready. Well, after two hours of procrastinating, I knew that there was no way we could leave without saying anything, so I just said “What kind of answer are you waiting for?” “I’m waiting for Him to tell me in my heart.” “Okay…Well, we are representatives of Jesus Christ and we’re here to tell you that you are ready to come back to church. You have the strength to face it.” I was able to testify to her about how important church and the sacrament are and tell her that I think she’s definitely ready to come back. She recognized how hard that was for me to say and she really appreciated and respects me for it. She said she’s still going to wait for her answer, but that every time we come, the Lord nudges her a little more…………….. It’s kind of frustrating when we can see she’s already got her answer, and we also just straight-up told her as Christ would tell her since we do represent Christ in this area, but she is still waiting. It was so hard, but oh my goodness was it worth it. It was satisfying to know that we did all we could – we followed the Spirit. Going into that, I had no clue how to bring it up. I was terrified and anxious and worried about what might happen. But I knew what the Lord had asked of me and I knew that there was no way I could do it without Him. I truly believe that I learned a little more about humility because really. If I had tried that without Him, we probably would have been kicked out and yelled at. When we listen to the Spirit and follow the promptings we receive, blessings and miracles come and you can literally feel yourself strengthened by the experience through the Spirit. On the way home, an EFY song came up on my iPod called “Stand in the Light”. Some of the words that I can remember say “I will stand in the light, look to the dawn as it breaks through the night. With courage and strength I will stand in my place, with the flame of my faith burning bright!” There’s a lot more than that, but hearing those words, I felt the Spirit testify to me that I had done my part – I had stood in my place and let my light so shine before men that they could see my good works and glorify my Father in Heaven. This wonderful sweet sister recognized the courage it took for me to say what I said. She recognized my testimony and my faith and she saw that I gave everything I had to the Lord. THIS is what missionary work is all about – Letting your light shine for others to see that you are doing good for the glory of God.
Heavenly Father is too good to me. He has blessed me with strength and love, and He has truly shown me what I am capable of doing. All I have to do now, is continue in faith, trust completely in Him, and lift Him up so that He will lift me. I testify that this Gospel is true and that our Father in Heaven loves us enough to give us this wonderful opportunity of life to learn and grow and live up to our divine potential of becoming like Him. It IS a wonderful opportunity and I love every single second of it.
Have a beautiful and Spirit filled week! Learn something new from the Lord! 🙂
the assurance that His commandments are for your good. You are
confident that you can do whatever the Lord requires of you if you
rely on Him.”