Sunday, November 30, 2014

God's Commandments Make Us Free
November 3, 2014

SO MANY GREAT THINGS TO REPORT. Well first off, sorry I meant to change all those caps last week to lowercase but I ran out of time..I stressed about it all week. Sorry everyone. Also, I'm companions with sister Patera again!

Sunday, we had so many miracles! The 15 year old girl that we've been teaching had been wanting to be baptized, but wasn't exactly sure yet. She wanted to learn more. We gave her the assignment to read 3 Nephi 11, and as of Saturday, she hadn't done it. Then on Sunday she came up and said that she had read it and WANTED TO BE BAPTIZED! as soon as possible! I could have shouted for JOY it was the greatest thing to ever happen... besides the fact that this other lady that we are teaching came up at church also and said she prayed about the Word of Wisdom and she was more willing to give up drinking! (last week she and her husband said they were drinking on Saturday no matter what!) AND, another family that doesn't come very often came and stayed for all three hours of church and the classes were PERFECT for them! I love this gospel because it literally binds families together. I just love it so much and I love seeing the progress of these people. Something that is common among them all is that they are reading the scriptures more often than before. That is SO important for our eternal progression! never stop!

I have learned SO much this week and I am really thankful for it. Something I've been thinking a lot about is God's commandments. A lot of people that we teach feel that God's commandments are hard, restrict them, and they want to do other things. This scripture keeps coming to my mind:

Therefore, O my son, whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come; but in the last day it shall be restored unto him according to his deeds (Alma 42:27)

We literally choose what we do in this life. We can choose captivity and death (the devil's way, making our own choices) or happiness and eternal life (the way of Christ, accepting God's will and changing, even when it's hard.)  We were teaching this couple that I mentioned earlier (the wife who prayed about not drinking anymore) and the Word of Wisdom came up, and they started getting somewhat agitated about what they "couldn't do" and how they "didn't think it was that bad." A girl that was with us explained it perfectly. She explained how growing up, she was mad at her parents and she didn't want to do this "Mormon thing." She didn't want to live the "Mormon way" or anything like it, but what her mom said to her, changed her life. She said, don't do it the Mormon way, do it God's way. If we are always asking God what we should be doing in our lives, we will always be led and guided. So many people think that the church has put so many restrictions on us, and all of these different ideas.  This is not the case.

I want to testify to you that it is God's commandments that make us free. It is what brings us happiness! seriously! So many people in the world are looking for direction, and this is exactly what they are looking for. I am so thankful for the Word of Wisdom and the opportunity to keep the Sabbath day Holy and the way we are taught to read the scriptures and how God commands us to pray every day. I am thankful for these things because it gives me confidence in my life. I feel strong. I know where I'm going and what I'm doing. I have full faith that if  I'm going down the wrong path, God will tell me. The reason I know all of this is because of my Savior Jesus Christ.  These commandments literally unlock the Atonement for us because it allows us to CHANGE.

Lastly, I am so thankful for the opportunity we all have to change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. This is all possible because of the Book of Mormon and the Bible and all of the answers in it. I am so thankful for the opportunity to live here on earth! and to live and love the gospel, just like we did in the premortal life! and I LOVE MY FAMILY!  The fact that we get to live with each other for eternity is the greatest blessing.

We need to live like Christ is coming tomorrow. We all need the urgency to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Think of what we have- the fullness of the knowledge that we need at this present time! I am thankful for this gospel and the knowledge and comfort it gives me and how it shows me my weaknesses...I have a lot,  but I can change through the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Thank goodness!

Okay bye.  Have a great week!

I Don't Think I've Ever Been So Happy in My Life!
November 4, 2013

SISTER HILTON AND I ARE STAYING TOGETHER. I REPEAT SISTER HILTON AND I ARE STAYING TOGETHER. in this glorious area of the Orchard Ward. We could not be happier. I am so excited!

Number one thing I learned this week. I am so scared to be old. We always volunteer in retirement homes and such and everyone is so bored and... old.

I am just so amazed at the Spirit and how much it helps in missionary work. we were going to visit one of our investigators last week and on our way there this name came to my mind and I was like WE NEED TO GO THERE NOW. So I turned quickly into their neighborhood because we almost passed it and we knocked on the door and they let us in! that never happens. only sometimes. We taught the restoration and of course that was the best thing. Every day is a testimony of miracles. Another day we were on our way to see another one of our investigators and when we pulled in front of their house, we prayed and really just didn't feel good about going there. Then sister Hilton and I both got the impression that we should go see someone else. It was perfect timing. When we showed up, every single belonging of theirs was on the front lawn. They were being evicted :( there was only one guy there so we waited for everyone to get back with a truck to move it all. So we helped move all of their stuff into the truck and into a storage unit. I was so thankful that we followed that impression to go there. After we finished moving everything from the front it started raining! The funny thing was no one ever questioned why or how we knew to come. We were just there. So if they ever think about it they might be really confused.

My favorite was probably last night. This family in our ward invited their good family friends to be taught by us! We had such a fun dinner with them and then talked about the restoration. THE COOLEST THINGS HAVE BEEN HAPPENING THIS WEEK. I absolutely love teaching the restoration because if you think about it, IT IS THE BEST EVEN THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED IN HISTORY. we had Elder Baxter of the 70 come speak to us at zone conference and he talked about the scripture in D&C 1:17? I think its 17. but it says that God KNEW that there would be calamity and evil on the earth, so he called Joseph Smith as a prophet and gave him commandments. ITS AS SIMPLE AS THAT. I keep using caps cause im really excited about it. so when we taught this family, after we related the part about the First Vision, the husband goes, "oh, I believe that!" sometimes people say things and either 1. they don't know what they are saying really means or 2. I don't know how to respond because I'm so caught off guard and stoked. but it was the most amazing thing to hear the members bear their testimonies to their friends. it was the most powerful experience because they really meant every word! something else Elder Baxter said about this scripture was that the Gospel of Jesus Christ IS the answer to the evil in the world. it is the solution to the calamity and the questions of the soul. another time we were teaching these two people about the restoration and after we quoted Joseph Smith in his own words and showed them a picture, he goes, "that is SO cool. I've never heard anything like it." so after that happened I just want to tell everyone about it. I think I forget sometimes how unique our message is. I always just imagine if I were a missionary in Joseph Smith's time and how excited I would be to share the book of Mormon. the message is still the same today, and that gives me so much motivation.

I don't think I've ever been so happy in my life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

God's plan for us
October 27, 2014

I have some strong feelings I want to share with you all right now! This week has been one of the craziest weeks of my mission and I feel drained, but I LOVE IT and I want to serve my Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ for the rest of my life. You want to know why? BECAUSE HE LOVES US. GOD LOVES US and He has a plan for us! no matter what! and I'm sick of this settling for less than we deserve!  All of you who are reading this probably know me in some way, and no matter if you are close family, or friends, or whoever you are, GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU and he comprehends everything that is going on in your life! If something tragic happens, he already knew that would happen and He's already placed things in your life to help you out of it. If something great happens, God already knew it would! HE KNOWS EVERYTHING AND WE CANT FORGET THAT. Sometimes we just need to wait for God's promised blessings to come to pass, but the most important thing for us to remember is that we are GOD's CHILDREN and He loves us.

I wanted to start off this letter with a portion of my email that I sent to one of my best friends this week:

Before we lived here, we lived with God.  As spirits. Not bodies. God has a body of flesh and bone, but he is glorified. He is our literal father. He knows you because you spent time with Him. In this time when we lived with God as spirits, we were presented a plan. We wanted to become like our Heavenly Father because he was so great and loving, and he had so many blessings and so much knowledge and so much joy! But we couldn't do that unless we also received a body and learned for ourselves. We were presented a plan by God that we could go down to earth and receive a body. We shouted for joy. However there were two plans: Satan wanted all of God's children to go down to earth and have no ability to make choices, and then we would all return to live with God. The second plan was that we'd be able to go down to earth, and receive a body and be able to make choices, while being away from God's presence. We'd be able to learn and grow and have our own families. Part of that though is that we'd make mistakes, because we had to learn for ourselves. God knew us well enough to know that we would make mistakes. So Jesus Christ stepped up and said I will be their Savior. When they mess up, when they go through something hard,  I will be there. I will be there to redeem them from their sins and make them clean so they can come live with you again. He wanted us to be able to learn and grow and change here on earth. So those who decided to follow Jesus Christ's plan received bodies and got to come down to earth! Those who followed Satan and didn't believe that Christ could do it, didn't come down to earth and receive bodies. This means you chose Christ! You knew Him before! And you knew this life was possible! You also learned that it'd be hard, but keeping God's commandments would help you because you'd receive blessings. This is just the beginning of our purpose here on earth. We are meant to return to live with God, but only on conditions of change! We need to change and learn and grow and that's what you're doing now.

The first and most important thing to remember is that GOD LOVES US. That's not just a phrase! We lived with Him and knew Him and understood him and talked to Him! Think about someone that you live with. Like, your mom. Or dad. Or someone. And think about how well you know them because you have been around them. THAT'S HOW WELL GOD KNOWS YOU. He literally knows our personalities and what we need and who we need and what we need to do. This is so real to me I think my heart could jump out of my chest. I sincerely hope that you can all feel my love through this email because I KNOW THIS IS TRUE and I feel just a small part of that love for you! and for the people I teach! and for everyone that we come in contact with.

So this is a story about someone that I taught this week. We had only met him once, but a little background story.  This man joined the church when he was 19. He was very active in coming and learning and loving the gospel for many years, and for some reason, over 20 years ago, he stopped coming. This is all we knew about him at the beginning of our lesson. So we went into his house and started with a prayer, and then pulled out a pamphlet about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. My companion started teaching, and then it came to be my turn. and I couldn't speak. I literally could not open my mouth and I was supposed to just tell him about families and how Jesus Christ blesses families! but I couldn't. I just felt this OVERWHELMING feeling that I needed to say something specific. So I sat there in silence for an uncomfortable amount of time, and then just burst out and said "YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS IS TRUE!" and he was like yeah, I do. This is really familiar territory for me. So I asked "THEN WHAT KEEPS YOU FROM COMING TO CHURCH?"  We talked and we bore our testimonies about the church and he told us a wonderful story about how the Spirit has really touched his life. The Spirit and love of God was SO strong in there, but I still knew there was more that God wanted him to know. I felt so strongly that he needed to come back to church now. That there would be something in his life that he would need the full blessings of the gospel and he could not wait. and that God loved him SO much. I sat there and just bore my SOUL to him and told him that God had a specific plan for him and he needed to recognize it. I kept feeling like I should ask him what was bothering him but I already felt kind of crazy for bursting out earlier so I didn't ask for a while...but then I finally did.  He said nothing was bothering him. So we asked him to say the closing prayer- and that's where the truth came out. He thanked God for helping us recognize that he needs help.   and that was just it- he needs help. We all do. We all need prayer. I am impressed to tell you all that PRAYER is the answer to everything. That is where truth is revealed. That is where we are able to communicate with our Father in Heaven and ask Him what He has in store for us. Ask Him what we can do in our lives to better serve Him. I want to bear you my witness that this gospel is true and real. It's so true and real that I'm going to turn to this man next to me who is wondering what I'm so passionately typing about and tell him the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He lives and so do we  and I'm so thankful for it. I sincerely love you all and  hope you make prayer a bigger part of your lives. I love God and the plan He has for us!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Charity - The Pure Love of Christ
October 16, 2014

This has been a great week! I am still in the same area and I am loving it! My new companion, Sister Pearson, is the best ever, and we came out to Colorado at the same time. It's cool to see how far we've come and even though we haven't really served around each other, we've learned a lot of the same things.

Lately our mission has been really pushing that we need to be a completely obedient mission- and we want to be exactly obedient by December 25th, so we can give it to Christ as a gift to Him! It's amazing to see what happens when you involve Jesus Christ- because so much more is possible. our whole mission is seeing a lift. As we work on this together, I feel the Spirit so much more around every missionary! Things are changing that we never thought possible. I can honestly say that I LOVE my mission! honestly! We live in such a great place and we are all helping each other see the consequences of our actions. p.s. I'm never leaving.

so every month I have a different Christlike attribute that I am working on. It's kind of scary because every time I make one of these goals I am tested literally to my limit on it. This month is Charity- the pure love of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I am going to be really real about what I've been feeling, because I feel like there is someone who can learn from my experience. I have been reflecting a lot on what I've learned on my mission, and how I really want to make sure that what I've learned is ingrained in me for the rest of my life. I have realized the importance of not using sarcasm and negativity for humor, and how much that helps me love others as Christ did. It wasn't until I started noticing how much I say these sarcastic comments, even if I say I'm kidding, that I realized how it takes away the Spirit and love of God from me.

I had really been struggling to love one particular person, and I didn't know why, but what they did had truly affected me. As much as I told myself that I had forgiven them, I knew that if I had to, I could not say that I loved this person their face. i couldn't and I didn't want to.

I started asking for my Heavenly Father's help to bless me with the pure love of Christ. The second I asked, I knew that I was going to have to change and do something about it. The next day, I was given the opportunity to speak to this person. If you had told me a month ago that I'd have to be in this position telling this person that I loved them, I would have wanted to die, but I was able to stand there and tell them that I loved them, and I truly felt it! I felt the Spirit wash over me and I knew that I had forgiven them. I knew I needed to do this so I could focus on the work going on around me and more fully feel the Spirit in my life. I didn't want to end my mission and one day look back thinking, I wish I could have been closer to the Spirit and loved people more.

So my question to you is, can you honestly say that you love everyone around you? When you make a sarcastic or negative comment, is it because there is a memory there that bothers you? This is the reason that we have Jesus Christ. He can help us overcome these feelings and emotions that we have. It is because of my experience that I know that He lives and loves me and loves everyone that I teach. I love that I'm able to tell them face to face, every single person, that God and Christ love them. I know it's true because of the feelings in my heart. I hope you all know that I love you and I love my Savior Jesus Christ and I'd do anything to become more like Him. I know this is His true Gospel restored to the earth, and I know that His prophet leads and guides our church. I  know it because it is a reality in my life. I live and love God's plan, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!