Hey hey hey! How is everyone?!
This week has been so great. Just great. The Lord is so good and He is mindful of all of us, and I love seeing His hand in my life and in the lives of all those around me.
I am doing well and so happy. We’ve had miracles this week and the Lord is so quick to answer my prayers. We’ve been shifting focus to less-actives and working with them a lot this week. I love them all so much, but the most important thing (really) is for them to have friendships in the ward. We have found that most of the time, their testimonies are burning bright. All they need is someone to sit with at church! All they need is a little love and encouragement. And for that reason, we have been trying hard to get more members to come with us to our lessons. Member-present lessons are seriously the hardest thing to set up and coordinate. So hard! But I headed into this week with a heart full of faith that we could do better and would see miracles if we did all we could. I fasted on Sunday for this specific reason–to have more people willing and able to come with us to lessons this week. While at church, 2 answers to prayers approached me and practically chastised me for not calling them and inviting them to lessons! Talk about an answer to prayer! I didn’t even bring it up with either of them and they asked me if they could come with us this week! My heart was so full of emotions–I felt like I wanted to burst out laughing and cry at the same time. It was lovely.
Again, yesterday, my prayers were answered as we went out with a member to two lessons (this is unheard of to me). She is so awesome and is one of our close friends in the ward. She was baptized 27 years ago from the Catholic Church and, therefore, can relate to and combat and testify very powerfully to many investigators and less-actives’ moms, etc. Yesterday, that is exactly what happened. My heart swelled within me, once again, as Hermana Dilone (our member) talked with a very devout old catholic woman (a less-active member’s mom) about religion. They somehow got onto the topic of fasting and praying and Hermana Dilone testified so powerfully of the spiritual power we receive when we approach the Lord in prayer and fasting. I almost burst out laughing/cried again as I sat there, looking at and listening to my answer to my prayer testify of the Lord answering our prayers. It was so powerful to me and I felt the Spirit testify, again, that our Savior lives and He does, indeed, love us. That we are, really, God’s children and He hears and answers our prayers. I love Him!
Juana is doing so well. I just love her so much. I was so bummed because we had to push back her baptism date because she “doesn’t feel ready.” She is SO ready. She just needs some confidence and love from the ward. But there are always blessings attached to any trial–and in this case it is Juana trying to get her daughter and grandson and perhaps husband and whole family baptized with her! It is glorious. I love it! She is incredible and testifies in the lessons to her family. She isn’t even baptized yet and she is testifying and teaching them! Oh, I love her. I am so grateful to be a missionary and be a part of this transforming process of conversion. As I walk with them through conversion, I am converted more and more. I know this is true and right and good and happy more and more.
Baptism has really got me thinking. It is such a step of faith for investigators to step in that water and make these covenants with God. I kind of feel the same way about my mission. I never got a bonk on the head saying, “GO, now!” Or “you must go in a mission, people are waiting for you…you need this…” Etc. but I prayed about it and I thought about it good and long and hard. And I felt right about it. I knew it would be hard and different and that I was leaving a lot at home. But I did it anyway. For me, a mission was a step of faith.
I am so grateful I took that step of faith.
I have been reading and studying this talk, and it has brought me great strength and encouragement and comfort while serving in this part of the Lord’s vineyard. Here are some of my favorite parts. This is from Elder Holland’s MTC address called “Missionary Work and the Atonement.”
Here we go:
“I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience. Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary…
“If He could come forward in the night, kneel down, fall on His face, bleed from every pore, and cry, “Abba, Father (Papa), if this cup can pass, let it pass,” then little wonder that salvation is not a whimsical or easy thing for us. If you wonder if there isn’t an easier way, you should remember you are not the first one to ask that. Someone a lot greater and a lot grander asked a long time ago if there wasn’t an easier way…
“The Atonement will carry the missionaries perhaps even more importantly than it will carry the investigators. When you struggle, when you are rejected, when you are spit upon and cast out and made a hiss and a byword, you are standing with the best life this world has ever known, the only pure and perfect life ever lived. You have reason to stand tall and be grateful that the Living Son of the Living God knows all about your sorrows and afflictions. The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and on to Calvary. The only way to eternity is through Him—the Way, the Truth, and the Life…
I declare Him to be the Savior of the world, the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls, the Bright and Morning Star. I know that our garments can be washed white only in the blood of that Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. I know that we are lifted up unto life because He was lifted up unto death, that He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows, and with His stripes we are healed. I bear witness that He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief because upon Him were laid the transgressions of us all.”
Chin up. That what I have to say. Chin up, because Christ is real. Because He is our Lord. Because He is our King! I love my Savior. His character is perfect, and it is this perfect character and His radical mercy that brings me hope and joy and peace. And day by day, we will find and achieve perfection like Him if we choose to walk the path with Him.
With other news: it has been getting really cold. Some days are deathly cold and then we have random warm days like yesterday. But slowly and surely winter is coming.
Funny story: we went to Burger King so I could use the bathroom. It is a customer only bathroom and so I was just hanging out real close to the door so that when the lady came out I could grab the door without letting it close and locking, and me having to buy something to use it. (Sorry law of the land…). The door opened, and I grabbed it and saw a very interesting lady–remember that most people here in the Bronx are quite interesting. She was older and dressed insane and had a crazy hat on, kind of like the bird lady on home alone. I held the door and said thanks and she grumbled something at me. I said, “What?” and stepped into the single bathroom. As she closed the door, she stuck her head in and whispered, “I love you” in some foreign accent. Not in the creepy way like the gross men on the street, but in long lost forgotten and crazy great great grandmother way. Ha!! It was so weird. I just stood there and laughed in the bathroom.
One more: just a funny quote from the young adult Sunday School class is week: while reading Jeremiah 1:6-9 someone shouted out, “You know Christ!? I love that dude! He forgived (sp, I know) all of us! I would have been like psshhh, forget all you guys. You know who my dad is?” Ha, I love our ward so much.
Last thing: I love the Book of Mormon. It is how we learn about our Savior. It is the way to know that Christ is your Savior, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet today. When we read each day, we give ourselves the power and strength that we need each day. It is true! Only.
I love you all!! Oh so much. Be good and happy! Only.