Coming at you from Olmstead. We have transfers today so things are a little crazy. Drumroll……STAYING in Olmstead and Hermana Fink is out and off to Danbury with Hermana Molina! Ha! We’re swapping companions. I am bummed to have Sister Fink go. I feel tempted, too, to beat myself up and feel like I wasn’t training well enough or something so they sent her off and out. BUT, I don’t think that is true. I know President Morgan is called of God and that this is truly what the Lord wants for this mission. So, I’m good. And, to be honest, I think it will be great for Hermana Fink. Out of the BRANX (misspelling on purpose) and out of this crazy cycle of having a trio and then having sick roommates and then me being on splits with other missionaries because their companions were in the hospital, etc. Just kind of crazy and I think she’ll feel relieved with a new start in a new place with, hopefully, a lot less DRAMA!
But for me…BRONX FOR LIFE.
This week flew by. So weird. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone! The call on Sunday was AWESOME. Just awesome. It felt so good to just see everyone and talk and be with you. Love you.
Well, what even happened this week….? Hmm, well, I’ve been wrestling and thinking and studying and trying to figure out how I can help our investigators. What came to my mind, rather overwhelmingly, was the Family Proclamation. Very powerfully. We have been sharing that and reading it and giving it out to a BUNCH on people. Why was my mind brought to that? Well, most of the progressing investigators we have are AWESOME and just need to get married to the person they live with. Other less actives that we have been working with suffer greatly and have had their faith weakened through family trials and inactive/uninterested spouses and children. We also recently started teaching someone who takes care of her grandson (a TORNADO child of three years that looks like he could be 8. Seriously he is huge) because his mom is very abusive – to her child, to the grandma, to everyone.
It breaks my heart.
Really, it breaks my heart. I feel like before my mission I would hear these “trials” and crazy things people would go through. Abuse, drugs, broken homes and broken hearts. Sure, it was sad to hear about, but I literally could not imagine. Or what I did imagine was not even close. Now, I am working very closely with people, hearing and SEEING their real-life challenges. The real life punches and hits, the yelling and screaming, the cursing and crying. It is so real to me now. I often find myself just looking at them and almost tuning out for a moment as I look into their eyes and just wonder where in the world this person came from. Where they were broken, what their favorite childhood toy was, their favorite childhood food and game. Their awkward middle school years and then high school and everything beyond. As I did so, and listened to some people’s life-stories and experiences and trials and their honest search for truth, or at least some sort of relief, I felt overwhelmingly grateful for the Family Proclamation. For my family. For my ward at home with strong families and kind hearts. How many tears would be saved if this person had a loving mother? How many learning disabilities and anger issues and violence would be done away with if the baby hadn’t been smacked around and yelled at and shut up out of sight and out of mind.
We had some very wonderful and powerful experiences as we shared the Family Proclamation and asked them to share it with their spouses and parents and so forth. I love the Family Proclamation. It is from God and it speaks truth. Clearly and plainly. Talk about plain and PRECIOUS things.
Ok, get this: ELDER COOK came on Saturday!!! It was amazing. Just amazing. I felt like the answers to questions I didn’t know I had or I couldn’t put into words were answered. I felt healed. I felt lifted and excited and so very peaceful. I know he is called of God. I know it. I know the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson is LITERALLY hand-picked from God, from Jesus Christ Himself. I know that. I cannot doubt or deny it! And I am so very grateful for a prophet. I thank thee, oh God, for a prophet. LITERALLY to guide us in these latter days.
Something that was strikingly beautiful and reassuring was seeing Elder Cook and watching him talk and goof up on his words and pause and make a joke. It struck me how absolutely humble and ordinary this man was. Elder Cook is a normal human. (Who knew?!) He told us how he wept when he received the call to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, how he felt overwhelmed and insecure. About his first spiritual experiences and how he was as a young man. The phrase “the gospel turns ordinary men into good men and good men into great men” (or something like that) kept coming to mind. Elder Cook was once (and still is) an ordinary man. With a wonderful but ordinary family and wife. But his faith, his desires to know and believe we’re strong. And this weak thing (Elder Cook) was made strong in the hands of the Lord. The Lord always chooses weak things, and I often used to wonder why. Why would He choose a weak and simple thing to show His majesty and power? He is GOD. Why does He confound the wise by using “small and simple things”? As I thought about that, I felt the overwhelming answer come: I use weak things because I want to use you.
God uses weak things because, really, that is all He has available to Him! And, I think, all He wants available to Him. He loves using the simple and weak because we are humble. Or, at least, I try to be. And, when He makes a weak thing or a weak man become strong, what more evidence do I need that there is a Supreme Creator and God, even my Heavenly Father. As I watched Elder Cook and listened to his conviction and special witness, it was extraordinary. He was extraordinary. He had turned Himself over to the potter, and had let the Lord shape him and mold him and change him. He had let the Lord make him extraordinary. Strong.
I know I can do that, too. I know anyone can, because I know that Jesus Christ is divine and my Savior. And that with Him all things are possible, even making weak things become strong.
At the close of his remarks and testimony he invoked an apostolic blessing on us and my heart broke and healed and took courage and jumped and opened as he did so. He raised his hand and he said, “I invoke an apostolic blessing on you, that you will understand. You will understand. I rebuke those thoughts of uncertainty and doubt that come from the evil one. And I bestow my blessing upon you that you will understand that your service and dedication to the Lord right now will bless you and your loved ones and everyone dear to your heart.”
He also talked about the Savior and the sacrament. I feel like I have studied the sacrament and try to treat it as sacred – and I do. I try my best. I think of the symbolism and try to deepen my understanding. But also like there is a roadblock or something and I haven’t gotten through it. When Elder Cook spoke about the sacrament, about the Savior instituting the sacrament, it was different. He spoke about it and taught new principles and everything just seemed so much more personal. Real to me. He spoke about it, too, like he had been personally taught by the Savior Himself. I don’t doubt that he was. “And He took the bread, knowing that His bones would be broken the next day, knowing He would be tortured and killed, and He blessed it, and He BROKE it, and said, “This is my body.'” That was so strong to me – that the Savior, knowing what was ahead, broke the bread Himself. He broke it – the bread, symbolic of His body. And then He gave it to each and every one of us.
He poured out the wine and passed the cup, saying, “This is my blood.” His blood not just pricked or trickling a little, but poured out. And He gave it to each and every one of us.
I love Him. It was amazing. The gospel is happiness and this is the Lord’s church.
I love you all so much!! Have a great week! Protect your families! Guard them. LOVE them. I love you.