We had so many cool miracles this week! I want to share two 🙂
First, we were biking and saw a guy raking outside. We told him who we were and he asked what the difference of our church was and before we could finish the first sentence he asked, “do you have time and want to come in?” of course. He lives with his godmother, who was super nice and we taught the restoration. He got super excited about the Book of Mormon and accepted the invitation to be baptized on May 27. We had a lesson with some members of the YSA Branch and it went super great. He is so excited to get involved and has such a strong desire to serve God.
We also had a crazy but amazing lesson yesterday. We brought a YSA Returned Missionary who went to Brazil to come to a lesson with a couple that speaks Portuguese (and some English). Well, here is what happened: Maiane and Sam welcomed us in (the couple we were coming to teach) and Romi (friend) was cooking some Brazilian meet and Indian style fish on a grill outside. They force fed us some amazing meet (nah, i didn’t have to be forced, of course) and were loud and happy as we got to know their other friend, George, and their roommate, Brandon. After the chit chat, they all ended up sitting in on the lesson. They all had different questions but were all interested in coming to church and learning more. So, that night we gave two Portuguese, two English and one Spanish Book of Mormon and Restoration pamphlet to them. It was so cool. To me, what was especially cool was that Brandon, who would come to the YSA Branch, has been going through some hard things and really wants to change his life around. He was quiet during the lesson but I could tell he was sincere in listening and we are meeting with him separately this week to teach him more. We may have met this Brazilian couple first but I think Heavenly Father needed us to find him especially.
We had a Specialized Training Meeting where the new missionaries and their
companions spend most of the day being trained and practicing various missionary skills. It was in a different location than where it is usually held but it was really cool because we went to Downtown Tampa to proselyte and there were so many people about. We met a professional Tennis Player from Georgia who wants to meet with missionaries there as well as a wonderful man, Valentino, who, after we taught him a little bit and prayed with him, said that he felt so much
better and wants to learn more. Something that I really took away from this meeting was about Consecrated obedience. They asked us all why we came out on a mission. I commented that I came out for a lot of different good reasons but I have discovered some better ones of why I have stayed on my mission. We all begin things for different reasons but why we continue and finish things is what is most
important. As I pondered more about why I have stayed, a thought came to mind, “because it has made me the happiest in my life so far.” I was kind of surprised by it at first and then I felt that Spiritual witness and then I just felt so warm and happy inside. It is so true. I have gone through some hard things and been wading through a bit of a refiners fire and it isn’t always fun and easy. Yet, I am so happy I get to be here. It’s a deep happy that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
To top off the week, we had Stake Conference and we were able to go to the adult session as well as the regular one. Here are some of my thoughts and notes (as usual):
~As you keep the Sabbath day Holy, other commandments will be easier to keep.
~Would you be the person you are today without the Gospel?
~There is too much to do to rest from the Work.
~To avoid temptation, do Temple work.
~Never loose the faith to pay tithing.
~You can always be an Angel in the lives of those around you.
~You chose to be a disciple of Christ before you came to earth so be one forever.
~Keep Strong and Have Faith
~Don’t miss any year, month, or moment without a current temple recommend.
~It is easy to find common ground.
~Doing the Simple things makes the difficult ones easier to bear
~Faith can be a small thing to exercise but it brings about seemingly impossible big miracles.
~The Influence of the Temple can change the lives of you and your family members.
~Why do we endure? because we know the importance of eternal promised made in His holy house.
We also had the opportunity to hear from Elder Gillenwater of the Area Seventy at the conference and he was amazing. In the Adult session he spoke about Having the courage to see things through the Lord’s eyes. We are told that faith and fear cannot coexist in the same space but yet we are faced with and feel fear all the time. How do we reject fear and invite faith in? I think Courage is the answer. Courage is doing something despite of fear and when we use that courage to propel us forward, we step into the path of faith. Elder Gillenwater said, “It takes courage to believe what the Lord says about the Atonement and to do the things we know won’t be easy.” But that is the beauty. When we have that courage, we can move forward in faith. As we pray to change our will into correspondence with God, He gives us that courage through His Spirit and we are stronger. D&C 128:22 says,
“Brethren, shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on, on to the victory! Let your hearts rejoice, and be exceedingly glad. Let the earth break forth into singing. Let the dead speak forth anthems of eternal praise to the King Immanuel, who hath ordained, before the world was, that which would enable us to redeem them out of their prison; for the prisoners shall go free.”
When you know God’s plan and how much He loves you and is doing to help you follow it, you can have courage in this life.
Sunday morning Elder Gillenwater spoke about Times and Seasons. We all go through trials. Sometimes, all of them seem to happen at once and other times, we sit there in the silence wondering when the storm will start. There are also times where we feel and hope that we have finished with all the trials that were reserved for us in this life. But, no matter what season we are in, we can hold on. How? By doing the small and simple things. We reach out in love, we pray fervently every day, we search the scriptures hungry for answers, we attend church, we fulfill and magnify our callings, we sacrifice and we consecrate and Elder Gillenwater said how there is no sacrifice or consecration we give that doesn’t help us. As we navigate the times and seasons of joy and sorrow in our lives, we need to constantly ask, “What do I have to offer the Lord?” and then, “What am I WILLING to offer the Lord?” The mission of the church, he said, is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I loved that because, although he said it humorously, it is true. We can’t be stagnant. We can’t stop progressing and I’m sorry to say but we can’t progress without going through low seasons. We have to wade through the deep snow of the winters of our life to bask in the bright sun and crisp air of a sweet-smelling spring as we become a new person. As he spoke, i thought about my mission. There have definitely been times and seasons. I have gone through a roller-coaster of spiritual highs and self-doubting lows and yet through all of it, I have been blessed.
There is an amazing talk by Elder Holland from the March 2001 Ensign, called Missionary Work and the Atonement. In there he says,
“Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels, We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font? You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. 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? …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.”
Salvation isn’t a cheap experience. It cost the suffering and death of the only perfect being to ever live on the earth. And as I ponder on that, I see just how much all the pain and struggles I have gone through on my mission have definitely made it so my mission has not been a cheap experience. It has been of ultimate worth. I am so grateful for the infinite love of my Heavenly Father and Savior, Jesus Christ. They know the things we go through are hard but they never said it would be easy. Only that it would be worth it and it is.