Monday, January 11, 2016
Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven
We had a pretty good week! Things have slowed down since the holidays. I still love Sister Zhong and she is still the cutest tiniest thing on the earth. We get along super well and are experiencing this adventure happily! If I had a scripture to describe Sister Zhong it would be this one:
She is so pure and kind and just good to the core!! I love being around her and am definitely a better version of myself around her.
I love my district. It is so fun to still be in the same zone because I get to see people I already know and have already served with! and I love them!! My new district is a party all the time. We all have really outgoing district and so we laugh pretty hard. So fun! Also, the Elders in my district are serving in my old area, San Leandro, so I get weekly updates on my old area!! It's so fun and I miss San Leandro but I LOVE San Lorenzo.
We have 2 investigators getting baptized on February 6: Keith and Tori. Keith is an older man with slicked back gray hair. He is super religious and has a lot of questions. We do our best to keep the Spirit and not argue. I notice myself just sitting there smiling trying not to stab him sometimes. I just sit there and breathe until I can finally respond in a kind loving way. This is always more effective than the stabbing. He comes to church every Sunday. He is really struggling financially and has no family and is going through a lot. I admire his faith and he has helped me realize that I often take all of my blessings (mostly the people I love so much) for granted. Tori is 15 and her friend Sam got baptized in November. She has taken much better to the Sisters than she did the Elders. The Elders couldnt get her to pray, and knowing this, we went into the lesson and taught prayer. We made sure to emphasize the fact that God is LITERALLY our Father and He loves us more than we can ever comprehend and He knows us by name. He wants to hear from us. He listens to our prayers and He wants to help us. I then offered an example prayer and we asked her if she would pray. She readily agreed and offered the most sincere and sweet prayer I have ever heard. The Spirit was so strong and none of us could stop smiling. I think getting her to understand the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven was KEY. This is another wonderful blessing that I take for granted. My Momma sent me this beautiful passage by President Uchtdorf that really touched my heart:
"God has given again in these latter days the truth about where we came from.Why we're here, and where we are going.
Much of the confusion we experience in this life comes from simply not understanding who we are.
One of the most beloved storytellers of all time was the Danish writer, Hans Christian Anderson. In one of his stories, The Ugly Duckling, a mother duck discovers that one off her newly hatched chicks is unusually large and very ugly.The other ducklings cannot leave the ugly child alone. They punish him mercilessly.
The ugly duckling decides it would be better for everyone if he left his family and so he ran away. Then one day he sees flying overhead a flock of majestic birds.He takes flight and follows them to a beautiful lake. The ugly duckling looks into the water and sees a reflection of a magnificent swan. The ugly duckling realizes that the reflection is his own. He has discovered who he really is.
Think of where you come from. You are sons and daughters of the greatest, most glorious being in the universe. He loves you with an infinite love. He wants the best for you. This knowledge changes everything. It changes your present, it can change your future, and it can change the world. If only we understood who we are and what is in store for us our hearts would overflow with such gratitude and happiness that it would enlighten even the darkest souls with the light and love of God.
Of course there will always be voices telling you that you're foolish to believe that you're swans. Insisting that you're but ugly ducklings. And that you can't expect to become anything else. But you know better. You are no ordinary beings. You are glorious and eternal.
I plead with you, just look into the water and see your true reflection. It is my prayer and blessing that when you look at your reflection you will be able to see beyond imperfections and self doubts and recognize who you truly are; glorious sons and daughters of Almighty God."
I love this sacred truth and CRY every time I explain this beautiful truth that so many daughters of God have NO IDEA exists.
We have two other investigators: Ron and Emily. Ron is Sam's (Tori's friend) Dad! He is also an older man, full goatee. We are having a hard time finding out if he really "gets it." He was a preacher before and he goes along with everything that we say, but it's not like the Spirit is testifying to him that it's true, it's more like he just loves God and its a feel-good experience, more than a lesson. He just goes on these rants about how good God is, which is fabulous, and He knows the King James version of the Bible like the back of his hand. So we are just trying to get him into the Book of Mormon, He just quit drinking coffee so that's great! Emily is an older Hawaiin lady who called us and said I want to be baptized before January 25 because my grandson is leaving. We were like what the. We went over to her house and taught the Restoration and she loved it! It went super well and she came to church! We found out that she smokes and not only that but she doesnt plan on quitting any time soon, so we had to tell her that she cant be baptized before January 25th because in our mission we have a rule that you have to live the Word of Wisdom for 3 weeks prior to your baptism. So we will see how that goes.
We love love the ward and I have never seen a ward so focused on and motivated to do missionary work. We are fed every single night and it feels like home! We love it.
We had an amazing Visitors' Center Training this week. We all went over to the Poulsen's home (our Visitors' Center directors) and had a big breakfast. They are leaving next week and we get a new couple, the Wards! So exciting, and sad. After breakfast we had an amazing discussion/fireside sort of thing. As a mission, our Mission President asked us to make a personal sacrifice to become more dedicated to our goal of 400 baptisms. So we decided to make a Visitors' Center sacrifice. We discussed all together (10 companionships of Sisters, and 3 companionships of senior couples) what we could sacrifice to become more consecrated missionaries and to improve the Visitors' Center. We decided on our language, what we talk about. We decided that this would be challenging for us because we are all hormonal women living in very tight quarters spending a lot of time together and I know it sounds crazy, but there is drama, yes even though we are missionaries, SURPRISE. It would also have a huge effect on the spirit of the Visitors Center because imagine how hard it is to transition from talking about snuggling with a boy in the back of a truck to bearing sincere testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. Yeah, the Spirit isn't there and you are distracted and didn't provide what that person needed that day because of what you were talking about. Why would Heavenly Father send one of his precious children to the Visitors Center when we aren't ready to receive them. SO after we all decided on that and committed to hold each other accountable, the Poulsens bore their departing testimonies and we all knelt in prayer. I can not describe the Spirit that filled that room. It was absolutely tangible. Everyone was weeping. 26 set apart, dedicated, righteous missionaries kneeling shoulder to shoulder giving our hearts to our Father in Heaven. REcommitting everything to Him. Expressing our love for one another, our sincere desire to repent and improve and sacrifice. I will never forget that moment and have replayed it in my mind many times since.