October 20, 2015
This week was crazy busy what with exchanges, a Primary Halloween party, Sister Johnson’s birthday, and your run-of-the-mill missionary work. We had our really rough days, but I think it was all made better by the duet just sang by Elder Hansen and Elder Eisinger of “So You Had a Bad Day” incredibly horribly. Week made.
We kicked off the week with exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders. I was able to work in YSA with Sister Bishop for 24 hours, which was a real treat. There’s something different about working specifically with people your own age that’s really refreshing. We were able to teach a lesson to Siddhi, one of the sister’s investigators, who is just a riot. She’s from NYC, and you can definitely tell – a little outrageous, totally honest, and has a sense of humor that is unmatched. I loved being able to just talk honestly with her about how I came in contact with the Gospel and the experiences I’ve had learning and living it. I don’t often get to share my own ‘conversion story’ in a formal lesson, so it was a real treat to be able to share that with Siddhi.
Another cool blessing was the tender mercy of being able to attend Institute with the YSA. I didn’t realize how much I missed attending Institute at SVU. It seriously is a sanctuary to me – I am able to just quietly receive revelation, talk about the Gospel, and just spend time in the comfort of the Spirit. The class being taught was Teaching of the Living Prophets class, and we reviewed Elder D. Todd Christofferson’s most recent conference address, “Free Forever, to Act for Themselves
Before Institute, we were contacting outside the local university, and got to talk to one student named Victoria. First of all, contacting is just awkward, but it’s pretty fun when you can use a sense of humor to help people more comfortable. We were talking to Victoria, and it was going pretty well. Ok – it was actually pretty bland and I didn’t feel like we were helping her feel the spirit at all. Until somehow the Book of Mormon got pulled into the conversation. All of a sudden her face lit up, and she said, “I’ve been wanting to read that! I’ve heard it is such a good book!”
Insert absolutely astounded, jaw on the floor, missionaries here. I love when people get excited not only about the Book of Mormon, but about the scriptures. There’s absolute, substantial power in the word of the Lord. I find so much comfort in the scriptures as I study each morning, and every chance I get. I not only receive insight into the doctrines of the gospel, but also feel closer to the Lord and learn so much about myself. I’ve learned over the past year how incredible it is that when we turn to the Lord, when we give our lives over to him, He gives us everything and more through the Atonement of His son. No matter how far we’ve gone, where we’ve strayed, He’s always willing to reach out and receive us back. My favorite phrases in the Old Testament are found in Isaiah – “[and] His arm is stretched out still.” My favorite parable in all scripture is the Parable of the Prodigal Son because we see how our Heavenly Father responds when we return to Him after straying or distancing ourselves either through neglect or disobedience.
Some of my favorite phrases in Luke 15:
“..when he came to himself” – we each have a divinely glorious heritage that we often forget. We are sons and daughters of God, and we have been called to live above the standards set by society, and be more like our Heavenly Father. He remembered not only who he was, but who he was made to be. We have a potential we don’t even comprehend, so wonderfully it was created by our Father.
“I will arise and go to my Father” – we need to be active about approaching the Lord, and understand our relationship with Him. Too often we see ourselves as so far distant from Him, when in reality we have an indelible heritage that allows us to draw as close to Him as we desire, dependent upon our own obedience, sacrifice, and diligence in the principles of the Gospel and Christian living.
And my very favorite, “when he [the son] was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”
His Father didn’t wait till his son knocked on the door, didn’t stand on the front steps, didn’t wait at the garden gate. No, he had compassion and ran to his son who once was lost and now was found (Luke 15:11-32). That’s how it is with Heavenly Father. He’s constantly reaching out, running towards us, and waiting for us to do the same. I love that over the past year and a bit I’ve been able to really begin to run to my Heavenly Father. It’s not a sprint, it’s a full on marathon that requires endurance and patience, repentance, and love. It’s an incredible journey to be on. It makes the bad days totally worth it all. The Atonement is definitely for those bad days that come along.
One of the highlights of my week that has really helped me to appreciate being a missionary a little more was two separate prayers given by an investigator and a recent convert. We had a lesson with Louis, and at the end, he prayed so fervently for not only us as missionaries, but our families, and our ward. It softened my heart after a long, hard morning, and helped me to really understand the love that people have for missionaries. Sometimes it’s hard to see after you’ve had half a dozen doors in a row slammed in your face, or when all your appointments fall through, or when there is no one to talk two. It’s those little, simple, but incredibly heartfelt prayers that gets me through the day.
We also had a lesson with Jorge, Esmeralda, and Miguel. I’ll admit – Miguel is one of my favorite people on this planet. I can return home happy knowing that Miguel knows one thing: ya need Jesus. Apparently that’s his response to just about everything, and he’s dead serious about it (oh, and he told me I’m his favorite missionary ever… score!!!). For the longest time, we’d ask him to pray, and he’d politely decline. But now, he’s the first one to volunteer to pray and the first one on his knees. I love Miguel’s prayers – they are so sincere and honest, and he never fails to pray for us individually, for our families, and for the other people we’re teaching, as well as the bishop and his Sunday School teacher, Sister Snook. I love prayer!!!
Halloween is just around the corner, and you can definitely tell. The Primary kids are starting to show up in their Halloween costumes to Church, and their parents have the exhausted look of parents who are busy fighting sugar highs and tantrums over wearing costumes out of the house. We helped the primary presidency to host their annual Halloween party, which was Candy Land themed. We had a blast bowling with our Primary kids and trading candies. It was hysterical, I asked Benly, one of my favorite Sunbeams, what he was dressed as. Ignorant me hasn’t had anything to do with pop culture, and apparently he was absolutely disgusted. The look on his little three year old face was priceless: “I’m IRONMAN, Sister Red. IRONMAN.” I died. I don’t think he was at all amused, but I was. :)
I’m so grateful, in spite of all the hard days, slammed doors, and discouragement, to be a missionary. What better way to spend eighteen months than to share something that is so integral to true joy and comfort in the face of adversity. I love the quote that Sister Bell included in a letter a few months ago – “Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ.” It’s something that I’ve really clung to recently. I love it.
Have a wonderful week! I love you!! Remember that bad days don’t last forever. :)