October 20, 2014
This week was packed with service opportunities, for which I am so grateful. I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and think one of my favorite aspects of missionary work is being out in the community serving. We were able to work with a lot of people, and King Benjamin was so right! At the beginning of his address to his people, references three things a total of 76 times: service, commandments, and the Lord. He references the Lord 52 times, commandments 10 times, and service 14 times. I love how he sums up service, both for the Lord and for our fellow man: “And behold, I tell you these things [about commandments and loyalty to the Lord and to your fellow men] that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your fellow God.” It’s so true! On Tuesday evening we were able to go orange picking with our elders for Food Forward, and picked about 480 pounds worth of Valencia oranges in two hours with just seven of us. We had a lot of fun, especially because by some miracle the evening cooled off perfectly, and the oranges were easy to pick (though did you know that the stems are super sharp? I lost a lot of blood to that orange tree). Elder Quizon showed off his orange juggling skills, and we just had a lot of fun. I love that even though I’m serving in the outskirts of one of the busiest cities in the world, I get opportunities to be up to my shoulders in farm work. It’s the boost I need, especially living in among a million people and about twice as many cacti. We were able to help do prep for Operation Gratitude’s packing day as well – this week we shipped off a ton of packages to recruits graduating from boot camp across the US. Kelly and Ruthie, our go-to people in charge, had us working with people making paracord survival bracelets. They’re fast and easy, but really rewarding to make. I’ve really enjoyed being able to teach people how to make them, because once you get the hang of it, you can turn them out pretty fast. Ruthie was telling me that of all the items in the packages they send to our troops overseas, the ones that are most prized are the paracord bracelets (very handy in an emergency) and the letters and drawings from the little kids that are included in each package. That just warmed my heart. The past few transfers have been super tough for me recently. I’ve found a lot of comfort and guidance in reading Doctrine & Covenants 121-123, the chapters about Joseph Smith and his brethren being in Liberty Jail during what was one of the coldest winters Missouri has ever seen. I love what I have learned from the scriptures, as well as through prayer and fasting. We experience hard things not because we are being punished, but because each of us need refining. We all need to go through those experiences where we need to draw closer to the Lord, to forge an unbreakable and irrevocable bond that is beyond the influence of others – it is just between us and the Lord. I’ve been learning a lot about humility and enduring well too. I love the verses in D&C 121 – “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.”
I’m so thankful for the support that I’ve received while I’ve been serving here in California. It’s never been easy, but every single moment has been worth it. It’s incredible to look back over the past 13 months and see where I was compared to where I am, and to look forward to the next 5 months and know where I want to be. Every missionary goes through their own little Liberty Jail, but I love the counsel that Elder Holland shares in his talk “Lessons
from Liberty Jail.” “So in what sense could Liberty Jail be called a ‘temple,’ and what does such a title tell us about God’s love and teachings, including where and when that love and those teachings are made manifest? In precisely this sense: … you can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life. … Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity, and if we will be humble and faithful, if we will be believing and not curse God for our problems, He can turn the unfair and inhumane and debilitating prisons of our lives into temples – or at least into a circumstance that can bring comfort and revelation, divine companionship and peace… It is imperative that we remember He is right there with us – where He has always been! We must continue to believe, continue to have faith, continue to pray and plead with heaven, even if we feel for a time our prayers are not heard, and that God has somehow gone away. He is there. Our prayers are heard. And when we weep, He and the angels of Heaven weep with us. We are not alone in our little prisons here. When suffering, we may in fact be closer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation in to a would-be temple.” I love the line “man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” It has gotten me through a lot, knowing that even when I’m at the end of my rope (or so I think), he’s just waiting for me to learn what He’s trying to teach me. Discomfort allows change, and change allows growth. I’m thankful not only to be an instrument in His hand, but also to be able to be shaped and refined by trial. I grouch and murmur, but I really am thankful. It’s been so incredible to be able to draw closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior in the times when I am most discouraged, exhausted, and drained. I love also the phrase in D&C 121:29 – “endure valiantly.” I’m not quite sure what that entails for me specifically, but I’m working on it, and that’s what matters most. I also love that the Lord let’s us be a part of His opportunity for other people through service and ministry. It’s such a blessing to be able to just have a little part in helping others draw a little closer to the Savior, and to feel a little more loved than perhaps they did yesterday. That’s why I love that as missionaries we can do a lot of service in the communities. It’s just as much of a blessing to us than to those we serve. We had some funny moments this week with our ward mission leader. He invited us over to dinner, and was super excited about dessert. It ended up that we decorated our own Halloween cookies with the elders, complete with black, orange and green frosting. He was super gung-ho about it, and we had hoped the elders would let him know about the black frosting stain on his teeth before he dropped them off… but they didn’t. Boy, they heard about it in correlation. “Elders! You let me go to a dinner with my squad looking like I had black lipstick on! I’m never going to hear the end of it!!” It was hysterical. I love those little moments you can think of and laugh about, no matter what else is going on. Needless to say, we’re not allowed to have Halloween cookies anymore… ;) We have a Halloween party with the Northridge ward on Tuesday, which we are super excited about. Elder Quizon came up with an awesome idea for the four of us to have a costume… pictures next week, promise! You’ll laugh, needless to say.
Picture 1 – Orange picking with the elders.
Sorry about the second picture! I can’t figure out how to rotate it :( Momma Kelley