Dreams Come True

2 March, 2015

We just came back from a tour of the Disney animation studios, and the lot of our district is emailing at the same time, so forgive me if this email is all over the place – elders are weirdos.

The District at Disney Animation Studios

The District at Disney Animation Studios

Bishop Haycock, from Solemint, gave us a tour of the studios (he’s one of the lead 2D animators there), which was a blast. I think my favorite part was honestly watching Elder Jacobson, who wants to be an animator himself, acting like a kid on Christmas. And it was nice to catch up with Bishop, after not seeing him for almost a year. It’s crazy to think that I served up in Santa Clarita over a year ago! This past week marked Sister Finau’s year mark. She’s grown so much, I can’t believe that it was just a y ear ago that we white-washed the area, and survived the 12 Week program. :)

While we were walking around the studios, there were lots of signs that talked about dreaming and dreams coming true. That hit me pretty hard, because as I come up to the last week of my mission here in California, I can’t help but reflect on how it feels to be a missionary here. I never thought it would happen, but here I am standing at the end of the road (and it’s been a long one, that’s for sure), and am so grateful for every part of it – every up and down, every defeat and triumph. Dreams really come true!

This week was really all about dreams coming true. Our elders had their first baptism in the area, a sister who has been waiting for years to be baptized (and no, years is not an excited missionary over-exaggeration). Her husband is recently coming back into activity, and both he and she have had struggles with quitting smoking. Dorothy was put in the hospital for a few weeks, where the doctors forced her to quit smoking and put her on oxygen. The minute she got out, her husband called up the elders, and they set a baptismal date. What’s even more of a miracle is that her desire to smoke is completely gone, after decades of chain smoking. It was sweet to see her step into the water after four years of actively investigating the Church. It was certainly a day of rejoicing in the Studio City ward!

One of the brethren in the ward, Moses (Mo), performed at Dorothy’s baptism, which was just perfect. Mo just barely returned from a mission a year or so ago in Anchorage, Alaska, and is still on fire as a missionary. I think he’s really just decided to be Elder Mathews and Elder Jacobson’s third companion. The song he sang at Dorothy’s baptism was a song his mom taught him when he was growing up in Tonga, and he sang it for each of his investigators in the field. The words are simple, but so true. He sang half of it in Tongan, and half of it in English for us:

“Read your Bible, pray everyday,
Pray everyday, pray everyday,
Read your Bible, pray everyday,
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.

Read your scriptures, pray everyday,
Pray everyday, pray everyday,
Read your scriptures, pray everyday,
And you’ll grow, grow, grow.”

Super simple, but the message and the melody are what make it beautiful. It’s so true! After 18 months of studying and praying each and every day, I know that I’ve grown a ton. It just sounds cooler in Tongan, is all. :)

This past week was my last district meeting in the mission, which was really tough. Elder Wollenzien, our district leader, asked both Elder Mathews and I to give a short training on something that really impacted our missions. It was SO hard to stand up there and talk while trying not to cry. I’ll be honest. I’ve served half my mission with some of these elders, and am sad to not be able to see the other half grow as they serve, especially the newer elders. They’ve grown so much in the past 6-12 weeks, I can’t wait to see where they end up in 2 years.

I kept thinking about different things that impacted my mission, but my mind kept coming back around to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If I could teach just one principle to every person I meet, it would be that Christ died to not only save us from our sins, but also so that he could have perfect compassion for our every fear, our every worry, and our every pain. Something I learned about six months into my mission was how, as missionaries and teachers of the Gospel, we need to be connecting every principle we teach to the Atonement of Jesus Christ, otherwise, it will never hit home. It will never have the impact it is supposed to. Even if we are teaching the law of tithing, or talking about emergency preparedness, it needs to be tied back to the atonement. Otherwise, we probably don’t need to be teaching it in a spiritual setting.

I love what I learn in 3 Nephi 11. The Nephites see the resurrected Christ, they intellectually know who He is, but they don’t recognize Him as their Savior until they have physical contact with the scars in His hands and feet. That’s when they bow to the ground and cry “hosanna.” That’s when they’re truly converted, when they understand the depth of the Atonement, that Christ died for each of them individually, that salvation comes only through accepting Him and following what He’s asked us to do. One of my favorite talks about his idea is by Thomas B. Griffith, “The Very Root of Christian Doctrine,” and it’s a talk that really changed my mission (check it out on speeches.byu.edu).

It’s hard to believe that I only have a few days left in the field. It’s truly bittersweet. I am excited to go home, to get back into ‘normal life’ and pursue my education, but it’s hard to even think about saying goodbye to what has been my sole focus for the past year and a half. Sitting yesterday in fast and testimony meeting, and realizing half way through that it was my last fast Sunday as a missionary was pretty hard. It’s been something I’ve come to love, and I’m so happy being a missionary. Probably the happiest I’ve ever been, because I have the opportunity to spend every second of every day focused on sharing the Gospel with everyone I come in contact with. It’s going to be a hard transition, but I’m excited to see what lays ahead.

Always,
Sister Red

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