Monday, March 18, 2013

The Lord doth give me exceedingly great joy in the fruit of my labors

To the dears of my heart,

I love you! I love that my inbox is filled. Thank you for your support! You are the best! 

This week was the most pivotal week of my whole mission thus far. I won't have the words to describe it. It was an onslaught of highs and lows and higher highs and lower lows and HIGHEST highs. I learned more about myself and the Lord and the Atonement this week than I ever had.

Let's start at the top: I was brim with joy and happiness on Monday. And then something happened on Tuesday. I'm not sure what it was but Satan wanted us to be sad. Both Sister Sanchez and I were just feeling low. Appointments were falling through, we STILL weren't finding anyone new to teach and it just felt like the weight of the world was on our shoulders. And on top of all that most of our plans for the day were tracting. My heart was not in it. I didn't think I'd be able to knock on door after door where people didn't want to hear our message. After an ex-Pastor got done quoting the entire bible to us and telling us that we knew nothing, I was at my breaking point. We parked our car in front of an apartment complex and I could not move. I could not bring myself to get out of the car. We both sat for a time and we decided to pray. I needed God to lift me. I needed Him to carry me through the day. Then Sister Sanchez said, "Why don't we read some from the Book of Mormon?" and so we did. We opened up to Alma 17 to read about the Sons of Mosiah and their mission experiences. The comfort I felt was so sweet. I just felt so calm and assured and loved. My testimony of the Book of Mormon was even more fortified. It gave me the strength I needed to carry on and later in the evening when we had a lesson with Aridai and she talked about her own struggles, I could testify with my whole heart that God knows us and our needs and that He is there for us. 

And then the Lord gave us a huge tender mercy. He knew our day was hard. He knew we had been stretched that day and as if to say, "that'll do, pig, that'll do", we received 9 referrals from the Elders. NINE!?? That's unheard of. We haven't recieved a referral for weeks and then out of nowhere NINE?! I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I know that God heard my prayer and that He loves his missionaries. This is His work. And sometimes we struggle and we go through patches of tough times so that we can turn to Him, so we can put our trust in Him and allow the Atonement to work through us. All week I kept thinking, this is my cocoon. I can't rip it open and I can't just let it pass. I've got to grow on my own. 

On Wednesday we had interviews with President Mullen. Bless his heart. His daughter got married this weekend and he just seemed so tired. He was still full of love and joy and energy but I could tell that he had a lot on his plate. But even still he took time to talk with each of us and share his love and testimony with each of us. He gave me blessing and it was very lovely. He just told me again and again that God does know me and He loves me and He is pleased with me.

Then Saturday was the most miraculous day of my mission. It was incredible. Remember Alejandro P.? He called us last Monday during my email time?? Well we stopped by to see him and give him information about the English classes. And he lives like 10 seconds away from the church building so we invited him on a church tour for that very moment. And he came and it was amazing. We walked into the chapel and the Spirit was so strong. There was no denying it. And the end we asked him how he was feeling and he said he was a little confused. He didn't know how to describe the feeling of peace that he was experiencing.  We taught him the lesson of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and asked him to say the closing prayer. He said such a beautiful, sincere prayer. "God I know you are there. I can feel you close by now." He wasn't expecting us. He thought we'd talk to him about some English classes and we'd be on our merry way, but then we invited him to come closer to His Savior, and He felt the love of God. He wasn't able to come to church this sunday but we have a lesson with him tonight. I hope that he can see how this will bless and change his life. 

This week we decided to visit a former investigator named, Federico. We went but it turns out he had moved. But Reyna and Enrique (another set of former investigators who we no longer had information for) had moved into his place. It was a miracle! So we set up time to stop by on Saturday. But of course they weren't there. But Reyna, their 24 year old daughter let us in. We talked to her about her religious background and she explained that she believed in God but she really didn't know how it was that He exists. We testified that she is a daughter of a Heavenly Father and He does know her. Then we invited her to say a prayer and after the prayer to sit and listen to her feelings. We told her that prayer is when we communicate with our Father and that we have to listen carefully to how he answers. Her prayer was sweet and simple. "God, I don't know what I'm doing or if you are there listening but please let me know." Then we sat in the silence. And we quietly whispered, "how do you feel?". Tears filled her eyes. She didn't know how to explain it. It was such a beautiful experience. She had felt God. She had felt Him listening. It was so lovely.

We came home on Saturday so filled with the Spirit. We've both seen many miracles and experienced many joys on our missions but both Sister Sanchez and I agreed that we had never felt quite so happy. It was the happiest moment I'd ever felt. And I thought, how can that be? Tuesday was easily the lowest I'd felt. And then a few days later, my joy had overcome me. I thought of Alma the younger in his repentance process.

 20 And oh, what ajoy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
 21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Sister Tippetts sent me a letter this week that made me so happy. Arturo M., Virginia's husband, finally decided to be baptized. We had worked with him so long and he knew he needed to he just wouldn't commit to a date. Right before I left Moses Lake we had talked about how we knew he would get there and that he would be baptized before April. And he was! It's a miracle. The Lord touched his heart. And Sister Tippetts said he is SO happy! He is always smiling and he told his friends that he will never miss a sunday of church for the rest of his life. He is so filled with the joy of our Savior. I am so happy! Sister Tippetts is going home soon which makes me sad because I probably won't get to see her if I'm still in the Valley but I'm glad I get to email her now. She didn't know the week I had but she said some things that really helped me, In her perspective now she says, "I can see so clearly why we have to go through times when it seems like there's no one to teach. I can see why we have to struggle with companions sometimes. I understand a little better why we have to move on from areas and people we love. It's all just part of Heavenly Father's perfect plan to help make us perfect. It works! Little by little we become more like Him. The sooner we can learn to accept His will and submit ours to His, the better." 
She is right. I'm realizing now that I may never have the mission I envisioned for myself. But all my life I've grown to understand that  the Lord always exceeds our expectations. I'm learning the things the Lord knows I need. I am growing in the areas that will shape the rest of my life. My mission won't be the greatest thing I ever do. I'll be a mother and wife and have many happy things happen, but I know that these things that I want and see for myself will come because of the experiences I'm having now. This is the greatest thing I am doing with my life right now.

I love it. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Lord. I LOVE the Lord. And I love His work.
Love y'all! Happy week! 
Hermana Em

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