Monday, July 1, 2013

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed

My dearest loved ones,

Last week when Elder Pieper came to visit, Sister Mullen spoke first and talked about change and repentance. She showed us her binder of all the missionaries that have already gone home and their testimonies and she says she loves it because it is full of testimony and change and growth. She loves to ask missionaries what their turning point in their mission was.

For me, this week was a turning point.
The last few weeks actually have meant a lot more to me than all of my mission combined. Maybe it's because I've crossed my halfway mark and I've done a lot of reflecting on these last few nine months but also because these last few weeks have stretched my faith in extraordinary ways.

I told the Lord that I didn't need miracles to happen to prove to me that I was supposed to stay, but if He wanted to give me some sweet assurances, I wouldn't mind. But God is good. And the Church IS TRUE.

On Thursday we sat down with Leslie and read Enos 1 with her and watched Elder Bednar's series "Patterns of Light" which talks about revelation and prayer. We asked her to pray mightily and to fast on Sunday and that we would pray and fast too. I've loved all my investigators dearly and I have prayed hard for them but it's different with Leslie. I desire her eternal salvation as if it were my own. With every fiber of my being I've prayed for her. And then on Friday morning she texted us.

"I recieved my answer and I've never felt so much joy and peace in my life."

I almost cried. But then the text went on.

"I prayed earnestly last night about the things you asked me to and I woke up early this morning and in the stillness God told me 'No' to stop searching and rest in His strength and His comfort. This isn't the answer I desired because I wanted to convert but I trust God and am confident in His leading."
I sat puzzled for minutes. I had gotten ready quickly that day and for the 30 minutes before personal study I prayed. I was so hurt and distraught. How could she receive a "no?" Hadn't I felt confident to extend a baptismal date? I had felt completely assured as I told her she would receive an answer but I never imagined it would be "no". If the church is true for everyone why wouldn't it be true for Leslie?
I couldn't focus. I wasn't ok. My personal study was out of anger and I just felt flustered. I was certain Leslie would be a miracle. How could this happen?
Companion study helped though. We were on exchanges and Sister Tea was with me and we talked it through. We watched some PMG DVD clips and that helped because those always help me to remember my purpose but I still just felt so hollow.
Then during lunch, after I had calmed myself down, I sat in our bedroom and it was still and quiet and I thought about revelation and how it has worked for me in the past. When something was right like when I knew I wanted to study Art Ed, it felt so right, it felt so peaceful and calm. But when I had thought about studying Photo that didn't feel right, it felt wrong. And then I thought some more. When something is right, God will gives us clarity. When something is true the SPIRIT testifies! If the answer is YES, God gives us peace. I read in D&C in section 6:23 and in 9:8-9. It was all making sense. Leslie DID receive her answer. She felt peace and joy. She felt assured and confident. In the moment of her prayers she was heading towards baptism and then she felt good. The Lord does want her to stop searching and just TRUST Him. I felt so comforted and assured and what added more to my joy was that this revelation came not while I was angry but while I was calm and still. That's how the Lord works! So we fasted this weekend, we prayed earnestly, we studied everything we could about revelation, we talked to Bishop and President McCombie and now tonight we are finally seeing Leslie and I am so excited. Replace fear with faith. I know a miracle will take place. I prayed to know if we were doing the right things because I want to follow God's will and I just continually feel happy about it. God is a God of miracles.

20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.
But I trust God. I'm really learning what that means. I know I can trust my God.
On Thursday night we passed by the trailers where the Fuentes live. They weren't home but as we were walking out of the park, they drove past in their truck. The moment I saw Hermana Fuentes I felt so much love. I felt like I was looking at my mother. They are opening their own restaurant in the Valley and they work so hard and they had just come home and they looked exhausted and I saw them and wanted to cry. My heart was filled to bursting. The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God. I had been frustrated with them because they have been taught forever and were not accepting a baptismal date. But in that moment, I changed.  The way I felt and the way I taught changed. I shared a quick scripture and then Hermano Fuentes asked me to stop by the next day so we could talk about his baptismal date. I nearly died.
All day I waited in anxious anticipation for our lesson. The Diaz family came. Hermano and Hermano Diaz are from Uruguay and they joined the church 3 years ago. They are saints. I'm so happy they came. The lesson was the most incredible lesson of my mission. Instantly I felt peace and comfort. We read Alma 5 and Hermano Diaz bore his testimony. Then I asked Sister Haynes to bear her testimony. We had practiced all week and all day and every hour. She opened her mouth and my heart was pounding. I was saying a prayer that all would be ok and it was perfect. Every word was perfect spanish. It was amazing. And then I asked Hermano Fuentes about what day he wanted to be baptized and he said, "you tell me." and I said, "July 6th. Next Saturday. Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that day?" And he said yes. And the room felt warm and good and happy. It was the most marvelous feeling.
I didn't need a miracle to know that I was supposed to stay in Cheney. Sister Haynes has been a tender mercy. Our members have been incredible. Everything about Cheney confirms to me that this is right.
But the moment Hermano Fuentes said yes. I knew I stayed for them.
So we have a baptism this next Saturday! Sister Hayne's first and in Spanish to boot! I feel like this is a huge team effort. Elder Molyneaux and Elder Leake found them a year ago and Elder Saloman started teaching them and Elder Legarra taught them for 6 months. It's just really neat to be part of all of it. Pray for them. It will be a hard week but I know it will be miraculous.
I have so many other miracles to report because this week was truly life-changing for me but this is already getting long. I love you!
Please keep Leslie and the Fuentes in your prayers. I think July we may have a baptism every weekend. The Lord loves His missionaries. This is His work and He wants it done.
Les quiero muchisimo!
Hermana Em

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