Sunday, November 9, 2014

Homecoming Talk 11/9/2014

Briefly share the parable of Steve and the pushups.
·         If the people in the class want a doughnut, he has to do pushups. If they don’t, because he’s getting tired or whatever reason, he still has to do the pushups. So, he does them whether we accept the doughnut or not.

Please just keep in mind that parable as I go throughout my talk.

I've really learned how much I rely on my Savior, and how much He's played a part in my life. Seriously, I would not be where I am and who I am today without His hand in my life. He's directed my paths so I could have served in Arkansas and teach the people I me. He's done so much for me and has taught me so much. I've come to a real understanding of what it means by "faith precedes miracles". Once I put my trust in the Lord and turn to Him, then that is when miracles can happen, and have happened. As I turn to Him in prayer, and as I read, I feel prompted to do things and go places. Every time, we meet SOMEONE that needs to hear the Gospel, or that knows someone that can benefit from hearing the Word of God. It is truly incredible. And I love how much closer I have come to my Father in Heaven as I serve. It was truly a humbling experience.

Sister Carroll and I discussed “doing our best”. I mentioned how I'm always working my hardest and doing my best, because that's how I was raised, I never half-worked at something, but always gave me. Because of that, I never feel like I didn't do the best that I could that day. But rather, looking at things positively and seeing how much we DID do that day. And then Sister Carroll said, "doing better than our best is doing our best with the Lord's help". From that, I learned that maybe I am doing the best that I can do by myself, but with the Lord, I can do so much more! And that's what I plan on doing. I will exceed my best, because the Lord will fill me up, because he’s already done it!

Even when things get rough, there's still always a sense of hope. I love that about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I love the stress on humility. For a time, I studied the attributes of Christ. I studied, and read, and prayed, and searched myself to know which areas and characteristics I need to work on. The top two areas are 'patience' and 'humility'.

Humility is pretty much coming to a knowledge of the glory of God and knowing of your nothingness. It's being meek, poor in spirit, submissive, and teachable. (Not understand until seeing “teachable”) Rather than boasting of yourself and your goodness, you boast of God (Alma 26:12). I know that I am nothing without Him, but with Him, I am everything.

Going along with humility comes patience. He does all things, in His own timing. For He knows all. In Psalms 46:10, it says"Be still and know that I am God". That's a powerful statement. Knowing that He is God and that I am nothing without Him, I can exercise my trust in Him and fully submit to His will and be patient, for He works all things for my good, but at the time that HE seeth fit.


I know that as we strive to win mastery over ourselves and develop patience, we can become more like our Heavenly Father. He has paved the way for us. We just have to exercise our trust and defeat the natural man. As we do that, the Lord will help us overcome the challenges we face and give us the strength to suffer opposition without anger or frustration. And we remove our doubt, we will come to "see God". When we become humble, we will understand His greatness.

Now, referring back to the parable about Steve…. He already has suffered. He already knows how we feel. He knows our struggles, he knows our weaknesses. We need to turn to Him and accept His suffering in our own lives.

The Lord puts things into our life, more so allows them to happen, so that we can learn and grow. I truly feel that I gained so much knowledge, both spiritually and intellectually, while I was serving. Maybe this was His plan all along. Maybe I never was to serve a full mission. Maybe I wasn't supposed to in the first place. Maybe there are other things in store for me. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I don't know the answers, and I'm okay with that. All I know is that I've grown soooo much closer to my Father in Heaven than I ever thought possible. I’ve learned what the Atonement of Jesus Christ really is. That is plays a part in the pre-existence, in earth life, and in the spirit world. I’ve learned that the Atonement encompasses three parts- the suffering in Gethsemane, the crucifixion, and the resurrection. I always thought it really was only the suffering… But all three play a part in “through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind may be saved”, because we have to be resurrected in order to live with our Father in Heaven again. I learned the simple gospel principles that are so basic, but so essential to our exaltation. I've grown to appreciate the scriptures and to appreciate my leaders. I have increased my testimony ten fold.

The whole process of coming to the realization that I can't go back was truly incredible. The Lord provided a way for me to come to terms with my future, before it was thrown at my face. He allowed me to make the choice and to be okay with it, before I learned that I cannot return. My doctor knew all along that I wouldn't be able to go back, but he was remaining optimistic and would say "if a miracle happened....". However, once I accepted my own fate, and truly submitted to the Lord's will for me, that was when the truth of the matter was revealed.

Sister Carroll showed me a talk by Brad Wilcox titled “His Grace Is Sufficient”. In it, referencing the Atonement, he says, “You have plenty to do, but it is not to pay that debt. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence to be judged. What is left to be determined by our obedience is how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and what degree of glory we plan on receiving.” Not only to we have to let the His grace change us, but we have to allow it to transform us. No unclean thing can dwell with God, but also, no unclean thing will WANT to because they won’t be comfortable. The miracle of the Atonement is not just so we can go home but that we can feel at home there. We need to have that change in us so we no longer are comfortable with sin but comfortable with our Father.

Many people give up on the Church when they feel like they are falling short. But everything in our life requires practice, as Brad Wilcox says, “When learning piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness.”

It's funny, because when I was home, I was dependent upon my earthly parents. I needed them for everything. Especially when I was away at school. I felt so incompetent. I looked to my mama for help for anything, and everything. But then, as I was doing the Lord's work, the one that I aspire to is my Heavenly Father and His perfect son, Jesus Christ. As I do that, and as I constantly remember Him, I learn patience, kindness, gentleness, charity, love, diligence, and my faith increases. As I understood grace, I became more reliable on Him and understood the purpose of the Atonement. It is for me. It is for you. It is for us.

Brad Wilcox says, “God’s grace is sufficient. Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is enough. It is all we need. Don’t quite. Keep trying. Don’t look for escapes and excuses. Look for the Lord and His perfect strength. Don’t search for someone to blame. Search for someone to help you. Seek Christ, as you do, you will feel the enabling power and divine help we call His amazing grace.” 


I know this to be real. Why? Because I’ve done it! I was in a place where I felt so lost, so confused. I was blaming myself, and even slightly blamed God. But! I was reminded of His grace. I was reminded of the power of the Atonement. I was reminded that through Him, we can receive strength. As I've said throughout, as I turned to the Lord, I TRULY felt His power, love, and guidance in all that I’ve done. I know that He has a plan for me. And I know that I only know a little part of that plan. But I need to trust Him and His amazing grace that will save a wretch like me.

As I fully put my trust in Him and remember that "all these things shall give [me] experience", I know that I can get through it. As I humble myself and turn to the Lord and show Him my weaknesses, He will make me strong. He will help me through and provide me with that comfort that I need throughout my life. He will help me know that these are His plans and I need to forsake myself and give it all to Him. As I do that, I know I will get through this and that all things will be for my good. I am already learning that I am nothing. He can give, and He can take away just as easily. But, I know that as I fully submit to His will all things will work out.

God is real. He is mindful of everyone. And He lives. I know He lives. I have felt Him in my life. I have experienced it. I spoke His words. I know they weren't mine. I know he directs His children today. I know that plans fall through so that His plans can happen. I know miracles happen AFTER the trials of our faith. I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that because of that, He sent His Son so that I can return to Him. I know that He walked this earth. I know that it is only through Him that I will live. I know that my Redeemer lives. I say these things in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Though Deepening Trials

(Last day as "Girl With A Tag")
Well, that's a wrap, y'all. As of Saturday, October 4, 2014, I am no longer a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

To get to this point has been eventful and interesting, and full of stress, tears, trial, and growth. This week, I was able to work in the Federal Way Mission Office, as well as go to the Seattle Temple with my mama. My Grandma was actually working in the Temple during our session. So that was a way nice surprise. Both of those were great. I truly love the temple and I learn so much each time I go. 

I have been continually praying and pondering what the Lord wants for me, and how best I can serve Him. With help from the Lord, I came to the conclusion that I will not be returning. Through much study, fasting, and prayer, I was shown that the Lord has other plans for me. I accepted that. And I accepted His plan for me. On Friday (yesterday), my chiropractor told me that I will not be able to return to my mission because I will not be able to get the treatment while in the field that I need in order to maintain my pain. If, for whatever reason, I'm able to return back to my mission, then I have until the end of November. But, after that, I will not be able to return to Arkansas.


The whole process of coming to the realization that I can't go back was truly incredible. The Lord provided a way for me to come to terms with my future, before it was thrown at my face. He allowed me to make the choice and to be okay with it, before I learned that I cannot return. My doctor knew all along that I wouldn't be able to go back, but he was remaining optimistic and would say "if a miracle happened....". However, once I accepted my own fate, and truly submitted to the Lord's will for me, that was when the truth of the matter was revealed.


The Lord puts things into our life, more so allows them to happen, so that we can learn and grow. I truly feel that I gained so much knowledge, both spiritually and intellectually, while I was serving. Maybe this was His plan all along. Maybe I never was to serve a full mission. Maybe I wasn't supposed to in the first place. Maybe there are other things in store for me. Maybe, maybe, maybe. I don't know the answers, and I'm okay with that. All I know is that I've grown soooo much closer to my Father in Heaven than I ever thought possible. I've grown to appreciate the scriptures and to appreciate my leaders. I have increased my testimony ten fold.


To all those prospective missionaries who may be reading this: if you have any doubts about serving, stop doubting! It will change your life, if you allow it. You will gain so much as you help others gain even more. Serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.


To those who may not be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: I invite you, with every fiber in my being, to learn more about Christ's teachings. Talk to the missionaries, and read the Book of Mormon. The purpose of missionaries is to merely add to the truth which you already have. Pleeease consider this invitation to come closer to our Father in Heaven.


To those who have already served missions: You have done a great work. The Church is expanding and more people are coming to the truth. We were a part of that! We are a part of that marvelous work. And don't you ever forget it!


And to all others: I love you, and I love my Savior. Thank you for all the support and love you've shown me. And thank you for who you are.


And with that, I would like to end with my testimony of the restored gospel and of missionary work. I know it is real. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ was brought back to the Earth by Jesus Christ Himself, through Joseph Smith. I know this because I have evidence. That evidence is found in the Book of Mormon. Through these words, I come closer to Heavenly Father in ways I could never have imagined. I have learned so much about who I am and who I'm supposed to be. I continue to learn about what I need to change to better align my life with Heavenly Father's will for me. I know that as I pray, He really is listening, and will answer my prayers -- it may not be in the timely manner that I was expecting, but in His time, all things will come. I know that we have a living Prophet on the Earth today, Thomas S. Monson. I know that he truly speaks the words of God, just as those in the scriptures. I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ (or the good news!) that brings me hope. I love to repent and I love to increase my faith. All this is possible through the knowledge that this restored gospel brings. I am so excited for the day that Heavenly Father will call to me and welcome me in His arms to thank me for all I've done and to welcome me home. This I leave with you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Let The Holy Spirit Guide

It sure has been an interesting week, no doubt about it. I've been continuing to go to the chiropractor throughout the week. I don't really see much progression, but we'll see how it goes. My doctor contacted my Mission President and we got back some not so great news. Mission Medical says that I'm not allowed back until I'm healed 100%. Also, I'm not permitted maintenance checkups with the doctor when I return. President Wakolo said that instead of going back for the October transfer, rather I should wait it out longer and not go back until the end of November. Even then, if Mission Medical won't allow maintenance checkups frequently, I'm not sure if I'll be able to meet the requirements of being 100% and only going to the chiropractor, at most, once a month.
(First AWFUL haircut fixing. Too short)

(Even shorter, plus darker... Goodbye blonde)










Last week, I stopped by the Mission Office and set up to go help out there on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I was able to attend an office luncheon, which was nice. I also attended Institute. I've been receiving letters and phone calls saying "welcome back from your mission. Post mission, it's good to attend Institute with YSA to keep the spirit", or something along those lines. Funny...... But anyways, I found a companion to go with me, and off we went. It was some deep doctrine. I had to explain myself to the class, as well, so that was just faaantastic.

With my daddy, I went to the Ward Missionary Correlation Meeting. We were able to discuss the less actives and the recent convert that my dad and I met last week. It was really neat. And boy, are things run differently here then back in Arkansas! It's crazy how different missions are run.


Back - Elder Cottom, Kohl Stanford, Sister Smith, Leslie Smith
Front - Elder Rainey, Elder Loosli, Elder Mennenga
We had a Deaf Social on Saturday, that mama and I went to. It was actually really fun! We played basketball and Uno! There weren't too many people there -- just the four missionaries, a recent convert, and a partially blind-deaf man. It was loads of fun though. Then Katie Manning and I were able to go to the Deaf Branch the next day for church. President Choi (the Seattle Mission President) was there, and stayed for all three hours! It was way neat. He spoke in Sacrament, and then also during Sunday School, we had a Q&A session with him. He's of the Seventy, so it was a unique experience. I was also able to interpret for Roy again (one of the Deaf-Blind men in the Branch). It was a great learning experience. I seriously love that Branch so much.


(Michelle Lynne Hirschi... About 4hrs old)
Some other exciting news..... Kayla (my sister) had her baby on Tuesday! Her name is Michelle Lynne, and she is the cutest! I've been in and out of the hospital the past couple of days with them. It's all very exciting. And I'm so glad that I'm able to be here for this time with her, as well as with Kayla.

I met with my Stake President last night. We discussed about returning and about staying. He will be contacting my Mission President, as well as Mission Medical. But it looks like I may not be returning... With the requirements of Mission Medical and with the condition I am in with my back and all the pain, it may not be permitted for me to return back to Arkansas to complete my mission.

Again, I still continue to learn so much of what the Lord wants of me. It's times like these, of difficult decision-making, that I realize how much the Lord truly does guide my life. He knows what I need, and He knows what is best for me. I wish that I can continue to be more patient with the Lord's timing. As I remember His desires for me, I know that I can never go wrong. He will fully, and completely lead me to the paths I should take as I continue to study, fast, and pray.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Where Can I Turn For Peace?

Where do I even begin? Well, since I'm home, I went to the Puyallup Fair last P-day, which was great, and odd! I wasn't able to go to the Fair last year, because I was away at school in Hawaii. But this year, I went, but couldn't go on the rides.... Lame! So, instead, I did the games. And guess what! I actually won! I played hat game where you throw the ring onto the bottle, and I made it! I leaned over to my mom and said, "Does anyone actually win this?" and then I threw it, and made it on! I won a MASSIVE panda bear. Stoked! I also won a little panda twice (and traded up for a medium) at another game where you launch the rubber frog into the basket. That was pretty cool as well. I have never won at games before!
(Panda won from Ring Toss)
(Baby Panda won from Frog Launch)
(Too much fun with Malik and the hamster...
Man, he loves that thing!)
I've been planning on going out with the sister missionaries that are in a different Ward in my Stake, but it's never worked out. Mainly because I haven't been feeling too up for it. I think I've decided though to serve in the temple, maybe a couple days a week, when I don't go to the doctor. I'll be answering phones, or recording ordinances, which is a nice place to be. So, I'm looking forward to that. And I think I'll also work in the Mission Office. Maybe once a week, if I can get that all figured out. It's just too hard to sit for so long. So rather, I've been chilling at home with my mama while she babysits a little 2-year-old boy named Malik. I've been having fun playing with him. He's such a cutie. I love kids. That's one thing that gets me through the boring, long days at home.
(He loves smiling for the camera.
And boy, he sure did love that massive panda)
Last Wednesday, we had the elders from our Ward over for dinner. For the thought, we watched a Mormon Message called "The Hope of God's Light" which I actually watched a couple days prior. I LOVE it. It's all about how even though we may be feeling like we are surrounded by darkness, we need to remember that God CAN and WILL illuminate the way for us as we turn to Him. It's a powerful message.

I had the WONDERFUL opportunity to attend the Deaf Branch in Shoreline with my mama on Sunday. My goodness. I love those people in that Branch. I always feel so uplifted when I attend there. And it was great because I didn't feel like people were judging or staring like I did last week in my home ward. Rather, they welcomed me back with open arms. I love the chance I have to attend the Branch and to be an ASL missionary, even for a short little while.

I've also been seeing my chiropractor here. I had an MRI as well. Luckily, my back isn't injured too seriously. But, he did see a little bulge because my tailbone was impacted and compacted so it caused a small bulge in my disk. Or something like that. I don't know all the fancy doctoral words. But, the good news is that I DON'T need surgery and I should be back in Arkansas by October 21st, if all goes well! (:

It's still been incredibly odd being home, and still being a missionary. My mom has been my companion and it's weird never being alone, or being able to run out to the store real quick. I still feel lost and not sure where I fit. But I know, without a doubt, that the Lord truly can comfort me in this time of suffering, confusion, and sense of nowhere. I know that He has a plan for me. I know that I can turn to Him and truly feel the effects of the Atonement in my life. I know that I can be comforted, feel peace, and feel purpose in my life right now.

I'm learning to accept this challenge I have and to truly submit to the Lord's will. I know that as I do that, all things will work out. (:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go

"All these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." (D&C 122:7)
Upon Sister Carroll leaving, I was sentenced to the ASL Sisters. Yes, I use the word "sentenced" because it really seemed that way. It was an incredible struggle. After serving with Sister Carroll and her unfailing love and desire to serve fully and completely, it was hard to be with those that didn't have that same gusto. It was also frustrating being with many girls. In one apartment, it was the ASL Sisters and the Spanish Sisters. Which means, there was five of us living all together. I felt like I was back in college. Sometimes, even like I was back in high school. I remembered then why I don't really surround myself with groups of girls.... From being with them, I learned the importance of obeying with exactness which in turn, allows us to feel the Spirit more abundantly.

While I was with them, I had the wonderful opportunity to teach a few Deaf people. It was really neat. And I loved meeting them and sharing with them about the restored Gospel. I sure hope that in due time, I will be transferred to the ASL program. There are three areas within the Arkansas Little Rock Mission that are ASL-- Little Rock, West Haven, and Hot Springs. I'm hoping I'll be spending some time in those soon.

On Wednesday, it was transfer day. Man, that was hectic. I had no idea what was happening. Because, on Tuesday, I was told that I will be going home on Saturday. Why, you may ask? Because Mission Medical won't permit the treatment needed for my back, so they're sending me home to get the care needed. So, come transfers, I had no idea what the plan was. Turns out, President Wakolo assigned two NEW sisters to Pinnacle Mountain. They never served in Pinnacle Mountain before, and neither of them knew the area.


(Saying goodbye to Walker and Bre'Yunna)
From Wednesday until Saturday morning, I served with them. Informing them all about the area, the people, the investigators, and the members. It was a challenge. We tried to schedule to see all those that we were working with, so that I could introduce them. Not only was it a struggle to see all those we were working with, but it was hard being in a trio. Especially because our personalities didn't all mesh well too greatly. We were able to see most of the investigators and the recent converts before I had to leave. Luckily, I was able to say a few goodbyes to them, as well as some of the ward members.

(TEMPORARILY home at SeaTac International Airport)
Eventually, Saturday morning rolled around and off I was to come back home. It was a long plane ride and a long, emotionally tiring day. I learned that I will NOT be released as a full-time missionary, but rather remain as a missionary, living the missionary life, and keeping my tag on. Holy. That hit me. I was thinking that I'd be released from my calling as a missionary, so that's what I was prepared for. Never did I think I'd remain a missionary living in the real world at home but continuing to keep a missionary lifestyle and schedule.

The past few days have been incredibly rough. Especially yesterday at church. It was hard because I didn't want to be there. People were staring and asking questions, and I just didn't want to answer, because I didn't want to be there. However, my Bishop did make a nice announcement during church for the reasoning behind me being home. So that was good, because then it limited the people coming up to me with wondering questions. Not being released, I feel, made being home even harder. Honestly, I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing here, and I don't know why I'm here. All I know is that it's what the Lord wants.

As I fully put my trust in Him and remember that "all these things shall give [me] experience", I know that I can get through it. As I humble myself and turn to the Lord and show Him my weaknesses, He will make me strong. He will help me through this and provide me with that comfort. He will help me know that these are His plans and I need to forsake myself and give it all to Him. As I do that, I know I will get through this and that all things will be for my good. I am already learning that I am nothing. He can give, and He can take away just as easily. But, I know that as I fully submit to His will, eventually, I can be healed up soon and hopefully back in Arkansas and it will be like I never even left. While I am home, I am still living as a missionary. I am waking up early, exercising, studying. Soon, I'll be going out with the sister missionaries, and serving in the temple. But my main focus right now is to put full confidence in the Lord and trust that He will heal me so that I can serve Him fully.

Monday, September 8, 2014

God Be With You Till We Meet Again

I can hardly even gather my thoughts for this week. It's been a rough and off week.

Last Monday, we went bowling for Sister Carroll's last P-day. There were about 12 of us missionaries that went. Elder Hymas (from the MTC) and his companion, came up as well, so that was cool to see him. We had a real fun time. The first game, I think I had about 75 points, and then the second game, I had 104 points. Sweet! Progression.
My wonderful trainer and I at the Bowling Alley!)



(Gone Bowlin'!)
During the week, it was really off, and not even for just me and Sister Carroll. We had Zone Meeting and all the other companionships have said that things haven't been working out for them these past few weeks either. We know though, that that means that great things are about to happen. And we are all so excited.

Zone Meeting was really neat because we focused on our purpose. The Zone Leaders were sharing with us the importance of being truly converted to our purpose. As we do that, it is natural to want to invite others to come unto Christ.

We have a Mission Goal of 100 baptisms in the month of November. So far, our max per month has been about 60, or so. The whole mission is getting really excited for the goal and we're all getting pumped. A lot of the missionaries are not very motivated lately though, because things haven't been all too great. I'm glad that I am still new and have my innocence shell around me and don't know too much of what is good and what isn't.

Sister Johnston, Sister Carroll, and I outside the Razorback Submarine)
On Saturday, Sister Carroll and I had P-day, since she leaves. Sister Johnston, a lady in the ward who looks EXACTLY like Kate Hudson, took us out. We went to some submarine called the "Razorback" that has been used in wars and such. It was really cool! And small, and claustrophobic-ey.

After the submarine, we went over to Central High, which is the first school that had Blacks and Whites enrolled. It was really neat to read all the history behind it. They have a little Visitor's Center inside that we went to and read all about the experience. It's crazy what they all went through and how hard it was for them.

The Johnston's then took us out to a restaurant called "Flying Fish". It's a super southern food restaurant full of fish foods. I got some grilled chicken sandwich. It was pretty good.
(It's crazy that it even looked like this in the 60s)

(Central High... It seriously looks like a castle)
(At Flying Fish restaurant. They had SOOO many singing fishes on the walls)
Anyways, this week has been crazy busy. We've tried to see everyone before Sister Carroll left. Nothing was working out and all things were falling through. It's also been incredibly emotional. Sister Carroll left yesterday and goes home officially on Tuesday. Transfers are this Wednesday. So, I am with the ASL Sisters until then, and then I'll be getting my new trainer. It was very sad to see Sister Carroll go. She has taught me so much. But, I know I will see her again. If not in this life, then in the Celestial Kingdom! (:

Even when things get rough, there's still always a sense of hope. I love that about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I love the stress on humility. This week, I've been studying the attributes of Christ. I've been studying, and reading, and praying, and searching myself to know which areas and characteristics I need to work on. The top two areas are 'patience' and 'humility'.

Humility is pretty much coming to a knowledge of the glory of God and knowing of your nothingness. It's being meek, poor in spirit, submissive, and teachable. Rather than boasting of yourself and your goodness, you boast of God (Alma 26:12). I know that I am nothing without Him, but with Him, I am everything.

Going along with humility comes patience. He does all things, in His own timing. For He knows all. In Psalms 46:10, it said "Be still and know that I am God". That's a powerful statement. Knowing that He is God and that I am nothing without Him, I can exercise my trust in Him and fully submit to His will and be patient, for He works all things for my good, but at the time that HE seeth fit.

I know that as we strive to win mastery over ourselves, we can become more like our Heavenly Father. He has paved the way for us. We just have to exercise our trust and defeat the natural man. As we do that, the Lord will help us overcome the challenges we face and give us the strength to suffer opposition without anger or frustration. And we remove our doubt, we will come to "see God". When we become humble, we will understand His greatness.

Monday, September 1, 2014

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

"Doing better than our best is doing our best with the Lord's help."
That hit me so hard. Sister Carroll and I were discussing 'doing our best' as we serve. And I said how I'm always working my hardest and doing my best, because that's how I was raised, I never half-worked at something, but always gave my best (thank you, daddy!). So anyways, we were talking about that. I mentioned because of that, I never feel like I didn't do the best that I could that day. But rather, looking at things positively and seeing how much we DID do that day. And then Sister Carroll said, "doing better than our best is doing our best with the Lord's help". From that, I learned that maybe I am doing the best that I can do by myself, but with the Lord, I can do so much more! And that's what I plan on doing. I will exceed my best, because the Lord will fill me up. (:

I've mentioned Laura Deal before, but I think it was very brief...
We met her in Little Rock at a park. She is from Camden, AR, which is about 2 hours south of here. An appointment we had scheduled fell through as soon as we got to the park to meet with her. So, we went walking and met Laura and her brother, Samuel. We discovered the Laura has been "investigating" the church since she was 7 years old, and she is now 15. Her aunt is a member, and she's been going with them. But, her parents would not let her be baptized. Anyways, we met her dad, so that it didn't seem like we were creeping on his kids. We discovered the reason why they were here-- Laura's mom just got surgery at the hospital and so they were here for a few days. And then that was it. Off we went.

Sister Carroll and I went to Subway for dinner, and 10 minutes later, Laura and her family walked in. We knew that was a sign. We had to get her number! So, we did. The next day, we asked if we could go to the hospital and say a prayer with her family. She said yes, so we went on over. The pastor of THEIR church was there and it was really awkward. After his prayer, and after they left, we hung around a bit longer to pray with Laura's mom (Samantha).

About an hour later, Laura texted and asked if we could have a lesson with her and her family. So, then we met her, Samuel, and their dad, Randy, at the church and taught the Restoration. Randy thought it was interesting and we think he finally understood.

A few days later, we got a text from Laura saying that she has "great news". She never replied, so we just expected to hear it from her on Sunday (since they were in town, they were gonna come to church). But, things didn't work out. Long story short, in Relief Society, we got a text saying that she's getting baptized! After the lesson with us, she asked her dad if she could get baptized. He asked "is that what you really want?", and of course, she said "YES"! He then said, "I guess you're old enough to make that decision for yourself".

She told us that she's getting baptized on the Friday, August 29th, in Camden. We tried ALL week to try and find someone that could take us there so we could be at her baptism, which we got permission from President to go to. Finally, on Thursday, Sister Stewart said she could take us!

(With the Deal Family at Laura Deal's baptism)
We took a two hour road trip to Camden, Arkansas for the baptism of Laura Deal. It was the sweetest moment ever. She has been wanting to be baptized for 8 years, and finally, it happened! Afterwards, she came over to us and gave us a hug. Tears rolled down her cheeks, and she was so grateful. It was a precious moment, and one I hold dear. She was my first baptism, in a sense. I am so grateful for the opportunity that Sister Carroll and I had to make a difference in that young girl's life. I know that the Lord puts people in our life for a reason, and the reason that we met them was so that we, as sister missionaries, speaking by the Spirit of the Lord, could say something that would touch the heart of her dad, and soften his heart.

After the baptism, I jokingly was saying to Randy that he's next. He actually didn't put it off. But rather, he said that he's thinking of it. And I asked if he's gonna start meeting with the missionaries. He's not too sure though. I hope that Laura's influence can be a good one for that wonderful family. I am beyond grateful for the time I was able to spend getting to know the Deal Family.

Side note: I realized that missionaries are kind of like hospice nurses. Hospice nurses prepare people for their death, and so do we as missionaries… But SPIRITUALLY. We are preparing people for death (: We teach people what they can know for themselves about what will happen after they die. We provide hope, and a sense of belonging. It's incredible.

Also, guess what I did?! I sang…. In church.… In Sacrament…. Yes. Crazy. I know. Sister Carroll, and a younger lady in our Ward, and I sang "I Know That My Redeemer Lives". Not the original Hymn version, but rather the one by Michael Hicks. Listen to it. It is powerful. Guess what else? There was a point in the song where I sang Alto, all by myself, and Sister Carroll sang Soprano, and the other gal sang a descant. Yes, I sang a part by myself. That never happens. But, I was able to do it because the Lord helped me. I know that with Him, all things are possible. It was a powerful song. As we were singing, I was looking out at the congregation, and the women were close to tears. It took all of me to keep myself together. I love that song. I love the testimony in it.

Another incredible experience happened this week...
For Ward Outreach, I went with a sister in the Ward, and Sister Carroll went with a different one, and then we go see less-active members and invite them to church and to visit with the missionaries. On this particular time, I went to try and see a less-active member named Terry, with Sister Stewart. However, we did not meet Terry, but rather an older woman named Jerry. She said that Terry used to live there with her but then stole from her and ran off. She proceeded to invite us in.

We learned that her parents are Members of the Church, but that she is a Methodist. I shared a bit about the Restoration, but then scheduled another time to come back.

Later, Sister Carroll and I realized that she visited Jerry before. She took them out to dinner, but then the sisters never contacted her again because she didn't seem interested. Going to the scheduled appointment, we were timid. We weren't too sure what to expect, so we didn't plan for much, and were planning our escape, so we would only have to be there for 30 minutes. But, the Spirit had other intentions.

We felt the Spirit soooo strong! I was trembling. I literally spoke the words of God, and as I did so, I spoke with power and conviction. I had no idea what I was saying. The Lord was speaking words through me… Words that touched Jerry's heart... She desired to learn more. She had questions. And the Spirit had answers. I was trembling so hard while I was a tool in the Lord's hands. It was truly an amazing experience.

That was the first time I actually was teaching to a person's needs rather than teaching a lesson. And that is something I desire to have happen with every appointment and with every person we talk to. And I know the only way that can be accomplished is through exact obedience. As I follow what the Lord wants for me, and the guidelines the Mission President has established, then miracles WILL happen. I have no doubt about it.

God is real. He is mindful of everyone. And He lives. I know He lives. I have felt Him in my life. I have experienced it. I spoke His words. I know they weren't mine. I know he directs His children today. I know that plans fall through so that His plans can happen. I know miracles happen AFTER the trials of our faith. I know that I have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that because of that, He sent His Son so that I can return to Him. I know that He walked this earth. I know that it is only through Him that I will live.

I know that my Redeemer lives.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Let Us All Press On

The WORST part of this week: I was told I might have to go home, because of my back. I need to get it fixed before I can come out again.

The BEST part of this week: President told me that he will try to get Mission Medical to allow me to go to the chiropractor once a week (on P-Day).

All is well though. This week hadn't been as hard on my back because, luckily, we had the car back. But it's still pretty rough. Especially in the mornings. I don't know why it's like this. But I guess that's the trial that the Lord has sent me. And I know that as I face it head on, I will be able to conquer my back, and do the Lord's work.

(Sister Carroll, Security Guard - Carroll Smith, Sister Smith)
Sister Carroll and I met a security guard..... Guess what his name was?! Carroll Smith. His first name was Carroll (spelled just as Sister Carroll's is) and his last name was Smith. CRAZY! We had to take a picture to show our name tags, but the picture didn't turn out all too great to see the tags. But that's the purpose of this picture.

Sister Carroll had I got a kick out of that experience. The Lord works in mysterious ways, as we all know. But, He is also funny. We were saying how He probably purposely set that up for us to meet him and the Lord just sat back and watched how it played out when we realized our names were the same. That led into us discussing faith and being protected by the Lord. We're both excited to see our mission play out after we are "eternally transferred" (after we die). Angels literally surround us. We are protected constantly. And it's because of our faith that harm doesn't come. It's amazing. God is good!

I had my first Zone Conference! It was the longest day of my life. We were at the church from 9am until about 4pm. It was crazy. But I got a lot out of it. President and Sister Wakolo spoke, as well as the Assistants, the Zone Leaders, and the Sister Training Leaders. It was all primarily focused on increasing our spiritual capacity. "I will lead, I will live, and I will love like the Savior." That is my goal. As long as I continually pray, read, and obey with exactness, I will be blessed and become more like the Savior each day. I've learned that I cannot do it on my own though. I rely heavily on my Heavenly Father.

It's funny, because when I was home, I was dependent upon my earthly parents. I needed them for everything. Especially when I was away at school. I felt so incompetent. I looked to my mama for help for anything, and everything. But now, as I am doing the Lord's work, the one that I aspire to is my Heavenly Father and His perfect son, Jesus Christ. As I do that, and as I constantly remember Him, I learn patience, kindness, gentleness, charity, love, diligence, and my faith increases.

We had exchanges this past week, as well. Sister Carroll went to a different area, and one of the Sister Training Leaders, Sister Sturdevant, came to Pinnacle Mountain. I was incredibly nervous and not looking forward to it. Why? Because I had to know the area. Sister Sturdevant doesn't, and it was all me.

Anyways, it actually went very well. My focus for that exchange was to be able to talk to everyone, and to get referrals. It was amazing how many opportunities arose for me to do that. I talked with so many people, and the Lord strengthened. He was one truly on my right hand and my left, and His angels were round about me (D&C 84:88).

My faith grows each day as I learn to lead, live, and love like the Savior.

Keep strong and press on. Even when tough times hit you straight in the face, as you turn to the Lord, you can make it through. If anything, that is the number one thing I have learned thus far. "With the Lord, anything is possible".

Monday, August 18, 2014

Two Missionaries Sang As They Walked, And Walked, And Walked, And Walked......

(I really did not want to ride my bike....)
This week, it was bike week. Which means, walk week. Walking. And more walking. And wait for it, more walking. Holy. It was hot, and the sun was shining, and every time I came in from outside, I felt like I just stepped out of the shower. And it wasn't even as hot as it normally gets here in Arkansas. Can you believe that?! Yesterday, it was thundering and lightninging. And then this morning it rained. It's weird here. Luckily, now we're done with bikes/ walking. Sister Carroll thought it would be funny to "practice" biking the other day. So around 8pm, we went biking for about 30 minutes, and it was HORRIBLE. I was struggling SO much. I despise hills, greatly. But, if we turn to the Lord and humble ourselves, "He will make weak things become strong". So, that's what I'm shooting for!


(Me and Sister Carroll)
One thing I've learned greatly is how much the Lord truly watches over us and wants to lead us. I've learned that as I turn to Him, I can be shown the paths I should take.

Sister Carroll and I have been trying MANY times to try and see a less-active in the ward, but she never answered. After we tried it one day, we said we'll try ONE more time on another date and then give her some space for a while. When we passed through her area again, on that same day, we met a man outside her house. His name is Charles. We came to find out that they were living together. We got to talking with him for a bit and he said to come by again some time. It's incredible how the Lord works. We were trying our best, and He placed Charles in our hands.

On our first day of bike week, we made 5 contacts. And the following day, we contacted TEN people. It was amazing. The next three days, EVERYTHING we had planned had fallen through, including our back up plans. For two days, we taught ZERO lessons. Heavenly Father knew that would happen, which is why we were so blessed abundantly the previous days. He knows what is to come. It's amazing how much can happen when you put your trust in Him.

Yesterday, I put my Hymn book in my bag, and I had no idea why. I didn't need it at Church, because there are already Hymn Books. Anyways, nothing worked out like we planned yesterday. Sister Carroll said "Let's go see Billie". And off we went. Billie is in a rehabilitation center and we go and sing Hymns to her. And luckily, I had my Hymn book. Except, I know it wasn't luck, but rather, the Lord prepared me for the day. He knows EVERYTHING!
(Me, Billie, and Sister Carroll)
Another miracle happened this week, as well. We met this lady named Otha and scheduled to meet her the next day. Upon arriving at the designated teaching spot, she told us she couldn't make it. If it wasn't for that falling through, and us being at that park that day, we would not have met the Deal Family. Laura (pronounced like Dad's sister) has been attending church with her aunt since she was 7 years old, and she is now 15. She has not been baptized, because her parents wouldn't let her. They aren't from Little Rock but are here because their mom got surgery and was at the hospital. We ran into them again at Subway later that day for dinner and were able to get her number. The next day, we went to the hospital to leave a prayer with her family. Later, she contacted us and asked if she, her younger brother, and her dad, could meet for a lesson later. So, we taught the Restoration to those three. Afterwards, she asked her dad if she could be baptized, and he said YES!!!!!

If we hadn't met Otha, if the plans hadn't fallen through, and if we hadn't met Laura, and then saw them again at Subway and got their number, we would've never taught the lesson, and her parents wouldn't have been allowing her to be baptized before she was 18. Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways. But it's always for the benefit of His children. I am so grateful that everything worked out in the way it did, so that we could meet Laura.

One other Miracle. Sister Carroll and I were walking along the road heading to dinner. Out of nowhere, a man appeared. He said he was Mormon and from Texas. He offered to pay for our meal. Afterwards, he disappeared. Sister Carroll and I truly believe that he was one of the Three Nephites. He appeared suddenly, offered to help, and then was gone in an instant. Again, I was able to experience God's love. He seriously does watch over His children. And as long as we turn to Him and have faith in His dealings, all things will happen for our benefit and for the benefit of building up the Kingdom of God.
(I had a butterfly on me... Seriously made my day!)

I love this mission. I love these people. And I love the Lord. I am willing to forsake my own wants, desires, and dreams in order to align mine with my Father so that I can TRULY give it all to Him. I will have no regrets.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Onward, Christian Soldier!

(With Bishop Tobler's Daughter)

Well. I'm still sick. It has not been fun. This past week, we weren't as successful as we could've been because I slept in and we returned home early. But I needed the sleep so I could recover and prayed that I wouldn't get worse.

Guess what!!!! I have more mosquito bites. But, I've gotten smart now and am carrying around my bug repellent and making sure I spray some every time we go walking. I haven't been bitten lately, so it looks like it's a success!

My goodness. I don't think I've drank so much water in my life. Like, my entire life combined, as I have while here these two weeks. We drink so much. Which means, naturally, we have to stop for the bathroom SO MUCH. But it's good. It gives us a chance to talk to randoms in the stores. And to get hit on.... Which is not a plus. Haha. These two guys came and tried flirting and were gonna ask for my number. And he straight up said, "I came over to flirt with you, but then you started talking about Jesus". So, we continued talking about Jesus, and he said, "The whole reason I came over was to get your number...." So, that was definitely a bit awkward. Really. Sister Carroll says it's something that happens often and to get used to it and the awkwardness.

Speaking of Sister Carroll, she's still great. I still learn from her each day. She helps me be the best missionary I can and always puts things into the correct perspective. She has so many little quirks and it's fun to point them out. She and I get along so well, and are alike in many ways. She's the sweetest. It's sad to think that she leaves after this transfer and then I get a new trainer for the second half of my training. I'm not too sure how that's gonna work out. But they would bring in a new trainer that is new to this area. Which means, I will have to know everything about the investigators, the recent converts, the less-actives, and the ward, so that I can teach her all about them. No pressure or anything!
(Oh, Arkansas..... Spider on our car)

When I was sick and just not feeling up to anything, I opened one of the "open when you need an extra push/scrutinizing".... It said, "WOMAN, SUCK IT UP. Go baptize someone." That seriously, made my day and really put things in perspective. There are people that are suffering so much more than me. So, why am I wallowing in pain and sickness when people don't even have hope for this life?! So, guess what Sister Carroll and I did? We went and found someone to baptize!

Benji and Nacha (and Nacha's daughter, Edisca). They are incredible. They have recently moved here from the Virgin Islands. We taught them the first lesson, invited them to read, pray and come to church. We also invited them to be baptized on August 30th, and they said yes! (When I say "we", I mean me... I invited my first peoples to come to church and to be baptized!!! ON THE FIRST VISIT!) Benji then came to church. And thought it was very different and had questions. We are meeting again with them tomorrow (:

We also went with a member and taught Joshua and Leroy. We met them as they were sitting out on their porch and we scheduled to come back and teach. So, we did. We taught the first lesson. Joshua seemed really interested and had some good insights because he has a strong religious background. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and he seemed genuinely interested. We're trying to meet with them again soon!

Life here in the mission field is pretty great. I'm starting to do things. Meaning, I talk to the Ward Mission Leader and give him the progress report for the week, I wrote up my first teaching record for the area book, and I'm inviting people to learn more of how they can increase their faith in Jesus Christ. It's amazing and I'm learning so much.

This week, I've really learned how much I rely on my Savior, and how much He's played a part in my life. Seriously, I would not be where I am and who I am today without His hand in my life. He's directed my paths so I can be here in Arkansas and teach the people I've met and will meet. He's done so much for me and has taught me so much. I've come to a real understanding of what it means by "faith precedes miracles". Once I put my trust in the Lord and turn to Him, then that is when miracles can happen, and have happened. As I turn to Him in prayer, and as I read, I feel prompted to do things and go places. Every time, we meet SOMEONE that needs to hear the Gospel, or that knows someone that can benefit from hearing the Word of God. It is truly incredible. And I love how much closer I have come to my Father in Heaven as I'm here. It's truly a humbling experience.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Proverbs 3:5-6
I have come to know the truth of this scripture. Heavenly Father will literally show you where you need to go as you turn to Him and recognize that He knows more than we ever could. As you do this, you will come to notice how much the Lord wants to help you.

TRUST HIM.

Which Kingdom Will I Inherit???? Is that even a question?!?!? CELESTIAL!


We made this is church in our Gospel Principles class. Benji really liked it and it leads right into our next lesson on the Plan of Salvation. (:

Do you get it? My life is a book and the book of life will open up and I'll be judged according to my works and the desires of my heart.