Monday, December 28, 2015

Joy to the World!

(Christmas Brunch at the Duncan's home)
I hope y'all had a Merry Christmas!!

My gift of Christmas to my Savior this year is my heart. I love my Savior. He has given me everything. I am giving Him these 18 months. This is my gift to Him. This is all I have to offer. It was great this year because it wasn't all about presents, but it was about what I could give to others.

I was able to go to a member's house for Christmas Eve. It was quite eventful. All the food did not get heated up all the way. We think the oven is broken... So, we finished heating up the ham (it was pre-cooked...thank goodness) and the funeral potatoes (the family, obviously, is from Utah) in the microwave. I don't think I ever fully appreciated Grandpa's skills in the kitchen where he manages to get everything done all at the same time. Thank you, Grandpa! It was a great meal, except I was missing my olives.

We were able to Skype home, and that was an eventful time, as well. None of the computers were working for Skype and my password was being bonkers, too. Finally, I was able to get on using their iPad. I had a great visit with my family that was all at my Grandparents' house for Christmas Eve dinner. I was able to talk with my parents and brother, grandparents, and my aunt and uncle and their family. It was great. I love you and miss you all!

Christmas Day was quite great, as well! We had brunch at the Duncan's (Ward Mission Leader) and then dinner at President Busbea's (Counselor in the ALRM Presidency). If I knew a southern Christmas family dinner, then this was it! The Busbea's had family over from both sides (his and hers). There was shooting, camo, singing, loud-talkin, cowboy boots, and unshaven faces. The Busbea's were born and raised in Arkansas so they are the purest of the pure Arkansan southern people I've met thus far.

Sister Eckley and I remained on the outside watching everyone's interactions. It was pretty great. For a good couple hours, we talked with President Busbea about the work in Cabot and how it is nonexistent. He had some suggestions for us. Apparently, they were going to CLOSE Cabot 2 (our area) and only leave Cabot 1 (we have two sets of missionaries in the Cabot Ward). However, they obviously didn't close it and decided to put me and Sister Eckley here. We are unsure as to why this happened. But, we are continuing to do all that we can to get the work alive! Our focus right now is on the members and trying to get them excited about missionary work!

GUESS WHAT!!! We FINALLY had our first lesson!!! President Busbea's son, Jon is engaged to a lovely gal named Halle. Get this... They are both in high school still. That's how they do it in the south! Anyways, they just got engaged Christmas morning. As we were there for dinner, President was telling us about her and how she already has a desire to be baptized because she wants what their family has. Once all the family had left, we were able to have a lesson with Halle. We introduced her more properly to the Book of Mormon, encouraged her to read, and to pray. We have another lesson with her this coming week!

So, with one evening, we received a referral, contacted a referral, taught a lesson with a member present, and have a new investigator! It was all quite exciting!! We've been here six weeks, and now we've taught one lesson! We will invite her to be baptized this next visit. (:

Last thing! Well. A couple last things. We had a tornado this past week. No big deal. As we were driving, we literally were in the middle of the storm and there was less than a second in between the thunder and lightning. It was epic. The rain was dumping hardcore and we could hardly see anything. This happened while we were on exchanges and attempting to get back to our assigned areas. By late afternoon, it had cleared up and all was good. But get this... While we were on exchanges, I was in Searcy and one of the STLs (Sister Training Leaders) was in Cabot with Sister Eckley, they met a DEAF LADY! She wants to come to church and wants to meet with us!!! Her husband (hearing) is not interested in church, and he's her interpreter, and so they never went. When they met her, they told her that I know sign language and could interpret and she was way excited! We tried going back the next day so that I could meet her, but she wasn't home. I am suuuuper stoked to meet her and to potentially interpret for her so that she could come to church. It's gonna be way neat!! (: (:

Much love,
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

Oh! Sweet thing.... This dog decided to chase us for an entire mile (we were in the car). When we realized that it wasn't going home, we turned the car around. The dog was waiting for us to return and it recognized our car and followed us back to its house. It was running 35mph! Holy heck! We were finally able to get it back home safe. It was quite terrifying at times because it ran out in the middle of the road.

Monday, December 21, 2015

My Country, 'Tis of Thee


One thing I have learned that is undeniable.... Arkansans LOVE their camo. And that is an understatement. When we were out knocking, loads of garages were open and we could see in (not creepy at all, right? #TypicalMissionary). Camo was on the couches, fridges, backpacks, walls, etc. Men are dressed in camo head to foot accessorized with a gnarly beard. I don't mean a scruffy, short beard. No. These are straight up Duck Dynasty beards... several inches long paired with long hair that is generally uncombed or pulled into a ponytail. Any combo of beer, cigarettes, and multiple dogs will always be nearby. BUT! Best of all are the toothless happy smiles that welcome us when we knock on their doors. God Bless America! I wouldn't have it any other way!

(We were twinning, so naturally 
we had to take a picture)
Sister Eckley and I were having a VERY boring week (aside from her walking into the men's bathroom at a grocery store and having a moment of insanity, a moment that lasted a while). We've been doing the same thing for the past five weeks-- trying to visit some Less Actives. We weren't seeing much fruits from our labors. We spent quite a few hours in a town with about 2000 people that is in the outskirts of our ward boundary. This place was the epitome of a typical country town here in Arkansas. Streets not painted and very narrow, unmarked streets, ditches right on either side, men on the side of the road comparing rifles and shotguns, streets named after women, warning signs of  "Beware of Verocious Dog" and out comes a little chihuahua, the smell of fire burning stoves, and trucks, trucks everywhere.

We decided to start counting numbers. On Saturday, we knocked on TWENTY doors and guess how many answered? FIVE people answered. Five. Twelve of the doors we knocked on supposedly were Less Actives, and we talked to TWO people who were actually on our list to see. Sometimes, I think they have a phone tree (especially in such a small town) where they call everyone in the neighborhood and tell 'em not to answer their doors because it's some crazy-talkin' white girls in skirts.

(The blackened yard.
#FireFightersInSkirts #NoBigDeal)
Heavenly Father decided to answer our prayers by ending our uneventful day with a pretty intense event... We were out stalking neighborhood for possible potential investigators, you know... the normal thing that missionaries do. Anyways, we were out looking for bikes, toys, and the like. As we were fixin' to return to our car and call it a day, we turned the corner and noticed flames coming out from under a tall wooden fence around someone's side/backyard. In my head, I'm kinda thinking that this can't be real and wondering what is happening. After the reality of the situation hit us, we RAN up to their door and started banging. Their garage door was open, but no one was coming out. We got out the phone and called 911 and reported a grass fire spreading rapidly at some house. And when I say rapidly, that is truly what I mean. The grass was all dried and so it used the dried grass to keep the fire ablazin'! We ran to the back of the yard to see where the fire had started from... There was a rusty old burn barrel in the middle of the yard that somehow must've yielded some flames onto the dry grass. Their entire yard was blackened.

Since we had already called the fire department, we had pondered the idea of leaving. However, that idea was pulled to a halt real quick as we realized that this had happened for a reason. We had decided to take the longer route and so by the time we got to the house, the fire was visible. If we had gone the short distance, we wouldn't have seen it. We happened to cross by its path in the nick of time! We decided to stay.

A neighbor was asking if we had called the cops yet (which we had) and then she struggled to extend her hose to get it over. Finally, our brains started thinking again and we grabbed the hose at their house, as well. Pretty soon, there were about four or five of us spraying water on this quick spreading fire (now all the way up to the house). The home owner finally appeared (once the fire was pretty much dwindled) and said, "Shoot, I only left for a minute!" And that is EXACTLY why you don't leave a blazin' burn bin unattended, buddy!

About 5min after the fire was entirely put out, the fire department decided to show up. Thanks for coming quickly, boys... We should've called Jimmy John's (commercial reference). With our job completed, we grabbed our Book of Mormons and departed on our merry way back to being door-knockin missionaries. Our clothes reeked of smoke and our shoes got stained black from the charred grass, but I'd say we were a Good Samaritan that day and had accomplished our community service for the week!

Much love,
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

PS... Side note... There will no longer be any transfer meetings. Don't ask me how that is gonna work out. Even President doesn't know. So, does that mean that transfers don't happen every 6wks? Will we stay in areas longer and not keep time by saying "I've been out _____ transfers"? No one knows. And ESPECIALLY no one knows how we're gonna get to the other side (the Memphis side) if we are transferred there and aren't meeting together to transfer over. It'll be interesting. Elder Oaks (the new Apostle over the missionary department) told President and five other Mission Presidents this in a meeting last week. They are to enforce it immediately. Other missions get one more transfer. There are gonna be a lot of changes happening. But hey, I can say that I went my whole mission attending every transfer meeting... all three of them!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Have I Done Any Good?

(Sister Missionaries do love 
Christmas and Santa!)
Apparently as Sister Missionaries, we just become part of the family here in the South. Dinner conversations consist of openly discussing bowel movements, monthly cycles, financial problems, chopping heads off bunnies, second marriage honeymoons, womanly health issues, scalping a dog's head, martial struggles, where milking cows/goats/and other animals originated from, and stretch marks, just to name a few. I think my OWN family dinner conversations definitely prepared me in a lot of ways to be here. Welcome to Arkansas! Oh! And literally every family here has a dog and a truck. #OnlyInAR

This week has been a slightly slow one. We were able to go out caroling a couple of times. When we were out, we stopped at one house, and they invited us in for coffee.... Awkward two seconds where we couldn't breathe and didn't know what to say... THEN! They offered hot chocolate. We breathed again. Hahah The group was a Book Club meeting from some Baptist church. They were nice and sweet, asking us questions. And then, BAM! The claws came out! Turns out, one of the people there was the pastor from their church... No big deal. Except it was! He was trying to tongue tie us and trip us with our words. Basically saying that what we believed was blasphemy. Luckily, we had the Elders with us, too. Elder Phillips (DL) and I were switching off between answering all of his questions, as well as asking Pastor Rob questions. Pastor Rob was incredibly confrontational and it was hard to maintain the Spirit, but we did well and kept it as a Spirit-filled Bible Bash. It was great! I've definitely missed those lively conversations! Haven't been involved in one of them in over a year!

We were able to go back over to the house a few days later and visit with the lady and her husband that actually live there. It definitely felt like a date. We were getting mixed signals the whole time. They were hot and cold: not interested, and then kinda interested saying yes, let's hang out, but then saying only when it's convenient, and then invited us back. It was quite like my dating life. However, we were able to leave them with a Book of Mormon and she seemed incredibly interested in reading it. Hopefully she'll contact us to want to meet, after reading some.

(Swag with a giraffe.
Can't get cooler than that.)
We decided to spend the day at the church before our Ward Christmas Party. However, we did not think about the fact that we didn't have a key (an no car). So after being dropped off, we told our ride that the Elders can let us in, to not to worry because they will be here soon. They left. We quickly called the Elders asking to let us in, they just didn't know when they could. So yup, we were stranded outside the church in the middle of nowhere in our PJs. The closest things around us are a lingerie store across the highway and then about 5 liquor stores up the street. God answered our awkward pleading prayers within 10 minutes as the 2nd Counselor of the Bishopric arrived with food for the party. Hallelujah! We get to go inside! Moral of the story: when you have to resort to plan Z almost every day you sometimes can lose your mind and forget the big deets, BUT the Lord will always provide a way for his young missionaries!

Not too many exciting things have happened this week. Sister Eckley and I have lasted through the transfer though! We shall remain in Cabot for another 6 weeks (or more, depending on the next transfer changes). Hallelujah! However, we lost one of our Elders. Elder Butler (the one that lives in Enumclaw) will be transferred, so now we will only have two Elders with us. Oh! Also, the group of us got asked to sing in Church on Sunday as part of the Christmas Program. That should be alright. At least we didn't lose our musical Elder (Elder Phillips... He actually went to school for music composition or something like that). Bummed to see Elder Butler go, but it's been a fun ride! There are a lot of changes this transfer, including a new main Office Elder, a new Sister Training Leader, a new Zone Leader, and a new Assistant to the President. It'll be interesting to see all the differences.

That's all for now! Enjoy y'alls week! (:

Sister Jessica Ann Smith

(Our tree isn't so empty 
anymore.... Thanks Mama! (:)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Does The Journey Seem Long?

I love the Christmas season, so, so, so much!!! One night, after we were dropped unexpectedly by one of our investigators, we blasted our Christmas music in our apartment and had a marvelous dance party. It definitely got us cheered up, and incredibly exhausted. But it was well needed, for sure.

We also have started CAROLING!!! Of which, I absolutely love! I LOVE singing, and I love Christmas, and I love remembering my Savior. And so, Sister Eckley and I wrapped some copies of the Book of Mormon in some lovely Christmas/snowflake wrapping paper, tied a ribbon around it, and stuck a "A Savior is Born" pass along card on the outside. The Elders, Sister Eckley, and I then went out caroling. We knocked on doors and sang (naturally..) and then said something along the lines of, "We hope you have a Merry Christmas. Christmas is all about our Savior, Jesus Christ. And we have this gift for you. It is a book that is all about Christ and helps you to grow closer to Him." We invited them also to go to (which you should all check out). It was such a great time to be able to remind people of what the true meaning of Christmas is! Also, I love it here in the south because cashiers at stores and everywhere else all say "Merry Christmas". It's just simply beautiful. I love this time of the year. It makes it a lot easier to share our message about the Savior, as well.

We met a spectacular family in our ward and had dinner with them the other night. Oh, how we loved being in their home. The Spirit was so strong and it was simply filled with love. We felt loved. The family asked about us, wanting to know all about our lives. For the first time, I actually willingly shared my entire story pertaining to my mission. I'm not too sure how many people know everything that's gone on. But it was a grand time and Sister Eckley and I truly did not want to leave! We hinted (well, my hints aren't much of hints, I basically boldly said it...) that we didn't have dinner for Christmas Eve yet, and they offered to have us over! Sister Eckley and I are way excited because we just both felt so much at home being there. It definitely made me miss my family, however, at least I get a home away from home, for a time.

This week went by super quick, but also incredibly slowly! I can't believe how little that we did this week! We reported our key indicator numbers yesterday, and they were quite unimpressive. The work here is just moving suuuuper slowly. We are doing all we can, but it's been difficult, for sure!

I MET AN ELDER THAT GOT INJURED, WAS SENT HOME, HOME FOR A TIME, AND RETURNED TO THE MISSION! Holy! Hallelujah! It was no coincidence that we met. He actually returned to the mission the same day that I left the mission (the first time around, back in Sept 2014). We were able to talk quite a bit after Zone Meeting, as well as texting the next day. He helped me A LOT. It was reeeeally great to see someone that experienced the same things as me and has gotten through it. I'm still at the beginning, and sometimes it's hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it was very helpful to hear words of encouragement from someone who has been where I am at currently. He was truly able to empathize and it made me no longer feel so alone. People have tried to uplift me, strengthen me, help me, and tell me that everything will be okay, but often, those feel like empty words because they don't really understand what it feels like. The people trying to encourage me don't know what I've truly gone through. However, to hear someone else say that he felt the same things I felt and am feeling? That was exactly what I needed. He definitely provided me with strength to endure. He reminded me to look upwards with a smile and to rely on my Savior to give me the courage, strength, and comfort that I need. At times I may feel alone, discouraged, disappointed, angry, and frustrated. Those are all common feelings. However, as I remember that my Savior, my Redeemer is there to heal me, I can withstand all that may come my way!
"...Will ye not return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if you will come unto to ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." 3 Nephi 9:13-14
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

(We had Zone Meeting this last week with the Searcy Zone!)
(I was having a rough day and so I became a unicorn (:)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Prayer of Thanksgiving

(I have the most wonderfulest companion.
We are all bundled up for the cold weather!)
Man! This week has been a doozy! Thanksgiving was great! Thank you family for all your emails of love and holiday wishes! We had two meals on Thursday (lunch and dinner) and then a third Thanksgiving meal on Friday. I guess you could say that Sister Eckley and I are pretty stuffed full. On Thursday, we had lunch at about 2:30pm and then our dinner was at 5:30pm. We were feeling very groggy and nauseated after those meals, for sure!

Sister Eckley and I have been getting excited... Christmas is in less than one month!! Too stoked. A couple exciting things that happened this week. One, Sis Eckley drove us into a ditch (well, a culvert, that's what the call it in the south). It was great. Also, I ran straight into a cement pole. That was fun. No big deal. Both of us have been sickly this week, still going out and getting things done, but we had the Elders come over last night to give us a Blessing. That was much needed.
(The Elders in our District are super great, too!)
Elder Phillips (District Leader), Elder Butler (from Enumclaw, WA),
and Elder Lambson (been out 4 weeks)
A lot of the work here in Cabot has to do with reactivation. There aren't too many people that we can find via door knocking. It hasn't proven too successful. Which means, we stick with what the elders have been doing, which is going down the ward member list. We are trying to meet as many people that we don't know and invite them back to church. Some are definitely not interested, but others have invited us back.

Relating to that... I have a story!!! So, this man, let's call him John. He's a less active. He was planning on going on a mission, saved up the money, but then gave the money to his brothers and they went on missions. Therefore, John never went. Anyways, years have passed and he's now in his second marriage. His wife, Jane, is not a member. We met him the first week and invited him back to church. The spirit was so strong and he had a desire to return, but felt as though his wife was against it and didn't want to upset her. He told us to come back so we could meet with the family on another day, however, she wasn't feeling well. So we never went back. Now, fast forward a week... Our Bishop went and visited with him. Long story short, John AND Jane decided to come to church Sunday (yesterday) and Jane agreed to having missionaries over, i.e. us!!! She said that she went a time or two but she felt like the members made fun of her dress or something like that and she quit going. She has loads of questions and we hope we can answer them! We have set up to meet with her later this week! I am so excited for their family!

I'm, for the most part, getting back into the swing of things. With it being Thanksgiving and all, I've had time to reflect on what I am most truly grateful for. A member actually asked me at one of our meals and I got super teary-eyed (thanks, mama!). I am grateful for the love of my Heavenly Father. I know that it's because of His love that I am able to be back here in Arkansas. I know that He loves me, and because of that, He has provided a way for me to do what I love, which is serving Him. There are so many things I would not be doing at this time if it wasn't for His continual arm of love which is stretched out towards me. He's heard my prayers, cries, and desires, and because He loves me so deeply, He has allowed me to be where I am. To which, I am so very grateful. Every time I teach, I am so full of my Savior's love and I feel so much joy and peace. I know that I am supposed to be here and I know that the Lord truly does love His children and is only but a "phone call away". He doesn't pull away from us; we are the ones that move further away from Him. He is waiting to bless us. Seek Him. Find Him. Learn of Him. Follow Him. And pray to Him. He's waiting.

Much love,
Sister Jessica Ann Smith

Monday, November 23, 2015

Master, The Tempest Is Raging

(Sister Eckley (my actual companion), and Sister Nelson. 
I've been blessed to have three moms (Sister Carroll and these two).
It's been such a joy working with them both!)
Well, I'm here back in Arkansas. Honestly, I still cannot believe it. Sometimes it feels like a dream and I'm gonna wake up back in Hawaii. It's funny how Arkansas is like a dream and Hawaii was the real life... Kinda strange..

I have two AMAZING companions, Sisters Eckley and Nelson.  Sister Eckley is from California, most recently.  Her parents live in Olympia, Washington. Her Dad was in the Department of  Defense or something and they've lived pretty much everywhere. She is 24 and graduated from college. She doesn't live at home. She lives on her own in California, Bay Area. She's been out nearly 6 months. Sister Nelson is from American Fork, Utah and has been out for almost a year.

I have already learned so much from both of them. The three of us get along so well and it has been great. I was incredibly worried coming back, thinking that no one was gonna be able to measure up to Sister Carroll, however, they are great in their own way and I love it. And I'm lucky... I get THREE moms, when most people only get one. Some things are done differently, which I am trying to get used to. However, I've realized that that's okay. I feel like a completely different person than I did when I was here a year ago. Oh wait, maybe that's cuz I am. I have changed and so all of this feels different. But different in a very good and familiar way.

One of my first impressions of Sister Eckley is this.... She wears giraffe footie pajamas. And, in the morning, she was rolling out of bed, immediately, and not very gracefully. Actually, it was more of a fall. Yes, it was of her falling out of the bed. She's really got it all together. Hahah. That was definitely a great thing to wake up to. It was really quite hilarious.

Currently, I am in Cabot. It is COMPLETELY different from a Little Rock. Suuuuper country, but not redneck. It's way rural. I love it. We walk out the car and smell cows and horses and the like. It's great. However, Cabot doesn't have too many Black people. I haven't really met any yet. It's kinda odd. Little Rock was basically half Black. I love it here though. Southern accent is thick in some people.

The ward is awesome. We have a great Ward Mission Leader, and ward missionaries. The people are so excited to have sister missionaries back. It's great. Hopefully we don't disappoint!

The elders in our ward are great, too. It's our District Leader and his two companions. They've been super helpful and supportive. We are so blessed with awesome elders.

On Tuesday (my second day back in Arkansas), we spent pretty much the entire day inside. Why you may ask? Because there was a tornado watch and a flash flood warning. That was just grand. No big deal, right? We had District Meeting and as soon as it finished, we got a text to stay inside. We stayed at the church for FIVE HOURS. And with NO lunch. It was miserable. We were all getting cabin fever. However, we were productive in our waiting around time. We were able to meet with the Elders in our ward and learn all the ins and outs. Then, we spent the remainder of the day back at the house (once we finally had dinner) and did some 12 week training, which was good, and kinda not. Now, we have iPads, which I'm not a total fan of. It's gonna take a lot to get used to having them.

We have finally got started on doing a bit of missionary work. We've spent loads of time in the office and planning/studying the area. We've seriously been getting so antsy being stuck inside all day. It takes a lot of work to open up an area. I am seeing that now. It's been tough. But it is all worth it. The hours and hours of studying the area, members, less actives, and everything else as been paying off. We went to see some less actives and some referrals and were able to set up return appointments with many of them, as well as with some others that we meant via street contacting.

As rough and stressful it's been to not be able to do real missionary work and just staying in the house half the day studying, I know that I am supposed to be here in Cabot with Sister Nelson and Eckley. They both are helping me progress and we are all helping and teaching each other. It's incredible. I know that I am back out here and serving in Cabot for a reason. And I am going to figure that reason out! I feel so very blessed to be able to have this second chance to serve the Lord and show my willingness to follow Him. It's been a rough journey, and it's not over, but I am grateful for that path that I've traveled.

I've been off to a rough start, which I definitely expected. However, I know that as I keep pressing on, I will understand my purpose more fully. It has definitely been an emotionally and spiritually exhausting roller coaster.

I met with President Wakolo (my Mission President) upon my request tonight (Sunday). He came over and I had an interview with him simply disclosing what I've been feeling. He gave me a blessing, which was incredible. He helped, a ton. I've just been feeling this darkness covering over me, and haven't been a big fan of it. I am continually doing all that I can, with the Lord's help to be strengthened. But it's been a tiresome and trial-filled first week.

However, I know that I am supposed to be here I'm Cabot. I love it and I love being back on my mission. I know that as I continue to press forward, all will work out.

Sister Jessica Ann Smith
(My Mission President and his wife. President Wakolo was so happy
that I was returning, as was I. I'm so happy that I will have the same
Mission President throughout my whole mission, and the same one that I
originally came out to!)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Name Tag in Place and Ready to Go!

For those of you that missed Jessica's Farewell talk on Sunday, here are some notes from her Sacrament Meeting Talk.  Her topic was "Commandments", but she called it "My Happy Talk", because keeping the commandments makes her HAPPY (:

We are given commandments because we are loved and he wants to protect us.
John 14:15   If ye love me, keep my commandments.
In turn, we show love by following.
Preach My Gospel - Commandments are instructions from a loving Father in Heaven to help us have happy lives.
Obedience brings peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come.
We are expected to obey so we can be blessed.
Blessings come as we obey.
Doctrine & Covenants 130:20-21
20     There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated --
21     And when we obtain any blessings from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated
Analogy of commandments protecting.
Mormons CAN'T do this and this, but really it's so we CAN do this and this.

Some of the commandments:
Pray Often
Study the Scriptures
Keep the Sabbath Day Holy
Follow the Prophet
Keep the 10 Commandments
Live the Law of Chastity
Obey the Word of Wisdom
Pay Tithing / Fast Offerings
Obey and Honor the Law

(Jessica with Parents & Grandparents)

Sunday night from 4-6 I had an Open House to say my last goodbyes to friends and family.  I am so grateful for those who came.  It meant a lot to me to have you there!

(Name Tag in Place)
(Sister Jessica Smith & President Darold Stroud)
At 7:30 Sunday night, I met with President Darold Stroud (my Stake President) and was again set apart as a Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I had tears in my eyes and was so glad to hear that again!  I put my Missionary name tag on to let everyone know I am a Missionary.

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go.  Monday morning came EARLY!  My flight to Little Rock, Arkansas was at 5:27 AM.  I am on my way, heading back to the Arkansas Little Rock Mission until February/March 2017.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Child's Prayer

It is October 2015. One full year ago, I returned home from Arkansas and was released as a full-time missionary. The path that I've been on this past year has been a rough one. I have been tossed and thrown around. My life was a roller coaster. But one thing that has remained constant is my faith in Jesus Christ, and that will never change.

When I arrived home, I was still a missionary, living the missionary life, for a whole month before they finally released me. They didn't know what to do with me. The plan was to go back to my mission after a transfer, assuming that my back would be healed. So much for that.

Life went on. Once released, I started dating and I met a really wonderful guy, whom I love dearly. I left for school that following semester and said goodbye to him and started Winter 2015 back at BYU Hawaii. That semester was the worst yet. I didn't want to be at school. I hid myself. My hair was darker, I no longer had glasses, and I wore hats so that I could fly under the radar. Seeing my old friends was difficult, because they all expected me to be on my mission. Heck, I expected me to be on my mission. 

I hated myself and I hated school. I fell into horrible depression and didn't want to do anything. I was struggling every day and wanted to be back at home. I wanted to be with my family and my friends back in Washington. 

The semester finally finished and I was able to go home. I learned that I was unable to return on my mission because I wasn't able to bike 8 miles and walk 6 miles a day. That was hard, to say the least. All my desires were crushed right in front of me. But hey, life still continues.

I did an internship over the summer and I was surrounded by solid friends. I attended my YSA Ward and I was dating.  Remember that guy I dated upon coming home? Yea, he left for his mission in July. That was hard. I still loved him. But I was so, so, so proud of him. Once he left, it was time for me to go back to school. 

It was my final semester at BYU Hawaii. Which means... I graduate. Meaning... I need to figure out my life. I had no idea what to do after graduation, and it was incredibly stressful. I still had the desire to go back on my mission. I felt that the Lord may not have cared about my desire, or else I would've been able to go. Boy, was I wrong! 

One day, I was at the Laie Temple. A feeling came over me saying. "Go back on your mission. Do it, and I will provide a way for it to all work out." I couldn't believe it! The Lord heard my cries, my prayers, and my ache. He never left me. And now, He will provide a way so that I could serve again.

Immediately, I got started. I called my Bishop who contacted my Stake President who then contacted my Stake President back home as well as the Missionary Department. After loads of stress and forms that I had to do and hoops I needed to jump through, my Stake President had all that was necessary to send off to the Missionary Department for approval. We assumed that I would be getting a reassignment mission to an area that offered sisters bikes always.

Within a week, I received an email from my Stake President:
"Aloha Sister Jessica Smith, I just received a call from the Missionary Department. You have been approved to return to the Little Rock Arkansas Mission on November 16th. You will not be assigned to any bike areas." 

Well. There it is. There is my call. I will be going back to Arkansas. I can hardly believe it. And how soon it is going to be here! I graduate on November 2nd, and then will be leaving early on November 16th, only two weeks after graduation. Holy smokes.

My experience throughout all this has really been incredible. I am so grateful for all that I've had to go through. If anything, this past year has simply reaffirmed to me my desire to serve. I am now more stoked, more devoted, more committed, more consecrated, and more willing to serve with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. It has been a trying year, but I know that it is exactly what I needed. I only hope that I will be able to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

When Faith Endures

This past weekend, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend the 40 year reunion of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission. There are so many different emotions and thoughts that I had to face over the course of the reunion, and not all were pleasant.

First off, I just wanna say that it's a good thing that I'm writing this after the fact instead of during, otherwise there would be no "light at the end of the tunnel" attitude.

I had an incredible time in Arkansas, I really did. However, there were moments when it was incredibly awful, as well. It just felt so right being back there and I missed being a missionary so, so, so much. I just wanted to go back. I wanted to do more and I wanted to serve more.
"If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work." D&C 4:3
I had that desire, and I still do. So why am I unable to be "called to serve" on a full time mission? I felt as though I was being punished because I didn't serve fully enough. I felt that I was unworthy of that blessing because I was a disappointment. I felt discouraged and I felt worthless. At the time, I knew these feelings came from the adversary, but I couldn't shake the thought that they were true, so whether it was the devil or not, it didn't matter. I still felt inside that I was the problem.

I kept telling myself that if I had "sucked it up more" then I would still be serving (in spite of everything that the Savior went through, He never gave up, so why wasn't I able to endure through mere back pain when He suffered through so much more?). If I was "stronger" then I could still be on the mission. If I had prayed more, then I would be able to face my tribulation and not have it consume me. After all, the Lord doesn't give us anything that we can't handle. Therefore, I felt weak. I felt as though I disappointed my Lord when I didn't conquer that trial. I continued to think, "This was my trial for my back. All I had to do was overcome that. All I had to do was work past the pain of my back and serve. This was the one thing that the Lord asked me to fight through to serve and I failed."

It just felt so right serving and I loved doing it. All I wanted was to go back to Arkansas upon graduation and return to being a servant as a full time missionary. And if I have to suffer through severe back pain everyday to do it, I would. All I would have to do is tell my doctor that I can, that I'm able to endure through the pain, and I could go back. It would be that easy. I could simply say that I'm fine and could return. I felt confused, depressed, anxious, and frustrated. I felt abandoned. I felt like my desires didn't matter, even though they were good ones. I felt as though God didn't care. I felt weak, alone, and afraid. And I started doubting God's plan for me. And I HATED feeling that way, and that's an understatement. I despised those thoughts. And in turn, I hated myself for doubting God.

Being there was hard because I should've BEEN there. Not visiting at that time, but still there on my mission. I should've been serving. I should've been in the mission choir with my MTC district. I could've been training just as all my district was. I should've been wearing my name tag and declaring the truth of the gospel with my companion everyday.

Now, here is the bright side of all of this. I was reminded by a dear friend, as well as by my Mission President, and a member in the ward that I served in that I am still a missionary. I served fully. I gave it my all. I served faithfully and I served willingly. And though I don't know what the Lord has planned for me, I do know that He does have something planned, because He loves me and He is greater than I am.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9  
"I know that He loveth His children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." 1 Nephi 11:17
I do not know many things, but I do know that I am loved. I know that He has a plan for me. He knows my desires and He knows my heart. The Lord grants unto us our desires, but always in accordance with His will. He already grants unto me the ability to preach His gospel, so why desire more than He already gives? All I have to do is access what He already grants me and then I can be a true instrument in His hands.

He has prepared something far better for me than I can create for myself. All I have to do is let Him. All I have to do is surrender my will to Him and trust in Him. Once I do that, I allow my pain to be taken up. Once I do that, I allow Him to change me. Once I do that, I am giving Him the power to bring me full happiness and complete joy.
"Trust in Him. Trust Him who knows all things. Trust Him who has all power. Trust Him whose love for you is perfect. Trust Him, who alone suffered, paid, and atoned for your sins, and for your weaknesses as well. Trust Him that He will make of you, immeasurably more, than what you will ever, ever, in all eternity, make of yourself. He will create of you a masterpiece. You will create of you only a smudge. You will create an ordinary [woman]. He will create a God." The Fourth Missionary
A little over nine months ago, I was released as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Even though the name badge on my lapel may be removed, it has not been removed from my heart; it will forever be embedded in me to be a representative of Jesus Christ at all times, in all things, and in all places. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Be Still, My Soul

Hey y’all! I am so sorry that I’ve been out of touch these past few weeks. Life has been pretty crazy and busy and insane! But one thing that has helped to keep me going is the promise found in Romans…
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18
(Spent the day down in Waikiki with my roommates and a couple friends)
(No big deal... Just riding in the back of a truck)
(Thai food truck.... Only in Hawaii)
I’ve been enjoying the HI life though… I’ve made some great friends and I absolutely love my roommates. We’ve gone to the beach, surfing (they did, not me), to food trucks, shopping, formed a book club, and loads of fun things. I am so glad I’ve made the great friends that I have here. They help me to make the best out of my time and are a huge encouragement to me.
“Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth: for he hath not another to help him up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 
I am working on my Senior Research Project that I have to write up for Psychology. It is pretty intense. I changed my topic at the last minute, and now I’m looking at the onset of deafness and its effects on self-esteem, so whether you’re born deaf or become deaf. I am super excited! I’m glad I was able to come up with a topic that truly interests me. I definitely will be “anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27).

You wanna know something that’s crazy?! I come home next month. Yea, let that soak in. I’ll be back in the rainy miserable state of Washington. However, it’s probably not much worse than the weather has been here lately. But I can’t believe it. This semester flew by! At first, it was going so slow, but now it’s almost over. I’m looking forward to coming home, then the Philippines, then Arkansas, to Hawaii for my final semester, and then back on my mission. That’s the plan anyways. My life has been pretty insane these last couple weeks. A lot has been going on and a lot of emotions, energy, and painstaking effort have been portrayed. I feel at times that I just want to give up. That life is too hard. That it’s not worth it. But I am reminded that there is hope. There is a bright side.
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8–9
Since it’s been such a long time since I last wrote, there’s so much that I’ve done and experienced that it’s hard to recall and include it all. So instead, I would just love to share what I’ve learned over these few weeks. Lately, I’ve been really focused on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how much it has been a strength to me.
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:46
I am so grateful beyond grateful for the knowledge of the gospel and for the strength that I receive from my Savior. I know I can get through the roughest times, because that is when He carries me… I love the Footprints in the Sand poem (I actually have it imprinted on one of my rings that I always wear, so it’s always with me) which speaks to this exactly. When we feel alone and are going through the hardest times in our lives that is truly when our Savior carries us, which is why we see only one step of footprints.
“Don't worry... God is never blind to your tears, never deaf to your prayers, and never silent to your pain. He sees, He hears, and He will deliver." 
Without that knowledge, I don’t know how I’d be able to get by. I receive comfort, strength, power, and peace from this understanding. Christ promises us that as we follow Him, He will bless us. He is, and should always be, above ALL things. He is our #1. He invites us to “Come follow me”. We should not put a question mark with that, because Christ has put a period. Never ask when, how, where, or why. Just do it and leave everything else behind.
“Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever.” Alma 37:36
He understands you. He KNOWS what you are going through. How, you may ask? Because of the Atonement. He has suffered for you. He literally took your sorrows upon Himself. He has felt every insecurity, every pain, every temptation, every weakness, and every tear that you have experienced. And you know what? He will go through it all over again if to take away a small amount of your pain. But guess what… He doesn’t have to. He’s already done it.  And “God is mindful of every people” (Alma 26:37).
“But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.” Alma 34:41
Having this knowledge has truly been a strength to me and is the reason that I am able to make it through each day. I know what I am living for, and who I am living for. I know who I am. I know God’s plan. And I will follow Him in faith

Sunday, February 8, 2015

How Firm A Foundation

This week has been bearable. I had loads of homework to be done, just as I do every week, but it wasn’t terrible. It was only terrible in the middle of the week. I was able to turn in my passport application and I should be receiving my passport in the mail within a few weeks.

I decided where I will be doing my internship this summer. Drum roll, please…. The Philippines! I will be working with special needs children. I’ll be assisting in special needs classes to kids between 5 and 18 years old that have different physical and mental disabilities, including cerebral palsy, autism, downs syndrome, autism, deafness and blindness. I’ll mostly be working in a classroom setting, but if I wish to work longer hours, additional work may also be available at a small home for children with special needs. Because of my experience in therapeutic treatments, I can also work one-on-one with the children at their homes. I will be in the Philippines from mid-June to the end of July. I am so excited! It took a lot of praying and study to decide that this is what I was to do. I feel that I am supposed to go and the Lord has made it possible for me. I am looking forward to being able to help those that can’t help themselves.
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40
"...When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God."  Mosiah 2:17
I joined my Ward’s intramural volleyball team. We had to forfeit, however, because we didn’t have enough girls that showed up, so that was a bummer. But it was still fun. A bad idea, but fun. I was in so much pain the days following. Playing volleyball when you have a bad back isn’t the brightest decision. Oh! And I also fell, like the day, or two days before playing volleyball. I tripped over a sign in the library and fell onto my tailbone and back onto my backpack and back. It wasn’t too great. I was in loads of pain afterwards, and then the volleyball just added to that. I was hoping that the popping which occurred after my fall would pop everything back into place, but it didn’t seem to work that way. However, I still have hope that the Lord will heal me to go back on a mission, if that’s what I am supposed to do. I have no doubt about it.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9
This weekend was loads of fun. I met up with my roommates, and others, at The Cheesecake Factory on Friday. After Cheesecake, we were gonna go to do Karaoke, but apparently you had to be 21, because it was in a bar. And guess what? I wasn’t 21… I felt bad because pretty much everyone else was old enough. So, instead, we went to H&M and went shopping.

On Saturday, my roommates and I went up to the Northshore. I wanted to get my hair done, so I invited them to come with me and we could have a girl’s beach day. Getting my hair done took longer than I thought (3hrs, because she had to do different things to be able to get it the color I wanted). By the time I was finished, we were all starving. Lo and Tor were at the beach during my appointment, so they got some good sun time. When I was done, we went to get food and then headed back home. This week is Ward Conference week. So there’s a Fireside tonight at the Temple Visitor’s Center. I’m excited.
"But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God." Moroni 7:13
I realized last night that I had a talk that I had to give today. So, I then wrote that and it only took me like 30 minutes. Luckily, the library was still open so I was able to print it out last night. I spoke on building a testimony of faith. I focused on my Savior and how we can do nothing without having faith in Him (the talk is on my blog, as well). And I know that to be so true. I have received so much strength from my faith in my Savior. I know that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for Him. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to continually be changed and to become more like my Savior. I love this Gospel, and I love you all! <3

Building A Testimony On Faith


I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity to share my testimony with y'all. There are so many different ways that I can take this topic, but I want to focus on our Savior, Jesus Christ, because without Him, joy and happiness and all things good would not be possible.  The first two foundations of a testimony are knowing 1) Heavenly Father lives and loves His children and 2) Jesus Christ lives and is the Son of God. He carried out the infinite Atonement. The first lesson for missionaries to give to investigators is on the Restoration. But do y’all know what the first subject is that we address? “God is our loving Heavenly Father.” He loves us. We teach others from the very beginning about the importance of that love, the importance of that faith. This includes having faith in His son. The first principle of the Gospel is faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Without that, we can do nothing. Preach My Gospel says, 
“Having faith in Christ includes having a firm belief that He is the Only Begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world. We recognize that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father only by relying on His Son’s grace and mercy.”
So, the question is, what do we do with this faith? We accept and apply His Atonement in our lives as well as His teachings. We trust Him. We trust what He says. We obey Him. And we listen. In the Topical Guide under Faith, it says to see also “believe, confidence, faithful, obedience, trust, trust in God.” 

I never really thought of it that way. That having faith would mean being obedient. But it makes sense. It's like when we were little kids and we were obedient to our parents. We would fully submit to our dad's will. We didn't know any better. We had to trust him and trust that he had our best interests in mind. And that's what the Lord asks of us now. 
"[Put] off the natural man and [become] a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." Mosiah 3:19
I’m reminded of the scripture in Proverbs that states, “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.”  That truly is all He asks of us. We are blind. All we know is what is given to us through the Book of Mormon and modern day revelation through prophets. But that doesn’t mean that we can fully see. We still have to take that step. We have to trust Him and trust what He has planned for us. There is so much that we don’t understand and that we can’t quite comprehend. But should it matter? No. He has asked us to act in faith. There’s something that the Lord wants for each of us. He has plans for all of us. Whether it be going on a mission, getting married, going off to Grad School, or whatever, He knows. We need to trust Him and have the faith to accept His will

President Monson said something that we all need to fully embrace…
“Unless the roots of your testimony are firmly planted, it will be difficult for you to withstand the ridicule of those who challenge your faith. When firmly planted, your testimony of the gospel, of the Savior, and of our Heavenly Father will influence all that you do throughout your life.”

I have definitely seen this in my own life. Even amidst all the tough classes, uncertainty, the pain of loss, homesickness, and feelings of inadequacies, because of my faith, I know that I can be strengthened through my Savior and He has provided a way for me to be happy. The decisions I make right now are of the most importance, and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to turn to my Heavenly Father to seek His help and His counsel. He truly has influenced me in the choices that I make and I’m able to see His hand in my life.

Some of you may know this, others may not… But I served my mission, and then injured my back and Mission Medical sent me home early to get treatment and then said I couldn't go back unless I was 100% better, which wasn’t going to happen, so, here I am. The reason I share this is because it all took faith. When I first decided to serve a mission, I trusted that it was what the Lord wanted for me. I received the assurance that it was right, so off I went. I took that step of faith, to help others increase their faith. But then, I was hit with another opportunity to put my trust in the Lord. When I was sent home, it took every ounce of me to be confident that the Lord had a plan for me. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew that He could see the big picture. Honestly, I still don’t know why things happened the way they did, but it had. I stressed and feared about it for a while. There’s saying that goes like “Know fear, No God. Know God, No fear.” When reminded of that, I realized that my fear was a lack of faith. And once I strengthened that faith and came to a better understanding of His plan, I was able to accept this and learn from my experiences.

Because of what I had to go through, I believe I grew so much, because truthfully, I had NO idea what I was going to do with my life. I literally had to give myself to the Lord and turn to Him completely to help me. If I didn’t have that solid faith, I would’ve never received a confirmation that what I was doing was right. 

My Mission President placed a special importance on increasing our own spiritual capacity. He  focused on the missionaries becoming stronger in the faith and being truly converted. This is where I developed a greater faith. I had a deeper desire to repent. To learn of all His commandments, and to obey them. I had a better understanding of my purpose. I was led to want to become more like my Savior. I had a stronger desire to pray and to read my scriptures. That’s what faith does. Faith leads to action. The reasons we pay tithing, pray, repent, read our scriptures, keep the Word of Wisdom, are all because we first believe in Jesus Christ strongly enough to keep His commandments. We’re living a life of faith

I am so beyond grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful for the chance I have to hand over my burdens and pain to my Savior. Through our faith, He can heal us. I am so grateful for that. Because of Him, I can smile, Because of Him, I can feel joy. Because of Him, I can repent. Because of Him, I can love. Because of Him, I can live. I am so grateful for all He does for me and for all He will continue to do. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Lord Is My Light

Well. This past week has been a bit crazy… I feel like I was running around a ton. But all for good reason! It has to do with this summer…. India fell through. I will no longer be travelling to India for an internship. I took that as a sign that I am supposed to go to Samoa, for the project we’re doing there during Summer Break. However, my professor prayed about it and believes that I am supposed to stay back and be on the “home-team”. This means that everyone in Samoa will collect the data and then send it to me and I would be running the statistics of it all.

As of right now, the plan is to go home in April and do online classes for Summer A, which I think I’ve mentioned. But now, I will stay there until the beginning of August, and then come back to Hawaii for my final semester. This is not ideal. I’m hoping that I can find some Internship to do and go somewhere for the Summer Break. So far, I’ve found a couple things, but nothing seems to work out because of the dates. They all go until August 14th, and BYU-H starts on the 3rd. I also applied to be an EFY Counselor. One problem, I won’t be 20 by the deadline. I turn 20 a month afterwards. But, I only applied for the weeks after my birthday, so we’ll see if it works out. If not, I’ve looked into counseling in New York, and also internships abroad. I’ve been talking with the ASL teachers, as well to see if there are any internships I can do with the Deaf. So far, I only know of working at a Deaf School in Ghana, so we’ll see. I know something will work out! I’ve been praying constantly trying to receive direction, but it’s been a struggle still.

Classes have still been pretty tough, but I’ve come up with a way to manage them, for the most part. I am still enjoying every bit of it, though! But I am excited to be able to save money and be home this summer. I still don’t feel like this is right to be here…
“Lift up your heads and be of good comfort... And I will also ease the burdens which are upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions… The Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease…” Mosiah 24:13-15
I have definitely been starting to enjoy my time here, but it’s still not the same. I’m not sure what it is. However, I’ve been going out! Accomplished! *High Five* I mostly only went out yesterday, but hey, at least I did! Yesterday afternoon, Trevor and I went to get pizza in town and then went to Lanikai Beach for a bit (the best beach on the island). The whole reason for this trip was because we had to go to Walmart, so we did that afterwards. Once we got home, we went to our school’s basketball game, which we totally won, by the way, and got free ice cream because we scored 100 points. Also, I went camping! It was loads of fun! We had a huge group of people that all joined together to camp. We had a massive fire and music, and it was great. It was last night, but I didn’t end up staying the night. I came home around 2am, so that I could get some decent sleep to go to church this morning.

Church…. Now that was interesting. It’s Fast and Testimony meeting, and my Ward seemed like it was a Priesthood Meeting. Everyone that went up was male, and after about six guys, the first sister went up and then one more. Then there were two more guys, and then me. So, because I made myself known by bearing my testimony, after Sacrament, I was given a calling and also asked to speak in church next week… Stoked. I’m sure it will be alright… Maybe!

One thing that I have definitely noticed this week is how much the Lord is testing me, and Satan. Because I am trying to do all things right and do the Lord’s will, Satan is right there next to me trying to get me to stop. He is real, and I’ve felt it. I am often times pulled to stray from the path, and to forget the important things. But, as I continue to choose righteously by always having a prayer in my heart and remembering to read my scriptures daily, I know that the Lord will be my strength.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
I know this to be true. I know that the Lord won’t give me anything that I can’t handle. Everything that the Lord is allowing to happen to be is to give me experience and “shall be for [my] good” (D&C 122:7). Sometimes, I forget that. I’m not perfect. There are times when I wonder “Why me???” and times when I question His plan. Nevertheless, I know that He has a plan for me. Even though I can’t see it, I know it’s there.

I was reading in Mosiah which is in the Book of Mormon, and something in there really stuck out to me. It was during the time of Alma when they wanted him to be King, but instead, he was appointed as high priest. All the people were being righteous, and the Lord was blessing them exceedingly. “Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith” (Mosiah 23:21). Even when His people were righteous and the Lord was blessing them, he still tried them and tested them. I know that this is what is happening with me now. The Lord is testing my patience, which I feel He has done multiple times, so I don’t think I’ve learned yet, apparently… However, I know that it IS for my good and that He really does love me and that’s why He is helping me become the person that He knows me to be.
“Nevertheless—whosoever putteth his trust in him the same shall be lifted up at the last day.” Mosiah 23:22
I love my Savior, I love this Gospel, and I love you! Hope your week went well! <3
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Abide With Me

Oh man… This week has been crazy. I had six pages of summaries due and had to read seven chapters. And, I also had to come up with my Psychology Senior Research Project topic, and I did! Guess what it is?! I’m assuming you tried guessing, and you were probably wrong, so I’ll just tell you… Drum roll please…. My project is on the nonverbal cues of depression! That’s pretty much all I know. I have no idea how I’m gonna collect the data and what I’m going to report, but I know that’s my topic. It’s great because I want to be in Mental Health Counseling for the Deaf, so nonverbal and depression both will help with the Deaf and with the mental health field. This topic and research is going to absorb the remainder of my time here (which is two semesters!). I’m excited to get started!
“Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.” Doctrine and Covenants 58:27
News of another sort… I may be coming home mid-April and not returning back to Hawaii for Summer A. Instead, I will be taking a couple online classes from home. Once Summer A is over, I would then fly out from SeaTac to India for my Internship, and then fly from India back to Hawaii for my final semester. We’ll see how it all plays out. I have to talk with my Academic Advisor, as well as my Psych professor and see if I can take the online courses and fly from Seattle instead. I hope it all works, because it would save on loads of money, and allow me to come home for a bit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be returning home, most likely, until I graduate at the end of October.

On a different note, I’ve still been spending almost ALL of my time in the library. It’s been great. Ha! I get to be “away from the world” in a sense. With all that is going on, it’s nice that I can still get away and have some time to myself to contemplate what the Lord wants for me. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my Heavenly Father, whether it be on my own in the library, or dwelling in my bedroom. I’m still trying to figure out what He wants of me, and what His plan is for me. I still feel slightly lost, but I know I am not alone.
“When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:6
I loved my Church meeting today. Why? I’ll tell you. We talked about receiving revelations for ourselves and how we have to listen. If we want to talk to God, pray; if we want God to talk to us, we need to listen and read our scriptures. That’s one thing I’ve been lacking is listening. After I pray, I immediately lie my head down and go to sleep. How do I expect to get an answer to my deepest inquiries if I don’t take the time to seek out His answer and listen?! Also, we learned about our divine nature and of who we are as Children of God. Another speaker referenced how we must follow our Savior with no questions asked, just doing it.

I am so grateful for the chances that I have every day and every moment of every day to turn to my Father and seek His wisdom and guidance. I still struggle to be in tune with the Spirit at all times, but I know He’s there. I know I am receiving help and I know that He’s building me up. I just can’t see it, but I feel it. Just as I can’t see the wind, or love, or even my brain, I know it’s there because I can feel it. I know my Father in Heaven loves me, and I know He’s watching out for me, especially in my times of trial and tribulation. I have to remember to turn to Him and take that first step so that He can lift me up and carry me.
“In the Gospel of Jesus Christ you have help from both sides of the veil and you must never forget that. When disappointment and discouragement strike—and they will—you remember and never forget that if our eyes could be opened, we would see horses and chariots of fire as far as the eye can see riding and reckless speed to come to our protection. They will always be there, these armies of heaven in defense of Abraham’s seed.” 2 Kings 6:16-17: Jeffrey R. Holland
As I’ve been turning to my Savior, I have received strength, minimal, but still strength. I have yet to see the full “fruit of my labors”, but I know the Lord is still there. I was able to go out with my friends this past weekend and actually do things. Up until now, I’ve been shutting everyone out and not wanting to go out and do things. I would rather like to be by myself and go to sleep early. However, this past weekend, I went for a run one day, I went to the Comedy Show, and then I went to Seven Brothers (a restaurant) afterwards with a bunch of friends. It’s something simple and small, but I know it’s the Lord strengthening me and helping me, by putting that desire and fire back into me.
“…By small and simple things are great things brought to pass...” Alma 37:6
I am so beyond grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful for the chance I have to hand over my burdens and pain to my Savior. Because of Him, I can smile, Because of Him, I can feel joy. Because of Him, I can repent. Because of Him, I can love. Because of Him, I can live. I am so grateful for all He does for me and for all He will continue to do. Life is hard, but the Gospel makes it easy

Even amidst all the tough classes, uncertainty, the pain of loss, homesickness, and feelings of inadequacies, I know that I can be strengthened through my Savior and He has provided a way for me to be happy. The decisions I make right now are of the most importance, and I am so glad that I have the opportunity to turn to my Heavenly Father to seek His help and His counsel.
“Our decisions have made us what we are. Our eternal destiny will be determined by the decisions we yet will make.”
I love you all! And I am so grateful for y’all in my life. I hope you have a great week and don’t forget to turn your burdens over to the Lord when you feel like you can’t do it alone. <3  
“Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on His children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater reward, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else He will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more He has to spell it out, the smaller our reward.” –Ezra Taft Benson