The biggest question I had last year was:
How do I show You that I love You?
Well, God is our loving Heavenly Father. He continues to give us revelation to cater to our everyday needs as His children. What if my mom and dad only wrote me one letter at the beginning of my mission, and that was it? Personally, I really like getting letters from them…and especially getting letters from my Heavenly Father. That’s exactly what continuing revelation is. He still wants us to know that He is very much alive, and it’s very convenient when I have tons of questions for my Father. He definitely showed me the answer to this question…in more than once place.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” -Matthew 28:19, The Bible
I can do that! What exactly do I do?
“…We have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills…and we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.” -Alma 26:29-30, The Book of Mormon
How do You want me to do that?
“And ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, declaring my word like unto angels of God.” -Doctrine and Covenants 42:6, Pearl of Great Price
I’ve had four wonderful companions in the mission field so far, and I get a new one on Tuesday. (I will really miss Sister Johnson.) We wake up at the same time, study at the same time, eat at the same time, and go to bed at the same time. But most importantly, we teach the gospel at the same time, in the same place. We teach together with the love Heavenly Father has given us. I have grown to love each girl I’ve served with because of her own individual reasons to serve a mission, and especially her desire to love our Father. We strive to have His Spirit with us at all times, so people will recognize us as direct representatives of Jesus Christ, Himself.
Even though we go two by two, we have grown to love all of the missionaries we serve with as our own family. Once a Sister…always my sister.
Well, Sister Johnson officially has Celiac Disease. So of course, our diet ROCKS. I’m dead serious. All we eat is protein, vegetables, and water. We do have the occasional grains, but for the most part it’s pure fuel. I feel absolutely amazing. Sister Johnson is majoring in nutrition and has my same body type, so she is teaching me a lot. I can’t even tell you how big of a blessing being her companion is–on top of all this. So naturally, these past couple of weeks have made me realize of one of the biggest blessings I’ll share with you that Heavenly Father has given me for serving in His army.
Before my mission, it would make me nauseated to workout before 10 a.m. I don’t know if it was a mind game from the horrible two-a-days during basketball season, or what, but I’d almost be blacked out within the first ten minutes. Naturally, I was really nervous about this missionary schedule that the only time we could (and had to) exercise was from 6:30 to 7 in the morning. I prayed and prayed it wouldn’t affect my work. Long story short, I am now able to workout harder and faster at those early morning hours than I ever did in the afternoon, and I think I know now why the Lord allowed me such a thing. It’s not just because “that’s what the rules are.” It’s because I had to ask for it, and especially because that half an hour in the morning gives me more confidence and spirituality than I ever had before. It gives me the ability to focus during personal and companion study, and it makes me forget about myself and do His work. Yeah, I know, He’s a genius.
Most of the week, full-proselyting wise, we have been taking it pretty easy. From what I can see, Celiacs get hit hard the first few weeks they are diagnosed. But the work we can do, is super effective. For example, on Saturday we worked an hour on, and hour off in Hilton. On the off hours, Sister Johnson crashed on Sister Trimm’s couch and she gave us pep talks to go out and do work for what we actually can accomplish. Side note: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned her before, but this woman was hand-picked for Rochester to specifically “fix” all of the missionaries and get us back to work. She is a convert of about three years and all of us call her mom–because her whole life is revolved around the missionaries. Anyway, after getting re-charged, we went to visit some potential investigators that the Elders found two years ago, and we had planned to go see a woman named Emma. We walked up to her door, and a woman answered. “Is Emma home?” we asked. Almost in tears, the woman said, “I’m sorry, she died two weeks ago. We’re actually writing thank-you notes from it right now.” Rushing up from behind her was another woman who shouted, “Ooo, you’re the cute Mormon kids that she loved! She talked about you all the time, in fact she was just reading your little Mormon book before she passed away. She really thought the world of you.” Sister Johnson kinda looked at each other and we wondered what to say. After grieving with them, I asked if we could share something out of this book she had been reading. They agreed, and I pulled out Alma 11:43. “The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in it’s perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time…” It was so picture-perfect, we could all feel the love from Emma that was obviously there, and especially the Spirit bearing witness of the truth. Even though they didn’t want any help at the moment, they accepted their own copy of the Book of Mormon and profusely thanked us for being there for her, and for them. We gave them our numbers, and we went on our way realizing the magnitude that must have been for two of Emma’s very best friends.
The interesting thing about this story is that Sister Johnson nor I had absolutely any pull to go to her home. As a missionary, those are the kind of stories you hear all the time. “We just felt we needed to go stop by that house,” or the classic, “I knew we just needed to knock one last door.” Nope, we just went right to work. We were in the right place at the right time, because the spirit guides us everywhere we go. Not just to certain places. It is absolutely everywhere, especially with the missionary badge. The Lord will never waste His time.
I’ve learned a lot of things this past week. It’s amazing what the Lord can do when His disciples actually love Him, and it’s amazing what little things He knows we need to keep us motivated to be obedient. I will never doubt the reach, power and magnitude of the Atonement. All of you keep studying hard and praying hard. I really love you all, and all that you do to support me!
I LOVE MY COMPANION.
This transfer would be only five weeks long, and this would be our only transfer together. Sister Johnson is INCREDIBLE. We get so much done, and work so well together. Our brains are identical, and we make absolutely everything fun. Not that it wasn’t before, but I think the super hard work combined with the fun is what does it for me. Did you know that you can work hard and have fun? Try it sometime. I attatched a picture of the two of us at a missionary farewell from our ward, and then the other picture I attatched is our new competitive side coming out. With our district, we designed a plan to help us eat healthier and exercise harder. It’s a point system…well, you’ll see. We didn’t want the reward to be food, but the Zone Leaders insisted Texas Roadhouse, so that’s just a one-time thing. But this is throughout the rest of the transfer, and it is going to be great. I’m so excited. Anyway, onto something more spiritual…
For personal study, I recently read the lead article in the Ensign, “Raising Resilient Children.” After reading the article and taking meticulous notes, I decided that for the most part, my siblings and I are pretty resilient. So, I went back through the timeline of my life and identified what my parents did to help us grow up with their trust and confidence…so I could do that with my own children. (We’ll see if it works.)
First, they let me know all the time, that no matter what I did, they still loved me. They loved the effort I put into my work, and not the outcome. And more often than not the outcome didn’t even matter to them. All they cared about was how much effort I put into what I was trying to accomplish. Now, as a missionary, I know that being successful means working hard. Success is absolutely NOT the number of baptisms.
Second, they wrote me letters I can read over and over again. In fact, I brought with me one that my mom wrote me in 2005. This was when I lost my 9th grade student-body election, and I literally thought the world had ended. Regardless of if she actually knew that was going on in my brain or not, she wrote me a letter and explained why she loved me. She told me that she was impressed with how I reacted to the news, that more doors would be open for me in the future, but one thing really stuck out to me. At the end, she told me that the love that she and my dad had for me, but most importantly Heavenly Father’s love for me, would “act as a safety net that would catch me and bounce me back up…even higher.” That line has stuck with me for the past 8-9 years. I am pretty positive that because of that one letter that she wrote me, I can do anything. I am not scared to walk into any situation, because I have a sure knowledge that I have two parents that love each other…that alone can bring any child through anything. I also have confidence in my Heavenly Father that He won’t bring me into a situation that I won’t dominate, and for that, I owe them my life.
Third, they spent time with us. Not many parents are busier than mine, and yet we still feel like we were with them all the time. The way that you can show someone you love them the most is spend time either for them, or with them.
It doesn’t matter if you have little kids or if your kids are all grown up. You’re still their parents, and you still can have a huge influence over them. As long as “every day, in every way, you get a little bit better,” says President (Coach) Christianson, your children will do the same. They still look to you for advice and council, even if you don’t know it. Just ask my dad. You shoulda seen the look on his face when I finally got to college and told him, “This is the only time I’m going to say this to you, but you really do know everything.”
To change subjects, I’ve got something for you that is an average “day-in-the-life of a missionary” story. Sister Johnson has been pretty sick, so we had to go to a doctor’s appointment with the mission president’s wife out in Pittsford on Thursday. While she was in meeting with the doctor, I was reading my paper-back copy of the Book of Mormon that I carry around everywhere. The door opened, and in walked a woman who carried a huge cloud of smoke with her. I didn’t think about talking to her–I knew I was going to talk to her. She checked in, and sat down right next to me, with all of the other seats empty. I asked her how her day was going, and she told me everything negative she could think of. The next thing I know, she’s in tears telling me that she just received the foreclosure papers on her house that morning. Remember, I still have that copy of the Book of Mormon in my hand. “I’m actually a missionary for my church, and I want to give you something that will bring so much peace you won’t even know what to do with it,” I said. “I’ve been reading this for the past half an hour, and I can’t explain how calm I am right now.” She didn’t make eye-contact with me at all until I told her about the peace part. After that, she wouldn’t blink. The story of the Restoration just flowed out of me…I taught her about the prophets, the apostacy, and of course about Joseph Smith. I got her name and phone number, and put ours in the Book of Mormon and gave it to her. It was perfect timing–once I gave the book to her, Sister Johnson walked out with Sister Christianson, and the nurse called her in for her appointment. She just gave me a “thank you,” and went with the nurse. Of course, we quickly gave the referral to the respective elders. I know that the Spirit, through my personal study, helped me help someone else. President Eyring said something like, “the sacrifice will become a blessing,” and it sure has. Putting all of this work into making someone’s day just a bit better makes it all worth it. I’ll probably never know what happens to her, but I know that I did what I was supposed to be doing. We all can pray to be spiritually sensitive and listen to what God needs us to do at the time it needs done. What if I didn’t talk to her and kept reading? As we like to say here in New York, it’s better to be awkward than guilty.
Well, as I hope you all know by now, the missionary force is EXPLODING. We have created 58 new missions, and missionaries are coming in truck-loads to the field. Grandpa and Grandma, they may just call you to be mission presidents again! Speaking of that, we just found out who our new mission president is, President Arthur R. Francis…he is younger than my dad! (Haha, sorry, Dad.) He has eight kids, and four of them are coming to the mission home. I think it’s seven boys and one girl. I also heard that two of them are on missions right now. How cool would that be to live in the mission home of the Cradle of the Restoration? I am going to miss President Christianson SO much, but I have a for sure witness that President Francis is the guy for the job. Too bad I’m un-deployed after only three transfers with him. He’ll dominate this mission and help us rise even higher than we are now.
I think that’s everything I wanted to tell you for this week. I am so in love with everything right now. It’s not because it’s chance, it’s because I’ve prayed for it to be this way, and I’ve literally felt the prayers of everyone else for me to feel this way. I don’t know who has been praying for me to have all of these blessings, but thank you. It’s a whole lot easier when you’re solid in yourself, because then you can teach the Word way more effectively. I feel like I’m being lifted up by Who knows how many prayers are being answered. So thank you, thank you.