Being a full-time missionary was the hardest thing I’ve ever loved to do.
The last area I was given the opportunity to serve in we encountered a person that I will never forget. I have no idea what his name is, but from this man I received one of the most marked teachings from the Spirit. Along a main road where we often had to go walking past there was a constant, repetitive clanking noise—it came from a man who sat outside from the moment the sun came up to about 9:00 at night tapping a little hand garden shovel. We tried to talk to him, but it seemed that his circumstances in life had left him basically unable to communicate past a simple greeting.
Every day we walked past that house, and heard his hand shovel “clank.” For being something so “insignificant” I was honestly troubled.
“And the days of the children of men were prolonged, according to the will of God, that they might repent while in the flesh; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and their time was lengthened, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost…” 2 Nephi 2:21
Truly,”…this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.”
Our only day to perform our labors… and this man sits there tapping.
Now, I have no idea what his background was, and quite possibly, tapping, could have been the only thing he was left able to do at this point in his life. That’s fine. However, as a result of seeing this man, I began to see other “tappers.” Parents yelling at or ignoring children, people spending uncontrolled time on electronic devices, sleeping excessively, procrastinating, anyone who chooses not to accept the gospel for whatever motive, not participating in family activities, church activities, or other meaningful events, children who do not honor their parents, peers, or themselves and instead waste away their youth and are left without options…
When considering the above, is it any better than sitting there tapping away your days on a wooden box?
In an inspired question from the Lord, He asked, “Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? “ John 10:34
That knowledge and understanding of who we are and who God is, is essential to our salvation. To prepare to meet God, we have to know whom we’re preparing to meet. In order to really have faith, the basic molecule of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must first have a correct understanding of Him, incomplete as it may be.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said,
“There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and consequently they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink and sleep. This is all man knows about God or His existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the Almighty.
“If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.“ Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 39-40
The process of teaching people about God was humbling and sweet. People think He is a cloud, that He is energy, that there is only one Being, that He is in our hearts but nowhere in particular, and they definitely don’t know what He expects. The gospel truths shed light and wisdom on those who seek to know.
One day my very new companion and I received a phone call from the assistants to the president. “Sisters, we have someone for you to teach. We’ll meet you there.” They gave us the address, and hung up. I was in a new area, training a brand new missionary, and that day we were scheduled to have companion exchanges. So when the evening appointment came, I felt extremely out of my element as I was introduced to Licia, an 80-year-old half-paralyzed angel.
It would be impossible to describe how I felt during that lesson, teaching with elders and a stranger companion, while Licia’s member-friend, Eve bounced around so excited that after so many years, Licia finally wanted to accept the gospel. The way in which the Spirit led all four of us while we taught about the Restoration is too tender for me to be able to explain. But I will never forget when Elder Hale taught about the loving nature of
God with these words, “Licia, this experience that Joseph had is proof that God loves us. It is proof that He has forgiven the world for what it did to His Son.” That is the only experience in my life where I had been present while hearing missionaries, apart from my companion and myself, teach. It left a profound mark on my heart, and a testimony by the Spirit of the truth.
Licia truly is an angel, and without making excuses for her difficult circumstances, chose to be baptized three weeks later with the help of three of her nephews to lower her into the water. She and her sister were the only ones of their entire extended family who had not been baptized, and it was a celebration oh so sweet to see over 60 family members so united for the salvation of one soul. Licia was someone who wanted to know who God was, and upon knowing, was willing to follow His Son.
There is only one objective in this life:
“That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Acts 17:27-28
I have noticed that people fail to “prepare to meet God” for a lack of the first two steps of the repentance process—that of recognizing, and then feeling. Two fundamental elements that make us like our Father Creator.
I sense that many “[look] beyond the mark” (Jacob 4:14) of repentance, thinking of confession and change, but it is impossible to ever arrive at that point without first noticing what needs to be confessed and changed and feeling it is necessary. As Elder Bednar stated, “Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage.” That ability to feel and reason is what makes us “labourers together with God.” Paul taught the Corinthians, “ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
1 Corinthians 3:9
What is God “building” through you? Are we sufficiently astute to lend attention to the subtle thoughts and feelings that, if heeded to, will provide the necessary guidance to recognize and feel? I believe that apathy is more destructive than any other known calamity. Those who just don’t care.
For example, one man’s point of view reflects a challenge we faced every day. We called at a door, and offered a pass-along card that said, “how can I find peace and happiness in this life?” The man read the card, took a significant pause, and then nodded and said, “wouldn’t that be nice?” It’s easy to see the little “spiritual cogs” running in peoples’ heads. That was one of those moments. It is also easy to see the power of agency. We asked, “are you happy?” “No.” “We can help you learn to be happy… the Lord loves you and wants to help you be happy… would you like to be happy?” Long pause… “no, actually, I think I’d rather just stay how I am.”
What can I do with that?! How can the Lord motivate someone completely apathetic?! Someone who just “doesn’t care.”
We are not even our own, “ye are bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20) Yet our Heavenly Father is so merciful that He lets us have free reign of everything, just to see what we will do.
“And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them.” (Abraham 3:25)
That price… I have thought much of the price of my soul. How much do I cost? One soul. The world frames everything in terms of money, but they are barely off—the true value is not money, but cost. I cost, with my imperfections, one soul, to be made perfect. That cost may only be paid by one perfect soul. The only perfect soul this world has ever known.
He will not do much, or anything, to change us without our permission. That is also necessary to understand about His nature. He is the perfect Respector of agency, but that will never eliminate our responsibility.
Camila and Ignacio, two investigators, taught me this principle. We were teaching about baptism to these cute young siblings, ages 18 and 9. Ignacio, upon understanding that baptism was a commandment, looked at his older sister and asked, “so then God is basically forcing us to be baptized?” Camila thought for a second, and then responded, “what is the difference between being forced to do something, and it being your responsibility to do it?” Ignacio understood: He doesn’t force us to do ANYTHING, but He commands and invites us to be like Him.
There is a beautiful hymn that is very seldom sung:
Know this, that ev'ry soul is free
To choose his life and what he'll be;
For this eternal truth is giv'n:
That God will force no man to heav'n.
He'll call, persuade, direct aright,
And bless with wisdom, love, and light,
In nameless ways be good and kind,
But never force the human mind.
Freedom and reason make us men;
Take these away, what are we then?
Mere animals, and just as well
The beasts may think of heav'n or hell.
May we no more our pow'rs abuse,
But ways of truth and goodness choose;
Our God is pleased when we improve
His grace and seek his perfect love. (Hymn 240)
I’m not sure which of my little brothers put it there, but the first thing I saw when I opened up my computer was a quote from Gandalf:
“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
We can spend it tapping or building. Wasting or recognizing. Existing or feeling. Wondering or believing.
In a world filled with chaos, we must remember that we worship the Prince of Peace. Have a little faith.
“Wherefore, ye may also have hope, and be partakers of the gift, if ye will but have faith.” Ether 12:9
Manuel was a miracle. We found him during the month completely absorbed in Chile’s soccer tournaments in preparation for the American Cup, it is extremely trying to find people to teach. As we taught this young man, it was clear that the Lord had prepared him, and he was willing to prepare himself as well. Right before his baptism we wanted to make sure that he really had a firm testimony of the Book of Mormon and the prophet of the restoration. Being baptized and going inactive soon after is very common in Chile. He looked at us and said, “sisters, don’t worry. It’s like me looking at my shirt and knowing it’s white. No one could make me think otherwise. I know it’s a white shirt. I know this Book is true.”
Sometimes we lack that simple faith. Let us remember that it is not our belief that defines truth. Truth is. It is our privilege to know it is the truth.
I love these words from Brigham Young, I echo them as my own: “I testify that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the world; I have obeyed His sayings, and realized His promise, and the knowledge I have ofHim, the wisdom of this world cannot give, neither can it take away.”
Our Heavenly Father knows this life is hard. He is watching us. Let us not be discouraged, or “wearied in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. ”
Let us recognize and feel. Let us have faith and be believing.
We are our own agents. We must choose the right things ourselves.
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 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;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall
in nowise lose their reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.
30 Who am I that made man, saith the Lord, that will hold him guiltless that obeys not my commandments?
31 Who am I, saith the Lord, that have promised and have not fulfilled?
32 I command and men obey not; I revoke and they receive not the blessing.
33 Then they say in their hearts: This is not the work of the Lord, for his promises are not fulfilled. But wo unto such, for their reward lurketh beneath, and not from above.
Talking to people in the street is just my favorite thing to do. They say the ….most interesting… things. “We just need to love our neighbor and be a good person.”
That’s not good enough. “The power is in them.” Being a good person is not the objective. Paying tithing is not the objective. Church attendance is not the objective. Come to know Heavenly Father through faith, and then align your life with what He wants. “The power is in [us]” to do that. The power is in us because the Savior gives us the opportunity to everlasting life.
And we are so slow to just do it. We might do what He asks if we know how long it’s going to take, who else is coming to help, and if refreshments are going to be served afterwards. We have to be anxiously engaged, our own agents. May we no more our powers abuse, even in the sight of temptation, distraction, and many times as with full-time missionaries, exhaustion.
Young men, let me tell you something. If I were you, I wouldn’t bother asking the Lord if you should serve a mission. I wouldn’t even let that thought come into your head. The Lord has commanded, you must obey. Yes, you should serve a mission, and it will not be a sacrifice—it will be a merciful opportunity.
It is a dangerous practice to try to be the exception to the rule in any circumstance. Recognize, feel, have faith.
It is hard to love people who don’t love you back. It’s painful. Sometimes I thought, “it hurts so bad to love
these people who don’t love themselves, and don’t want to change.” I suffer. But that feeling is what is called charity. A tiny touch of what the Lord has felt and feels. It is a blessing to have that feeling. We need that feeling. That is why “every member a missionary.” All I want is to be charitable.
I prefer to suffer and learn than to remain in ignorance, because it is through that suffering that we might also begin to tap into what one day will become a fullness of joy (3 Nephi 28:10).
That is also why Heavenly Father gives us the opportunity to have families. Many of those emotions are experienced especially by parents I believe. I give thanks every day that I have a family of ministering angels.
My parents are beyond description. My family is my joy, and I love to see it grow. That is not out of reach to anyone who is willing to base his or her life in the eternal truths aforementioned.
And now, my beloved [brothers and sisters] let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
That was a scripture that my first mission president shared once with us. I revere greatly the two men who were called as presidents during my time in Vina del Mar. President Kahnlein taught me that all things are spiritual,
that sometimes there are moments of crisis, but it is always better to be obedient. Strive for excellence in all you do. Never underestimate the importance of having fun. Have an attitude of, “I can!” And don’t make excuses.
President Diaz taught me that there is no such thing as a bad day, that we are all just people, and that we can choose to be chosen by the Lord.
I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and that our loving Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for us. "After all that has been said, our most important duty is to preach the gospel." (Joseph Smith). I love to serve the Lord. I know that the Book of Mormon is true.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Well, here we are. The last email.......... aaaaaaaaaaahhh!
Nicholas and Ayirai are going to get baptized this next Sunday. So exciting! Their dad came to church yesterday too:) Hopefully we'll be able to teach him this last week! We love this cute little family.
I am just so grateful for this experience in my life. It is going to make the difference in my entire life. I love to serve others, and I know how to share the gospel and help build the kingdom. Being a missionary, I have learned all the things I never knew I never knew. (Pocahantas hehe).
I love you so much! I will see you all soon!
Well this has been the most devestating thing I've ever gone through. My heart is broken in half. But, I still love you guys too hahaha. It's hard moving through life, constantly in "temporary homes," but then again, that's all this life is. We will never really be home on this earth. I am so excited to see you all.
The most important thing we can ever do is love and be loved in return. I felt that so much yesterday in my last little ward when Ayirai and Nicholas were baptized!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was soooooooooooo beautiful. Beyond words.
I have ay too many emotions and things running around in my head and heart to be able to say much, but always remember that the Church is true.
See you all Wednesday! I will be travelling with lots of missionaries clear to Utah, and then the last little stretch to IF and I'll be home. Love you all! See you soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, in case no one else has noticed, life goes too fast.
"In the short span of mortal existence it is impossible for man to explore with thoroughness any considerable part of the vast realm of knowledge. It becomes, therefore, the part of wisdom to direct our efforts to the investigation of the field that promises the results of greatest worth." James E. Talmage
So, we have to dedicate our lives to the things that matter the very most: God and family.
Some things that really help:
don't leave kind words unsaid
don't speak harsh words -- they only leave regret
don't live in the past, or live like Laman and Lemuel thinking "we might have been happy" 1 Nephi
Worry is a way of mentally practicing failure
My ponderizing scripture this week is 1 Nephi
We are sOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO blessed! The Duran kids are going to get baptized my last Sunday here! It is so important as a missionary to talk to EVERYONE. Because otherwise we never would have met Cecilia, their mom who had been less-active, and started teaching the cute kids, and they are just so great and receptive. They read their scriptures and keep their committments, and the dad, Christian, is slowly starting to speak to us. That's a big step of progress. We have this awesome Caballero Family that lives right by them. Sister Caballero grew up in Agua Santa, and I know her parents because they are members there! So that is so fun. They live really close to us, and take really good care of us too. We love their family, and they are always passig by the Duran family's house to talk and see how they're doing. It is all just such a miracle, and we are so grateful. So Nicholas and Ayirai are going to be baptized in two more weeks:)
As a missionary, one of the most important things I see is the ability to be spiritually self-sufficient. To do the things you need to do, and recieve revelation and guidance and keep moving forward because you want to. Don't wait for people to have to tell you what to do! That's the big problem with less-actives.
Last week for out Tuesday contact-marathon day Hermana Rohner and I made the most contacts, so we got to have the contact cup for the week:) yay:)
Thought from the temple president:
The heart understands what the mind doesn't know:)
I love you all so much! Don't blink! I am so grateful to be here and be who I am. Have such a happy week! And help others be happy too!
This week there was another earthquake in the night, and I guess it was pretty big, but I would know haha.... I didn't even wake up. Hna Rohner was so surprised. She woke up, and looked at me, and there I was, dead asleep, with the building shaking hahahahahahahahahaha. I'm used to Chile! hahahaha
This week was a looooooooooot of contacting. I mean, every week is a lot of contacting. But I just love talking to people. I love giving people the opportunity to accept the best thing they will ever hear.
This morning I finished reading the Book of Mormon again! 5 times in my mission:) It is true! The only reasons people could think it's not of God is (1) ignorance (2) bad intentions. Now I'm going to start it again in english:)
And we made a fort in our bedroom yesterday... for fun:)
My ponderizing scripture this week is Moroni
I love you all!
Happy Halloween! Yes, they do, kind of, celebrate it. It lasts like an hour of trick or treating. and now, happy November!
This week was great. We had exchanges, and I got to go to Quillota with my good friend, Sister Day. And then the next day Hermana Rohner had to go to Viña for the choir practice, and so I got to go to ANOTHER part of Quillota with HERMANA CUBAS! It was so great to be with her and Hermana Moraga, you dont know her. It was a great couple of days, and kind of crazy to go around preaching everywhere, but it was so fun! I loved to see how easy it is to adapt to new places, and that we as missionaries can just mold together to spread the peace of the gospel, no matter where we are or how long we've known each other. I love the spirit of missionary work. It is the best thing ever. I love to teach. I love reading Preach My Gospel and applying it's teachings. Especially all that I have learned about teaching with simplicity and asking inspired questions. As we teach with love, and express our love for the Savior and others, the Spirit can testify so clearly to them, even if they don't have the courage to follow the prompting. There are many who will.
We are teaching Javiera and Andres. They want to get married, but the public court house thing in Chile has been on strike for more than a month, so they can't. Dah! She wants to get baptized! She understands the Restoration, and they have the cuuuuuuutest little baby, and when we were teaching about baptism and the Holy Ghost again this week, her eyes lit up listening to Andres tell how he felt when he got baptized and confirmed. So beautiful!
I have seen how really, they very best missionaries are the ones who worry the least about themselves, and just try to serve. There are so many good examples around me of that.
We found a cute little family! The mom is inactive, but the three kids are so great! The Duran family:):):) they are so receptive! And we are going with Bishop Henriquez tonight to teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is going to be great!
Have you talked to Rita yet? She's our mamita here, and we love her so much. She was a missionary, and her and Rafael are so amazingly willing to help us and the ward. Rafael is HILARIOUS. He reminds me of a Chilean Dave Jackson. Haha just kind of walks around muttering to everyone about the gospel, he invites himself into everyone's houses and makes himself at home, and then shares some of the sweetest messages with the less actives and investigators and recent converts we go to visit. We're having FHE with a bunch of them tonight.
I love the gospel so much. I love that I know it is true. Charity truly is the divinest characteristic we can obtain, and we should all do what Moroni invites us to, pray with all the energy of our sould to be filled with that love. I can feel that love so strongly as we testify and invite others. The gospel brings peace.
While I was on exchanges with Hermana Day, who has known me for a long time on my mission, I asked her if she thinks I have left a mark as a missionary, and she paused and said, "Hermana, I don't think you've left a mark.... I think you've left a Grand Canyon." I don't know if that's necessarily accurate.... hahahaha. The Lord really does do everything, and I cannot believe how sad my life would be if I hadn't come on a mission! Well... It probably would have been fine, but it's so much sweeter now! I am so glad this is part of the plan for me.
I know that the Plan of Salvation is perfect, and that there really is a plan for us and our families. I love my family, and I love the gospel that makes us a happy family. The best way to be happy is to lose yourself in the service of others. I love to serve. "when you're helping you're happy!"
I hope the Lord keeps showering blessings over each one of you. He knows our needs, and He will always help us change for the better, but never without our own permission. We have to open our hearts to the changes the Savior is able to make.
I love you all so dearly. Have a happy week of serving and sharing. I looooooooooooooooove you!
And Congrats Livy and Ben!
From Holy Water to White Castle, here I am in Castillo Blanco with my sweet little companion Hermana Rohner. She is so calm, this is her fourth transfer, and we are having a great time working together. I got to speak yesterday.... two weeks running hahaha.
My new companion is Hermana Rohner from Gilbert Arizona, and she is so great. She is completely caml all the time, but sooooooooo funny. I love her. I love being her companion, and am so grateful for this peaceful little place to be an instrument in the Lord's hands. It is a little town of traditional little poeple, and I love it. The ward is warm, and I especially love Rafael and Rita. She's our mamita, and she's from Brazil. Sooooooooo hilarious. We're having a big FHE at their house tonight with all the recent converts.
I am just so grateful to be a missionary. It is the best thing I've ever done in my life.... after being baptized of course.
We went to the Young Women's/Relief Society activity Saturday to play soccer and basketball, yes, I played, and I a now actually not bad at playing soccer. Our zone is going to play again today, but I don't think I'm going to play for my toes. Not a good idea.
My friend, Elder Henderson, was called this week as an assistant, and that makes me happy. He is the most peaceful person I have ever met. Haha he will do great.
I had to do some stuff for BYU, so I don't have a lot of time. But I'll have more stories next week after a complete work week. Love you all! Share the gospel with your friends!