Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Week 57-A Marvelous Marquette and a Wonder!!!

Hello, Everyone!!!

Are you ready for a totally crazy letter??!! It's probably going to be a mile long, just to warn you. :)

First off, my face-plant story. So there we were, tracting. There is still ice everywhere in Marquette so I slip on some ice, and, flailing my arms madly, trying to catch hold of the wall, I face plant right on the ice!!! I've got a gnarly bruise on my knee from it. #goodtimes. 

Another story. We went to visit this cute old lady this week, who is home-bound. We sit down on her couch, only to catch with the corner of our eye, sight of a bra! We, of course, politely pretend not to notice. Then she discovers it and says "well at least you're not Elders!" Bahaha. It was pretty funny. 

I also learned this week that people will accept anything from you if you say the magic word: "gift." That's right! This handy little word allowed us to pass out all of our easter cards! Sweet. :) This might be the most important discovery of my mission! :P

We also have an interesting predicament in our district. No piano player. So, they nominated me to play the cello during district meeting. It was way fun!!! i got to play prelude music and play the hymns while the elders and my companion sang. It was kind of hilarious because this group consists entirely of mumbling Elders and my companion who also decided to mumble because she felt self-conscious. So, it's pretty funny. Perhaps I will get a consistent calling as district cellist! :)

We were worried about how our lesson would go with Aubrey this week. Well, I'm happy to report, it went really well! Thank goodness for the Spirit because it gets me out of all kinds of sticky situations. Ultimately I was able to explain how in God's plan men and women need each other, and have complementary roles. If it weren't so, why would anyone be married or start a family? Not an exact explanation because ultimately I can't give one. It's something we have to understand by asking the Lord about it. And ultimately, in my opinion, go to the temple. Then we will understand why women don't exercise the same priesthood authority as men. ANYWAY, since I'm rambling, it was just such a neat turning point when Sister Dunlap and I each shared what our future career plans are, as a way to illustrate how women CAN and DO have the freedom to have careers and great responsibility, even as members of the church, wives and mothers.I definitely think we were both meant to serve here in Marquette, perhaps just so we could teach Aubrey. Sister Dunlap wants to be a fighter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps and I want to be a doctor. Interesting! She seemed to really like that. Then we brought everything back to whether or not she knows that the church (and Book of Mormon) are true. We bore powerful testimony that she can know it, and then she ultimately agreed to be baptized if she gets her answer!!! SO not what we were expecting. She's willing to change!!! #jesustakesthewheeleverytime. So cool.

Mary is out of town but listened to a session of general conference!!!!! She loved the talk about the sabbath day. 

I want to talk a little bit about my favorite parts of General Conference. I loved it!!!!!!! I have to say that President Uchtdorf's talk about grace was my favorite, along with Elder Holland's (about the Atonement), and also Elder Packer (about eternal marriage and the Atonement. All hurting can be turned to beauty and God recompenses us beyond our mortal ability to understand!) and L. Whitney Clayton's (about actively CHOOSING to believe in Christ!! We have to CHOOSE to be healed!). I guess I have a lot of favorites. :) Oh, and who could forget the GREATEST HASHTAG OF CONFERENCE!!!!! #greatandspaciousbuilding found in Elder Pearson's talk. I was laughing so hard! xD I was so impressed and my heart just swelled as I listened to Elder Pearson talk about how he made his decision (to be a mission president) when he was 19 and went to the temple and made covenants with God. And, how he built his entire life around that! So powerful, and really resonated with me. I also found the music talk (Wilford W. Andersen's) amazingly hilarious. Mostly because of the musical terms. :) I love general conference!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, I need to transition into somewhat of a more somber mood. I had planned all of this out this morning so let's hope it comes out alright. :) There is a long story I felt impressed to share. And, it's one that holds deep meaning to me. I've often spoken about some of my mission experiences as a "deepening of soul" kind of experience. Well, that's what this one is. Ultimately, I am filled with gratitude and awe. I should make it clear from the very start that my intent is not to sound bitter. The experiences I mention may sound harsh but it must be noted that I bear no ill feelings toward the individuals that I'm referring to. I love them and we are on friendly terms. :) Rather, I am grateful to these individuals for pointing me toward the Savior. We often talk about the Fall of Adam and Eve right before we talk about the Atonement in order to provide an informative contrast and a more powerful explanation for why it is so pertinent in our lives (See Elder Holland's talk from this most recent conference!). So, this is why I'm sharing today. :) Perhaps I'm writing a mini talk here, but my intent is to share an experience I had this week that I hope will highlight the amazing ability of the Savior of the World, through His Atonement, to turn the ashes and bitterness in our lives into peace and strength. I hope I make sense. :) This is a long intro, but again my intent is to edify and not drag down, so I'm going to mention, albeit briefly, one or two of the "Falls" I've had on my mission. So, here we go! 

For those of you who may not be familiar with the healing and enabling aspects of the Atonement that I often refer to, I'll attempt to explain using a quote from True to the Faith, an amazing reference guide that we like to study as missionaries. And it's pretty great for all members of the Church. :) 

"In addition to offering redemption from the pain of sin, the Savior offers peace in times of trial. As part of His Atonement, Jesus took upon Himself the pains, sicknesses, and infirmities of all people (see Alma 7:11-12).  He understands your suffering because He has experienced it. With this perfect understanding, He knows how to help you. You can cast 'all your care upon him; for he careth for you' (1 Peter 5:7). 

So, I'm going to be referencing the ability of the Savior to heal and strengthen us in times of trial and difficulty. He can help us forgive and let go of our anger, sadness, bitterness, frustration, and a thousand other negative feelings of this sort. 

Over the course of my mission, I've had some really wonderful companions. Some will be friends  for life and I greatly cherish the lessons that each one has taught me. They are all wonderful people, but some of them have been especially challenging for me to get along with and befriend. In fact, 1/3 of them have, at some time or another, been downright cruel. I don't use that term lightly. There's something about being told I'm worthless, there is nothing good she can see in me, that all she can see are my flaws, and that she has had love for everyone else in her left except me. All of that is in response to my full might, mind and strength effort to serve the Lord and her, to love her and help her learn and grow. That's one of them. The other one pointed out, (famously in my mind) that only Jesus Christ Himself could handle me. That was in the midst of my all-time lowest of lows and all I needed and wanted was a little patience and love. These are different experiences. The latter one happened first but the first experience I mentioned I actually stood up for myself.  Add both these experiences to the already stressful and demanding rigors of missionary life (surely a time when you hopefully have a companion at your side who is willing to support and sustain you as doors get slammed in your face, etc.!) and you've got a miserable brew of loneliness and sorrow!  You no longer have your family to support and sustain you, after all. Only a weekly email to look forward to in that department! That and the Holy Ghost. :) Trust me, I stampede to the mailbox every day, hoping for a nice note of encouragement, a "Kyle letter" or a box from Mom, but it's especially true during times of difficulty that this desire is present. :) 

It must be interesting to observe, especially for those who have never served a mission and don't really know the full extent of what I'm referring to, to observe all the highs and lows missionaries experience. Indeed, missions consist of the most breathtaking high points I've ever experienced, but also the most devastating lowest of lows that I've ever experienced. It's quite an adventure!!! Never before have I felt such an all-consuming need for the healing and strengthening aspects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And it's AWESOME. Now I'm getting to the point. I had the opportunity to experience that redemptive healing from my Savior. This isn't the only time, but this is a very prominent one. There were moments this week when I truly felt I couldn't go on and felt like sinking into despair (when I wasn't teaching the Gospel). Haha, I felt like it was either toss Sister Jensen or myself into a snowbank and stay there. :P Anyway, I applied Psalm 55:22 and cast my burden on the Lord. I prayed for strength! It didn't all go away at once, all crushing weight of the anger and hurt I felt. It actually took two separate, powerful occasions, as well as prayers throughout the day. But, to make a long story shorter, my bitterness was released and in its place was the sweetest sense of peace and comfort, such as only the Savior Himself could grant. I felt sorrow with Him (on Easter, actually) and realized, in a very real and literal sense, that the pain our words cause affects not only others, but the Savior Himself.  I felt awe and unspeakable gratitude for the fact that He bore not only this very pain, but the pains of all of my pains, so I wouldn't have to endure them alone. So He could grant me and everyone else this same peace I was yearning for. This event is so real to me, it's almost tangible. It has given me a deeper understanding of the Atonement, like Jose A Teixera pointed out in his conference talk yesterday. I learned that it requires faith on my part to access it. I must do all I can to let go and act "as if" the Savior truly would lift the pain from me.  But I knew it was not me who took that weight from me. If it was as simple as "I let it go... NOW!" it would have happened instantly, at the start of the week. I even questioned why the relief didn't come immediately. I realize now that He wanted me to 1. stand up for myself this time 2. understand the Atonement more deeply and 3. attain greater confidence. Scars I thought wouldn't heal, relationships I thought were broken indefinitely, words I thought would never stop cutting have been lifted from me. Like Alma says in Alma 36:19-21: "I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of {my pains} no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!". There is, in my mind, no other way this could have occurred. Oh, how grateful I am!!! It's like Elder Packer said, when the Atonement works on our spirits, it leaves no scars. 

I learned from this expereince that others words and perceptions don't define me. I knew that already, actually. But now I know in a very literal sense that there are NO words that can ever overtake me. I can stop them before they cut too deep. I can face ANYTHING with the Savior of the World at my side. This is what real confidence means. I can't even pay proper tribute to Him for all He's done to succor, heal and lift me through  my trials. I simply would not be who I am today without Him. Like Elder Holland mentioned in His talk, this is the real meaning of Easter to me. The atonement is a gift of victory over every fall, sorrow, or discouragement we've ever had! Nothing, in all creation, could be more important to me that what I've learned these past 2 weeks, and it's the most important thing I've learned on my mission. This scripture puts in back in perspective: Isaiah 40:31. Perhaps you've had an expereience similar to mine. Write it down, save it. Treasure it and share it at a time you or someone else needs it. You will change lives!


Sister Woods 

No comments:

Post a Comment