Hello family and friends!
I can't believe it but I writing to you on a beautiful, sunny, warm day in Washinton state. Family, I am going to print off all of your emails so that I can read them later today since I only get 1 hr of time on the computer and don't want to end up with no time to write.
Today has been the best day ever! We had new missionary training in Tacoma today! So all the new missionaries and their trainers got to go down to meet with President Weaver and his wife and have an orientation meeting and bunch of trainings and break-out sessions. It was really great to see all of my MTC district after our first couple of weeks and to hear about how they are doing. All the elders have no longer been able to evade the "missionary hair part." They all had pretty conservative hairstyles before, but today they all had the very straight-edged combed hair part. Hahah it was sooooo good to see them. They were so excited to see me, too. It was so hard not to hug them all. Some of the elders that I thought would be powerhouses from the moment we landed ended up having a really rough couple of days or first couple of weeks. But that is to be expected. After our meeting we got to go over to the mission home (where President and Sister Weaver live) and all eat a great lunch. We had lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and brownies and ice cream for dessert. It was such a nice day that we all got to eat outside on their deck in the backyard. So fun! I was supposed to get my blue card today that lets me drive a mission car, but I forgot some paperwork at the apartment so I was not able to get it today. Bummer!! Therefore I am banished to the passenger seat and backing the car. Did I already explain this to you guys? So every time the car is in reverse, one of us (aka me) has to be behind the car to guide them backing up. Even in a giant empty parking lot.
I really hope that I get called to serve in Tacoma or Lakewood. Just driving around Tacoma today I know I will love it. More city-like. A lot of black people and Samoans. Haha so it's more diverse. I wish you guys could see some of the places we have tracted or some of the member's homes we have gone to. It was something you would see on an A&E reality TV show. Either middle class or way ghetto. With the occassional super nice house.
There is a lady named Keiko, our YSA ward's bishop's wife. (did I talk about her before?) Anyway, she is so cool I will tell you about her again. She is Japanese! From Yokohama and the sweetest, cutest lady. She has us over for dinner or breakfast like once a week and is such a good cook. She make really unique but simple and complex things at the same time. Hahah hard to explain it. All very fresh too. She reminds me so much of Grandma Margaret. The way she walks around her kitchen. Her cadence in her voice. But she has an accent though. She even keeps her vitamins in one of those little ceramic dishes! Warms my heart every time I see her.
So I have been praying and I fasted on Sunday to help me have a change of heart and attitude to help me take on fully what it means to be a missionary. Sister Mills gave me an article that was written by the WA-TAC mission's former president who is know a member of the Seventy, Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge. It is called, "The Fourth Missionary." It describes 4 different kinds of missionaries, their attributes, attitudes, their successes (or lack thereof for two of them) and their happiness. I won't describe the first three missionaries, but I will tell you about what it means to be a "fourth" missionary because that is the kind of missionary that I want to be. That I know I can be. That the Lord knows I can be. That He expects me to be. A fourth missionary is obedient and is obedient not because he wants to outwardly appear so, but because he understands the principles behind obedience. He wants to be obedient not for the mission president or even for himself, but because he loves the Lord and knows that the first law of all things in Heaven is obedience. Through his obedience and faith he has a complete change of heart. He no longer desires to do what he wants, when he wants, how he wants. But instead thinks of what the Lord wants him to do, when to do it, and how to do it. This does not mean that he is exempt from frustration, exhaustion or never feels like the work is hard but he presses forward because he knows that this will be for his good and that blessings will come.
An excerpt from the talk said: "If you aren't happy, if you are frustrated or resentful, look inside. It is within you. The Savior said, "The Kingdom of God is within you." It is in your head and in youur heart. It starts in your head and your heart follows. You only need to say to the Lord in your head, "I give up. I surrender. I won't fight anymore. Here it is. Here are my desires. Here is my will. I want noly to do what you want me to do. That's enough for me. That's all I want, because it's the only intelligent thing to do."
I learned an important lesson this week. I need to be willing to fully consecrate myself to this work. To my mission. To my wards. To the members. To the people I am serving. To my companion. To my investigators. To the Lord. I have to not only serve with all my might and strength but I need to surrender my heart. For the first two weeks I did not surrender my heart. I was being a "third" missionary. I was doing everything I was supposed to. I was even being effective. I had the Spirit with me. I did good works. Taught well. But I with held my heart. And it made the work far more difficult than it ever had to be. But now, I realize that for 18 months I agreed to give all of myself to my misson, to Heavenly Father, and his children who are looking for the truth and "know not where to find it."
I had an interesting discussion with my favorite, Mauri, Brother Elkington. I felt like we needed to go visit him after we had an appointment with a member that lived near his home. We went over. His son, Noah, 12, is the only one that his wife allows to come to church on occasion with his dad. He is always so excited when we come over and let us in. We originally were going to share a scripture from 1 Nephi but I was prompted to ask Brother Elkington what we call in the mission "inspired questions." Questions that unlock and uncover so much more about the individual, their spirituality, needs, and concerns. If truly insspired questions are asked with the Spirit present, your mind is enlightened with how to discern what they are telling you and what to say that they might not even know they need to hear. So someway, somehow I was able to find out that he is very troubled, dare I even say unhappy. He has given up hope on his wife who is not a member and feels like there is little to look forward to or no reason to work on his individual progression and salvation. He feels this way because he thinks that what kind of place would Heaven be if he could not be there with his family. He thinks that his ability and privilige to exercise the Priesthood ends at the door when he walks in the house. Several other things came pouring out and I really felt for him. I told him about you, Mom and how you have set such a great example for me and our family by being worthy and working to receive your own endowments and have not let yourself get discouraged. I can't even remember all that I said, but what I do remember was that the Spirit spoke so, so strongly through me to him. I was bold in a way that I have never been before. It was a call to action without being overbearing. I told him that regardless of his situation with his family that the Lord is bound when we do what He asks. That if Brother Elkington was to prepare himself to enter the temple again that not only him but his family would be blessed. If the we are living the gospel and doing all that we possibly can on our own, the Lord will fulfill our righteous desires. They just might not be on our time or they exact way we envisioned them to be fulfilled. I told him to NEVER, EVER give up hope. Change can happen. And it starts with him. When we put the Lord first and trust in His arm that all things are made possible. He is a very talkative guy. Always trying to divert the attention away from him and speaks a lot so that he can put the attention back on us. But for the first time he was quiet. He was pondering. Reflecting. You could see the trouble in his eyes and the pain in his heart. But I assured him that the hope that we so desperately need in this life is through the Savior, Jesus Christ.
I was reading in the latest Ensign magazine and this quote by Elder Uchtdorf caught my eye so I wrote it down in my journal. It's called
"The Ultimate Formula for Happiness"
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has the answers to all of our problems. The gospel is not a secret. It is not complicated or hidden...It is not someone's theory or proposition. It does not come from man at all. It springs from the pure and everlasting waters of the Creator of the universe, who knows truths we cannot even begin to comprehend. And with that knowledge, He has given us the gospel-- a divine gift, the ultimate formula for happiness and success."
I love this gospel. It is simply beautiful and beautifully simple. It can heal broken hearts. Lift heavy loads. Wipe our teary eyes. Give us a perspective vision as we navigate this life. It brings justice to those that have been wronged. It extends mercy to those that have done wrong. It builds. It strengthens. It comforts. It unifies. It gives hope. It brings peace. It can change our hearts. It can ease our minds. It can bring us joy. Let us experience love and teach us how to love others. Even as the Savior loves us.
Please, please pray for missionary opportunities. Think of people to share the gospel with. Open your mouths and testify of what you know to be true. Invite others to church or to your home. The Lord will bless you. Help in the efforts of one heart, one mind, one church. Allow the missionaries to visit you. They bring a message from the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. They carry with them the Spirit and will fill the walls of your home with that very spirit. I promise that you will not regret it. As the Lord's missionaries, we are united and working towards the same purpose. So by helping them, you in turn, are helping me. You are supporting some missionary that is just like me. But ultimately you are supporting your Heavenly Father. Rejoice in the gospel together. As families. With friends. There is so much to be grateful for and to be happy about. "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
I love you so much,