Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hey guys,

Everyone can let out a sigh of relief.  I stepped back from the edge.  Man, this week has felt a world of difference from the other week.  And the ironic thing was that this past week should have been harder than my hardest week here in Tacoma.

-some irate tattoo'd dude cussed us off his property.  I thought he was going to punch me.

-i got a $124 red light camera ticket....with my bishop and his wife behind me in the intersection.

-i found out that a major side effect of that Celebrex that i was taking for my inflamed cartilege is depression. wow, that would have been helpful to know. Sheesh, makes a lot more sense why the week after i got transferred (the week i stopped taking it) i felt like a rain cloud.

-i was lucky enough to receive a 45 min ripping on the phone from sister weaver. in which i cried. and i never cry from stuff like that usually.

But the difference was that i had more faith, hope, charity, and love.  In Helaman 5:40-41

"And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: what shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us? And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent."

So that was all it took. Faith unto repentance.  I had no more excuses not too.  I pushed aside my pride and got down on my knees and made a pledge to change.  And i asked for help.  That is one of the biggest markers of humility.  asking for forgiveness and recognizing that you cannot do things alone.  Remember, change can happen immediately with faith, obedience, and repentance.  Healing starts sooner when you let it.

we had a lot of good things happen too.

-we found 5 really solid miracle new investigators.

-that cool black girl in the wheel chair, Kasondra, let us start teaching her again.  she is growing and progressing ever so slightly. finding more hope.  i don't know if i ever mentioned why she is in a wheelchair. but 2 years ago, Kasondra attempted to take her own life by jumping off a freeway overpass in downtown tacoma.  she should have died.  but as her new tatoo says," i am living proof." she is living proof that God lives. that he can heal even the most broken people. literally and figuratively. she has butterflies all over the walls of her apt.  she loves them because they symbolize change. metamorphosis. becoming something beautiful that can fly away. she's legit.

Our mission had the opportunity to go up to this place called Zion's camp up in Belfair.  It's about an hour or so away from Tacoma up northwest on the kitsap peninsula.  The church owns the property and it is usually used for girl's camp/scout camp. stuff like that.  we used it for spiritual lessons learned through physical activities.  Ropes course, trust fall, log hopping, climbing over a 12 ft wall.  It was really cool.  I'm not going to lie, i went in with a dismal attitude.  but to my surprise, i had a change of heart and i really had some great take-away experiences.

we had a baptism for this lady named lisa.  she is a psyhiatrist/psychotherapist.  she is very very intelligent. owns a nice car. nice house. has a stable job. ironically, my most depressed day of the transfer was the day that we met her.  God and his sense of humor.  sending me a psychiatrist.  she is the definition of "elect."  just so prepared for the gospel.   inviting her to be baptized was the easiest thing ever.  she was a referral from a member in another ward that meets in our bldg.  he is a marriage and family counselor that works in the smame office that she does. lisa and brad have had several gospel discussions over the course of their time working together.  but it wasn't until lisa had a dream that she was drowning in a river and brad had reached in to pull her out of it, did she feel like now was the time for her to baptized.  she was adopted as a baby and found out in her early 20's that her biological mother was LDS.  lisa said that she has always felt drawn to Mormons and couldn't really explain why other than that they are really nice people.  she vividly remembers visiting the tabernacle in SLC when she was 8 yrs old and hearing the Mormon Tabernacle choir sing. she described her experience there as a homecoming. she felt like she was coming home and has ever since longed to be part of the family, the community of the church.  so neat.  she really taught me a lot about faith. about believing. about not fearing. but trusting. here is a lady that has wealth of knowledge. of science. of history. of knowledge. of literature. and she was humble and willing to set that all aside in the sense that she was willing to feel and learn more with her heart.  being humble and willing are the keys to change and repentance. to faith and hope. to happiness and joy.  i really feel that lisa was just as much supposed to find me as i was supposed to find her.

i love seeing change. the only constant is change. life is to change. the gospel is change.

love you guys,
sister baylon

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hey Hey.

Alright.  Wow. I feel such a great sense of wonder and awe.  Of gratitude and appreciation.  Which is ironic considering that this past week had been a burning wreckage.  I struggled.  I defied.  I resisted.  I rebelled.  I doubted.  I relinquished.  I quit.  Inside.  All of the battles I fought and lost or straight up just surrendered were within the confines of my own mind.  Inward turmoil I suppressed for so long.  Without divulging too many details, my foundation of faith was really devastated and shaken a while back in the earlier months of my mission.  The roots of the problem still clenched in the ground.  The disease still lay dormant.  What am I talking about?  Faith.  Faith and Hope in Jesus Christ.  In His Atonement.  In His Gospel.  In His Father.  "See that you serve Him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength" (D&C 4)  I was serving with my physical, intellectual, and social capacities, but I was keeping my heart to myself.  I was not totally surrendering all that I was and all that I am to the Lord.

This morning at the gym (we got cut a really sweet deal at the local YMCA), I read a talk called "The Fourth Missionary."  I have read it several times over and even shared insights from it with you all at home in emails past.  I felt prompted to bring it with me to read on the Stairmaster instead of just picking up some magazine they'd have lying around there.  Here are some really key points that stood out to me as I read.  I think they apply to us all, no matter what arena we are fighting in.  The battle we wage is still the same.  At the root, the crux, the core of it all, is fighting a battle against ourselves.  Our natural inclinations.  Our inadequacies.  Our weaknesses.  Our insecurities.  Our sins.  Our temptations.  Our fight is against Satan.  Did you know that?  It's not really against your co-workers.  Your neighbors.  Your siblings.  Your spouse.  Your childhood.  Your friends.  Your enemies.  Just THE enemy.  The Father of lies that wants us to become miserable like unto himself.  Whatever we may feel like is throwing punches at us or kicking us when we are down will all essentially boil down to the fact that we need to believe, have faith in, and live the gospel of Jesus Christ centered on the Atonement if we are to be happy and find joy.

-Your greatest work: your most important creation is and will ever be you. (I honestly spent 15 months of my mission believing that the reason I came on a mission is to baptize.  To help other people.  That this was not about me.  But it is.  That my mission has everything and nothing to do with me.  It's all about what I need and not about what I want. I've just come to start to realize the reason why God needed me to come here on a mission and I am excited to spend the remaining 3 months of my mission unearthing more of the story.)

-To believe that weaknesses and deficiencies in your character are unchangeable is to reject the central truth of the plan of salvation.

-This life is a path on which you never stand still.  Either you move forward towards becoming more like God or backward towards the Adversary. (I thought that I could just stay put.  Stationary for a little.  Take a breather.  Nope.  Life is like a treadmill.  If you don't move forward you'll get bucked off the back.)

-"And if you have not faith, hope, and charity, you can DO NOTHING." (D&C 18:19)  I had sunk so low in discouragement and apathy that I told myself that I could honestly say that I had no faith, hope, or charity therefore I AM NOTHING.  But this scripture tells me that without those things I can ACCOMPLISH nothing.  Not to think less OF myself but less ABOUT myself as I go about and do this work.  I am striving to develop and attain more of these attributes.

-The purpose and central blessing of life (or my mission) is CHANGE.  It is to be changed to become more like Jesus Christ.  To change, evolve, become is the objective of the Gospel.  But it happens only if and when your heart is right.  It happens only if you do not fight against God. (Which is what I was doing when I was withholding my heart.  It was the only thing the Lord didn't already have of mine.  My will) It happens only if you unconditionally surrender your will to the Lord.

-You CANNOT be spiritually changed against your will. (this is why I struggled so much.  I didn't want to change.  It was too painful.  I had no desire to change.  Until...the pain of change became less than the pain of staying the same.)

-You live contrary to the nature of happiness when you live contrary to God.

-You can't be happy if you don't want to do the things that lead to happiness, even if you do those very things. (The bite-the-bullet or grin-and-bear it techniques won't work here.  Your natural self that is suppressed so long will become unruly and explode if all you are doing is changing your behavior and not striving to change your nature.)

-Your world is in your head.  Get your head right and your heart will follow, and you will be right.

-It is up to you.  You cannot be changed to become more like God, if within your heart you fight against God; if within your heart you resist, resent, and hold fast to what you rather would do.

-Change takes effect immediately with obedience.  It doesn't take eons of time.

-The realization of your amazing, astounding, and true potential happens only in the hands of the Lord.  But you and only you can place yourself in those masterful loving hands.

Pretty astounding.  I felt really humbled as I wrote those thoughts down in my study journal this morning.  I have a bit of desire, faith, and hope and that's all I need to get things moving.  It'll be hard, but will get easier over time.  A lot easier than continuing to sink in quicksand of self-loathing and doubt.  I never imagined ending my mission quitting with 3 miles to go.  Actually I did, but I figured that something would happen by the time I went home that would change so that I could sprint and collapse at the end.  To finish and complete something really difficult but with the satisfaction and confidence that I had given all that I could.  That "stuff that would happen so that I could change"  is right now.  I have changed a lot over my mission but there are still a couple big stones to unturn.  It's a heavy job alone.  But one that can be done with the help of One that has carried the world.  In all that I have doubted or questioned, I have never, ever, ever doubted in Jesus Christ.  Even when I have doubted God.  I have never doubted that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World.  That he suffered, bled, and died for me so that I could learn heaven on earth.  So that I could be more fit for the kingdom.  What a miracle.  What a blessing.  How grateful I should be for that gift and opportunity.  So cheers to doing hard things.  To keep going with faith and hope in good things to come.  To be molded, shaped by His hands and to be one day carried and embraced in His loving arms.

-Sister Baylon