Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sayonara!

My last post before I leave! I report to the MTC tomorrow at 1:00! I am so ready to go. :) But the journey doesn't end here! My emails from the mish will be posted every week! :)

I didn't realize this while we were taking pictures but I opened up to Jacob 5. :)

 Because Boggle is so much better than Scrabble. :)

I'm so grateful that I am able to do this. This is the Lord's work. The Church is true. I am so excited and I can't wait to get out there and get to work! It's amazing how many sisters stepped up to the plate and are now serving and preparing to serve missions. I'm so proud of you guys! This is truly an incredible moment in time. Love you! See you in the field! :)

Monday, April 29, 2013

Miss You


Two of my awesome Primary kids! My class surprised me with a musical number in Sacrament Meeting before I spoke. They'd been practicing the song the past couple of weeks during class and I never connected that they would be performing it for me. It was perfect, they sounded like angels. They gave me goosebumps and made me tear up. :) I'm going to miss them so much. Love you kiddos!


Shannon O'sullivan - we've been friends since 9th grade. I honestly don't think I've stayed friends with anyone for so long, which I suppose is a little.. pathetic? I guess it's just not a good thing to be seperated for too long - she's following me to the East Coast. She just can't live without me, ha ha (just kidding.) :) Love you - I'll miss you!


My incredible mom! She is the very best and does so much for me. I won't be able to call her for Mother's Day because I'll still be in the MTC but I've arranged a little something that she'll love! I love you so much mom and I'll miss you like crazy!


Rowan! Best puppy ever.. I was thinking about Wednesday and not seeing him for a year and a half and I started tearing up. He is honestly so much fun and so sweet. I'm gonna miss his cuddling. When I got him, I was hoping for a cuddler since my other dog hates it, and I got one. :)













My lovely family - I'm going to miss all of you. Write me lots of letters and send me pictures!! You guys are the best!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Farewell!


I’ve been called to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission. I love what I get to talk about today and here’s why: for those of you who don’t know - my mom is a convert to the church and is the only remaining active member of her family. She grew up in Pennsylvania, just outside my mission boundaries. Within my mission boundaries is where her family settled. And as I’ve prepared for my mission, I’ve again and again been drawn back to the temple, which ties in perfectly with my topic: family history and covenants.


God teaches us that family has always been important. Nephi and his brothers were commanded to return to Jerusalem to retrieve the brass plates from Laban, which contained a record of Lehi’s ancestors. The Lord provided a way for the plates to be retrieved. It is important to know our genealogy and where we come from. When we follow God’s commandments, a way is provided for us to do His will, and we are blessed.

Everyone who has ever lived on this earth, those of us on the earth at this time, and those who are still to come are one large family and the work that goes on in the temple links us all together. Because my mom is the only member of the church in her family, I have been able to take many family names to the temple and do their work for them. And as I’ve done so, I’ve felt a special connection with my ancestors.


Elder John A. Widstoe, stated how during the great council in the preexistence, we accepted the Lord’s plan and in doing so “We became parties to the salvation of every person under that plan. We agreed, right then and there, to be not only saviors for ourselves, but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work.” This gospel isn’t just for one man – it is for every man. We are responsible for our own salvation, but we are also responsible to assist in the salvation of others. As Paul said concerning the fathers, that they without us cannot be made perfect – neither can we without our dead be made perfect.


President Woodruff said this concerning temple work: “These, brethren and sisters, are important works. They are works which we do for others that they cannot do for themselves. This is what Jesus Christ did when He laid down His life for our redemption, because we could not redeem ourselves.” We in a way become their saviors. Just as Christ redeemed our souls and did for us what only He could do, we must also do the work that our dead cannot do for themselves.


Brother Beckstrand stood up here last week and basically wrote my talk for me.:) He said something along the lines of “Those on the other side of the veil who have not had their work done for them are in a state of darkness. They are waiting for us to perform their work and they cannot move forward until it is finished.” Joseph Smith said, “The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.”  So the question I want to ask all of you is this: Do you want to face your family one day and tell them you couldn’t do their work because you were too busy? That you couldn’t do their work because you couldn’t find a couple hours each week to devote to them? That you couldn’t do their work because you spent countless hours watching your favorite TV show? Whatever reason we have for neglecting this duty, as members of this church, we need to make a conscious effort to go to the temple and serve our dead. As Joseph Smith said, it’s our greatest responsibility.


Elder Holland gave a talk titled “We Are All Enlisted” in which he addressed the priesthood holders of the church and those young men preparing to serve missions. In it he says, “Missionary work isn’t the only thing we need to do in this big, wide, wonderful Church. But almost everything else we need to do depends on people first hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ and coming into the faith. Surely that is why Jesus’s final charge to the Twelve was just that basic – to ‘go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ Then, and only then, can the rest of the blessings of the gospel fully come … But as Nephi testified, none of that can come until one has ‘enter[ed] into the … gate.’”


I’ve had the awesome calling to teach the 7 year olds in Primary in our ward for the past few months and it’s so exciting to see them become excited about baptism. One of our kids, Jacob, was baptized a couple of weeks ago. It was so amazing to be there as a class to support him on his special day. By being baptized, he has taken the first step to receiving all the blessings that God has in store for him. He has already received so many. As he grows up and continues to make good choices, he will be able to partake of all the blessings that follow after baptism and later attend the temple. There is so much more after baptism. Those of us who have been baptized and been to the temple have a responsibility to remain worthy of a temple recommend and attend the temple regularly to perform the work for our dead.


My purpose as a missionary is to ‘invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.’ (Preach My Gospel, Ch.1) Notice how it doesn’t stop at baptism. Baptism isn’t the end of the line. Missionaries help people get to the temple as well. Likewise, those who are on the other side need our help to progress. Family history work is missionary work.


President Henry B. Eyring said the following considering our own ancestors anxiously awaiting their turn to progress in the gospel: “Their hearts are bound to you. Their hope is in your hands. You will have more than your own strength as you choose to labor to find them.” We will have power we didn’t know we had when we do the work for our own family members. We are connected, but we become even more so when we do this sacred and important work. Sister Elaine S. Dalton  said something similar to Elder Henry B. Eyring.  She said, “As you take your own family names to the temple, the Lord will amplify your ability to learn and to focus on the things that matter most. You will come forth from the temple armed with power, and ‘His angels will be round about you to bear you up.’ Always with prophetic priorities come prophetic promises.”


To go along with that, the visiting teaching message in this month’s Ensign focuses on temple covenants. President Monson states concerning the promises and consequences of frequenting the temple: “The saving ordinances received in the temple that permit us to someday return to our Heavenly Father in an eternal family relationship and to be endowed with blessings and power from on high are worth every sacrifice and effort.” He then goes on to say, “As we remember the covenants we make within [the temple], we will be more able to bear every trial and to overcome each temptation.” The covenants and ordinances that occur in the temple are vital. When we go to the temple and remember the covenants we make there, when we do the work for those who have passed on, we have a chance to review what we have promised God, and we are strengthened. As I’ve gone to the temple, I’ve realized that concerning my mission, I’m not afraid. I’m nervous as heck, but not afraid. I know that my feeling this way is from attending the temple. I would normally be freaking out to the extreme and have had ten mental breakdowns by this point but I know that my Heavenly Father has my back and that when I put my trust in Him, I will be strengthened and I’ll be able to accomplish what I need to do as a missionary. My knowledge and faith in that is built upon each time I go to the temple. (Scripture: D&C 84:88) “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”


We have a saying up on our wall in our kitchen at home that says, “We go to the temple to make covenants; we go home to keep them.” We need to constantly be living worthy of those covenants that we made when we went through the temple. By going to the temple and doing the work for our dead, we are reminded of those covenants and it becomes easier to jump hurdles and dodge anything Satan throws our way.


Elder Russel M. Nelson said, “When our hearts turn to our ancestors, something changes inside us. We feel part of something greater than ourselves. Our inborn yearnings for family connections are fulfilled when we are linked to our ancestors through sacred ordinances of the temple.”  When we do the work for our dead, we are blessed in so many ways.


The prophet Joseph Smith also taught us that those we do temple work for will “fall at the feet of those who have done their work, kiss their feet, embrace their knees, and manifest the most exquisite gratitude.” While I was in the temple doing initiatories one day, a sweet little temple worker told me, “You don’t know them, but they know you.” It’s amazing to know that those who have passed on are just waiting for us to do something, to serve them, to finish what they themselves couldn’t do and that they are aware of us and what we’re doing for them.


Of course, not everyone will accept the work we do for them. We know this. President Boyd K. Packer stated, “As for those who have died, there seems to be no way we can find them all. We have no way of knowing whether they will accept the work we do for them. We are sure some will reject it. Nevertheless, we are not released from the assignment to try.” Heavenly Father’s plan allows men his agency – that was what the war in heaven was fought over. Man is free to choose and make his own decisions. Just because we know some will not receive it, of their own free will, we should not be excused from doing our duty, for we know there are those who will accept it and will be forever grateful to us. Joseph Smith said, “Those Saints who neglect it [temple work] in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.” From this, we know that their salvation is necessary and essential to our own salvation.


We are all connected. We are all one family. Members of a family rely on each other. We become closer to our ancestors as we perform this sacred work on their behalf. We are serving them. What did Christ do while on the earth? He served his fellowmen. Likewise, we should take on an attitude of service and serve those most in need – those who cannot do their work for themselves. We cannot make it through this life with an attitude of selfishness. Christ is our ultimate example, and he served those in need. What better place to serve than in the temple of our God?


President David O. McKay said, “Every member a missionary.”  When I first received my call, I was so focused on the fact that I had been called and couldn’t get over how cool that was, rather than the fact that I had been called to serve. My best friend who is currently serving his own mission in Argentina later reminded me that as a missionary, I will be constantly serving everyone I see. Full-time missionaries are “called to SERVE.” Members of the Church are also called to serve. Not necessarily in the way that full-time missionaries serve but we are called to serve nonetheless. I have honestly and truly loved serving my ancestors by taking their names to the temple.

Family history is not only important to our salvation but can be fun and rewarding. My mom’s brothers and sisters are helping with the work by walking through cemeteries, and going to funeral homes in order to access records. They are not members but even they want to know about ancestors and are excited when they find someone new.


My dad’s side of the family has a ton of books and information on his side but my mom knew nothing when she started family history. If you haven’t started, start with the basics; census records and talking to family members to see what they might know. My mom started talking to her Uncle Frank. Everyone in the family, literally, said that he wouldn’t talk about his family. When we were out in Pennsylvania visiting once, we went to talk to him (I would have been really little). When he looked at my older sister Ashley he took her face in his hands and looked at her for a little while. Then he started talking about his mother, who’s name was Sarah Rebecca. He told us the memories he had of her. He also talked about his grandparents and gave my mom their names. When she put them together with the census records, she found that they were actually his great grandparents – his mother had been raised by her grandparents. There were stories of his mother being adopted, and now it made sense. Her grandparents had “adopted” her. Uncle Frank talked and talked about his family that day and when asked about things later he always said he didn’t know anything. Ashley really touched his heart. We found out that his mother had hair like Ashley’s and that to him, she must have looked like his mother. - When we do family history work, the Lord provides a way for it to be done. Uncle Frank never told anyone about his family but seeing Ashley touched something in him and we were able to learn a lot about our family.


My mom has also found that our ancestors on both sides came to America in the early 1600’s. We have a story from one who crossed mountains with his little girl in his saddlebags because she was so little. Both sides fought in the Revolutionary and Civil wars. My 4th great grandpa on my mother’s side (through her dad) was a captain in the Revolutionary war and was selected to assist in the crossing of the Delaware. After the crossing, he was one of the men placed in charge of the boats with orders to destroy them if the army failed at Trenton. He was at the battle of Brandywine, spent the hard winter at Valley Forge (which is in my mission) with George Washington, and was wounded at the Battle of Monmouth.


My mom has also found that her mother’s family were vinters in Germany. They had a lot of land and grapevines and were very wealthy. We even have a family wine. Ha. They left it all to a brother and came to America through Philadelphia, speaking only German. Their house in Germany is 400 years old and is still standing and being used today. We have a family castle in Ireland that still carries the family name over the door even though it is in ruins. It’s kind of funny that I have German and Irish family history – in parts of Pennsylvania, the Irish taught the German’s to speak English – you can imagine how that went over. It’s a different dialect over there.


We have found so many things that we never would have known if my mom hadn’t started family history; started from literally knowing nothing but a couple of names. Our ward challenge this year is to take 500 names to the temple – we always have crazy challenges in this ward. If you haven’t done some family history work, start now. Keep the covenants you made to do it. It is not only God’s work, it is also our work. Doing this work brings great blessings and power, as promised in the scriptures and by prophets. As Sister Elaine S. Dalton said, ‘With prophetic priorities come prophetic promises.’


Family history work is so important. Without it, those on the other side of the veil who are waiting to receive the further blessings that come from the gospel cannot receive them. We are the only ones who can perform the work necessary for them to progress in the gospel. They can only get so far on their own. We need to be there to help them the rest of the way.


I don’t know what I’ll run into while I’m on my mission. I know I will run into some challenges and that I will be stretched in ways that will help me grow. I’m grateful that I will be serving in a place that is not only rich in our nation’s and church’s history but also so much of my own family history. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to serve my ancestors as I’ve prepared to serve in the place they settled when they arrived on this continent. I know that families can be forever. I love my family and I love this gospel with all my heart. I’ve always loved the quote that says, “A missionary is a person who leaves their family for a short while so others can be with their family for eternity.” I know that this gospel brings peace and happiness and that through our Savior, Jesus Christ and his atonement, we can be saved and live with God and our families forever. I feel truly blessed that I am a part of this great work and that I can help bring that message of peace to those who have been prepared to hear and receive it. I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior with all that I am. I say and testify of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Almost there!

I have one more temple to go: Salt Lake. Monticello temple is even smaller than Vernal, it was cute. I get to speak in Church tomorrow, I'm excited. :) My birthday is on Monday. I'm going to the zoo on Tuesday. And I report to the MTC on Wednesday!!!! It's so weird to think that it's almost here.. for so long it seemed like my mission was taking forever to arrive but now it's practically here, and I am SO READY. :)






My mom made these two skirts. She's great. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tiny Temple


Not the most flattering picture of me - but this is the Vernal Utah temple. It is so cute and little, basically the size of 2 church buildings stacked on top of each other. I have an interesting way of describing things.. 4 more temples to go to before I leave in a week. I don't know if I'll be able to make it to them all! If not, I'll definitely finish up when I come back. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's Monday!

It's Monday, which means we get to hear from someone else (you get a break from my ramblings. Lucky you!) :)

                                       Jessica Cox
Questions:
1. Did President Monson's announcement about the age change affect your choice to serve a mission?
2. Why did you decide to serve a mission?
3. How long did it take to complete and submit your paperwork and receive your call?
4. What is your departure date and what have you done so far to prepare?
5. What is the best advice you've received so far?
6. What advice would you give a future missionary preparing to serve the Lord?
7. What are you most excited about, concerning your mission?
8. What are you most afraid of, concerning your mission?
9. What is your favorite missionary scripture/quote?
10. What things will you miss most about home?
11. How have you stayed positive while preparing for your mission?
12. What were your feelings upon opening your mission call?

Response:
The thought of serving a mission has always been in the back of my mind. I always figured that if I wasn't married by the time I was 21 then I would go on a mission. Then President Monson made the announcement for the new missionary ages and I knew that was meant for me. The only problem was that I didn't turn 19 for another 8 months but, I started my papers anyway because I was so excited! Needless to say it was a long wait before I got my call. But once my papers were submitted I got my call within 10 days! Finally my call had come! I had gotten a call from my post office at about 6:45 And I went and picked it up that morning and opened it up in front of my family. When I read that I would be serving in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission I got so excited and a little emotional because I knew that was where The Lord wanted me to be. And now coming Sept. 4 I will be sharing the joy that I have felt in my life with others, just like alma (alma 36:24)
The best advice I have gotten so far is to read, read, read the Book of Mormon an Preach my gospel! This has helped me in preparing for my mission a ton! My advice to someone who is preparing for a mission is to know your stuff and have a testimony of it. Because you can only convert someone as far as you are converted.
For me, the best thing to help me stay positive has been to know that as long as I am living the commandments, satan can have no power over me.
I know that The Lord is hastening his work. Which is why it is so important to live what you believe, whether you are going on a mission or not. I know that Christ is my savior and redeemer, without him we wouldn't be able to return to live with our Father in Heaven again. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet and is Gods mouthpiece. I know that the church is true and I am excited to share the truth of it with the people of Pennsylvania (and surrounding states).

Thanks for sharing, Jessica! You'll make one heck of a missionary. See you in the field! :)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Be Still My Soul



I listened to this song today, and let me tell you something, I needed it. The words brought me the comfort that I've been craving this past week (it doesn't hurt that his voice is perfectly soothing, either). This song is perfect advice for a struggling missionary. It's perfect for anyone who's struggling, really. Remember this song as you confront life's torrents, it will help you through.

                                                        "Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;
                                                        With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.
                                                        Leave to thy God to order and provide;
                                                        In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.
                                                        Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly friend
                                                        Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Family Time

My mother is a convert to the church. The sister missionaries in the area had the impression to walk down one last street and the house they walked up to was my mom's. Without them, she probably wouldn't be here today and I probably wouldn't be a future sister missionary.
My mom grew up in a state called PENNSYLVANIA, in a little place known as Lewistown. Lewistown is literally situated a couple hours west of my mission home, just barely outside the mission boundaries. My mom's family still lives out around there, and they are non-members. I don't know the exact reason I've been called to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission - not yet anyway. But let me tell you a story.

As I was preparing to submit my paperwork and go through the interviews with my Bishop and Stake President, I had this nagging feeling that I sort of shrugged off every time it'd come up. Every missionary I know has been called to serve somewhere completely foreign to them (not necessarily out of the country). They had no connection to the place that they knew of.  They'd go, come home, and share their experiences. As a younger person, you think that's all there is, that going on a mission means teaching people about the gospel and getting baptisms and sometimes you have fun. But now I know that every one of them knew they had been called to their specific mission for a reason and they knew what that reason was.
I kept wondering about how you can actually figure out why you are called to a specific mission. I sort of was having doubts if that was really possible. I'd never doubted things when it came to the church, and I felt a little ashamed that I was having these kinds of thoughts. So I'd shrug it off and tell myself I'd just figure it out later.
Well, when I opened my call, I knew it was possible to figure out why you were called to serve in a specific mission. Heavenly Father had placed me in an area that was rich with this country's history, our church's history, and my family's history. Okay, that's not much to go on. It's just cool at this point. But let me tell you what's happened since.
I don't know any of my mom's family, not really. We went out to visit a couple of times, but I was really young and don't remember anybody very well. I know some of their names but I can only match a few of them with faces. My mom stays in touch with some of them and when she told them I'd be serving my mission out there, they thought that was pretty awesome and asked if I could maybe visit them sometimes. All I could think of was. "They don't even know me and they're wanting me to come visit them? They're so nice!"
Another thing: if you've been following this blog, you'll know that my Stake President encourages all future missionaries to attend the temple 30 times from the time they get their temple recommend to the time they leave. At first I went because I had nothing else to do - not being in school and not having a job opens up a lot of time. I also knew that going to the temple would help me prepare for my mission. I've said before in one of my posts, temples are all about families. I've been able to take a lot of family names on my mom's side to the temple and do their work for them.
A couple weeks ago I realized that the thing I've been going back to more than anything else, is the temple. I've been feeling like it's the thing that has helped me most to prepare. I'm reading the Book of Mormon again and studying out of Preach My Gospel but the temple seems to have some sort of hold on me at the moment.
Last week I texted my Bishop and asked what I would be speaking on the in Sacrament Meeting the Sunday before I leave. Guess what he said: (Wait for it....) "Family history and covenants." I think there's a common theme here. :)
I don't know what will actually happen while I'm out there. But I think I have a lot of learning to do on a certain subject, and what better place to learn about it than where I came from? :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Now Is The Time To Serve A Mission!"

"The message of the restored gospel we share is absolutely vital... When that message is understood and lived, it can replace turmoil with peace, sorrow with happiness and provide solutions to life's persistent challenges."

"The worldwide study and application of the concepts in Preach My Gospel by every missionary has strengthened our capacity to proclaim the message of the Restoration and to teach the plan of salvation and other gospel principles... There is more devoted service in the field, stronger companion relationships, much more effective teaching, and improved retention of converts."

"I am constantly amazed at how the Holy Ghost matches the characteristics and needs of each missionary and couple to the widely varying circumstances of missionary service throughout the world."

"I have observed how some of the strongest, most capable elders and sisters are called to the United States and Canada to keep the roots of the Church strong there."

"My life has been richly blessed beyond measure because I served a mission."

These quotes are from Elder Richard G. Scott's talk: "Now Is The Time To Serve A Mission!" I love that he touches on so many different aspects and blessings of missionary work. These parts stood out to me the most as I read through this talk.

Now, to basically take this post somewhere you probably didn't think it would go:

This post is for those of us who live in the United States and Canada who are not called to serve foreign missions.
One thing that's been bothering me lately is that many missionaries tend to glorify foreign mission calls. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with being called to a foreign mission. There's nothing wrong with being excited for someone who's been called to Brazil, Russia, Africa, Antarctica, wherever. My own best friend will be serving in Argentina. My point is: missionaries who are from the United States being called to serve somewhere outside of the country are awesome. Missionaries who are from the United States being called to serve in the United States are awesome. All missionaries are awesome. The Lord needs every one of us and He needs us in different places. The thought I've always kept in the back of my mind ever since I got my mission call is, "Every mission is the most important mission." Its a good thing to think about if you're experiencing disappointment with where you've been called.
I've been called to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission. I guess I would have liked to have been called to a place that isn't the hard core version of Utah, weather-wise. In fact, I prayed "hard core" that I would be placed in a pretty-much-perfect-weather-all-year-round part of the world. It was disappointing to me that I'd have to suffer through unbearably hot and humid summers and cold-to-the-bone winters. But I can deal. "It'll build character" ha ha (Calvin and Hobbes reference).
It's not wrong to feel emotion, I'm not saying anything like that. Feeling is normal. But I feel a little heartbroken every time I hear a missionary say something like, "I was disappointed when I opened my call. I wanted to go somewhere exotic and cool but I got called to Kentucky." (Kentucky IS cool - home of the Kentucky Derby).  :) Keep in mind I'm not saying you're a bad person for feeling disappointment. I'm saying you're human.
I'm not telling you there's a certain way you should be feeling when you read that first paragraph that tells you where you will be serving for the next 18-24 months. It's different for everyone. If you are one of these missionaries called to serve in the U.S. and or Canada when you in fact grew up here, who felt disappointment for any reason, I want to tell you something: Your mission is important.
Scroll back up and read what Elder Scott said about missionaries called to serve in the United States and Canada. Your mission is so important. It is so important that the roots of the church stay strong here. Your mission is not worth less because you weren't called to serve out of the country. Think about what would happen if the church fell here. Your call is specific to the mission and areas in which you will serve. But the bigger picture here is that you are keeping the church strong in North America. Others are helping to build the kingdom of God elsewhere while you maintain and build upon what has been established in this part of the earth. Your mission is amazingly cool. :)
Maybe you've come to terms with your mission call and have acknowledged that it's not your decision where you go, that the Lord needs you there for a reason and you've begun to go about preparing with a smile and ultimately you've become excited and have discovered that Kentucky is the ultimate-awesome-est spot to serve and everyone else should be jealous that you get to serve there and they don't. Good for you. :) But some of us struggle a little more.
It's a personal journey. If you're not happy about it, hopefully you have the desire to be happy about where you will be serving. I can't tell you how to be happy about your mission call but there is something else I can tell you: Your mission is important. :)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Mission Call, In All Its Glory


Missionary Monday!

I'm going to try something new. I was interviewed a few weeks back by a sister who also had a blog dedicated to mission prep. I decided to be cool like her so I asked a few future sister missionaries who have been called to serve in the Pennsylvania Philadelphia mission to answer a few questions about how they've been preparing for their missions. "Missionary Monday" has a nice ring to it, so Mondays will be the day I post their interviews. I only got responses from two sisters which works out quite nicely since I only have 2 Mondays left anyway. I'm sort of too excited to do this. :)

Beauty


This might not directly relate to missionary work, but it is a beautiful message. It is definitely worth sharing.

This is a video that a group of young men for their young women after hearing President Monson say the the following: "A woman needs to be told she is beautiful, valued, worthwhile."


We love the young men of the Church. :)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Cool Picture? Yes.


The lad on the left left (hahaha - left left, that sounds funny) on his mission a year ago. The lad in the middle left on his mission almost 3 months ago. And that lass on the right, (me) she leaves on her mission in 2 weeks and a day. When this picture was taken I had no idea we'd all be out on missions at the same time. I've known both these boys for years and they're fantastic. This photo just got a bajillion times more awesome. :D

John Bytheway's "5 Scriptures That Will Help You Get Through Almost Anything"

As I was traveling down to St. George a couple weeks ago, I was listening to a CD by John Bytheway titled "5 Scriptures That Will Help You Get Through Almost Anything." I'd listened to it before but that was a long time ago so I decided to give it another go. I get car-sick when I read or write in the car, so I decided to listen to it again a couple days ago. I decided to write a blog post about it and put up a link to where you can buy or download the CD but I found this link to a condensed version of this talk instead, which I think is also great because you'll have this as well. There are things that were said on the CD that weren't included in this article in the New Era (obviously since it's a condensed version..) but there were some things in this condensed version that weren't said on the CD. If you don't have the CD, I highly recommend getting it. It is extremely applicable to missionaries. You will either have these questions yourself in your lifetime, or you will be approached by someone else who wants to know the answers. You should get this CD!!

Why do bad things happen to good people? Find the answers in the book where the answers will never change.


1. 1 Nephi 11:17  WE KNOW THAT GOD LOVES HIS CHILDREN
- We don't know everything. I'll be the first to admit that. We don't know how things will turn out, we don't have all the answers. But from this scripture, we KNOW that God loves His children.
- Sometimes challenges arise because of our disobedience. That is true. But it is also true that adversity is just part of life. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.  If you know and learn nothing else, know that God loves you.

"God already knows what we’re made of, but perhaps He wants us to learn what we’re made of. I think we would all agree that we learn more from our tough times than from our easy times. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We don’t know the meaning of all things, but we know God loves His children! And because He loves us, He will never desert us."

2. Moses 7:26-33  WE KNOW THAT GOD ALLOWS EVIL TO EXIST IN THIS WORLD
- God allows us to have our agency. If He didn't allow us our agency, His plan wouldn't be perfect. It would be corrupt, broken, and unjust. It would be pointless. The war in Heaven was fought over our agency. "Agency is essential to the Plan of Happiness" (Elder Quintin L. Cook, General Conference, April 2013).
- Enoch witnesses a vision of Satan looking upon the world and laughing. He also sees God looking down on the world, weeping. Enoch asks God: “How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?” God replies: “Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
“And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood” (Moses 7:32-33). This scripture also shows us the God loves His children. He weeps when we make bad decisions and love not one another, as He commanded. When we serve each other, we are serving God. He is sad when we don't do as he commands. But He allows agency, which allows man to sin. Because man was given agency, we were also give the gift of Jesus Christ's Atonement, which saves us from sin. As Elder Hafen put it in his book titled "Eve Heard All These Things": Because of "the Atonement of Jesus Christ, [we may] learn from our experience without being condemned by that experience" (p. 32).
But how often has God saved you from tragedy? How many times has he stopped something in its tracks before it had a chance to become worse? We won't know in this life. There is a line between what God causes and what God permits.

"Many of the bad things that happen are contrary to God’s will. But remember that man’s will is temporary, and ultimately God’s will is what will be done."

"The plan of happiness allows for agency, and therefore it also allows for evil. There is no flaw in the plan."

3. Alma 14:13  OUR WORK IS NOT FINISHED
- Alma and Amulek taught the people of Ammonihah, and what occurred there was a horrible scene. Women and children were thrown into a bonfire by men who reacted badly to what Alma and Amulek were preaching. They forced these two missionaries to watch. Amulek wondered aloud how they could go on witnessing such an occurrance and Alma responded: "The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory.” Amulek then says: “Perhaps they will burn us also.” Alma replies with: "“Be it according to the will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not” (Alma 14:10-13). John Bytheway quotes another on the CD saying: "No righteous person is taken before his time."

"After making such a statement, the obvious question becomes, what about those who die in such tragedies? Does that mean their work is finished? Perhaps their work on earth is finished, but apparently there is more work to do in the spirit world."

(I love this next part he added and how it compares with missionary work here on the earth!!):

"Death is just another milepost in the plan of salvation. One mission president noted the sadness experienced by families who send a missionary out into the field. He also observed the great joy experienced by the mission president and his wife as they welcome a new missionary into their area. The very same event brings different feelings to different people depending on where they are. Similarly, those who are left behind feel sadness at the passing of their loved one, but there is great joy in the spirit world as the departed spirit enters into the next phase of his or her eternal existence."

- Many wonder about the death of children, and why they are taken to early in this life. The prophet Joseph Smith said: "The Lord takes many away even in infancy, that they may escape the envy of man, and the sorrows and evils of this present world; they were too pure, too lovely, to live on earth; therefore, if rightly considered, instead of mourning we have reason to rejoice as they are delivered from evil, and we shall soon have them again.... All children are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and the moment that children leave this world, they are taken to the bosom of Abraham.  The only difference between the old and young dying is, one lives longer in heaven and eternal light and glory than the other, and is freed a little sooner from this miserable wicked world” (Joseph Smith, Teachings, p. 196-197).

"... don’t let this tragedy define your life! You still have your own mission. Like Alma and Amulek, perhaps you were spared because your work is not finished!"

4. Alma 7:11-12  THE ATONEMENT IS NOT JUST FOR SINNERS
- Sometimes, bad things that happen to us are because of someone else's actions, or they just happen. We have no control of it. If you read Alma 7:11-12, you'll notice that the word "sin" is nowhere to be found. Christ did not only suffer for our sins. He also suffered for things that happen to us that we may have no control over. (Pains, afflictions, temptations, sicknesses, and infirmities.)
- Tragedies like the women and children being thrown into the fire, shootings, bombings, September 11... they affect a lot of people that aren't directly involved. How do we move past that? How do we deal with it? These are usually times where many people question how God could allow something like this to happen. If we keep an eternal perspective and understand that God's will is what will happen, not necessarily that God caused such a thing, but that His will is what will happen, we can rely on the Atonement of Jesus Christ to pull us through.

5. D&C 101:32-36  ONE DAY, THE LORD WILL REVEAL ALL THINGS
- We don't know all things in this life, and we don't need to. If we did, we would know the answers to everything. A good example of this is a patriarchal blessing. The promises made to you in your patriarchal blessing are conditional, of course- they depend on your faithfulness and righteousness. But some things stated in a patriarchal blessing occur in this life, some things don't. Sometimes it's a continuous journey and something that began here continues after you've left this life. We just don't know everything and why everything happens. I think the question "WHY?" is the most sought after question in the universe. Scientists, physicists, doctors, politicians, everyone wants to know "Why?" We have to face the fact that we may never know in this life. Some things are explained, some things aren't, and some things that you thought were fact are proven different. God will reveal all things in His own time.

“And all they who suffer persecution for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake yet shall they partake of all this glory.
“Wherefore, fear not even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy is full” (D&C 101:35-36).

The Ultimate Answer
- The scriptures lead to the Savior. They testify of Him. The Scriptures can't get us through everything, just almost everything. Only the Lord Jesus Christ can help us through absolutely everything. The scriptures can certainly help and point us in the right direction but they are not everything. The scriptures lead us to Him. The way to be happy is through Christ. Satan would have you believe there is another way to be happy but the truth is, there isn't. We find joy in the Lord. He was tempted by Satan, yet He remains without sin. He atoned for us, He knows us better than we know ourselves. He can help us through anything and everything.

"Because of Jesus Christ, we can remove the word “almost.” Jesus didn’t almost conquer death and hell; He conquered it. Jesus didn’t almost accomplish the infinite and eternal Atonement; He accomplished it."

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These scriptures are critical to missionary work. Tragedies happen every day. We want to know the answers to all things. We mess up, we sin. We see evil all the time. But when we know that God loves us, that He allows evil in the world in order for us to grow and experience life, to decide for ourselves what path we will choose, that we have a purpose here on earth, that the work goes on, that we can become better people through the Atonement, that we can use it to overcome our personal trials and that one day all things will be made known, and remember that the Savior suffered all things on our behalf, that through Him we are saved, we can make it through EVERYTHING.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Gratefulness To Spare

I teach CTR 7 in Primary and one of my kids was baptized yesterday. I had the opportunity to attend with some of the other kids from our class. It was one of the sweetest feelings I've felt in a really long time and it was an amazing thing to have the other kids there to witness it and be a part of his special day. He was positively shiny. I caught his eye and I couldn't help smiling at him and when he smiled back I could just see how happy he was. I am so proud of the decision he made to be baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Today in class we talked about the gift of the Holy Ghost. This was a perfect lesson for today and I was able to incorporate some of the things that were said at his baptism into the lesson. The kids are always so excited when we talk about baptism. They like to figure out who's birthday is next and they get really excited and happy for that person. It's awesome. :)
His is the only baptism I'll be here for, which makes me a little sad because I love those kiddos so much. But I'm so grateful for the opportunity and calling I've had to serve these precious angels and teach them all about being baptized. They're all so smart, they already know all the answers. But I love teaching them.
I know that baptism is a saving ordinance, that it is required of a person in order to enter the kingdom of God. Every person is born with the light of Christ and once someone is baptized, they are confirmed a member of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by worthy Melkizadek Priesthood holders. The Holy Ghost is our best friend. If we live worthily and make good choices, we can have him as our constant companion. When we make bad choices, he leaves us. But we can always have him back when we repent and strive to make good decisions and work to be the best person we can be. He can help us feel better when we're sad, scared, or at a loss of what to do in a situation. He is especially aware of our needs and he directs us to make righteous decisions. We feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love for us through him. The Holy Ghost is part of the Godhead. Heavenly Father testifies of Christ, Christ testifies of the Father, and the Holy Ghost testifies of both. The Holy Ghost testifies of truth - he will never lie to you.
A couple things that were brought up during the baptism are that the Holy Ghost helps you make it back home to Heavenly Father, but he can't do it all alone - you have to do the rest. You are responsible for your own actions and you need to do all you can yourself. He will help strengthen you when you're weak and comfort you when you're in need of comfort. But he doesn't shout at you. His is a still small voice and we need to listen very carefully in order to hear him. When we are making righteous decisions, we can have him with us, to help us, always. When we're making good choices, Satan has less of an influence in our lives and we can hear the Holy Ghost more easily.
I'm terrified to begin my mission. This is a scary time in my life - leaving my home, not knowing what to expect. I know what I'm supposed to do and be as a missionary, but I can't predict what will happen. I'm afraid of the unknown - aren't we all? I told my Primary kids this during the lesson today and I asked what I should do. One sweet girl said, "Pack up all your stuff in a pink suitcase and take it with you." :) Another piped in and said "You should ask Heavenly Father for the Holy Ghost to help you feel better." I told her I'd already done that but I was still worried. She said "Keep praying!"
Isn't it awesome to know that we can always pray to our Heavenly Father, numberless times, and that He will answer? Every night when I go to bed, I pray and ask my Heavenly Father for strength and courage to face what I don't know. And every night I fall asleep feeling calm and like I can do anything. My courage is slowly building and I'm able to be more excited about serving a mission instead of being crippled by terrorizing fear. My Heavenly Father loves me and answers my prayers.
I'm grateful for the opportunity and the calling I've received to teach others about the Gospel. I'm not totally knowledgeable about the gospel or other things. I'm only 19. But I know that the Holy Ghost testifies of truth and that if I live worthily, I will have him with me always, especially as a missionary. I know this Church is true. I know that God loves me. I know that He loves you. I know that Jesus Christ died for me and atoned for my sins so that I wouldn't have to go through this life alone. He gave me a loving family and wonderful friends. I know I'm going to my specific mission for a specific reason. All mission calls are inspired. I'm grateful that I live in this dispensation, in a time where the Gospel of the Lord will never be taken again from the earth. I'm grateful to be one of his missionaries at this time, during this wonderful movement of new missionaries flooding the earth, to bring the world his truth. I know that while on my mission he will mold and build me into the person I was meant to become and will continue to do so after I am released as a missionary and as I carry on with my life. I love the people of my mission already. This is the best decision I've ever made and I hope that never changes.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Take A Look-See


Here's the map of my mission. Eastern Pennsylvania, eastern half of Maryland, all of Delaware, bottom half of New Jersey, and a teeny-tiny bit of New York. I can't point out where my mother group up (it's not on the map...) but it's about an inch to the left, outside the border of this picture, if that made any sense. That's how close my family is. Cool huh??

24 DAYS

We took a trip down south this past weekend.
St. George and Manti temples happened on Monday and Tuesday.




I absolutely love the Manti temple. They're all amazing but Manti is so cool. Loved it.
Bountiful temple happened on Wednesday.

 
Sad story for my little sister: both St. George and Manti baptistries were closed the days we went so she couldn't do baptisms. Bummer. :(

Temples are awesome, you guys. The fact that families are so important that there are places on this earth where special ordinances are performed for the family is AWESOME. Families are forever. There is life after death and our families are part of it. Our families will be there. I am so grateful that I can be with my family forever. I'm grateful for the sealing power that allows it. I'm grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, and what He has done for me, individually, and for my family. I can't wait to teach people about forever families.

5 more temples.