Monday, November 29, 2010

Let virtue garnish our thoughts

Virtue is all about safe-guarding your mind and heart from outside influences. As missionaries we have to be extra on-guard, don't we? I learned from studying virtue that the best way to combat him is to proactively fill our minds with the Word of God, through hymns and scripture. It also helps to think of the love I have for people here in Lancaster. When I picture their faces and all the things they need from me it snaps me back into focus. It seems that the Lord was helping me go back to the basics this week and just focus on the simple things.

Sounds like Thanksgiving was fabulous! Sister Snell and I had a sweet potato. mash and carrots with brown gravy. It was delicious :) we played the Thankful ABCs during the day between talking to people. I am working really hard talking to everyone come rain, shine or snow (it is snowing here now). The Lord is blessing us for our efforts. Sacrifice brings for the blessings of heaven...I know that.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I cannot believe that Thanksgiving is this week. So odd! This will be the second Thanksgiving in a row that I am out of the country. I've been thinking a lot about Galilee this week (that's where we were at this time last year) and remembering the amazing spiritual nourishment I received there. Wow! The things I experienced there changed my whole life.

My studies this week on the subject have been inspiring. Do you read about the attribute in PMG? Chapter 10 just has a short paragraph on each attribute and coordinating scriptures. It is a great place to kick off. As I was studying I remembered a talk that Sister Bullock gave in my first Zone Conference. She talked about the three kinds of love being, "I will love you if...," "I love you because...," and "I love you even though...." I decided to give them names. The first is conditional love. In order to receive the love you must meet certain conditions. This is the love of the world. The world says, "We will love you if you look and act like us." A bad group of friends says to a teenager, "We will love you if you smoke with us." A manipulative partner says, "I will love you if you do what I want." The second kind of love is very familiar to us. I call it reactive love. This is the husband who returns from a long day of work and says to his wife, "I love you because you cook such nice meals." This is the Relief Society sister who turns to her visiting teaching companion and says, "I love you because you are always prompt." Expressing reactive love is nice and helps build others, but at the end of the day, reactive love is still conditional love. The only difference is the conditions have already been met.

The Saviour loves neither conditionally nor re-actively. I like to call the Saviour's love proactive love. He is always the first to reach out and he expects nothing in return. His love is Charity. Charity says to the leper, "I love you even though others shun you." Charity says to the little children, "I love you even though I am tired." It was through charity that the Saviour asked the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers even though they mocked, scourged and crucified him. It was through charity, proactive love, that Jesus Christ suffered for our sins even though he knew many of us would not accept his sacrifice. We know we must have Charity to enter into the Kingdom of God (Moroni 7) and it occurred to me that in order to say "I love you even though..." we must be given "even though" experiences. We could not love those who persecuted us if we were not persecuted! I now see that I can thank the Lord for all of the "even though" experiences I've had in my life and while on my mission.

Sister Snell continues to be a strength and a joy to serve with! The Lord is blessing us for our desires to work hard. I am becoming stronger in spirit and in skill. I had some "aha!" moments this week when I realised just how much the Lord has been blessing me. He has blessed me a lot. When I step back and look at it, I am shocked at how He has enabled me. Here's an example: We have a former investigator, Joe, who has been on my mind a lot lately. I only met him twice but last night I saw this young man at least a hundred yards ahead of us. It was from the back AND it was dark. There's no way I could know who he was, but the Spirit said, "There's Joe." It came so strong, I almost just shouted his name, but I decided instead to power walk and catch up with him. Besides, he seemed taller than Joe had been and we were in a totally different area. I was doubting the Spirit (don't do that). As we nonchalantly passed him, I turned, "Good evening, sir. Oh! Joe?" Smoooooth : ) But yes. It was him and we had a good conversation. His little brother just went into the hospital for a serious mental breakdown and we were able to provide comfort. It's so good to feel the Spirit working through you, even for something as small as that. There are others ways the Lord has magnified me. Simply staying awake during lessons can be a miracle when I consider how tired I am/should be. My eyes are also being opened (no pun intended...teehee) to everything I need to improve. There's a lot. But it's coming. And Sister Snell is very patient with my shortcomings. I am trying to be better about using prayer as a return and report system. In the mornings I ask what I should work on that day and at night I report on how it went. If I can really learn how to include the Lord that way, I know it will change my life.

We have three new investigators this week! I won't jinx them, but as they progress I will let you know more about them.

The weather is very cold. People were right when they said the dampness adds to the chill. But, as cheesy as it sounds, being filled with the Spirit can really keep you warm. There are nights where we tract for hours and I don't seem to feel a thing until I walk into the flat and realise just how cold I am! Miracle. The boots I brought with me (and the Dansko shoes) are PERFECT. I feel so, so, so, so blessed and lucky that I have had no shoe problems!

We listened to the Nauvoo Pageant CD while cleaning our flat this morning. It brought back such great memories. Nauvoo is so precious to me. I want to go every summer for the rest of my life!! Can I do that?

Missions are just like meat tenderizers for your heart. I do not want to leave England at all and yet I would give anything to be with you on a cozy Rexburg Thanksgiving! I would just cry for the joy of being with our family! Makes no sense at all.

Oh! I got your letter of the "admirations." That meant a whole lot to me! You really lose your identity as a missionary. Everyone in the ward loves you, but at the same time, they don't really love you....they love the missionaries. It's wonderful to be swallowed up in the service of the Lord, but it is also touching to remember there are people who love me without the tag : )

President Bullock is inspired. Again.

Tranfers are so inspired. I NEEDED Sister Snell. She has such a desire to be exactly obedient and loves the work! I came out of the MTC so full of hope and drive, and Sister Snell has helped me have that back. It feels wonderful! I really have hope that I'll be able to be the missionary I want to be. Hallelujah! We are getting on really well. We have fun finding together and our teaching styles are very compatible. It's great going out and talking to people. We both find it fascinating! When Sister Snell sees a problem she just charges it with faith that we can do it with the Lord's help. I feel that part of myself reawakening. I just feel like myself again!

We had a great experience with obedience this week! The ward really wanted us to come participate in the talent show. We really wanted to go, but upon reflection of our calling, realised attendance would not add to our key indicators and we decided against it (I was going to play something on the you see this was a big sacrifice). We bundled up and prepared for an evening of cold, damp tracting in faith that we would be blessed for our desire to find those searching for the gospel. The Lord saw our hearts and knew our sacrifice and we met the most amazing people tracting! One young man, Chris, began reading the Book of Mormon that moment and called us later that night with questions. The Lord truly blessed us for our desire to be obedient! Woohoo! It's going to be a GREAT transfer.

Brother Appleby passed the sacrament for the first time yesterday! It was a joy to see : )

My study on Hope this week focused primarily on the phrase in Preach My Gospel that says, "Hope is an abiding trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises to you." I went through my Patriarchal Blessing and my setting apart blessing and wrote down the gifts and blessings the Lord has promised me personally in connection with missionary work. I pondered on those promises. Do I trust that the Lord will fulfill these promises? How am I showing that trust? I realised that I show that trust by living as if I had already received those blessings. I determined to begin exercising the gifts I have been promised even though I don't see that I have them! I'm going to step into the dark and see if the Lord doesn't light my way.

Another amazing thing I learned about hope is that it is directly connected to repentance. Hope comes through the Atonement (Moroni 7: 41). It comes through using the Atonement. What do we use the Atonement for? To become "At-one" with REPENT. In Alma 22:16 Aaron says to King Lamoni's father, "If thou wilt repent of all of thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest." WOW! If we ever need hope, we just need to find something to repent of (none of us should have to look very far). Once we experience the power of the Atonement that hope with be revived within us. Amazing.

I am really finding joy and satisfaction in the work! I feel honored to be able to serve the Saviour in this way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

She's still in Lancaster!

I get to stay in Lancaster! Sister Anderson was transferred to Swinton (Manchester area) and I have a new senior companion: Sister Snell from Colorado! Sister Snell is so easy to work with! I've only spent 24 hours with her and it's been amazing. I know that I am going to learn a lot from her!

We were discussing last night about how much we appreciate serving in an exactly obedient mission. President Bullock told us last interviews that over ninety percent of the mission really strives to follow all the rules exactly. I guess not all missions are like that. There are a lot of missionaries out there that are simply disobedient! But not here! It makes transfers so much easier knowing you don't need to ask your new companion, "So...which rules do you keep?" No. We follow all the rules and we do it with our whole hearts! In the England Manchester Mission that goes without saying, and so much time and energy is saved because of it! Time and energy that can be put into the work.

So you got the study schedule from President? [she's referring to a program in the mission this Christmas where they focus on one Christ-like attribute a week until Christmas. We have been invited to join her.) Isn't it amazing!? Becoming Like Him could not have been more perfectly timed. I have been needing a lift and studying about faith was the perfect thing! I found a talk by President Bednar ("Seek Learning by Faith") which really affected me. He said, "Faith in Jesus Christ is inextricably tied to, and results in, hope in Christ for our redemption and exaltation. And assurance and hope make it possible for us to walk to the edge of the light and take a few steps into the darkness - expecting and trusting the light to move and illuminate the way." President Bullock told me at interviews that I am lingering at the edge of the light and need to step into the darkness. I came home thinking: what is the darkness? When I studied faith and its connection to miracles I suddenly discovered it! The darkness, the thing I am most scared of, is faith that I can make miracles happen. I studied the miracles of Jesus Christ. Do you know how many times he told people, "Thy faith hath made thee whole?" A lot. Miracles are dependent upon our faith and we show our faith through our actions (ex: the woman with an issue of blood pressed through the crowds; Barnabas cried to the Savior and walked, blindly, to find him). At my first Zone Conference President Bullock shared about miracles and a lot of of it has lingered with me. This week's study of faith strengthened my resolve to live worthy of witnessing miracles. I'm pushing my limits into the darkness! Watch me fly!