Well, it is now bright and early in the morning, and I will see if I can try to get all my thoughts out in some orderly manner!
But to start off, things have been so good here! Sadly, I am approaching departure this next week, and I am dreading every step coming up to it! I love K-stad so much. It has just become a part of my heart.
I've come to find that mission areas are kind of like band-aids. Okay--don't judge too harshly, yet--I know that sounds weird, but there is a point! Okay. So, band-aids. The longer you leave them on, the more it hurts to rip them off...
Well, a mission is kind of the same. If you stay in an area not too long, it hurts to leave--but not too bad. But once you've been somewhere for quite a while, you just start to feel at home. You're used to it, and you have just bonded with this place and the people, and that makes pulling off the band-aid just that much harder! I will be so sad to leave, but I am also excited to just find even more people to fall in love with!
Because somehow out here on the mission, you find this never ending supply of love that just keeps coming--a never ending supply that just makes you wonder how its possible that you could have the capacity to just keep loving! I still don't understand it all quite yet, but I am very grateful for it!
Okay. So this week has just been lovely! We had an amazing Specialized Zone Training! Our Mission President and his wife--the Beckstrands--and the Assistants came and spoke with us--it was on "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary". I don't think I have ever been more inspired from a conference!
In preparation, we were all asked to read, "Becoming a Consecrated Missionary", by Tad R. Callister. I just keep reading and re-reading this talk. It is so amazing, and I love how much it just points out everything I can do better! Haha! Some people hate that, but I have found that it actually works for me and inspires me to want to be better!
One thing I absolutely loved...okay--well, I will share two of them:
1) "If you only change your behavior, then you will be the same person you were when you left home, subject to the same problems that plagued you then. But if you change your nature, you will go home a new man or woman, with the power and discipline to conquer your old Goliaths.
If you get up at 6:30 am because your companion does, you have merely changed your behavior. If you get up whether or not he or she does, you have changed your nature. If you speak good words but entertain bad thoughts, you have only changed your behavior, if you also change your thoughts you have also changed you nature."
I love this! And this really applies to everyone in whatever circumstance they may be in. If we want to change something about ourselves, we cannot simply change or adjust things on the surface-- we have to dig deep. Think of what truly could be holding us back and do everything possible to fix those things, too.
2) "Each of us might appropriately ask, "What lack I yet to become a consecrated missionary?" There is no escaping it. God will demand our all. If we are shy or reserved-- God will compel us to change--to be bold. He will jerk us out of our comfort zone again and again. If we are lazy or idle, He will push us and pull us even when we are exhausted. If we are disobedient, He will press us until we have a child-like submissiveness. He will not let us be content with our weaknesses.
"Whatever the weakness may be that holds us back from becoming a consecrated missionary, the Lord has promised that if we have faith in Him, and humble ourselves before Him, that He will make weak things become strong unto us. I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe He expects immediate progress, and with that progress comes consecration. I believe that He recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may seem."
I just love that so much--the Lord will put us through trials because He knows what we can become because of them. And we have His promise that He will always be there--especially when we are striving to come unto Him.
And before I go, one amazing story needs to be told!
Okay, so our really cool investigator--the artist--met with us this week, and we had dinner at a wonderful member's house. We were just talking afterwards, and I just asked him if he had any questions on what he had been reading from the Book of Mormon...
He said, "I don't really have questions, but I am sad because I didn't bring my copy--and it is filled with post-it notes with all my thoughts!" He then said that he is a part of this big artists' group on Facebook with over 17,000 members from all over the world, and that he posted a picture showing a verse from the Book of Mormon, and commented something like: "Does this not just speak truth to you?"He then asked them for feedback on what they thought. He said, "I just cannot get over how beautifully this book is written, so I just wanted to share it!" He said that he received a lot of feedback--and many, if not almost all, comments were extremely positive and supportive!
While he was talking, my mouth--and Syster Howlett's--were just open the whole time! We were just in shock that our investigator is just so in love with the Book of Mormon that he shared it with 17,000 other people and invited them to read it because of how much he has just loved what he has read!
Syster Howlett and I are just imagining someday in the future hearing about somebody who became a member because this investigator/painter in Sweden once posted a verse from the Book of Mormon! Haha! That would be/will be so cool!
Well. I am here to tell you that there is a reason he wanted to post that--because it spoke truth to his soul, and it can to yours, too. I know that to be true, because it has happened for me--time and time again--and I have seen it happen to many others.
The Book of Mormon is true. It is a witness of Christ and it can bring you closer to Him, if you will allow it.
If any of you have felt that--but are not sure if you still do you--are not alone. That is why the Lord continues to counsel us to search and pray constantly. To never be content being unsure or recieving just one answer. One answer is amazing--but that is just for the period of time right then--or with whatever it is that you are going through. It is not, however, going to help you through every single struggle you will come to face.
That is why the Lord has asked us to COME UNTO HIM always. We need to be constantly led back to the right path. We all need to make little adjustments in our courses, and as we seek guidance in our every day life, we will not have to wonder why we are not feeling that mighty change of heart any more.
I think we could all probably benefit a little bit from Alma 5--especially verse 26, "And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?"
There is no point on the course of life that is too far off from returning back to the center. Christ is at the center, reaching out to each one of us--no matter how close or far we may feel.
I love you all, and even more so--the Savior loves you.