Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week 10: in which everything I've ever believed becomes incredibly real, and in which I witness a series of undeniable miracles

Wow. This is my last Preparation Day at the MTC! And I'm thinking that the Lord is getting me supercharged with the Spirit to prepare me to head out to the field. This week, I have seen Christ's Atonement in action, I've seen people's hearts completely transform, and I've seen the power of charity, the pure and perfect and overpowering love of Christ.

But firstly, let me say HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my beautiful cousin, Laura! I love you Laura dear! I miss our cousin dinners together, and can't wait to make some great Chinese food for you and Thomas when I get home :)

Thank you so so so so much for the package! The dresses fit perfectly, and I got so many compliments on my black and white one yesterday at church! Pam, you are a miracle worker!

Does Krispy Kreme deliver?  (Thanks Tinah!)

New dress and New Elders from Poquoson Ward...Nick Hansen and Tyler Camarena

Last Thursday, we got our travel plans! It was a very thrilling moment, let me tell you. I leave the MTC at 6 am, leave SLC at 9:45 and arrive at Los Angeles at 10:46 (this time is all local to where I'll be). I leave LA at 12:55 pm and arrive in Hong Kong at 6:50 pm on Wednesday. So I'm not quite sure the time difference, or how long that flight will be. It will be pretty ridiculous though.

Official Travel Docutments

I was talking to my branch president's wife on Sunday, and she mentioned Sister Romney's talk that she'd recently given all about love and charity... And I thought to myself, "Sister Romney... did she speak in Relief Society last Sunday? That name does seem familiar..." And then as she continued to talk about what this mysterious Sister Romney had said, it finally dawned on me that she was talking about Mitt Romney's wife. And then I remembered, "Hey, isn't there an election going on this year? Huh. Weird." Yeah, I guess you could call the MTC a virtually impervious bubble. It's kind of nice, but I'm ready for some real-world action!

Elder Morton: Tai Jimuih, haven't you ever run barefoot in the grass before?
Tai Jimuih: Yes.
Elder Morton: Isn't it great?
Tai Jimuih: No.
Elder Morton: With the dew? And the fresh-cut grass? And the butterflies?
Tai Jimuih: No.

Elder Morton (looking at our salads): How can you even eat that? Much less enjoy it? It reminds me of the scene in Ice Age where the animals don't have any food, so Sid picks up the pinecone, crunches on it, and says, "Mmmm, pinecone."

 Elder Bishoff and Elder Howard--Zone Leaders

On Thursday, I accompanied an elder who was auditioning to sing a musical number at a devotional. It went alright, nothing spectacular. But afterwards, Sister Ainge and I decided to stay and listen to the other people who were auditioning, and WOW was that a good idea. My favorite was a seventeen-elder a cappella version of 'Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.' No lie, when the basses came in with the melody on the second verse, I could feel the vibrations in my kneecaps. It was incredible. And then one elder sang 'This is the Christ.' I've heard that song so many times, but that day it really struck me. I couldn't get one of the lines out of my head for the rest of the week: "How many drops of blood were spilled for me?" The Atonement was so real. If Christ hadn't suffered that pain for me, it would have been mine to bear. I'm a real wimp when it comes to pain. I couldn't have done that. And he loved me enough that he chose to suffer in my place. How dare I waste that but not turning to him and serving him every chance I get? And how dare I waste a moment on this mission? There are billions of people out there who don't know what Christ has done and can still do for them. This is the most important work there is. And the most miraculous thing about it is that people can know it for themselves. They don't have to just trust me and take my word for it. Heavenly Father promises that anyone who asks with real intent can know the truth. It's a miracle, but just one of the miracles I've witnessed this week.

Another set of miracles that I've seen this week reminds me of a scripture from 2 Nephi 4:20. Nephi writes, "My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep." I love that image; God leads us through our afflictions. He doesn't always take them away, because those trials are essential to give us experience and help us grow. But he doesn't leave us alone. He guides me through every day, and I've seen how he is guiding those around me as well.

This was my last week as coordinating sister, and let me tell you, that was the most miraculous calling I've ever had. I am so grateful I had the opportunity to care for and help those sisters. There were moments when I was standing there comforting a sobbing sister, and praying in my head, "Heavenly Father, what in the world can I do?" And I opened my mouth, and something came out. It wasn't me; it was a power so much greater than me. And two weeks later that same sister, the sister who was emotionally harrowed up and completely broken, told me that the trials that she's experienced here (and let me tell you, they were harder than anything I've ever faced) were the best thing that ever happened to her. She could never be the missionary she is now without them. That is the Atonement: the power to change and to become infinitely stronger through Christ.

Yesterday in Relief Society, (women's meeting at church) our guest speaker told us how the death of her 8 year old son broke her. And then saved her. It brought her to Christ in a way that nothing else could. Later that night, one of the elders inanother district lost his grandmother. At the same time, another sister was struggling with some incredible emotional burdens. And I saw both of those missionaries pick themselves up today. They're still struggling, and will keep struggling. But they are letting their trials humble them, shape them, and make them more like Christ. Christ suffered more than any of us, and he knows how to comfort us and to save us. We just have to let him do it. And that's why I'm serving this mission, because people need to hear this message. The word 'gospel' means 'good news.' And this is the best news heaven has to offer!

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