22 July 2014

Six Months Better

Today I've officially been a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for six months. Let me tell you, it's been a crazy, wonderful six months.
As a missionary I put things like work, school, family, and relationships on hold for eighteen months. You may be wondering, why would I do such a thing? Why would I leave behind a wonderful job, all of my friends at home and school, my family, and everything to go out for eighteen months and do nothing but serve and preach the gospel? I'll tell you why. Because it's true. Because it's Christ's gospel and He has asked me to serve. Because I know that there is no other way that we can fully be happy unless we follow Christ's gospel. And let me tell you, I've never been happier doing anything in my life!
Everyday I go out and talk to people. All kinds of people. I'm meeting people that I would have never met before if I had not gone on a mission. I hear people's stories of faith and trials and joys and hardships. They tell me of how they've found Christ in their lives and I've shared many tender moments with them. As I talk to each person I feel our Heavenly Father's love for them. I'm able to love people I only talk to for a few minutes and catch a glimpse of what God sees in them. It's incredible.
There are days when I miss my old life (or at least I think I do). I'll hear people talking about the latest movie or singing to a new song or raving about a new book, and sometimes I wish that I could join with them and watch that movie or sing that song or read that book. But then I remember my purpose. Not just as a missionary, but as a Daughter of God. My purpose is to help others feel the love He has for them just as I feel it. I remember not only why I came out in the first place, but also why I choose to continue to serve.
I just want to share my testimony with you. The one I've been able to grow out here on a mission. It's not perfect, but it's mine. I know that Christ did live and die for us. I can feel it. I can feel His presence in my life and His comfort. He is helping me to make my weak things become strong. I get to see Him working on me everyday. I know that God does answer our prayers. I've never known it more then I do now. I've tried it, I've asked Him if He does. And He answered me in His own way, in His own time. I know, without a doubt, He hears every word, every complaint, that I tell Him. I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ's gospel on this Earth. How? He asked questions and God answered Him. Just like I ask questions and God answers me. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet in these latter days and restore not only His gospel, but His priesthood power on Earth. As I've read the Book of Mormon I've been able to gain this knowledge. I read it with an open heart, just looking for answers, looking for peace, looking for comfort, looking for direction. I've received all of these things and more as I've done so. Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us because we are His children. He wants nothing more then for us to return to Him and He's willing to do whatever it takes to get us there. Satan is real, but so is Christ. And Christ is stronger and can help us to win the war we're fighting against the adversary.
I plead with you, read the Book of Mormon. Test it out. Give it a go. We can never have too much knowledge. I promise you that if you start to read the book with an open and sincere heart that God will let you know that it's true.
I love what my mission is helping me become. It's allowing God to shape me into all I'm meant to be, and for that I am grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

03 July 2014

Why Weaknesses?

That's a question I ask myself all of the time. But improving is part of life, right? And sometimes we want to know what we can improve, so we ask others. Because no one likes to admit to faults and weaknesses. So I did just that, I asked Heavenly Father what I can do to become a better missionary. Here's how he answered. This is a scripture found in the Book of Mormon. I'm just going to break it down and tell you what I've learned.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness."
First we have to come to Him and ask. We have to be willing to see that we're not perfect. I knelt down in prayer and asked, "Heavenly Father, what am I doing wrong? Why aren't I as happy as I know I can be? What do I need to change?"
He definitely gave me my answer. In a loving way He pointed out what I could be better that. He showed me what I'm not perfect at. It was really hard to hear, even though it was done lovingly. I didn't expect to be so angry with my answer, but I was. My flaws were being pointed out and I didn't like it. I then asked "Why am I given this weakness? Why me? Can't someone else have this? I don't want it."
"I give unto men weakness that they may be humble."
I was definitely humbled. Because I'm not perfect and I had to have God show me those imperfections. That was super hard. But the more I prayed, the more my anger subsided. He gave me these weaknesses so that I would not only be humble, but so I would turn to Him in faith to become a better person.
"And my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me."
I'm learning more and more about how Christ's Atonement applies in my life. I'm coming to realize that it's not just to make up for grievous sins (though it does do that). His Atonement also makes up for my imperfections. Because in that Garden there was a moment where He felt everything single thing I would feel in life. He felt it and He overcame it. He knows the perfect solution to my weaknesses because He's gone through them and found that solution for me. He's found that solution for all of us. All He asks that we do to receive it is to "humble [ourselves] before [Him]." We need to come to Christ and let Him know that we can't do it alone, that we need Him. That's when He can help us, when our hearts are open to hearing Him.

"For if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."
We come to Him, knowing that He knows the answers. We come to Him knowing that we cannot do it alone. And we come to Him with the faith that He has overcome our weaknesses before so that we wouldn't have to do it alone. When we do that He is able to stand with us and strengthen us. He speaks with us through spiritual promptings and guides us through overcoming our weakness. He's already cleared that path, we just have to follow. And when we do follow, we'll see our weakness become stronger and stronger until suddenly it's not a weakness. We're able to strengthen the weak spots in our armor because of Him.

It doesn't just end at one weakness though. Through Christ, we can be made complete. He can help us make all of our weaknesses stronger. As soon as I feel like, "yes, I'm done. I did it. I made that weak thing strong and now I'm good," my Heavenly Father lovingly points out another weakness. But He also gives me the comfort that I can do this and that He's proud of what I'm becoming. Overcoming weaknesses can feel like the burden that never goes away. But I also believe that it's one of the burdens in life that will bring us the closest to understanding Christ and all that His Atonement covers. We all have weaknesses, whether we want to or not. We're not perfect. But I know that it's possible to learn from those weaknesses and become the change that we want to. We can do hard things with Christ.

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27