This week has been one of the most unexpected, heartbreaking, "throw you for a loop" weeks of my mission as well as one of the most changing and growth inspiring. Unfortunately, I can't tell you about most of what happened out of respect to the individuals involved, but I can try and tell you about what I've been learning, lessons that are changing my life and mission.
The past few days the gospel of Jesus Christ, faith, repentance, the Plan of Salvation, the Atonement, the Restoration ALL of it became real for me. The message I carry, who I represent, everything became so much more than a happy message or an important task. This is salvation and its real. I saw an individual this week who wants this more than anything and he may not be able to receive it at this time due to mistakes of his past. I saw an individual open and humble, trying to do what's right for him and his family. I saw this individual hurt because of our words and what we weren't able to give him. I will never forget the moment he said, "You've had this your whole life, I didn't know." Have I really gone this long without realizing how much this means? Of course I haven't, I know how important this message is and how much people need it and want it, but I feel like my scope, the whole picture just got wider, brighter and clearer. I was reminded this week that each of us has a story-- trials and challenges we've faced, things we've give-up and things we've overcome. Our story is the sum of experiences that have gotten us to where we are today. That's true of me, my companion and every person we meet. Only one person knows each of our stories and that is Jesus Christ. As His called and chosen representative and as members of the Church, we may not know the story of the individuals we teach, serve, interact with and love but He does! We are the Savior's hands in ministering to the one. He knows their story.
This past week we had a mission tour with Elder Christensen and Elder Ardern of the Seventy, as well as heard from President Sperry for the last time before he goes home. [As a side-note, I love President and Sister Sperry so much. They are like my second parents. I know they were called of God for this mission at this time. I would do anything they asked with out a second thought. I am also excited for President and Sister Burtin because I know just like the Sperrys they have been called of God at this time, for this mission. One of the greatest blessings of a mission is learning from, trusting and obeying with exactness your mission president as a man, called by a prophet of God, to preside over you.] One of the things that Elder Ardern shared hasn't left my thoughts. He stated that we have 18 months to 2 years to labor with ALL our heart, might, mind and strength and the rest of our lives to think about how we labored. As I thought about that I thought about the promise President Sperry asked of us on the first day of our mission, that we would be exactly obedient and give our very best effort so as to finish our mission without regrets. I thought about how the same could be said of our lives. We have a short time on earth to give our very best effort, to labor with all of our heart, might, mind and strength and the rest of eternity to think about how we labored. It made all of the silly excuses, challenges and roadblocks of life seem very small. It made me want to give EVERYTHING I have and am to the Lord so that on the day I meet my Maker, I have no regrets. As President Sperry has taught us, on the day I stand at the judgement seat I don't want any rebellion in me.
I know that Christ lives. I know that He suffered and died for us. I know that His Atonement is both collective and individual. I know that through Him we can be prepared to return to our Father's presence and I know that He stands at the head of His Church. If we trust His chosen servants we will never be lead astray.
Mahal na mahal ko kayong lahat.
Filipino Fun Fact:
This isn't really a fun fact about the Filipinos but I just wanted to throw it in down here... I got to see Sister Ayub who is still assigned in our last area. So has changed and grown so much. I am so proud of her. She is now a senior companion!! I also got to hear about our area and the growth that has continued to happened. Do you remember me telling you about Evelyn, the less-active women I smiled at and she attended church. Her husband was drinking, smoking, doing drugs and beating her. Everytime we went we did everything and anything to get him to listen and feel respected rather than intimidated or judged by us. My very last night there we FINALLY got him to sit in on parts of the lesson and have an actual conversation with him. Well since that night and the continued visits of the missionaries, he has began coming to church with Evelyn IN a white shirt and tie. Change is real! This message is true! Evelyn wrote me and said that all of her wishes and prayers for her family are coming true.