I hope y'all had a happy thanksgiving!!(: In honor of said holiday, Sister Johnson and I took some time every day this week to reflect on our missions and list why we're grateful we decided to serve. I want to share mine with y'all!!!
1. Montag. I've learned that power isn't within me, but through me: when I first got out into the field it was all about me. I’M going to work miracles. The Lord needs ME. These people are going to be blessed because of MY capabilities. It didn't take me long to realize that Brooke Terry was good for absolutely nothing. I got out here and absolutely crumbled (We all remember the emails—haha) and I think a big part of that was because I was relying on myself as opposed to the Lord. I'm so grateful for the humility I've learned out here—for the realization that every miracle that takes place, every heart that is touched and every life that is changed is not BECAUSE of me, but because of the Lord THROUGH me. It seems kinda contradictory, but there's nothing more empowering than humility!
2. Dienstag. I've gained inexpressible appreciation for the blessing of having a member of the godhead by my side at all times: Before my mission, having the gift of the Holy Ghost didn't really mean much to me...but it means THE WORLD to me now. Having a bottomless pit of knowledge and understanding next to me all day every day?! IT LITERALLY DOESN'T GET BETTER THAN THAT. I’m so grateful for the channel of communication I've been able to develop with him out here. Strange to say, but he's become my buddy, my friend! And I want to keep it that way for the rest of my life!!
3. Mittwoch. I've come to realize that obedience ALWAYS brings immediate blessings—namely happiness and peace of mind: Before my mission, I wasn't too concerned with the rules. I was a good person, yeah, but there were definitely things I decided to disregard and disobey. I heard in the MTC that sometimes when the first presidency chooses where you'll go, they feel inclined to match you to a mission president rather than a specific mission...And I feel like that may have been the case for me. President Stoddard’s emphasis on complete obedience—his desire and willingness to always do the will of the Lord—is EXACTLY what I needed for the rest of my life. I’m beyond grateful for the example he's set and that lesson I've learned.
4. Donnerstag. I’ve been able to see how much God truly loves his children: a few weeks ago, we were teaching a lesson to one of our investigators. Before closing, I paused and asked Heavenly Father if there was anything else we should tell him. The answer came quickly and clearly: "tell him I love him". I've done that at the end of just about every lesson I've taught since then...and God’s response is always the same! It's not a coincidence that the very first point of the very first lesson is "God is our loving Heavenly Father"—if there's one thing He wants his children to know—it's that!!
5. Freitag. I've learned that when things go "wrong", they're actually going right: Missed busses, late trains and canceled appointments would literally make my blood boil at the beginning of my mission. The longer I've been here, however, the more I've learned that when things aren't going according to my plan, it's because the Lord has a way better one in mind. I'm grateful for the patience I've learned out here, which stems from the knowledge that God has everything under control! Keeping calm under pressure and adversity is not easy, and while I'm far from perfect, my mission has definitely brought me a long way.
6. Samstag. I've developed a newfound love for the scriptures and God’s ability to speak to us through them. I've read from the scriptures every day since I was about 12, but it was usually just a quick 5-10 minute skim of whatever chapter I was on. I'm so grateful for my mission because I've learned time and time again that when we have questions or concerns, the scriptures contain the answers! When the Lord wants to speak to us, the scriptures are how He'll do so! The Book of Mormon and Bible aren't just lots of words printed on pretty paper, rather sources of personal revelation! The words of God! I'm so grateful for them!
7. Sonntag. Most importantly, the love I've developed for the Savior: Words won't do this one justice, but I'll try anyway. Before I got out into the field, when I was having a rough day or feeling down, I'd get on the phone and call my mom. Sadly, she didn't stow away in my suitcase like I asked her to, so I literally had NO ONE to turn to when the homesickness and depression set in...Besides Christ. He's always been there cheering me on, but the sounds of His support and encouragement have always been drowned out by that of my family and friends. While I am beyond grateful for their love, I’m even more grateful to have been ripped away from them. It was through those lonely first few months and the periodic ones that have followed that I have FINALLY learned to rely on Christ, to turn to Him, to seek him, and to love Him with my whole heart. I'm grateful for Him and for the opportunity I'll have throughout the coming Christmas season to come even closer to Him.
Needless to say, missions are the absolute greatest.
And to expound upon that thought, I'm gonna share a cool experience from this week!
I went on a split with the Düsseldorf Sisters on Tuesday! We had an appointment with the relief society president in the morning, then went by an investigator. After that, we went home, ate, finished studies...and it started to snow (FIRST TIME THIS YEAR- SHON WIEDER?!). We had a member appointment planned, so we bundled up and went on our way. On the bus ride over, we talked to the guy sitting next to us named Leif. Definitely one of my favorite contacts ever. I can't remember what all we discussed...trials and challenges, maybe? He dislocated his arm a few days ago from falling because of a seizure, so it was probably something along those lines. Anyway, we ended up giving him a Book of Mormon, which he was really excited to read after we got done explaining it to him. At one point in the conversation, he cut us off and was like "I totally missed my stop!" We apologized for distracting him, but he said "no, actually, I don't think it was a coincidence. I think I was supposed to sit here and talk with you two. Thank you." When the bus reached the next stop, Sister Pitts was like "shoot, I think we missed our stop too", so we all got out of the bus to figure out where we were...and snow was just coming down on us like crazy! Leif ran down the street to find the next bus stop, but came back about 5 minutes later with no luck! We pulled out our navi to see where we were...and turns out, we hadn't missed our stop at all and we were standing in the snow for no reason. That's what I thought at first, at least. However, our gospel conversation with Leif continued and he ended up giving us his number so we could meet up again sometime! I'm so glad he missed his stop (: and I'm so glad we thought we missed ours (: I love it when the Lord plays mind tricks on his children to bring about his perfect plan!!! Although I'm bummed I probably won't get to see Lief again, I'm so excited for him! It was another one of those situations where we could see the spirit at work before our very eyes! He started off very closed minded (told us within the first 20 seconds that he had ZERO interest), but was so open hearted and willing to learn by the end!!! Love that guy! (:
Anyway, fun story: we trudged through the snow to get to this member...and she wasn't even home. Hahaha my toes are still frozen, but hey! It was totally worth it! I'm honored that the Lord would inconvenience us in order to bring one of his children nearer to Him (:
Love y'all lots!!
Hope you have a great week!
If you don't hear back from me, it's because we're partying in köln today and gotta catch a train pretty soon!!
- Sister Terry