July 15, 2015
All is well!
This is probably the longest letter I have and ever will write... so bear with me :)
This week flew by. We had exchanges with the sisters in Avrora and it was so so fun :) I love going on splits to wherever sister Twede is because we always live like kings when we are with her. Every morning we were there we had crepes because her companion used to work in a crepe shop. We even had buttermilk syrup and nutella with bananas, just like we used to do at home! I really miss dad's breakfast foods. I really learned a lot from working with these wonderful sisters and it honestly just felt really good to get out of my area for a bit (I can't imagine how Sis. Sotnikova feels, she's been in this area since October!).
It's been really fun speaking with my companion in english this week. Her vocabulary is still small so she uses the words that she already knows, so she says things like, "It's my turn to give the dishes a shower." She also always says, "amathing" instead of "amazing." It's so funny to hear a 28 year old woman talk like that :) I really love working with her.
This week the Zone Leaders also asked Sister Sotnikova and I (she is the STL) to do a presentation on how to have more joy while contacting (the area presidency has asked that we spend a minimum of 3 hours contacting every day). We decided to concentrate on having happiness in the companionship, because honestly how fun is it to contact when your companion isn't happy. Sis Sotnikova was sooo so nervous all week and especially in the beginning, but after a few minutes the Spirit really took over and everything went great :)
After training we had interviews with President Schwab. That man is a tank of knowledge. I also did some translating for Sister Sotnikova during the training and every single time President Schwab opened his mouth it would get very difficult to translate because the Spirit works through him so strongly, it was distracting haha :) I admitted to him that I have been experiencing feelings of hopelessness lately. I guess you could say that even though I've been on a mission for 14 months I still don't quite understand hope and faith. Our area has really been struggling and I haven't seen many consistent lessons or investigators since the day I've come here. I see a miracle like meeting someone wonderful and being sure that they will be baptized, and it turns out that we only meet with them once, and after that they fall off the face of the earth.
First of all, he reminded me that faith is not based on past, present, or future statistics, faith in based on Jesus Christ. President Schwab then reminded me that the results to our faith can be affected by 3 things. First, insufficient faith. Second, the Lord's timing. And third, agency of others. Three thirds of our brothers and sisters chose Satan's plan, but that doesn't mean that God didn't have sufficient faith, it means that he respects our agency. That knowledge really brought me comfort.
Usually I don't include passages from conference talks.... and usually whenever other people include such passages I skip over them (oops) but our mission president has asked us to read this talk and doing so helped me to better understand what exercising faith looks like and how the Savior acts as a light in my own life. It is called "Choosing to Believe" by Whitney L. Clayton.
"Every day each of us faces a test. It is the test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of His gospel to grow within us, or will we refuse to believe and insist on traveling alone in the dark? Belief and testimony and faith are not passive principles. They do not just happen to us. Belief is something we choose—we hope for it, we work for it, and we sacrifice for it. We will not accidentally come to believe in the Savior and His gospel any more than we will accidentally pray or pay tithing. We actively choose to believe, just like we choose to keep other commandments."
Something else that I reeeeally really loved was from general conference one year ago from "Claim the Blessings of your Covenants" by Linda. S. Reeves.
"Almost three years ago a devastating fire gutted the interior of the beloved, historic tabernacle in Provo, Utah. Its loss was deemed a great tragedy by both the community and Church members. Many wondered, “Why did the Lord let this happen? Surely He could have prevented the fire or stopped its destruction.
Ten months later, during the October 2011 general conference, there was an audible gasp when President Thomas S. Monson announced that the nearly destroyed tabernacle was to become a holy temple—a house of the Lord! Suddenly we could see what the Lord had always known! He didn’t cause the fire, but He allowed the fire to strip away the interior. He saw the tabernacle as a magnificent temple—a permanent home for making sacred, eternal covenants.
My dear sisters, the Lord allows us to be tried and tested, sometimes to our maximum capacity. We have seen the lives of loved ones—and maybe our own—figuratively burned to the ground and have wondered why a loving and caring Heavenly Father would allow such things to happen. But He does not leave us in the ashes; He stands with open arms, eagerly inviting us to come to Him. He is building our lives into magnificent temples where His Spirit can dwell eternally.
In Doctrine and Covenants 58:3–4, the Lord tells us:
'Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation.
For after much tribulation come the blessings. Wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory.'
The Lord has a plan for each of our lives. Nothing that happens is a shock or a surprise to Him. He is all-knowing and all-loving. He is eager to help us, to comfort us, and to ease our pain as we rely on the power of the Atonement and honor our covenants. The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath."
I really don't understand God's plan. Almost 100% of the time I don't understand why things are going "wrong" until after the trial is over and I see that actually everything was going right, because it was exactly what God wanted for me. I am so grateful for hard times. I am grateful for this hard mission. Just like the pioneers, who experienced starvation, disease, and death... I wouldn't trade my hard times for good times, because during those times are the times that I come to know my Loving Heavenly Father.