1) Did you finally get all your birthday packages? The last one was a yellowish bubble envelope.
2) Now that your birthday is over, and you have opened everything, what did you think?
3) Did you do anything (dinner, etc) on your birthday? I know you said there was a Primary activity. With tandem bikes...
4) Sister Ormond said you wrote her an email last week. Do you write to many other people, ward members, family?5) Do you get email from Gma Jo? She sent you $ for your birthday that I added to your UCCU account.
1. No envelope...but I'll probably get it Thursday at zone training. (Question, did you ever send the correctly sized garments? I got the first set, with three tops and the one bottom, but I haven't seen any since....the one bottom you sent was just too small so the size just above would be perfect.)
2. Well, I think it may just be the general feeling of being a missionary, but after having my 20th anniversary of my birth, I think celebrating birthdays is bit silly. I mean, of course I'm grateful to have lived an entire year more, but I was able to do service almost the entire day of 31 July 2015 and I think it was one of the best birthdays yet. But thank you (to everyone) who sent me birthday wishes in whatever form. I hope you all spent the day trying to serve someone other than yourself because I know I did and it was one of the best days ever.
3. Well, the primary activity was the day before my birthday. For the actual day of my birth, we spent almost the whole day at the church helping to decorate for a wedding that would take place the next morning. Only three to four other people were there all day, and after praying about it, we felt that we needed to stay. So we didn't get to do very much proselyting but I know we did what the Savior would have done. The Spirit confirmed that revelation and I didn't look back once.
4. I tried to respond to everyone who wrote to me for my birthday because it's the least (possibly the most) I could do. Last week I did write to a bunch of people, though I couldn't tell you who exactly...
5. I did get an email from Grandma Jo a while ago... well, I know for sure I wrote her, when you first told me about the birthday money, to say thank you.
So this week. Well, I honestly can't remember anything that sticks out. It was good, if a bit long and tiring. We weren't seeing a ton of success numbers-wise and I just felt like we were wearing ourselves out. But you know what, sometimes we work as hard as we possibly can and we don't see immediate results. From this and many other experiences, I know that the Lord seeth fit to try the patience of the Saints. But that doesn't mean He isn't aware of us, or doesn't pay attention to how we feel. On the contrary, He knows exactly how we feel and exactly what we are doing. If you're not seeing immediate blessings from God, I would implore you not to give up or give in. Because I know that God's love never fails (Moroni 7:46). I know that God will not let us pass through something that we cannot overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13); rather, He will provide a way for us to accomplish whatever trial stands between us and eternal life (1 Nephi 3:7). I know that that has been true for me, and I know that it is true for everyone single one of us who belong to the family of God.
This week, our zone is keeping track of how many times we share a tender mercy with a member. We were really excited to apply this principle, but our problem was coming up with tender mercies to tell the members. But now we have some, of which I would like to tell you...
So the first week of a new transfer with a new companion is always a bit awkward because you're two different people and you've never met and suddenly you're together 24/7 and you're supposed to have each other's back 24/7. Well, Hermana Henricksen is great (the Holy Ghost told me we'd get along great before transfers so I wasn't worried) but she's also somewhat similar to me in that we're both pretty quiet. So...we didn't get to know each other very well right away. And it wasn't bad, just a little awkward is all. So one day while I was driving, I asked Heavenly Father if He would give us an experience over which we could bond. Well, that very night, when we were reporting our numbers to our district leader, we sent the number and then realized it was wrong. So we started the text, correcting the previous one and it turned into the attached photo. And maybe it was just because it was after 9 pm but man we were cracking up! It was hilarious....I really hope our district leader appreciated it as much as we did. Or at least a little bit because I doubt anyone will appreciate it as much as we did....oh man. But anyway, so we bonded over that. Which was great.
And the Saturday happened....
So Hermana DeBuck did something she shouldn't have done (but there was absolutely no way to have foreseen this coming) and she ended up being unable to move because of an intense pain in the center of her back. Well, it was just as our lunch was ending so we called Sister Griffin because that's what you do and she said to take some Ibuprofen and to lay down for an hour and then see how it was. Well, I about went crazy but I did as she asked and at the end of the hour I still couldn't move without being in pain. (Sorry this is so "graphic" but it's important to know the point to which I am getting.) Anyway so we decided it would be better to wait it out a bit because it's better to be out for two or three hours than to get up and hurt myself worse and then really be out of commission. Also, at the end of the hour we texted Hermana Griffin, basically asking (in Spanish) what to do because I still couldn't move. We tried doing productive things but there isn't a ton you can do when you have to lay flat on your back on the bed. Then, just as I was approaching the point of stir crazy, we get a text from Sister Griffin. It says "Si puedes" and that's it. Now, for all you gringos, you may not know what that means but it was exactly the pep talk I needed. I read those two words three times, maybe four, and thought to myself, "Joseph Smith was tarred and feathered in the middle of the night and got up the next day and preached like he would've any other day. You can stand up and walk." And so that's what I did.
Now I don't share this story to brag or anything (far from it; goodness knows I am such a baby when it comes to pain.) But hermanos y hermanas, I know that it is thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ that I was able to get up and walk. Not because I received some miraculous blessing of healing (that's another story) but I know--I KNOW--that when we rely on the merits, the mercy, and the grace of the Savior (2 Nephi 2:8) we truly can do all things (Philippians 4:13). And even though we didn't find someone asking us to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, I know we made a difference in someone's life, which we wouldn't have been able to do if I had stayed in bed, bemoaning the fact that my body isn't perfect. And that truly was a tender mercy--even if it was a rough road to get to it.
I also want you all to know that our loving Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers---both verbal and non-verbal. But here's a background story first.....
1. On Thursdays (usually) we do what's called weekly planning. Now, before my mission I had no idea that this was a thing, but it makes sense. God is a God of order so it follows that His work would be done in an orderly fashion which requires some planning beforehand. Anyway, so when we do this planning, we have three hours to plan for the people we are working with. We have 13 inspired steps to follow which help us to fill our days with meaningful activities which will help people strengthen their faith in the Savior and progress toward exaltation (PMG p. 146). So at the end of three hours we have basically every hour filled for the next week.
2. On Thursday night we met with one of our investigators (for whom we had just planned) and we found out we couldn't meet with her for the next week because of her schedule. Okay, no big deal. Things like this happen all the time, and we knew that something would come up to fill that time we'd planned for on Monday night.
3. Sunday comes around and it's the middle of the day and we still have no plans for that hour tomorrow. We were starting to get a little anxious. But we decided not to worry about it and basically just asked Heavenly Father what are we supposed to do tomorrow at 6?
4. Less than an hour later--maybe less than 30 minutes--we get a call from one of our recent converts asking if we could help her with some cleaning this week when we have time. We told her of course! how do 6 o clock tomorrow sound?
The moral of the story comes from 3 Nephi 13:8, which says "your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him" (it's also in Matthew 6 but I can't tell you what verse off the top of my head.) And I know that this is true. Heavenly Father knows what we need, even before we ask Him. Sometimes He answers right away (like He did for us on Sunday), sometimes it takes a day, or a week, or a month. Sometimes the answer may not come at all during this mortal existence. But I know that they do come to those who faithfully endure to the end.
Finally, I just wanted to share something we read this morning that really hit me hard:
"Any Church member not obedient to the leaders of this Church will not have the opportunity to be obedient to the promptings of the Lord." - Elder Marvin J. Ashton
I know that this applies to all of us, for so it has been throughout the entire history of this planet. If we choose to reject the guidance of the prophets and apostles, we choose to reject the guidance of the Lord. It is my hope that all of us may have our hearts opened just enough to experiment upon the words they say. Because when we do, we will come to know of the truthfulness of their words and of the divinity of their calling as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. I love the Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I love all of the Apostles on the earth today. And I love the Prophet Joseph Smith, without whom we could not have the complete fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't forget to prepare for General Conference; it's never too early to begin preparing to receive instruction from God.Con Todo Mi Amor,
1. The semanal corn foto. Pobrecitos, just won't grow any taller...
2. All because two people....and a phone were tired.
3. I can't remember if I told you already or not, but I got a Jehovah's Witness Bible! It's so soft....
4. Hermana Henricksen and I. She doesn't like photos so I was going to take a photo without her knowing but she looked up right as I was about to take it--and she smiled! (:
5. Hermana was taking a photo of the house (because this is the only house house that missionaries can live in within our mission) and I was opening the door for her to unlock it, right as a train went by so I was plugging my ears. And I thought it was a rather appropriate picture...always awkward Hermana DeBuck.