1) How often do you get to have a General Authority in your mission? Have you been able to meet together and learn from him?
2) Did the winter get there before you got the clothes? I couldn't tell how close you were to the BIG cold front that dove down from Canada into IL.
3) Have you had any change with any of the investigators you are working with? are they coming to church? Is that the biggest issue most have to progress?
4) When have you felt ht Spirit the strongest on your mission?
5) What strengthens your faith when you feel down? You generally don't SOUND down but I'm sure it happens. What do you do when it does?
- I believe we have a whole mission conference every six months and a general authority (a member of the quorum of the seventh or a member the quorum of the twelve) comes. They'll usually do a mission tour too, I believe, though I'm not sure exactly what that entails. I personally haven't had the chance to sit down one-on-one with one of these divinely appointed men, but I know other missionaries have. But part of what happens is we'll have zone conferences so he and his wife will teach whatever they are inspired to teach in each of the zone conferences, so we do get to learn from them. It's always very inspiring and revelatory.
- Nah, it's not that bad. I've still got a trench coat I've been wearing, plus one of our members made us those cute headband ear warmer things so I'm doing great! It was a tad chilly, but we survived. I'll be fine for at least a week without anything else.
- Not particularly. Unfortunately, no one we're teaching is coming to church or has come to church since I got here...but we're working toward it. That is the biggest problem we have in this area, but again, we are working on it. Haha poco a poco. I will talk a bit more specifically about one of our investigators a little later in this email though...
- Oh wow. That is hard to say. The first issue here is recognizing how the spirit feels. Which I am learning to do and I think I've gotten a lot better than since before my mission. But then the next issue is deciding what kind of prompting is the strongest. Because sometimes it's really strong because the Spirit is warnings us about something, other times it's really strong because we are testifying of restored truths, other times it's because the spirit is trying to get me to do something I don't want to do. Each of those feelings is a little bit different, but I would say for the most part they're equally strong. If I had to put it into just a few moments, I would say for the most part, I feel the spirit the strongest when I am testifying if my Savior Jesus Christ, of His chosen prophet in these latter-days, Joseph Smith, and of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Because those are eternal truths, and one of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to testify of truth. The most poignant moments are when I have the opportunity to look a person in the eye and tell them that even if they won't accept the truth as truth, it will continue to be truth, and it does continue to be truth. I have told people, as pressed upon by the Spirit of God, that there will come a day when the Bible simply will not be sufficient, and they will remember this conversation and my words, and know, once and for all, that my words were complete and utter truth from God. I think those have been the moments of my mission where the Spirit is the strongest.
- I don't think there's been even a week of my mission that hasn't included at least a moment of feeling "down". I'm sure it happens to all missionaries (all people for that matter) but I feel especially susceptible to moments of negativity because I simply am not a very positive, happy type of person. But what helps me is saying a prayer and reading my Book of Mormon, usually Jacob 5, 2 Nephi 4, or Alma 26. Those are my go-to pick-me-up chapters. Quite often I turn to those pages in my Spanish Book of Mormon and then I am able to feel better God's love for me and rekindle the fire of my faith and the hope of my salvation--and that of those around me. Of course the scriptures done have ALL the answers to our personal lives, but I know that when we want God to speak with us, we should open our scriptures to show Him that we really are listening.
Also, our investigator Gloria told us this week that she'd like to be baptized! Unfortunately, we weren't able to put her on date, but I know this week we will. We really just need to talk with her about how she has to come to church in order to be baptized--that's part of the promise you make at baptism after all. I think then she'll really want to come to church (she still hasn't come...) So we're fighting the very powers of hell here, but where aren't we? It's just amazing to know that we truly are on the Lord's errand and the moment we do His work in His way, we see miracles. Daily. There is no question in my mind that this is His work and His glory, and as I recently "ponderized", it truly is my glory and my joy that perhaps I may be an instrument in His hands to brig some soul to repentance (Alma 29:9).
I also came to the realization this week that I only have approximately 19 more weeks as a full-time missionary. And I think, as terrifying as that statement of fact is, remembering that was exactly the push I needed. Because yes I'm exhausted and tired and sore all the time, but the time has already flown by. And I know it'll only go faster as the end gets closer. And I don't want to have any more regrets when the end comes. So I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can, and as smart as I possibly can, to utilize this precious time that I've been given.
Unfortunately, I can't remember the other cool/inspiring things that happened and that I learned, but I guess that's one reason we're supposed to keep a journal! We had a zone activity today so I don't have a ton of time to write. But know I love you and to everyone who reads this, directly or indirectly, know that you have a loving Father in Heaven who is aware of you and your needs. You are His child. And there is absolutely nothing you or anyone else can do that will every change that. He wants you to return to Him, and has provided the perfect plan to achieve that; now it's up to you. He believes in you. If He didn't, He wouldn't have sent His Son to be your Savior. The Gospel is true, and it's the only way for us to have our families with us for the eternities. And though it may seem like an impossible standard to live up to, it's really quite simple: there are only five steps. I know you can do it.
Love, Hermana DeBuck