Thursday, April 18, 2013

Heaven Sent

Darling Family,
Thank you Thank you Thank you.
Thank you to all of those who have prayed for me.  Thought of me, showed me love.  You are truly Heaven Sent. Each of you. Friends, family, everyone. Thank you thank you thank you. 

What a wonderful surprise it was to open up my inbox and see the messages that were there. How grateful and humble I am to have the opportunity of associating with such wonderful people. I hope each of you know that I would not be ME if I hadn't had the influences of each of you in my life.

Those emails of love weren't the only things Heaven Sent this past week.  I had the chance to listen to General Conference. Oh what a blessing from Heaven that truly was.  

This morning I thought about this past weekend as I wrote in my journal. 4 sessions, each 2 hours. 2 Hours of Priesthood session, and 2 hours of either Young Womens or Relief Society. That is only 12 hours. 12 hours to gather with the Saints of the World, the Christians of this, and other, Churches. It is only 12 hours to hear the inspiring words of the Prophet of the Lord, of the Apostles, of the other various leaders that have devoted their lives to serving the Lord. 12 hours to have the Spirit teach, encourage, warn, comfort and promise blessings. 12 hours to hear the words of our heroes. Yet, those 12 hours are ones of great development and growth. I looked forward to those 12 hours for weeks and cried when they were over. 

I learned so much. I loved the focus on the family, and the need to unite together and protect it. I love the call to stand in holy places, to stand up for our beliefs, our faith, for what we know is right. The call to obedience and liberty was inspiring. I have so many things that I am grateful for! So many things that I learned. And I'm excited to continue to learn from them in these next couple months.  ((I wrote it better in my journal, I'll bring it next week and include it in the email then))

I think one of the things that I love most from Conference is that it is messages from the hearts of those who are devote servants of the Lord. It is messages to our hearts, fellow servants and followers. They are messages from Heaven given to the world, not just to members of our Church.

I have to say thank you to my family. Thank you for being that family that you are. For the things that you have taught me, for helping me become someone who loves the Lord and loves doing His work. Thank you mom and dad for loving each other and loving each of us. Thanks to my siblings and the love we have for each other. How grateful I am to have a family built upon the gospel of Christ, truly that is the only way to have a happy family.

Being a missionary has been the highlight of my life. I know that it is not easy. As a dear friend reminded me, that especially when we look at the Savior's example, the most important things in life and the ones that require the most of us. The most work, the most determination, the most effort, but they are also the moments that give us the most joy and love and opportunity for growth. There will always be hard times, but those are the times when we get to go homeward, and heavenward to for the strength that we need. I know that our Loving Heavenly Father will always send down the sweetest blessings. Thank you for being some of those blessings.

I love each of you.
May we always stand in holy places, together and with love. 
Thank you again, for everything!!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Preparing for Conference

Hello dearest family!! Sounds like everyone had a wonderful week! I'm jealous that y’all have already been able to watch General Conference! I have been fasting and praying in anticipation to hear the powerful words of the leaders of the church. It's strange to think that it will be my last conference here in Korea, but I am excited for the special messages I'll be able to hear and apply to both myself, and those I am serving.

This week.. well it has been hard. If I would have written y’all last weekend, I know my attitude and words would have been a lot different then what I will be writing to you today. 

With new beginnings and new transfers and companions, it is hard to make adjustments sometimes. There has been lots of frustrations, tears, misunderstandings, hurtful words, and long conversations. But I know that, without these experiences, we would not be given the opportunity to learn something new and grow.

This past week we have talked a lot about pride. What pride is, whether or not we can see it in others (if we can, it usually means that we have it as well), how we get rid of pride... these have been questions on my mind a lot.  Seeing weaknesses in yourself, or having others point them out to you, is never an enjoyable experience. Either way, it gives us a very special chance. It gives us the chance to do a self inventory and ask Heavenly Father how we can, and should, change.  (For truly, His opinion is the only one that matters).

This past week I realized that I was fighting off that conversation. I didn't want to have it because I was afraid of what I would feel. The moment that thought popped into my head, I realized how wrong it was. Change is good. Change brings us closer to Father in Heaven, and a prayer of repentance is what helps us feel more deeply the love of our Savior. Why wouldn't anyone want that experience? Pride is within all of us. I realize now, that I have let too much of it creep into my heart. If there is pride in my heart, that means there is part of my heart that is not full of the Love of Christ, and that part needs to go. I had an interesting thought the other night. We are the supreme creations of a loving Father in Heaven. Our bodies and spirit are sacred, they are our personal Temples. Just as we are to be worthy to enter into the House of the Lord, we must be worthy for the Lord to reside within us. And like the Celestial Room of the Temple, the place where we can feel closest to God, our hearts need to be the Celestial Room of our souls. Our hearts need to not only be a place where God can visit, but a place where He can reside forever.

I understand a little bit more of who I need to become, and what I need to change. I know that this change will take time, and there will probably be a few more nights of tears, but I am excited for the opportunity to fill another chamber of my heart with the bright love of Heavenly Father. I pray that this General Conference will help me understand what I need to do to be more and do better.

Other phases of the work went well this past week. We had the miracle of meeting an old investigator on the subway and we were able to meet with her last week. We have an appointment with her today again!! I met with her when I first came to this area, and then she stopped meeting with us in January. I can see such a difference in her now.  She seems more ready to accept the message, more hungry to know the truth. I'm excited to teach her again the beautiful message of the Restoration.  It will be amazing! 

My companion and I were working hard this last week calling old contacts, Less Actives, and members for appointments and such.  I'm grateful for her and her words.  Of course she can use Korean FAR better than I, but the way she uses her words, full of understanding and love, is a wonderful gift.  Makes me not want to say anything at all for fear that I'll ruin it all! Haha

Yesterday, we had Zone Conference and it was FILLED with new things to learn. Sister Gilbert had just a small meeting with all of the sisters and it was my favorite part. How grateful I am for her mother's heart. It is what we sisters need!! She shared a scripture with us and a new perspective that I really enjoyed.  D&C 42:6 - "Lifting up your voices as... like unto angels". What does an angels voice sound like? What words would proceed from their mouths?  What messages would they allow to pass through their thoughts and their words? We are the angels of the world, as missionaries and as members. We are to lift up our voices, declaring, as angels have before and will continue to do, the glorious Gospel!  We are to allow our voices, our conversations, our words and deeds, also reflect the Divinity we have within each of us.

It's been a week of deep thinking, and I have a feeling that it will only continue, especially after General Conference!  But I am thankful for the times in our lives that allow us to see us as we are now, how we need to change, and who we can become, with the Savior. I know this Gospel is true. I know people are not perfect, but I know that this gospel is. I know the Savior is full of perfect love and is Perfect to Save. And I know that both He, and the Father, know us perfectly, yet they love us unconditionally. For that I am truly thankful.

I love you family!! Thank you for everything that you do for me.
Thanks for the thoughts and the prayers!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter Sunday

Darling Family!
Hello all!! Sorry for the confusion yesterday! Yesterday was the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, and like last year, the entire mission got permission to go and see the BEAUTIFUL flowers! It reminded me of fairs in the South with all the food stands, fair food, and pigs roasting over the fire.  The weather was perfect and it was fun to meet up with the other missionaries.  It was a bit surreal thinking that I was there last year as a new missionary.  I have a feeling I'll be having LOTS of those thoughts these next couple of months. It was fun, though, to have MY new companion with me and show her around!!

So that brings me to the fun news!! MY NEW COMPANION!!  I knew that I would be training again, and I had the feeling that I would once again be training a Korean sister. Especially seeing as, out of the 7 new sisters that came, there was one New Zealander, one American, and 5 Koreans! Training Day was fun!! The beginning of all the fun was lunch with Sister Kersey, Sister Cutler, and Sister Kent!  We were all in the MTC together, and now were all training at the same time (Sister Baker is training too!  But she is in the middle of training, so she couldn't come to lunch with us)! To celebrate our official one year mark together, we all got to eat out together.  What a fun time it was to laugh and giggle, speak in Korean and share all of our fun stories! I love those Sisters with all of my heart!

After a Day of Proselyting and eating out together, we all gathered together again on Thursday with the 20 trainers and 20 new missionaries and awaited President Gilbert announcing who was with whom.  Of course I was at the VERY END!  Me and Sister McKay, we are both training in the 4 man house together, were the last to be called and President had the new missionaries close their eyes, we stood behind our new companion as President directed, and then he had them turn around.  hehe It was a fun, squealing hug! 

My adorable new companion is 최한나 Choi (pronounced chweh) Hanna!  She is 25 Korean, 24 American age. She is from Seoul, and she studied at BYU for a couple of years so her English is fantastic. When she smiles, her eyes go the perfect crescent moons, and she is really good friends with MY trainer Sister Lee! I love her already!  Yes, it once again is an adjustment being back with a Korean, but it's nice to switch in between Korean and English and not have to worry about any misunderstandings.  Our conversations are actually pretty entertaining since we both just switch in between both languages without really thinking. 

Actually, I have to admit that I felt that she was going to be my companion long before I met her last Thursday.  Here in Korea, when we get the Liahona, it has an insert about what is going on in the church in Korea, and it announces and has pictures for all the missionaries who are going to serve missions. When I saw the insert, I was drawn to her smiling picture and I prayed that my companion would be the one with the beautiful, shining smile.  I know that God answers prayers, even the silent ones of our hearts.

This past week in my personal study has been really neat. I tried to focus a lot on the Savior and His Atonement, Death and Resurrection. It was wonderful to have studied His life before, and save Friday, Saturday and Sunday for those days of Sacrifice and Miracles. Church on Sunday was a little disappointing since the talks weren't really focused on "Easter". However, the Sacrament, that special time as we remember the Savior's body, blood, love and promises, was tender.  How grateful I am for those little moments.  In the Liahona, under the talk "He is Risen", it says that the Sacrament is our personal interview time with the Savior. I am excited to continue to make the effort to really have the Savior at the focus of my study and thoughts. It's a goal that I made to strengthen my testimony and relationship of the Savior and all that He has done for me and mankind.

Also during study time and talks with fellow missionaries, I realized again the importance of questions.  Questions help us learn, they allow us to stretch our knowledge, dive deeper into the scriptures and really allow for the Spirit to teach us.  But this past week I realized, with the help of Sister Gilbert, that one thing that is just as important as asking the questions is be willing to search for, find, and accept the answers. When we ask for a question, we have to want to find the answer. If we just ask the questions and not allow our heart to be open to be taught, then we will find ourselves confused and doubting.  While we ask questions and journey to find answers, we also need to make sure that we do not forget.  Don't forget everything that you have been given, all the other answers and blessings you have received, and we cannot forget to be grateful!  If we ask questions with the faith to find, remembering to be grateful for what we do have, then our questions will be a great source of learning. Asking questions is part of the Savior's way of teaching. Trust in the Savior and learn from Him.

I love missionary work!! I love being here and seeing all these new missionaries come to the field. As we welcomed in this new group, the Spirit testified to me, with great power, that Heavenly Father could not wait any longer for these young men and women to come to the Vineyard as we labor with the Lord.  Truly Jacob 5 is being fulfilled.

Love y’all! Hope everyone has a good week!!
Love ya, mean it!