Monday, June 26, 2017

In the Father's Hands

Hello, my AMAZING and WONDERFUL Family!!

It's been a great week of beautiful 110+ degree weather.  It's even hit 120 a few times.  It's my favorite when we will be biking along (drinking lots and lots of water) and someone will drive past and yell, "Go home! It's too hot!" It's never too hot when the work of Salvation must be hastened (unless it's over 125 just so you know, Mum--the mission is not going to kill me).

My favorite was when we biked up to a less active members house, and she throws open her door (she has a security camera) before we could even get our bikes locked up and yells, "Are you nuts???" and gets us to hurry inside her house.  Maybe people will get to the point where they think, "Well, if the missionaries are this crazy, maybe there is something to it".

We had another member, actually one of the ward mission leaders, cancel on us this week--that's always a bummer when we get canceled on (Don't cancel on the missionaries!!).  We were supposed to go visit some people in the ward with him, but he said that he couldn't do it because "he'd been out in the heat all day" . . . oh boy . . . but hey, I'm out enough that we can sit in the shade and that will feel like nice weather while everyone else is still running for cover.  Long story short, everyone thinks we are crazy, and I love it!

We got to do some service this week, and I've had this life goal of catching a lizard.  At the service, I was finally able to do that!  He was scurrying all over the place.  Life goal: accomplished.

I'm learning to see the subtle beauties of Queen Creek Zone.  I really enjoy going over to visit a convert named Brandy.  She's super funny because she takes every Mormon stereotype, completely destroys it, and then does so all while almost yelling her testimony of the Gospel.  I also had a fun experience with some of the Elders in my Zone.  I got a tennis ball to help me when my neck hurts, and I had it in my bag.  One day, there were a few Elders sitting on a couch at the church building, and I pulled the ball out of my bag and all of them, almost in unison, had their eyes light up and they just perked up as if to say, "Ball? Ball?"

I also had other learning experiences.  One thing Heavenly Father is trying to get through my head is that He loves me and is aware of me.  With transfers came another group of missionaries I had grown to love finishing their missions, and I was not having it.  I told Elder Geiselmayr, one of the departing missionaries, that transfers had been canceled, and he said that was okay as long as I let the airline know, but I don't think it worked . . . He still went home with all the other missionaries. I did not want those missionaries to go home, but I knew I had been through this before and survived. I tried to get ahead of the curve and just get everything that helped me be happy last time out of the way so I could just be happy.  My plan did not go as well as I'd hoped.  I was still devastated knowing I wouldn't see them around the mission.  But maybe Heavenly Father knew it needed to happen that way so he could remind me that He loves me and is aware of me.  Monday night, I was really sad, and I realized that the only thing I could turn to at that moment was prayer, so I decided to give it a try.  I told Heavenly Father what I felt, and as I prayed, I felt a huge surge of peace come over me--it felt like a dad hug.  That gave me the comfort I needed calm down that night.

The next day for studies, I decided I was going to reread my favorite talk, "Grateful in Any Circumstances" by Elder Uchtdorf.  I'd read it the last time I needed help letting friends go home, and I figured it was worth a shot, but I wasn't expecting much because I'd already learned so much from that talk.  Surely there was no more wisdom I could squeeze out of it because I'd already learned it all.  No, Fam, Heavenly Father is really good and He taught me more.  So if you'll remember from when Sister Burden, Sister Irvin, and Elder Green finished their mission, I talked a lot about how I learned about using the things I had learned from them to be a better missionary--which I have been, and I'm still so grateful for their examples. This time, I learned things I'd never thought before.  In the talk, Elder Uchtdorf tells a story that he can tell a lot better than I can, so I'll copy and paste that:

"There is an old story of a waiter who asked a customer whether he had enjoyed the meal. The guest replied that everything was fine, but it would have been better if they had served more bread. The next day, when the man returned, the waiter doubled the amount of bread, giving him four slices instead of two, but still, the man was not happy. The next day, the waiter doubled the bread again, without success.

On the fourth day, the waiter was really determined to make the man happy. And so he took a nine-foot-long (3-m) loaf of bread, cut it in half, and with a smile, served that to the customer. The waiter could scarcely wait for the man’s reaction.

After the meal, the man looked up and said, 'Good as always. But I see you’re back to giving only two slices of bread.'"

Every time I had read that, I would wonder "What does that have to do with anything?".  This time, instead of seeing the bread as bread, I was able to see it as time spent with people.  Maybe I got two transfers with some people, and others four. Maybe I even had just two transfers that were action-packed with so many wonderful things.  Heavenly Father can always give me more time, but what's the good of having it in the first place if I'm never satisfied?

The second thing I learned has to do with a saying my young woman's leader, Sister Richards would always say: "What's great about it?"  Elder Uchtdorf gave some examples, such as Nephi, Job, and the Mormon Pioneers, and illustrated how they were grateful in their circumstance that wasn't necessarily something they'd naturally be inclined to be thankful about. It gave me a chance to reflect and be happy that I did get to meet such awesome missionaries (all the incoming missionaries won't get to know them, so that means I win, right?), and it means they made it through an entire mission--and that's awesome!

 And finally, it taught me something really important about the will of our Father in Heaven.  I learned why it was so critical when Christ said, "Not my will, but Thine, be done".  I realized that in the case of Jesus Christ in His Great Atoning Sacrifice if He had chosen to let the cup pass and never atoned for each of us, it would have defeated the whole purpose of anything--to "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man".  That's why Heavenly Father's will was critical.  His purpose is to help us progress--to become better.  I realized that if my dear friends, and eventually even myself, never finished their missions, that it wouldn't give us an opportunity for becoming even better.  I guess what I learned is that even though I don't understand or necessarily like it in the moment, there is a purpose behind everything our Heavenly Father does.  I'm hoping that now that I've learned this, I'll be a lot more prepared for future transfers, but if not, I know that I have a Heavenly Father that I can turn to who will continue to comfort me and pour out things to help me learn.

I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to learn to trust my Heavenly Father.  I'm grateful that in His infinite wisdom, He sent me to the mission with the best missionaries I could ask to serve with.  I'm grateful that He sent me to a mission where I have wonderful people like the Wheelers, who would literally do anything for me that is in harmony with God's will (trust me, I asked if they could bring some missionaries back and they said no to that).  And I'm grateful for a wonderful family who always supports me and loves me.  I love you!

Sister Emily
1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

My lizard friend

I was really tempted to keep him there all day

When you find a car from AMERICAN FOOOORRRKK!

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