Monday, August 14, 2017

Why the Holy Ghost is Actually Really Important

Hello Family!

I had my QuinceaƱera this week, or in other words, I have reached 15 months.  It feels absolutely crazy!  I'm still learning so much, but the Lord is blessing us so much more.  It has been a week of miracles this week here in the smallest area in the smallest proselyting mission in the world.  I've been working on trying to introduce Sister Patrick to everyone, but there are a lot of people that I want her to meet.  It's been an ongoing project, especially since our bishops keep us busy on top of the finding time we try to have.  It's very motivating to be so busy and always have something to do.

We met a man named Lyons (who is not interested quite yet).  He recently moved in.  We were actually going to go see Robin, but we felt like we needed to stop and we had a really good conversation with Lyons.  Now he knows who we are, so that will be good.  We've also been trying to contact Sister Lancaster--she is somewhat less active because of a lot of things, most of which are out of her control.  We were again, biking to a different place when we caught her outside, and she asked us to come in!  We had a good conversation with her.  She is a single mom of a very active nine-year-old, so Sister Patrick was able to share her story (she is an only child with a single mom).  We have a return appointment with her to help do some cleaning and she is going to feed us dinner.

We also got back in with Allison!  She has been taking the missionary lessons, but we have to wait until she gets married (she has a date set for March 24, 2018) before she can be baptized.  We sat down with her family, mostly just got to know them, and found a little more about her situation so we know how to help her best.  Even though she can't get baptized until next year, she has been coming to church consistently.  She is amazing.  I learned something from Allison.  She was talking about prayer and how she doesn't like when she hears the little kid testimonies/prayers that are generally very repetitious (you know, the whole "I wuv to behwr my testimony, I know dis chooch is trwoo...").  She talked about how she has been working with her kids in family prayers to be more meaningful, and ever since then I've been working really hard to have more meaningful prayers.  It's hard (especially when some things you've said every night since you learned to pray), but it totally makes a difference.  It's a work in process, but I'm glad I was able to have that conversation with Allison.

We had Zone Conference this week, and President Wheeler spent the entire time talking about revelation.  It was amazing.  Over and over we were committed to teaching our friends how to receive revelation--which, incidentally, the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ does just that. I learned a lot.  I learned that when we wonder why God doesn't make it an obvious manifestation every time He directs us is because He trusts us.  He shouldn't have to shake us.  I also liked when President Wheeler told us "It is equally magnificent to have the Holy Ghost with you as it would be to have Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ with you.  But the thing that stuck out to me most was when President showed us a clip from the New Mission President Seminar, and Elder Jeffery R. Holland (I have to clarify because my zone leader is also called Elder Holland) said, "The Holy Ghost is your trainer and He won't get transferred".  That really hit me since this is my first transfer without my "mom" Sister Sprouse being in the mission.  It made me appreciate the role of the Holy Ghost even more, and it's nice to have that consistent companion when I choose to be around Him.

President Wheeler also shared some lists about how the Holy Ghost works, and I really liked them, so I'm going to share them.

How to Use the Holy Ghost in My Calling:
1. testimony
2. prophecy
3. comfort
4. feeling uplifted or motivated
5. informs
6. refrains
7. confirms
8. compels or directs

How do We Know We Have the Spirit:
1. pure knowledge or intelligence flows through you
2. sudden bursts of thoughts or ideas
3. when you write or speak beyond yourself
4. when you feel caution or warning--not a guessing game
5. when you feel a sense of urgency or cause
6. when you feel constrained to not do something
7. when love flows through you

Things to Be Careful of Because They Aren't the Spirit:
1. receiving "revelation" for someone not under your stewardship (usually revelation is for your own actions i.e. "I should talk to so-and-so about <fill in the blank>)
2. setting oneself up as a teacher or leader
3. people who interpret the scriptures for the general population because they are just that smart and most people don't get it like they do
4. people who share personal revelation every time they open their mouth (personal revelation can be shared, but in special circumstances)
5. people who need revelation over every silly thing (should I buy Corn Flakes or Honey Nut Cheerios? Spirit, help!)
6. people who have a time line for their life (the Spirit reveals step-by-step)
7. people who speak because the Brethren "can't" or "won't"

I'm thankful that President shared that because it helps me recognize the Spirit more.  After having that amazing Zone Conference, Sister Patrick and I have been trying to do what we committed to do: teach others how to receive revelation.  We had a lesson with Jeff and his family, and we had a really cool conversation with them.  We committed them to ask God a question.  Jeff has just been having a hard time picking a baptismal date because he feels he hasn't felt a date that is right for him, so I feel that this training from President was at least inspired for how we can help him.

Yesterday was the Tuscon Temple dedication, which I absolutely loved.  I feel so privileged to have been able to attend a temple dedication as a missionary.  It was absolutely incredible to feel the peace of the temple even from a church building two hours away--there is something to be said about how the places that have a broadcast of the temple dedication become literal extensions of the temple.  Elder Uchtdorf presided, and it was so much fun to see him still cracking jokes.  I'll close with one more thing I learned this week.  We were in District Meeting with our new district leader, Elder Thomas.  He's a good soul.  During district meeting, his companion, Elder Loder said something I've thought about a lot.  He said, "If you're not exactly obedient, the Spirit is not exactly there."  As I've been going from day-to-day happenings, I've had that in my mind.  Moral of the Story: the Spirit is so important, and there is a reason why the Lord says, "if ye have not the Spirit, ye shall not teach".  I love my mission, y'all!  It's the best. And as always (and forever), I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Look who I found at the temple dedication!

My QuinceaƱera--fifteen skirts for fifteen months

Found another scorpion

Some of the Queen Creek Zone

Monday, August 7, 2017

Listen to Your Parents!

Hello Family!

We got Sister Rogers and Sister Sprouse safely off to all her departure festivities, so I got to spend a crazy Monday and Tuesday with Sister Patrick (and Sister Butler, but she was only there for Tuesday--she also had departing festivities on Monday night).  It was an absolutely crazy adventure.  We had a miracle that Monday night.  We had just gotten out of dinner and thought about stopping by a less active member that our bishop had asked us to check on just to see how she was doing . . . and we needed a bathroom.  She never answers, but miracle, someone answered the door this time!  The one we were supposed to check on was upstairs feeling sick, but we had a wonderful conversation with her younger sister who was visiting.  I don't feel like we actually did that much, but the spirit was there and it was a special experience.

After a fun Monday evening, we went to the house Sisters Patrick, Butler, and Sprouse live in, and that is where Sister Rogers and I spent the night with the three of them as well as Sisters Sowa and Conrad (I called them Sisters SoRad).  We got Sister Rogers Sister Sprouse, and Sister Sowa off to the mission office the next morning, then loaded the rest of our things into our car and the STL's car so we could get to transfers.

Well, plot twist happened at transfers.  Sister Patrick's belongings never had to be unloaded because she is now with me in Queen Creek.  We've had a lot of fun so far, and Sister Patrick is really good at focusing on the needs of the people.  I've already lived with Sister Patrick before back in Desert Ridge Zone during my second transfer.  She has been out one transfer longer than me (16 months) and is from Cincinnati, Ohio (Miamisburg, OH specifically).  Sister Sorenson (my MTC comp) also got transferred, and now she is one of my STLs with Sister Donaldson and Sister Butler.  Sister Johnson also was called as an STL, just as another fun update.

We had some sad news. Our friend, Dawn, said she appreciated all we did, but for right now, she doesn't want to continue having lessons.  Her kids felt overwhelmed with the difference between what we know and what they have been taught in non-denominational churches.  However, I was able to talk to President Smith (our stake president) and he had been talking to Dawn.  She told him ever since she prayed in the first lesson, she has felt different (her words, not mine) and has become more emotional when she has spiritual experiences--something she never used to do.  I'm so lucky that I got to be there for that lesson with her, and even though she's not going to continue learning now, she has had an experience that will prepare her for next time.   I'm excited for her.

We did make another new friend this week!  His name is Mike.  Sister Rogers and I met him a few weeks ago, and we had an appointment with him yesterday.  (Actually, I have to admit, we followed up with Mike because Dad asked if we had seen him recently, so I decided it might be a good idea to do that.  Moral of the story: listen to your parents.) We were trying to find someone to come with us last minute, but everything worked out, Sister Lakko came with us, and we had an amazing lesson with Mike.  He is great.  He has a wife and three daughters, and he is so focused on them--absolutely family centered.  He grew up Southern Baptist, but goes to a non-denominational church now.  He is so open, so we taught him the message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Spirit was there, Sister Lakko bore her amazing testimony, and we were able to help him see how the gospel will help him find the direction God wants him to take--something he said he has wondered.  His mother, who is a preacher, came in at the very end, and she didn't seem too thrilled to see sister missionaries, but Mike said he would read the Book of Mormon because "it might be for him" (again, his words).  Keep Mike in your prayers.  We get to go see him again in two weeks.

We are still working on getting an appointment with Lee as well as a friend named Dave.  I feel like the Lord is really blessing us with a lot of miracles right now.

I've been working on reading the Book of Mormon in 90 days as part of the mission's summer challenge, and I've just been reading about Alma the Elder and Alma the Younger--I'm not sure which of the two is more hardcore; I love them both.  It's amazing that every single time I read the Book of Mormon, I always find something new.  For example, did you know that the demographics of Zarahemla during the reign of King Mosiah was more than 65-70% "Mormon" (or whatever their nickname was back then because it probably wasn't Mormon) and had seven "wards"? It's true!  It's all in Mosiah 25:23; 26:1-5. I didn't notice that before.  It's a promise that we will have new insights each time we read the Book of Mormon, but it really works.  And there were other insights I had that were even better.

First thing that I realized is that Alma the Younger had brothers and sisters.  In Mosiah 27 it says, "Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father".  I know that doesn't sound very profound, but it impacted me because I thought of how much his decisions impacted his siblings.  It talks about how much Alma the Elder prayed for his son, but I also just imagined his siblings.  How much they wanted Alma to come back.  How much it must have pained them to see him making choices they knew would not bring happiness and how happy they must have been to finally see him have a change of heart.  It made me appreciate that story even more.

Our mission also gave us was questions to study as we've been reading, which I have been trying to do.  Last week, two questions that I had to ponder were "How and why did the conversion of the sons of Mosiah influence their desire to be missionaries? What motivates those who have been fully converted to share the gospel with others?"  I got to thinking about how the sons of Mosiah had had this incredible 180-turn and how they knew the difference.  They didn't want others to have to ever go through what they did and wanted everyone to have the joy they were able to receive after having repented.  The same thing motivates others to share the gospel.  Well, then I got thinking "What motivates me to share the gospel?  I haven't had this "Alma the Younger turn around".  Why do I care?", so I started listing experiences that gave me a desire to share the gospel.  I discovered that what motivated me wasn't hitting rock bottom.  The things that motivate me are experiences such as Girl's Camp, hearing my parents' testimonies, going to the temple, my mission--in short, experiences where I was able to live the Doctrine of Christ.  And that's when something clicked.

I realized that Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah were able to have a dramatic conversion not because of their past, but because they were given a huge opportunity to live the Doctrine of Christ.  And it's the same for us:  We don't have to be the vilest of sinners to have an Alma the Younger conversion, but rather, by living the Doctrine of Christ the way Alma did afterwards.  It's not how low we sink, but how high Christ can raise us.  When we get bogged down with the idea of "Oh, well I wasn't ever less active" or whatever garbage the adversary tries to throw at us to try to make us think we don't actually "know the difference", we can stand tall and remember that that has nothing to do with it because it's all about striving to live the Doctrine of Christ.  That's when we truly know.

I know the Book of Mormon is true because no other book helps me learn truths as clearly as that one does.  I'm so lucky to have this mission experience with all the ups and the downs and the "in-betweens".  I love it because it helps me love my family even more, and family, with that, I just want you to know that I love you!

Sister Emily

1001 N Burk Street
Gilbert, AZ

Sister Sprouse got a picture with me and my luggage on my way in, and I got one with her and her luggage on her way out. I'm thankful to have had the best trainer in the world.

Sister Patrick and I

Biking (ft. a bag of garbage)