Yes, missionary work is oh so fulfilling. What a week, and can I just say that having the experiences of a missionary is absolutely priceless. There is no where else that I could learn all that I am learning right now. And I am so glad that I'm learning it now, and not later on! Not all the things that I am learning are easy to learn, in fact casi 100% of it is hard. But wow is it fulfilling. All of the things that are hard are so worth it in the end. We are stretched, strengthened, and have the experience to recognize the Lord's hand in everything we do if we choose to do so. President Pingree challenged all of the missionaries to read the Book of Mormon cover to cover with this question in mind:
"How can I use the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement?" As I have started to do this I am learning so much. I've learned the importance of obedience, faith, giving thanks, and so much more. All of these little things play such a big role in understanding and applying the Atonement for ourselves. When I was reading in 1 and 2 Nephi I was really drawn to Nephi's reaction to adversity in comparison to Laman and Lemuel's reaction. There are two verses that really stuck out to me this week, and I was able to apply what I learned into my own life. So, here goes.
So as Lehi's family is traveling in the wilderness from Jerusalem they go through a whole lot of hard things. Lack of food, getting lost in the desert, death, and a lot of strain on their relationships with one another. Laman and Lemuel are angry with their father and younger brother Nephi the majority of the time they are on their journey. They get so upset that they even want to kill them multiple times. They use cords to tie up Nephi and decide to leave him behind to be devoured by beasts. Then, this is what Nephi says:
I find it so incredible that Nephi doesn't ask the Lord to break the cords for him, but rather he recognizes the importance of doing it himself. He doesn't say "Lord, please release me from these cords, I can't take it anymore!" Instead he asks the Lord to give him the strength, give him the means to do it himself. Because of the faith that he had in the Lord, he was strengthened and was able to loose the bands. This week I had an experience where I had kind of hit my limit and thought to myself "I can't take it anymore!" I was frustrated, felt inadequate, and just wanted to cry out for help. In this moment, I remembered what I had learned a few days earlier from Nephi's example, knelt before the Lord and poured out everything that was in my heart. I didn't ask Him to take away the things that were difficult for me, but was able to ask for the strength to get through it. I couldn't have done it without His help. It really made me think about our reactions to adversity. When those hard times come--when Satan's temptations are swarming us, when we feel discouraged, weak, and are at our breaking point--do we ask "Why me?" or do we recognize that these steps are necessary for us to become more like the Lord? Do we ask to have them taken away from us, or do we ask for the strength to overcome them? It has really made me think, and I am learning how important it is to put my confidence in the Lord. So like I said, it is hard--but oh is it fulfilling!!
And...one of the most exciting parts of this week....Rebecca was baptized and confirmed a member of the church!!!!!! It was such a beautiful experience, one that I will never forget. We walked her up to the font and were able to stand on the side and wait for her to come back out. As I watched her walk into the water my eyes filled with tears, and the love I felt for her was indescribable. The Spirit was so strong and we were all filled with pure joy. If we feel like that, I can't even begin to imagine how Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ feel to watch a person enter into that covenant. I feel so blessed that the Lord allowed me to be here at this time to witness her experience. The Spirit is the best teacher and testifier of the truth, and when a person is ready, they can recognize that too. She is so beautiful and such a special daughter of God. I am so happy for her and I love her so much!! I will never forget the feelings of joy and happiness and the Spirit that I felt. SO FULFILLING.
So that's all for me this week. I hope everything is good at home. Jake and Erin, congrats on the graduation! Thanks to all of you for your support, love, and advice. I love you all more than you could possibly know!