This past week Thursday August 23rd-Wednesday August 29th has probably been one of the best weeks in my whole mission!
I realize this is quite a bold statement, but it's pretty true =)
Last Wednesday I saw pictures of Ethan Kirkpatrick at his homecoming talk after serving a mission in Toulousse France. It made me kind of sad and "trunky" (aka thinking of home) because it's been two years since I've seen my best friend and for the first time he was at home and I wasn't... and wouldn't be for another year! This was a hard reality to accept. However, the good that came from this sadness was having me reevaluate why I am out here serving a mission. I thought back on why I was willing to sacrifice so much to come out here.
I also had a very heart to heart conversation with one of the other sister missionaries and I realized that the Lord has so much left for me to do out here, so many wonderful things. He has given me my personality and talents to do his work. I am one of his fearless leaders and I can do extraordinary things. Therefore, it makes sense that Satan is going to put as much opposition in my way as possible.
Sister Pipes directed my thoughts to the opposition Jospeh Smith faced before the first vision.
In the Joseph Smith History 1:16-17 we read,
16 But, exerting all my powers to acall upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into bdespair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of clight exactly over my head, above the brightness of the dsun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
17 ...When the light rested upon me I bsaw two cPersonages, whose brightness and dglory defy all description, estanding above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My fBeloved gSon. Hear Him!
Joseph Smith was at the end of his rope. He was frightened and ready to surrender. He had done all that he could. It was only after he endured that the Lord delivered him from that trial and was blessed exceedingly. In life we must face trying and hard times to receive the incredible blessings the Lord is ready to give us. I already had a testimony of Moroni's words about the trial of our faith from Ether 12:6,
6 And now, I, Moroni, would speak somewhat concerning these things; I would show unto the world that afaith is things which are bhoped for and cnot seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no dwitness until after the etrial of your faith.
However, now my understanding is deeper and stronger :)
Ever since this conversation on Wednesday I've felt a tremendous sense of peace. The spirit has been with me in rich abundance. I know I am exactly where the Lord wants and needs me to be. I have learned so much in this week alone!
I was spirtually fed at zone conference as well. I will get to that more when I talk about Friday. The last thing I want to mention before I tell the details from my week is about the phases of missionary work. I've decided that for my mission there are three phases.
Phase One (first 6 months)
- getting adjusted to life as a missionary
- trying to apply everything you learned at the MTC and your knowledge about the gospel
- finding the courage and strength to really step outside your comfort zone
- getting used to the routine of missionary service
Phase Two (months 6-12)
- you are more confident in the work
- you are ready to step up your game and magnify your calling
- you know how things go and you are an example to others
- more reliant upon the spirit
- excel in your efforts
Phase Three (months 12-18)
- confidence in being an instrument in the Lords hand
- the realization that your mission is winding down
- trying to stay focused and finish strong
- soaking in everything the Lord still wants you to learn
- and more things that I'm not aware of because I'm not in this phase yet! lol
So right now I have entered phased two! Let's do it =)
On to the details of my week.
Thursday August 23rd
I got my hair cut and my eyebrows waxed by a member in the spanish ward. The spanish sisters were there to translate for me. Luckily I trust sister Ortega or she could have told the lady to do something crazy to my hair! ;) I love having my eyebrows shaped nicely! It's such a treat. The woman was so kind and did three of us for free! First hair cut I've had since the MTC...
We had a really great lesson with Joe that afternoon with Joe and the spanish sisters. It was great having them there because we were able to dig deeper and address some of his concerns.
That night we had dinner with the Johnson family! It was a marvelous time. They are a wonderful family. Everytime we go over we laugh a lot and we are also able to share more about the gospel and feel the spirit. Talk about the best of both worlds. When we were there we tried to decide what cartoon character each of us were/which best matched our personality. Elder Stratton decided I'm Dori from Finding Nemo!
Friday August 24th
In the morning we went to visit with Ethel (who is a recent convert). I love visiting with her because I always feel the spirit so strong! While we were there the spirit taught me a few new things! I learned that it's not bad to be obedient because we want the blessings. In fact when we seek the blessings Heavenly Father has promised us by being obedient we are actually showing Heavenly Father humility because we are being submissive and that we are seeking his help/blessings.
When someone has a "present" or a blessing for us their intent is to give it to us because they know how happy it'll make us. It is the same way with the Lord. His intention is to give us blessings because he knows how happy it will make us. Therefore, his intention is to always give us the blessings. But he gives them more freely when we show him we want those blessings.
That night we had dinner with Sister Ferguson. I love her. She is basically what my friend Mica will be like in 20 years. lol
It was also my Sister Cj's birthday. Happy birthday CJ!!! I LOVE YOU!
Saturday August 25th
We had a great lesson with one of our member's boyfriend. We taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we talked about baptism we likened it to getting a new pair of sneakers! Fresh, clean, fun to wear, comfortable, new, etc. He really likes new sneakers =) We had been talking a lot about enduring to the end or in other words staying on the road that leads us back to God after we've entered the gate of baptism. Those new sneakers are what will help us stay on that path while the Holy Ghost is cheering us on, motivating us to keep going. And Jesus Christ has gone a head of us to show us the path or course.
That night we had our ward Jamacian Party! It was a blast! Everyone who came had some jerk chicken and ox tail and danced the night away. Joe came and had a really good time as well.
Sunday August 26th
On Sunday I did a lot of reflecting on the time I have spent in the Kingsbridge 2nd ward. I feel really good about everything I've done to build up the ward. Heavenly Father blessed me with the ability to see the impact I have made here at this time. I felt the sweet peace and love of the spirit feeling proud of the things I have accomplished here. This is when I started thinking about phases of my mission life. It is very possible at the end of this cycle I could be transfered. If so, I am grateful for everything Kingsbridge has taught me. I will never forget the people here.
Monday August 27th
We spent the majority of the day at Zone Conference with President Morgan and Sister Morgan. In the morning session guest speakers: Elder Dr. Saunders, Sister Saunders. To break up the day we had lunch and a training workshop. The afternoon session included the Morgans and President Rudd.
Zone Conference is always so uplifting and so tiring! =)
The main thing I want to share from Zone Conference. President Morgan introduced our new theme. Each mission president is asked to decided on a theme that they will embrace for their three year duration as mission president. After a lot of thought and prayer the Morgans decided upon LOYAL TO THE CORE. I am so stoked about this theme! To break it down a little bit for you, there had been a lot of talks on Courage, Obedience, Reverence, Effort. I had already been trying to demenstrate Courage and Obedience in the work. I am very excited to implement a higher level of Reverence in everything I do as a missionary. As for effort I had been trying to do this by focusing on Diligence. Sometimes diligence can be an overwhelming word to me lol. However, when I realize I just need to put in my best effort I am better able to invest myself.
Tuesday August 28th
Happy 21st Birthday Jill and Janice!!!
We had District Meeting since Monday was Zone Conference. I taught the training and we focused on how important the role of the Book of Mormon is. I am so grateful to have the Book of Mormon in my life.
A question that I asked my district that I want each of you to take the time to answer
"How has the Book of Mormon influenced your testimony of Jesus Christ?"
We had such a spiritual lesson with someone we contacted last week. She is remarkable! I am learning how to more effectively teach people and not lessons.
I have really seen the Lord bless me this past week. This week I have seen the Lord bless everything about the work. It is truly amazing! I love being a missionary. If I am being Loyal to the Core all I have to do is open my mouth, be myself, and everything else falls into place. Those who have been prepared by the Lord will come forth. =)
I am so grateful for this chance to serve. I challenge each of you to make a change in your life to be more LOYAL TO THE CORE =)
I love you!
Sister Emily Johnson
p.s. today we are going to the top of our zone to go to a Michaels (talk about heaven!) and to eat at Wendy's!!! It's going to be a beautiful day. And we already did our laundry and cleaned our apartment.