Thursday, August 28, 2014

Week 30! "M.E.X.I.C.O."

From 8/4/14


Hope you all had wonderful weeks! Thanks again so much for your loving emails. I wish I could spend forever in writing replies back, but I hope you each know how much I love your letters.

The truth is that being a missionary is equally rewarding and difficult at the same time. It is FABULOUS, but I also realize that sometimes members may feel discouraged with the weight of the world as they try to follow the Savior and the path of discipleship--because I sure have felt that! Many members we work with feel that way too, and unfortunately, many others have let the most important things in their life (testimonies) take a back burner, and inactivate.

I love the messages from General Conference about discipleship. We know that these are the last days, and that we are preparing for the return of our Savior. We were reserved for the last days because Heavenly Father trusts us to be faithful to Him through all the crazy commotion we see every day. He loves us and has promised to be on our right hand and on our left. He has sent His Spirit to strengthen our hearts and His angels to bear us up. What a grand and glorious promise! And I know that it is true!

Discipleship is not easy, it's uncomfortable sometimes, it stretches us, sometimes isolates us, but IT IS WORTH IT. It's worth every sacrifice, every ridicule, every heartache! Those experiences are nothing when placed in our Heavenly Father's eternal plan and perspective. Always be grateful for trials He permits us to pass through. That means He trusts us; that means He wants us to participate in the Plan of Salvation and the Plan of Happiness. That means He's refining us for exaltation. That means He loves us!

In General Conference Elder Holland  (an apostle of the Lord) said this: "We have the burden of those called to bear the Messianic message. In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep..."

Be strong. Live the gospel faithfully even if others around you don’t live it at all. Defend your beliefs with courtesy and with compassion, but defend them.

A long history of inspired voices, including those you will hear in this conference - especially the voice of President Thomas S. Monson - point you toward the path of Christian discipleship. It is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled, “with … steadfastness in Christ, … a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men.” In courageously pursuing such a course, "you will forge unshakable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom, if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall."

There is another talk that I love (I actually just love them all...tee hee :)). Sister Jean A. Stevens says this:

"Truly our Father knows us and hears the pleadings of our hearts. He accomplishes His miracles one prayer at a time, one person at a time. We can trust that He will help us, not necessarily in the way we want, but in the way that will best help us to grow. Submitting our will to His may be difficult, but it is essential to becoming like Him and finding the peace He offers us. We can come to feel, as C. S. Lewis described: 'I pray because I can’t help myself. … I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.'...The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a checklist of things to do; rather, it lives in our hearts. The gospel is not weight; it is wings. It carries us."

Those are a few of the emotions I am feeling, so I had to share. I wish I could look at each of you right now and share with you that I know God lives. I know this is His true, restored church. I know He loves us only as a perfect Father in Heaven can. If you are struggling or feeling spiritually tired (which can happen, and I think does happen to everyone once in a while) HANG ON. Pray even when you don't know what for. LOVE. Serve others. Read the scriptures, fill your life with good! Be grateful. "Be still and know that I am God." He's there! He really cares! He knows you perfectly and is right there to help you through. I know that with every bit of who I am and with all the conviction of my heart!

There is one lesson that I reflect on every single week. It is this: God knows who we are, where we are, and what we need. Our Heavenly Father loves us.
At the end of the week, on Mondays, I have the opportunity to reflect a little on all the experiences I've had with my companion in this area. I can look back on a very challenging week and see all the tender mercies and miracles woven into each and every day. I can't tell you how many times a day or a week we see someone who tells us how much they needed help just in that moment when we'd arrived to their house. I know that there has nothing to do with my own strength or planning to find these people or these moments. The truth is that sometimes on the way to plans I might have made, is when the Lord really teaches us that He knows the moment when these people need Him the most.
One day, we had the morning planned out very well. We were going to spend the first half of the day in area "T", and we even had planned to meet with several new investigators. We were excited that, with these appointments, it was very likely to meet our goals for that day. When we arrived to our first appointment, this individual was not home. We asked around and did the best we could to locate [him], but it was not going to happen.
We went to our next appointment, where we were told not to come back. We left and went to look for a less active member that we the Bishop asked us to see. We were unable to find his house, and no one in his neighborhood knew where he lived.
We met special people along the way in streets that tried to help us but were not completely willing for us to talk about the gospel with them. Time is so precious in a day! And here, I was beginning to feel like we might have wasted a morning traveling to this area and not being able to find anyone home. We had 'lost' a few hours. But as each appointment fell through, we would go to the next.
Hermana N and I decided to revisit a woman ("El") that we had contacted the week before--just before returning to our central area. We walked into her open business and said hi. She was looking down as we walked in. She had her scriptures open on her glass table and looked distraught. The first thing she told us is, "I feel really bad right now. I just fought with my husband. Our fight wasn't even worth it, we argued over something little and I was wrong too." Then she asked us what she should do.
We spoke with her and prayed for the guidance of the Spirit to say something that would help her. We talked about the love of the Savior and how He forgave everyone. We said that He allowed us to be and feel forgiven of Him through repentance and His Atonement. Then she asked, "...but does God truly love me? Every time I read the Bible I feel like I am doing everything wrong and that I am really just a disappointment to Him. When I pray, I feel empty. I don't think He actually listens to me."
You better believe we testified with all we had that God loved her and hears her prayers!!! We testified of His great love for her! Then she told us something so incredible, "Before you came here right now, I prayed that you would come here and help me. Then you came. I didn't know how, but I just wanted you to be here and share scriptures to help me feel better. Thank you. I do know that God heard my prayer."
We were amazed! It was miraculous to me to see the perfect timing of the Lord. Then my next thought was, "Oh, so it was your fault that our appointments fell through!!" :) Maybe our plans didn't perfectly go through as we had planned, but we spoke with so many people along the way and felt strengthened by the tender love and mercy of our Heavenly Father that we felt being with "El".
It is so special to be a member of the church! I am grateful that through the sacrifices of my family and the kindness of friends, I can be on a mission to serve God and my Savior, and my brothers and sisters here. Not everyone has the opportunity to serve, so I recognize that it really is a great blessing and privilege. I love it!
This week Hermana N and I met with three very special boys that really touched my heart too. Two that are ten years old accepted a baptismal date and are SO excited about it! We watched another 8 year old new investigator learn how to pray alongside his mom. It touched me to see the faith of these valiant children.
In Preach My Gospel, it says that as teachers or missionaries in the gospel, we are not teaching anything 'new' to these people. We are simply making contact with their spirits with those things they already know. Those who are truly searching for truth will recognize it because it will be familiar to them and 'register' with their spirits.
Saved for the last days. The work is hastening!
I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful week! Make a goal of sharing the gospel quarterly (in other words, at least 1 time every three months invite someone to listen to the missionary discussions) like Elder M. Russell Ballard says. Pray for who you can share the gospel with this week! LOTS OF LOVE.
Con Amor,
Hermana Fernelius
P.S. (To Ashley's dad): In all the free time you don't have, if you get a chance could you scan a few photos to me of your mission? I am starting to 'get' it now, and I would love to read stories from your own mission or see pictures! I am so glad that you and Matthew have been here before and understand how me and Tiff feel. Some days are just really hard, you know?
Anyway, any stories and insight or wisdom you want to share, I would love to hear it! :)

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