Tuesday, March 10, 2015

3.2.2015 It's My Place to Love

Oh my, what a crazy week it's been. The weather has made the work very cold and very icy, but we ended up having a wonderful week! Not that numbers are important, but we taught 24 lessons this week - the most I've taught any week of my mission so far. I am so so grateful for the members that we've been able to get rides from.

 Also, I've pretty much lost my mind. I write everything down, but still manage to forget this and get confused. It's all good though - it just leads to embarrassing moments. Like I wrote down appointments at the wrong times, so we ended up at the wrong house an hour early. Luckily, it was visits with members and they were understanding and lived really close together. They lovingly helped us out and straighten out our evening. 
Don't worry, that's just a sheet of ice on everything!

We had an awesome experience this week. Some members in our ward, the E Family, told us that Brother E's father who is a non-member had been visiting with them. They invited us over for dinner, so that we could get to know them and him. Well, we got over there, and the father wasn't even there. He had gotten held up in Dallas or somewhere. So we had a good dinner, got to know the family and their 4 adorable kids better, and actually got a referral from them as well for one of their neighbors. The E were really disappointed that their father wasn't there, so we rearranged our dinner calendar and got another dinner appointment with them for 2 days later. Between the times that we saw them, the father agreed to listen to a missionary lesson! According to the family, this is a huge miracle. He had kicked Brother E out of the house when he joined the church and was just pretty cold and not interested in learning about the church. Well, over the last couple of years and the last couple of months specifically, the father's heart has been incredibly softened. He came to Texas to spend time with his son and grandkids which he had never previously done. He felt like there was a purpose and a reason to his coming to Texas. Okay, back to the story. So we went back to their house and had a delicious dinner of biscuits and gravy. (I love the South. Delicious.) Then we just started chatting about the gospel. We eventually moved into the living room and gave him the first lesson, all about the Restoration. He had a lot of questions, but we were able to testify and to help him understand prophets, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon much better. He agreed to read the Restoration pamphlet AND the Book of Mormon. He also gave the prayer at the end of the lesson and asked if the Book of Mormon is true. We aren't sure if we'll have the opportunity to teach him any other lessons seeing as he is from California and will be going home soon, but we (and the E family) are so grateful that he had the opportunity to hear about the gospel and to start his journey. Sister E told us that he has been so excited about reading the Book of Mormon. Oh, it just makes me so happy. This is what it's all about. Changing hearts. 

Thursday was a good adventure! The Sister Training Leaders (Sister Aumua (my trainer) and Sister Griffin (who I served with in Allen)) came up to McKinney for a district building activity we did. It was wonderful to spend time with them. We also saw a bunch of miracles! We committed a recent convert's non-member brother (who is 9) to come to church! He hasn't been interested previously in coming to church because he thought it was boring and didn't really understand the purpose. But we answered some of his questions and helped him feel comfortable. And guess what?! HE CAME! Oh we were so happy. This kid is definitely taking steps in the right direction. Sister Weichers and Sister Aumua also committed our other recent convert to bear his testimony in fast and testimony meeting and made a deal with him. If he bore his, we would bear ours as well. And he did! Oh, there is nothing like seeing a recent convert bear testimony and share their conversion story. 

We also had a good visit with a less-active, VA. She told us of an amazing experience she had. For most of her life, she just didn't understand the Atonement or the importance of church or tithing or the word of wisdom or anything really. She fell away for a very long time, tried many different churches, and just wasn't happy. But in the last month or so, she got really sick and had to spend a significant amount of time in the hospital. During/after her stay there, she started reading the Book of Mormon. She said that as she's read the bible in the past, she really hasn't been able to understand it, but she said that the Book of Mormon just makes so much sense to her and that she loves the church and she may not understand everything perfectly, but she's ready to TRY. I love it. Oh it just made me so happy when I heard all of that. 

Sunday was marvelous. I just love fast and testimony meeting so much. That is one benefit of two wards. You get to hear twice as many testimonies! We finished the night up with another amazing lesson with JE and CI. We discussed the restoration and testified of prophets to CI. She's to the point where she recognizes that she is going to have to make some changes in her life if she wants to get baptized. We are going to work on helping her with coffee, but I have high hopes for her.

Besides so many wonderful events this week: I've also learned some really good lessons. The main lesson that I learned was humility. I've definitely received several slices of humble pie. As I look back on the week, I needed the pie. But in the moment it was definitely hard. I realized that I had been quick to judge without knowing the whole situation. This definitely wasn't fair to those individuals who were doing their best. It's really not my place to judge them, but it is my place to love them. I've also learned a lot about humility from having the opportunity to be so dependent on the members - for rides, for dinners, for other scheduling things. I am here to serve, but conversely so, I have the opportunity to be given service as well, and I need to let those people serve. 

Here's a scripture that I bumped into this week that illustrates this point quite nicely. 
Alma 58:9-12
 9 And now the cause of these our embarrassments, or the cause why they did not send more strength unto us, we knew not; therefore we were grieved and also filled with fear, lest by any means the judgments of God should come upon our land, to our overthrow and utter destruction.

 10 Therefore we did pour out our souls in prayer to God,that he would strengthen us and deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, yea, and also give us strength that we might retain our cities, and our lands, and our possessions, for the support of our people.

 11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea,insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.

 12 And we did take courage with our small force which we had received, and were fixed with a determination to conquer our enemies, and to maintain our lands, and our possessions, and our wives, and our children, and the cause of our liberty.

Sometimes my situations lead me to be embarrassed or ashamed, but I can turn to the Lord for strength and for peace and for faith. How grateful I am for that. 

I've also felt the burden of not being enough, of not measuring up to some unrealistic set of expectations that I feel is before me (or maybe that I put up for myself....I tend to do that often). But in Sunday School yesterday a thought crossed my mind:
"I'm not asking you to measure up, Gretchen. I'm just asking you to do your best and to rely on me." How grateful I am for that peace.

Also, I have to give a plug for a talk that Sister Weichers introduced me to. 
Notwithstanding My Weakness by Elder Maxwell. Here's the link. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1976/10/notwithstanding-my-weakness?lang=eng

Well, I love you! I know that God lives! I know the Atonement can make a huge impact on our lives!

Sister Gilbert

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