IT'S SUMMER TIME, though. 45 degrees. I literally skipped every where we went today. And cried when we went outside. You think I am kidding, but I am not at ALL. Also, it's almost General Conference again. ALSO. Nope. Forgot what I was going to say. Anyway. I'm happy. :)
This week was faith BOOTCAMP! I loved it. Let's talk about trials, people. Trials of our faith, specifically, since that's what most trials boil down to. These trials are gifts from God. We agreed to them before this life. We knew there would be sickness, heartache, confusion, difficulty, loneliness, and yet, when the plan was presented, we shouted for joy at the opportunity to experience such tests. Faith is the first principle of the gospel, yes? But why? Why is it so important and foundational?
Welp. Because faith changes things. We need faith in Christ to see changes, to be instruments of change, and to be changed ourselves. This week, we exchanged with the Red Wing sisters. They are INCREDIBLE. Sometimes, all the times, it is really humbling to think that we have any kind of stewardship over these sisters. They teach us so much. Our Red Wing sisters are BOSS missionaries. Red Wing has been super slow, to the point that President was going to shut it down last transfer, but the Spirit stopped him... :) I loved my time there! Sister Mis an incredible missionary, and working with her, I learned so much about following the Spirit and listening to our brothers and sisters. I know that seeking the Spirit and following it are essential, because every time we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we exercise faith in Jesus Christ. Every time we listen to others and elevate their vision, of Christ, their lives, themselves, we show faith in Christ's Atonement and ability to change us and others. SO.
In their "dead area?" We found five new investigators in one night. :) AND a part-member family. It was so lovely. I was studying the war chapters before our interview, and it really struck me that Moroni is never like, "Well, this is a super tough battle..." or, "this is just a rough group of people." He has an awareness of the situations, but more than anything, a faith in Christ. Each situation, just like each area, requires a different strategy. Great things never happen the same way twice. We exercise faith in Christ when we allow our lives and circumstances to be different, but our faith and assurance only to increase. They did INCREDIBLE this week. Ahhh. Like a mama. FAITH, everyone.
This week, we were tested a lot! By Thursday, we had taught like 20% of our average lessons in our area. We were SO behind on goals. Things just weren't going through or happening. It was the weirdest. So then I thought about discouragement, and hurt. And how they are Satan's favorite playthings. Because they make us turn inward, rather than outward. They make us panic and fear, and those feelings are not from God. So, rather than listen to the panic that said, you're so behind on goals, you need to work your area, you need to think about your goals, I thought of our district leader's proselyting area. They've been really struggling to teach any lessons at all in their area, and I had never been to the area, but what I do know is that faith can change an area. And increased faith in a leader means increased faith in a district! Faith in a single individual is like a ripple in a much greater pond, its influence is immeasurable and continually spreading.
And sometimes in the course of repeated tests and trials, which are meant to purify and build UP our faith, we destroy it ourselves by giving in to discouragement. And theeeen, we can become a little like a whirlpool. :/ It's cool. We've all been there a time or two. DROWNIN' in our woes. So I asked my companion if we could go work in the elder's area, like sneaky little blitz-elves. We prayed and we were both more than down. Spirit was bumpin'. That night, we found them three new people to teach, and got to share the restoration with wonderful people. The elders are remarkably good missionaries. You know what the difference was? We went to that area with faith rather than any worldly expectation. We believed the best in our brothers and sisters, and we saw the best. No one warned us about what the reception would be, how rough the area was, etc. We just sneaked right in and saw so many miracles. I know that has nothing to do with us, but everything to do with our Heavenly Father. There were still tests throughout the night, doors slammed, biting cold, whatever. But there were also prepared souls hungering for the light of the gospel. :) I'm grateful for the blessing it was to go work in that area, to help the elders with their goals first rather than our own. It was a beautiful opportunity to exercise our faith in Christ - that He would provide, that in our situation, He would do the same, and that we would be blessed accordingly.
And we were! :) No need to panic. The week ended up fabulous. Day after day of miracles followed Thursday!
I know that God loves His children. I loved visiting with them this week and seeing the different levels of faith that people have. For instance, our investigator C. We could not convince her that she could go to the celestial kingdom. She didn't believe she'd be good enough. But we know that as her faith in Christ grows, her understanding of repentance and change will, too. And she will catch the vision. That we can make changes, and be changed, through Him. I know that's true. (HALSO, took her on a church tour and she cried the whole way through and the entire drive home. Brother C, one of our ward missionaries, just nodded after and said, "That's good..." She was at all three hours on Sundee. Yehoooo!)
H, our RC's brother that we've been teaching? Tooootally exercising his faith in Christ and living the Word of Wisdom like a boss. Turning down coffee at work. FORGET ABOUT IT. :) He was so excited to tell us!
We got back in with MIRACLE M finally. She has been in the hospital with asthma stuff. The worrrrrrst. She had just gotten home from the hospital, and said to her daughter, "I wish someone would visit me. No one visits me. No one noticed I was gone." And then she prayed. And simultaneously, at a different place, where our appointment fell through, the thought popped into my head, "Let's go see if M is home from the hospital!" when our appointment fell through. And she was. The elders drove like wild men across town to come give her a blessing. She just cried after and testified that this is Christ's power and this is Christ's church. HOW DID WE FIND HER?!
We also were led by the Spirit to go find at an apartment complex, where NO one would answer. As we drove away, we saw a light on at a potential's house. His wife was sitting in the window. Ding, ding, ding. Rule of 3. :) We stopped by, and it turns out they had just put their daughter in a facility for depression and anxiety. They were heartbroken and praying right when we showed up. :) The Spirit was so strong as we talked about Christ and his ability to bear our burdens as we exercise faith in Him. When we went back for our return appointment, the wife said, "I will never doubt that you are from God. When you were here last time, I felt my faith grow. I felt the love and awareness of Christ." :)
C, our cutie single-mom who had a baptismal date-set, texted us asking to stop meeting. She knows this is true, but feels she can't give her all to it right now. We went and had a tender visit after church with her about the text and the feelings she was having. I felt so much gratitude for the blessing it is to know her. She is so courageous and strong. I have never met anyone so patient, forgiving, and good through adversity. She amazes me. I wish she could exercise the faith in Christ to see herself as He sees her. To know that her life can change. It takes so much faith in Christ to put Him and His ways FIRST, even when it seems logical to do otherwise. When you're a single mom at 25 and have FOUR kids and your abusive ex is getting out of jail, for instance. When we juggle our lives independently, or let the stresses of the world overwhelm us, with Christ as even second priority, we will at some point fail. We will feel overwhelmed. But when we can put our trust in Him first and foremost, He will carry ALL of it. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it." I know that that's true. I know that will be true for C. And I know that she will realize someday.
We are still meeting with her, but only once a week now. She cried as we said goodbye, and for the first time in a month of teaching, she called after us, "I love you." I am confident that God will continue to test and bless her so that she can rely on Him first. We have agency, but God will be persistent. He loves us too much. If we don't exercise our faith, if we're not tested, if we don't turn to Him, we live a small measure of the life and potential he offered us before this life - all through these different tests and trials and lives that we shouted for joy over.
And something I really like thinking about as I talk to people, wherever they are at, is that they all have faith in Christ. Before this life, when God presented us with His plan, Christ had yet to perform the Atonement. And yet, every single person who is here on this earth - every single individual we pass on the street - exercised faith in Christ and His ability to redeem them, carry them, and change them, by coming HERE to this Earth. Everyone, every living, breathing soul, has faith in Christ.
It is the best blessing of my life to be able to see people remember and rekindle that faith and that light of Christ. I wish I could share it with you. I drive home every night SO happy. It's just... joy. Better than happiness. Cause happiness is skin-deep. Joy is soul-deep. I love this time, and feel so blessed to know all these wonderful, wonderful people. To learn from their faith in Jesus Christ.
I know that He lives. I know that He loves us. I know Heavenly Father has a plan for us, for our general time in mortality, and our lives individually. I know that Christ's Atonement, and faith in Him, better and bless our lives. I can't language the love I feel for them or from them. But I know it's real. I know this gospel is the TRUTH. Through and through. And I testify of the incomprehensible capacity of Christ's Atonement. I know that faith in Jesus Christ changes, strengthens, ennobles and enables us beyond our ability to comprehend. I know we all have faith in Christ. I know we can all exercise that a little more, a little better. I'm grateful for every day that we have on this earth to wake up and do that.
I love you all! :)