Monday, January 10, 2011

A Week Full of "New"

Happy Monday everyone whose reading this!

This past Wednesday was Transfers (every 6 weeks is transfers. Missionaries get shifted and moved to different areas. I didn't get transferred, but my companion Elder Robison did. He was released as a Zone Leader and is now serving in New Philadelphia in the Akron Zone). My new companion is Elder Haines from Orem, Utah. He's been out for about 18 months and was serving as a Zone Leader over the Akron Zone before here. He's awesome and I'm so excited to be serving with him!

This week has been tough with all the changes. Tuesday was spent packing and saying goodbye to friends and families (for Elder Robison), Wednesday we drove to Cleveland for our Transfers Meeting (Cleveland is about 2 - 2 1/2 hour drive). In Cleveland there's this part on the highway called Dead Man's Curve. The highway turns at a 90 degree angle and lots of accidents have happened there. Don't worry, I didn't drive that fast ;) So Thursday on was spent introducing Elder Haines to the area, the families we're teaching, the ward, etc. I've only been here for 6 weeks, so I feel like I don't even know the area that well! But we're managing just fine.

These past few days, I have come to understand relying on the Lord a little bit more. In my studies this morning I read in 1 Nephi Chapter 7. Nephi and his brothers have to go back to Jerusalem to get Ishmael and his family. On the way back to their father, rebellion takes place amix Lamen, Lemuel, and some of the sons and daughters of Ishmael. Oh Lamen and Lemuel... In verse 11, Nephi says to them " is it that ye have forgotten what great things the Lord hath done for us..." Even after seeing an Angel of the Lord they are quick to do iniquity. We think this is so strange, but as we look at our own lives, how often do we get caught up in worldly things, in the drama at school, with the bills that wont stop coming in, and complain rather than look at all the many blessings that have enriched our lives? Food for thought I guess (more for me than whoever's reading this probably). Later in verse 15 Nephi says to his brethren "ye have choice." For some reason this really stood out to me. The choices we make are so very important. Not necessarily what color shirt we wear today, but choices that are going to have an eternal impact on our lives. Who we're going to marry, if we're going to pick up that cigarette, if we're going to turn the other cheek when offended... Our Father in Heaven has blessed us with our agency and it is up to us to exercise it righteously. Finally, I loved verse 17. Nephi, after rebuking his brethren with the Spirit, is bound with strong cords and is going to be left to die in the wilderness. Verse 17 reads, "But it came to pass that [Nephi] prayed unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, according to my faith which is in thee, wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren; yea, even give me strength that I may burst these bands with which I am bound." Nephi's faith was not in himself, in his own strength, but was in the Lord's strength. We then read, in verse 18, "And it came to pass that when I had said these words, behold, the bands were loosed from off my hands and feet, and I stood before my brethren, and I spake unto them again." This week, or at least the transition of companions, was tough. My companion is great! But doesn't know the area at all, leaving me with the temporary responsibility of making all the calls and shots. Don't get me wrong, my companion is more than helpful and is doing all that he possibly can, but it feels like I've having to do everything. I'm realizing that Elder Robison (last comp) did a lot! By Sunday I was very stressed out. My brain was thinking at a million times per hour, I felt like I was losing track of who we were teaching, I was trying to figure out where everyone lives... it just felt like there was too much for me to handle. My problem? I was trying to do it all on my own! I was getting so caught up in the business of life that I failed to get on my knees and simply ask our Heavenly Father for help. After I did this simple act of faith and humility, everything got better. I stopped stressing out (you all know how much I can stress!) and everything is working out beautifully now. How lucky are we to have such a loving, Father in Heaven who is more than willing to bless up, uplift us, guide us? And to know that Jesus Christ, our Savior, has endured every pain, sorrow, and affliction (Alma 7:11-12) that we will ever experience is such a great comfort - He KNOWS what we're feeling. When Christ took upon himself our sins and sorrows and bled from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane, he didn't simply take upon himself an overload of extreme pain, He saw every one of our faces that night, He felt every one of our personal tribulations, He KNOWS us. How great is that?! One of my all-time favorite scriptures (I think I already shared this) is in the Book of St. John. John 16:33 says "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

I am so, so grateful to be spending these next 20 or so months in Ohio. I am so grateful to be trusted by our Heavenly Father to serve as a representative of His son, Jesus Christ. The message we have to share blesses families and uplifts souls. A women we have just began teaching told us that she feels "so good, so full, so energized" every time we come over and teach her. 3 Nephi 27:16 "And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled" - the Holy Ghost is that feeling of fullness, that feeling of happiness and pure joy that feels like your chest is going to burst! I know, without a shout of a doubt that this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is Jesus Christ's church, fully restored to the earth. I know that this church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is the only complete, true church. I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is true. There is no doubt in my mind! I have read it! I have studied it! I have questioned it! I have prayed about it! I have received my answer - it is the true word of God. If one reads it, with real intent and asks God if it is true, sincerely wanting to know, He will tell them. God will not lead his people astray. I've seen and felt the difference when one does and does not live the standards of church, and the only time I have been truly, honestly happy are when I have embraced this gospel with both arms and clung to it with all my might. I love our Savior, Jesus Christ. I strive everyday to become closer to Him. I know our Father in Heaven loves us. He hears and always will answer our prayers. We just need to be patient and listen. This church is true... I don't know how else to say it. We can try to find happiness else where, but the fullness of joy I feel right now can only be found in Christ's true church. I wish everyone I know could feel this fullness of joy that I feel right now. That everyone I know could have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. That everyone I know could feel the love and warmth that I feel right now inside.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true.

Ohio in the winter time - sure is cold! And it's usually pretty gloomy. When the sun isn't hidden behind clouds, it's a beautiful day! Ohio is very flat. No mountians or hills like in California/Utah. You can also see little bunches of forests. I like the little patches of trees. In other parts of Ohio there are HUGE forests of trees - here where we were it was more barren.

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