Monday, June 25, 2012

Do you know what a $500 million flashlight is?

It's a lighthouse.
Heyyy errbody.
This week was pretty good. More like a slow and steady wins the race kind of good, but it's still good.
I have felt a lot lately like we plan good, full days, but everything falls through and then we're left with nothing to do and it kinda sucks. So one morning when I woke up I prayed that we could see lots of people that day and be busy. It was a pretty simple request, I wasn't asking for huge miracles, I just wanted people to be home that we went to visit. Ask and ye shall receive. Heavenly Father was looking out for his lil Sis. Chronic missionary that day.
We had a park day on Thursday where the whole mission was either biking, walking, or getting rides from members. Funnnnnnnn stuff, let me tell you. It actually was a pretty good day. We didn't have a dinner but at one of the houses we stopped by they invited us to stay then drove us to our next appt. Such kind people. And they have a cute little baby that's 3 weeks old. That I can't hold even though I reallllllly want to.
I realized this week that I need to know the scriptures a lot better. I don't use them very much in lessons because I don't know them, and it doesn't help the people that I teach to love the scriptures and to study them on their own. So I have already begun a quest to memorize references, verses, and identify specific passages that will be useful in teaching others about the gospel. In sacrament meeting on Sunday it was pounded into my brain. They were speaking on spiritual self-reliance and both speakers really emphasized reading the scriptures. The scriptures are our foundation and our fundamentals. That is where we will find the answers we need, feel the Spirit, and come to know the gospel and the Savior. Of course we need to study them more. One of the speakers taught seminary for a year and he talked about the difference between a lot of the students, the ones who read and studied and the ones who didn't He asked a good question: Are you learning from the scriptures? Or just losing sleep? The other speaker talked about how we need to master the fundamentals in any part of our lives. He compared it to baseball. When you read and study the scriptures, you don't need a home run. You just need a base hit. Something that will help you to keep going. You won't have some big spiritual experience or revelation every time you read, you can find something that will help you if you want it.
That's what the gospel is about. You do everything you can and the Lord will make up the rest. Grace is a very amazing thing. It is the divine help and strength we receive through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is simple: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, lather, rinse, repeat. BUT, the hard part is figuring out what we have to do before Christ will make up the difference. It may be that we have to read tons of scriptures, talk to the bishop, pray mightily, get professional help, apologize to someone, do a random act of kindness, etc. but we have to do it in order for us to turn it over to Christ and have Him finish it for us. We can't do it on our own, but Christ, who overcame the world, is offering us a hand of help. Why would we not take it? This probably all sounds pretty jumbled and sporadic, but it makes sense in my head. Promise.
We haven't heard much from Jane this week, she kind of fell off the face of the planet, but we talked to her on Saturday. Still trying to get her to church so we can help her figure out how she can make it back to God. A lot of things have been going wrong for her and she said that she feels like she is literally under attack. I have no doubt that she is. Satan is working very hard to keep her from getting on the right path. Good thing missionaries are super stubborn and diligent.
Love you all so much. Write me a letter or somethin if you get a chance. Talk to you next week!! Doubt not, fear not.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The worth of souls is great in the sight of the Lord

This is the craziest thing that has happened to me on my mission so far. Remember Jane, the African lady we met on the street? We saw her last Friday (over a week ago) and she was doing good, reading the Book of Mormon like crazy. She started in 3 Nephi and finished that and now she's reading Ether and she has read parts of Moroni. She had to hurry to the bus and we had to go to an appt so we didn't talk for long, but she seemed happy. Then this happened on Tuesday:
Our morning started out typically slow, and the afternoon started out like that as well. We were dragging our feet, taking our time getting from one appointment to the next, or from one drop-by to the next. We decided to go see a part-member family and see if the daughter wanted to go to mutual. Sis. Eichenmiller is still learning the area and I wasn't really paying attention and she ended up taking a wrong turn. It wasn't that big of a deal, we just went the long way to the family's house. She asked me if I had called Jane yet. I hadn't, and it had been a couple days since we heard from her. I decided to wait until after we saw the family just in case the phone call took a long time. Suddenly we looked and who was walking down the side of the road to the bus stop? That's right, Jane. We pulled into the gas station that was right there and jumped out of the car with our scriptures in hand and went to talk to her. As soon as we approached her, something seemed off. She was staggering a little and she seemed happy to see us, but also a little confused and out of it.  We asked her if she was ok. She told us no. She found out on Monday that she has cancer, a brain tumor. She started to cry and we walked with her, helping her down the road and trying to calm her down. We got her across the intersection, her bus wasn't there yet, and Eichenmiller looked at me and said, "We should get on the bus with her." My immediate response was, "We don't have any money."
As the words were coming out of my mouth, I remembered that when I was at the store a week earlier I had randomly decided to use my card and get cash, which I hadn't had any for a while. There was a $5 bill sitting in my wallet in the car. I handed Eichenmiller my scriptures and she gave me the keys. She stayed with Jane while I turned back to the busy intersection. I knew I only had a few minutes, maybe to get over there and back. I couldn't wait for the light, so as soon as the cars cleared, I sprinted across the intersection, opened the car, grabbed my wallet, and sprinted back to the light, probably flashing everyone and their dog on my way, cause running in a skirt is hard, but salvation is worth it, my friends. Again, the intersection was busy, but this time the bus was there. It turned the corner and started letting passengers on. I was still across the street. Eichenmiller told me after that she saw the bus come and was panicking, making Jane promise to call us and wondering how we would ever find her and help her if we didn't get on the bus with her. We didn't feel like she should make that trip home alone. By the grace of God the intersection cleared and I booked it across the street as Eichenmiller was putting Jane on the bus, standing helpless on the curb. Suddenly I was at her side, pushing her on. I paid for the two of us and the driver asked if we needed any transfer tickets. I said no, but she looked at us and gave me two anyways. There wasn't enough room for all of us to sit by each other, so Eichenmiller sat with Jane and had her arm around her while Jane cried, and I watched from a few rows back. I was able to make it up to them, but then we had to get off and switch buses at the transit center.
The whole time this was happening, I never felt panicked or in any kind of danger. I could pinpoint which areas we were in and I was texting the Elders of those areas to be on standby in case we needed them. Sitting at the transit center, waiting for the next bus, I pulled out my scriptures. I was about to open them when the next bus came. It was a little early but the driver let us on and we sat with just a few other people on the bus, in relative quiet. I opened my scriptures and turned to somewhere in the Book of Mormon. Jane asked me to read something from Nephi ( she says it "nefee"). I read 3 Nephi 11:14-15. Then she asked for the book of Ether. I read Ether 12:4. She asked for the book of Moroni, so I read Moroni 7:41. Then she asked for Nephi again. I read 3 Nephi 17:8-9. Every scripture that I turned to jumped off the page or instantly came to my mind as she asked for it, and as I read I was amazed at how they were flowing together and making perfect sense.
She said that her concern was not to die. She was just afraid of what would happen to her in the next life. She did not want to go to hell forever. She said she had been thinking about eternity for a while, long before she found out about her cancer. She had made a lot of mistakes in her life and she wanted to be able to go to heaven with God. We told her she could. Then I taught her the Plan of Salvation. We had to get off at her stop, so we just kept teaching it to her, telling her that she could live with God and her family forever, and that the first thing she would have to do in order to make that happen, to open the door to heaven for her, was to be baptized. She told us that she wanted baptism more than anything. We told her we would get her baptized as soon as possible. She was so happy and relieved, she was singing and laughing. Then one more concern came up: how could Christ find her, the one? Just one simple African woman? And why would he want anything to do with her when she has made so many mistakes in her life. We told her baptism would help clean away her sins, that it would make her clean and ready to go and see God.
We kept talking and she brought up a friend that she gave her Book of Mormon to. I pulled out my planner. It was made for me by Sis. Balmforth. She gave it to me before she went home. Each day in it, there is a scripture or a thought written on the to do list. I opened my planner to write down the name of her friend and saw the scripture written, over a month ago on a random day by a missioanry who was going home soon, and saw D+C 18:10-16. "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." I read the whole section to Jane, she was drinking it all in and couldn't get enough. We told her God knows her, and loves her, because He sent us to find her and teach her. We walked her to her aparment and left. The Elders came and got us and we dropped off another copy of the Book of Mormon for her with a Plan of Salvation pamphlet inside.
That was the big part of the miracle. We were in total shock the rest of the day at what we had done and the way that it was brought about. If you ever doubt that God works miracles, DON'T. He does. And He loves His children and wants them to have happiness and eternal life. He will bring about the means to do it, through any means and at any time.
The rest of the story is that Jane fell that night, hit her head, went to the hospital, got some stitches and an MRI, we tried to go see her and get her a blessing, went on a wild goose chase at the hospital only to discover that she was already home and resting. She called us a little while later, needing some help, so we took the elders again and met her at the bus stop and gave her a blessing. It was a pretty incredible blessing. She is going to be baptized asap, probably in about 2 weeks. We wanted sooner, but dang stake policy is blocking us from doing that......So that's where we're at with Jane. It's going to take lots of prayers to make this happen, but I have no doubt that it will. Jane is too important, and God knows she needs this.
Sorry this was so long, skim it if it's boring. It was an incredible miracle, one that I never thought anything like would happen to me. I am so grateful for it because it taught me so much about faith, hope, miracles, and God's infinite love for His children.
Another great miracle is that Pohai, the deaf girl we have been working with for a long time, is finally back on date to be baptized!! This time she understands everything that has been taught to her, she is so excited about it, and her parents are on board! They finally see that she is learning and is prepared. July 7th is the day :)
That's all I have for this week. I'm learning a lot about myself and how the Atonement is playing such a big role in my life. Baylon told me once to not count the cost of a mission. I realized that you shouldn't count the cost because you can't. The cost is everything. We give everything we have and are so that God will give us all He has and is. It's worth it. Love you all!! Have a great week!
Sister Chronister

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I should not expect easy answers

Random side note, I think I'm sitting next to a modern day Gollum at the library. We all know that public computers can be slow. That's just how it goes, we all learn to deal with it. Not this guy. He has GOT to be on facebook and get his social networking on, but the server is being slow, so I keep hearing these random hisses about how slow the server is and how "you've got to be kidding me, it's right there." It's a good reality check. Also, my favorite cross dresser just got here. Oh how I love the regulars at the Lakewood library.
The title is something that was said yesterday during the Relief Society lesson about studying the scriptures. It was such a small statement, but so profound. Whenever we are looking for answers to life, we should not expect easy answers. The answer itself may be simple and easy to figure out, but actually DOING it is never easy. If it was easy then everyone would do it and the reward wouldn't be as great. That is something that I have learned a lot about this week. I am really grateful for good friends (prior to the mission and previous comps) who have helped me figure it out. Every week we say a recitation. It's very long, and very good, but there is one part that I have been thinking about a lot.
Faith is the power. Love is the motive. Obedience is the price. The spirit is the key. The restoration is the message. The members are the means. Christ is the reason. Baptism is the way. Joy is the reward.
The two most important ones to me this week have been "Obedience is the price" and "Joy is the reward." We pay a very heavy price for what we do here, but we can't look at the cost. I signed my name and agreed to all of this. I knew it would be hard and it would push. There is no way, however, that I could have prepared myself for what this would be like. Elder Holland gave a talk a few years ago called, "None were with Him." He talks about how the Savior knew what was coming when he went into the garden of Gethsemane to offer the great intercessory prayer, but the reality of what he went through was much greater than anything that he could have anticipated. The thing that I am asked to go through and do is nothing compared to what the Savior did. But what has been given to me, to keep me focused and on the right path are the commandments and the guidelines of things I am asked to do every day. That is what keeps the Spirit with me, enables me to go out and work, and helps me to love everyone that I have the chance to meet. We serve with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. All of it. Obedience is the way to give it all. Love is why we do it.
Joy is the reward. I've had a lot of people ask lately why we do this. They can't believe that our church wouldn't give us something in return or pay us or anything. The answer is in Alma 30:34. "And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?" When we go through hard times, it helps us understand the good times so much better. Instead of walking around in a flat, black and white world, we have mountains and valleys and crevaces and every shade of every color, the good and the bad. It is worth whatever we have to go through to see the beautiful things. God has to humble us sometimes. We have to be stripped of our outer layer, the things we use to cover our weaknesses and imperfections. It's a painful, raw process to have all of that stripped away. It leaves you feeling weak, exposed, and inadequate. It forces you to look to God. When we are stripped of that outer layer, God shows us what we were, what we are, and what we can become. We see how far we've come and where we can go. We see that our goal, our potential, and our inheritance is to become like God. That is true joy, and it is worth any price we must pay.
So, we should not expect easy answers. But we should expect that it will be worth it. Trust in God, trust that whatever He asks us to do will be for our benefit. The refinig fires are hot and they leave nothing untouched that needs to be removed. The final result is worth it.
I hope you all have a great week. Be strong, trust in God, don't be afraid, and say your prayers. Love you!
Sister Chronister

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!!!!

It's ma mama's birthday on Wednesday. Just so ya know. She's turning 26. I know, I know. Doesn't look a day over 20. Surprise!!!
Oh man, we had some cool miracles this week. First off, we got to go to the temple on Thursday. That was such an amazing day. I was so grateful we got to go. There is so much peace and power that comes from the temple, and I know that I needed it for this week. It's such a blessing to be able to go there, to seek answers, to feel the Spirit, and to be in all white. There is nothing like it.
We had the coolest miracle ever on Friday. This is one of those that you hear about in the Ensign or at conference, but it seems like it never actually happens to real people. Well, they do, cause it happened. To me and my companion. On Friday.
So we decided, in order to save gas and miles, to walk to an appointment, but we were a little early so we stopped on the way to check the phone, bask in the sunshine, etc. when this African lady walks past us and tells us that she loves the way we are dressed. Then she saw Sis. Eichenmiller's nametag. She stopped and put her finger on it and said, "Latter-day Saints. I used to work with them in my country, in Africa. Do they still make that meat out of tofu?" Turns out she used to help them with humanitarian stuff while she was living in Kenya, making tofu patties and stuff for people to eat there. She said she wasn't in need there, she was just helping. Then she came to the states, to Washington. She had nowhere to live and was living on the streets, including during that crazy winter storm that came through here. She was in a huge hurry though on her way to the bus, which she couldn't miss, so we power-walked with her to her bus stop. I pulled a Book of Mormon out of my backpack and quickly wrote our names, phone number, and the address to the church in the front and gave it to her. She grabbed it and said, "You are Mormons?!?!" She was so excited. She wanted to know who we were and what we were doing, so we told her we are missionaries and we teach people about Jesus Christ. She got super choked up and was so happy and kept saying how amazing it was that she met us. She asked if she could read the book, and we obliged. She said she would call us later that night. Right before she crossed the street to get on the bus, she grabbed us both and hugged us and kissed us on the cheek and said, "Thank you so much! God has blessed me so much to meet you two today, my beautiful daughters. I love you!"
We got a call from her that night. She told us that she read the book her whole bus ride home and that she couldn't sleep until she knew more about it. She wants so bad to know everything about the book. We told her to keep reading it and to pray about it. We haven't been able to meet with her because she keeps getting called into work, but she calls us every day and tells us how much she loves the book and loves us. She said she is praying about it, and that every time she does, she goes and reads the book more. She can't stop reading it. Every time she has a spare minute she is reading the book. She thinks that is her answer from God, that it must be true. I think so too. We are so excited about Jane and we can't wait to teach her. This gospel is so amazing, because it is what allows things like that to happen.
Looking forward to a lot of great things this week. And I am trying so so hard to get caught up on letters. I really appreciate all of the mail I have gotten. You guys are the best. LOVE YOU!!!