September 19, 2016
Oh yeah, happy 9 months to me
As I'm writing, there is a thunderstorm going on outside. I love that there are so many storms here! Nothing super important there, just a random side note. Other side note, last Wednesday marked 9 months of being in North Carolina. It is crazy to realize how quickly the time has gone. Good thing I still have 18 months ahead of me :) (No, of course I'm not in denial)
Things are going really well with our investigators! We taught Jarek about the Word of Wisdom last night in a member's home and he wants to live it! I love teaching families! Seeing Jarek and Corinthia progress together and support each other helps me understand why families are so important. Jarek and Corinthia are holding each other accountable to live the Word of Wisdom and they are both so excited about the gospel. Seeing them strengthen their relationship and try to teach her kids the gospel is incredible. They have been praying every day as a family and are going to start reading the scriptures as a family. It is amazing to see the changes that have happened in Corinthia since I first met her. When I first met her months ago, she hadn't been to church in months and always seemed stressed. Now, she is much happier and is so excited about the gospel! She still has lots to deal with, but she has more ways to find strength and peace.
Speaking of families, we have been teaching a mom and her 13 year old daughter for a couple weeks. We are still trying to begin teaching the husband, he is rarely home when we are there. The daughter has some struggles but her mom said last time we were there that she has seen changes in her daughter since we have been teaching them. Even though we have only taught them a couple times, I have already seen more light come into her life. There is more light and hope in her eyes than there was the first time we met. I have loved seeing the changes that have happened as she learns more about the restored gospel. I know that the Atonement will help her to repent and overcome her challenges. There is always hope. None of us are beyond repair. Seeing this girl learn that and begin to draw closer to the Savior is the greatest feeling. I love seeing the light in her eyes as we talk about the gospel. I feel like hearing about 'light in peoples eyes' never really made sense until I was a missionary. There is a noticeable difference in how people look when they are learning about the gospel when they feel the Spirit. Christ is the Light of the World and as those we teach come closer to Him, His light is more evident in their eyes.
Cool experience of the week: meeting Rolando. We went tracting in an apartment complex where a potential investigator lived. He was the first person to answer the door who spoke English and he is awesome! We talked to him for close to an hour on his front step. He had met with missionaries in the past when he lived in NY, but didn't have any interest in joining at that point. He asked us lots of questions about things we believe and things he has wondered about. That conversation was one where I know that what I said was guided by the Spirit. He asked kind of unusual questions, like why Jesus is always portrayed as white, why people say 'Jesus Christ' is His name when it's only Jesus, why we are told to judge a tree by its fruit when we are also told that judgment is reserved for God, things like that. I immediately had answers come to my mind and shared them with him. He was impressed by my answers and kept shaking my hand because of it :) I have no doubt that what I said did not come from me, but that the Spirit brought to my mind things I had heard before. I could not have answered his questions at all, let alone in a way that clicked for him, without the Spirit. I am so incredibly grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost that helps me do what I need to do.
I pondered a lot about the sacrament yesterday during church. There is a man with some physical disabilities that passes the sacrament. It was incredibly sweet to watch him walk up the aisle, with slow and small steps, to pass the emblems of our Savior's body and blood. There was another man sitting in front of me with some disabilities and watching the first man pass him the sacrament was so sweet. I realized that we are all imperfect but we can all help each other. Both of these men have incredibly sweet spirits, but their bodies are limited right now. But those limitations are not permanent. Through the Atonement of the Savior, all of us will be resurrected and receive perfected bodies. His Atonement also enables us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father as we live His commandments. I am so thankful that Jesus Christ loved us each enough to suffer and die for us. As I watched the sacrament being passed to the ward, I thought about what it really means. Sometimes I take it for granted that we are able to renew our covenants every single week. That is why we take the sacrament, to renew our commitment to follow the Savior and His teachings. We promise again to follow Him, to serve Him and our fellow men, and to always remember Him. He can never forget us, we are literally engraved onto His hands. We are a permanent part of Him and we should do all we can to make Him a permanent part of us. Remembering is what we are commanded to do. We are promised that as we strive to always keep the Savior in our thoughts, we will have the Holy Ghost with us. What greater blessing can we have than the presence of a member of the Godhead?
I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church. It is the church that Jesus Christ Himself established and that is was restored through Him. I know that this is the only church with His authority, the authority to bind on earth and in heaven. The sealing power that was given to the apostle Peter is on the earth again and is found only in the temples. I know that this church is the only church that has the authority to bind families for time and all eternity. Families are our greatest blessing and they are meant to be eternal. God is not a temporary God. He does not create things that are not meant to last. Our families are created by God and we are able to be families forever through this gospel, and this gospel alone. I am so grateful for the blessings that I have received from this gospel, most importantly my family. The knowledge that I can spend eternity with the people who mean the most to me is worth any sacrifice required.