hermanas!! It is a real joy to be able to speak to you today. For those of you who do not know me, I am Bailey Mecham and I just came home from serving in the Peru Lima Central mission. It was an experience that marked and shaped my life and one I will forever be grateful for.
Of all the things that I experienced as a missionary, the most impacting experiences came when I used the power of the Atonement in my life to be reconciled with God, to forgive, and to progress.
Reconciliation is to bring into agreement or harmony with others or with God. And forgiveness is being at peace and trusting in the justice, the mercy, and the grace of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Both reconciliation and forgiveness are repentance. Repentance is often looked at in the church as a confession of sins. Although that is part, repentance is a change of heart, a change of action, and a change of attitude. This sounds like a hard process! But with the Savior it is much easier than we think. When we access the power He holds by repenting and we ask for forgiveness, we are choosing to receive his spirit and unlock the powers of His sacrifice. This is how we progress.
Brothers and sisters, for those of you who think that you do not need repentance and forgiveness right now in your life. Please open your ears. This is for you.
As a missionary I had many hard companions and I was constantly with a sick sister. It became a pattern of my mission that for quite some time I did not understand. But over time and with the help of the Lord I was able to understand why I was always in these situations. It was not a punishment, but an opportunity to learn how Jesus HEALS US when we seek repentance, forgive, and humble ourselves. In this process I came to know The Master and I came to love him.
Elder Jeffery R. Holland said,” Indeed, to a great degree, our relationship to Christ will be determined - or at least affected - by our relationship to each other.” I testify of that great truth. If we cannot have good relationships with the mortal humans around us, how can we expect to have a good relationship with our perfect God? If we cannot forgive others, and forgive ourselves, then we cannot be forgiven… But we must remember… God is the ONLY ONE who forgives us and forgives OTHERS of sin. So, when Jesus said “Forgive and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37) What He is really saying is, “Humble yourself, say you’re sorry, even if you feel like it was not your fault, trust in my Justice and in my mercy and then your heart will be filled with charity and you will be forgiven.”
When I had 6 months in my mission I was called to train and whitewash an area called Tarapaca. My companion was from the jungle, she was not used to the big city of lima, and she was very shy. At first, she was very closed off. She never wanted to talk to me. We often walked in silence. When she did decide to talk it was not always the nicest. I felt like I was doing my part, starting in a brand-new area without someone to lead was hard. I needed her help and I told her that every day… but our relationship was rough, and nothing seemed to work. Things continued like this for a while, until I learned the underlying problem. My sweet companion was extremely sick. She had a whole in her heart and 2 hernias that were majorly affecting her work. She often took out that anger on me. At first, I did not want to say I was sorry because I thought that it meant that I would be admitting that I was wrong. Instead of loving her and trying to understand, my pride took control and I wanted to be right. It was until a very wise sister training leader wrote me a note and told me that the Grace of God was sufficient to save, and my part was to be humble and trust in Him. I had to turn over my will to the Father and trust that HE was going to take care of my companion. He was going to change her heart. That was not my job. When I finally apologized for what I did to hurt her, and when I turned the other cheek, we began to change. Our relationship improved. She spoke kinder to me and I was much more patient with her. We spent our last 2 weeks laughing and making memories. I am a witness that an “I’m sorry” heals wounds, most often our own. It is an opportunity to be humble and allow the Savior into our hearts.
Just after my time with this sweet companion, I was called to train a second time. This round was much harder. My companion had major depression and was mentally ill. She was not fully there and many many many difficult things occurred as I was with her. When that transfer finished, I told my mission president that I wanted to come home. I felt abused and worthless. I felt small and friendless. I remember one day that we were walking through a park and she just sat down and told me that she was done… I did not know what to do, and so I got down on my knees in the middle of this park and I prayed for guidance. I cried and told my Heavenly Father that I was sorry for not knowing how to handle this situation, I was lost, and I was just done. I told him I needed angels. When transfers came, I was sent to an area called Olivos with the world’s most amazing companion, Hermana Jaylin Lambert. She was the angle that I had prayed for. Her kindness and example of love changed my heart. With hermana Lambert I learned a very important lesson. To understand what forgiveness is, I had to learn what it is not.
Forgiveness is NOT
• Reentering a toxic relationship
• Returning to an abusive, destructive circumstance
• Sweeping the bad memories under the rug and ignoring the pain they brought
• Allowing people to use us as objects
• Turning our will over to Gods
• Laying the burden we carry at his feet
• Trusting in the great plan of joy and knowing that one day we will all understand.
• Throwing away the pride and saying I’m sorry.
• Peace of mind
Nephi teaches us that we are agents unto ourselves, “knowing good from evil, to act… and not to be acted upon.”
I learned that If I carried this burden and this pain, I would be making myself an object and not an agent. I would not progress, because I would not be giving my burden to Jesus. I felt guilty and had to forgive myself for things that really weren’t my fault, and I had to forgive my companion so that I could be free of this pain that controlled me. That I did. I turned my burdens over to God. I stopped allowing myself be sad for what had occurred. My mission president very well knew that I did not need to go back for more. And like Jesus does for us, President Strong pulled me out of a toxic relationship and saved me from returning to an abusive, destructive circumstance. I had a change of heart toward my situation and a new outlook on life as I began to use the power of the atonement to heal my wounded soul. “Ultimately such spiritual repair can come only from our divine Redeemer, He who rushes to our aid ‘with healing in his wings’.”
After these life changing experiences, I was able to stand as a real witness of the atonement of Christ and my testimony became unshakable. I now know that the atonement is both for being forgiven and for forgiving. When we turn over our will to God, lay our burdens at His feet, and throw away the pride our hearts are filled with LOVE! My mission then became enjoyable for me. I ran everywhere. I contacted everyone I saw! I loved the people who were around me every day and I loved myself.
I only spent one transfer in Olivos. It was the blessing I needed to open my eyes and finish the work the Lord sent me to do. I was then called to be a sister training leader and somehow, we had all the sick hermanas in our stewardship. There were many days that my companion and I would have to switch off working and staying in the house. It was tough, but one that defiantly marked my future. We were taking care of a sister called Hermana Camacho. She was not well at all and we took many tips to the hospital. She was from Ecuador and lived with her mom. Her dad had passed away a few years before and she was trying to forgive him for leaving their family as a child. Of course, she did forgive him, and I firmly believe that because of that forgiveness on her part and the repentance on his part, he could help us on the other side of the veil. There was a night while she was staying with us, when I heard a voice get me out of bed. Someone called my name and I knew it was not Hermana Camacho. She was standing in the bathroom clenching the sink trying not to faint. As soon as I walked in, she wrapped her arms around my neck and passed out. I don’t know how I had the strength to carry her. But I called for my companion and she was there in 2 seconds or less. Hna Camacho had a seizer that night and another one the following morning. That day angels accompanied us in caring for her. I know that her dad was one of those angles. Because Hermana Camacho forgave her dad, and because he repented, the powers of God were unlocked and hna Camacho was saved. She had to go into surgery shortly after. While there, she shared something with me that made us cry. She told me that she saw her dad during her surgery. He accompanied her and spoke to her. He told her that he was sorry and that he loved her. That, my friends, if the power of forgiveness. Hermana Camacho changed my life. I saw so many miracles during my time with her. I grew because of her diligence. I began to understand grace.
Grace is the continual power of God when, and only when, we do ALL we can do. “Jesus grew from grace to grace” What does this mean? It means that he did all he could do to progress and be like his father. We are similarly asked to do all we can, to progress and to become like Jesus.
When things got hard for Hermana Camacho she went forward with faith. She prayed more earnestly, she laughed more honestly, and she used the experiences she had to humble herself and be refined by the lord. She did her part. She accepted the lords will and she grew because of her submissiveness.
We can learn from this.
We all need to accept the lords will. We need to be obedient to his laws and commandments. We need to be humble, submissive, patient, and longsuffering. By doing so we will access the powers of heaven and we will begin our process of conversion.
My dear friends, Jesus loves you. Your father in heaven loves you. They want you to come back home. That is why they created this beautiful plan of joy! That is why we can repent and be reconciled with God. We can soften our hearts and change our attitudes. It is because of the love of Christ that we can be forgiven, and we can forgive. He suffered so that we don’t have to. He felt our pain. He felt our pride. He can take both away. He understands.
Though all of our experiences are different, the prince of peace is the same. He is constant. He is caring. He is kind. Our relationship with Christ is indeed determined by our relationship to each other. Forgiveness can only be achieved by humbling ourselves, repenting, and seeking the grace of God by doing all we can do. I testify that reconciliation with others and with our Father in Heaven, through His son, Jesus Christ, will heal our souls.