I am so happy Aaron seems to have had a great birthday!!! I am so glad that he loved all of his gifts and cards. Wow, I still can't believe he has passed be up in height and he is 14 years old. wowow! And I received your letters with fat cat pictures and personal notes from everyone. AHHH It was so good to hear from the whole family personally, and Missy :) You all sound like you're doing great, I appreciate the time you took to write letters (ha especially Aaron since I hear he is never really sure what to say), there are more coming for you from me!!
Well, this week! I think that more and more transfers will bring different challenges as the Lord slowly pushes us to become better. Being with Hermana Aagard for yet another transfer has showed me that the relationships we have in life should mean everything to us, and there is something to be learned with any person we come in contact with. Since she is basically my sister, I find that the challenge we face this transfer is keeping the fire that we had when we first got here. It is easy to get comfortable in our relationships and take advantage of those that are closest to us and forget to serve THEM while we are serving others around is. But THAT is where the success starts. Loving and serving your companion or family members, showing the Love the Lord has for them. So we are still chugging along here, through the last chilly month.
I wanted to share some thoughts with you as a read "How to Become a Consecrated Missionary" this week. There is nothing like reading a talk from an [Elder] to help buoy us up and put life into perspective. I feel like this talk describes very well the demands we feel as missionaries every day, but also the great opportunities we have to learn and grow.
The law of consecration is the law of the temple, it is the law of the celestial kingdom, and it is the law of a celestial mission.
First, a consecrated missionary puts on the altar of sacrifice any streak of disobedience he may possess, however large or small it may be. He has an unrelenting quest to be exactly obedient. King Lamoni recognized that Ammon was a consecrated missionary, for he said: “Even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them” (Alma 18:10).
One missionary, upon going home told me that he slept in one morning. His companion said to him, “It’s time to get out of bed.” This missionary responded, “I don’t want to.” His companion replied, “It’s not about what you want, it’s about what the Lord wants.” The missionary said; “I have never forgotten that – a mission is about that the Lord wants, not what I want.”
A consecrated missionary gives up his pride on the sacrificial altar. The Lord made it clear, “And no one can assist in this work except he be humble and full of love” (DC 12:8). Pride manifests itself in many ways – one way is disloyalty to those who are our leaders.
Pride may manifest itself in jealousy of companions. I think of one of the finest elders of our mission. I never heard him say “I.” It was always “we” or “my companion did this” or “my companion did that.” Though his words always credited someone else, somehow you always knew he was the driving force behind it all. Pride may manifest itself in a reluctance to confess our sins. We may be too embarrassed to do so, or fearful of the consequences or unrealistically hoping the sin will somehow vanish if we serve an honorable mission. But at the root of each of those excuses is pride.
For a consecrated missionary there is nothing more to give at the end of the day. What is the cost to become a consecrated missionary? Some time ago I saw a movie on the life of Martin Luther. He was about to be tried for heresy. Shortly before he was to meet with the Court of Inquisition, his spiritual mentor (a monk who had trained him and loved him) was cutting his hair with a razor. At one point the monk reprimanded Luther for having turned the world upside down, leading the world in revolt – Protestants against Catholics.
Then in a stirring moment, Luther grasps his arm and asks: “You wanted me to change the world. Did you think there would be no cost?” You young missionaries came out here to change the world, to change lives, but there is a cost. It costs everything that you have on the altar of sacrifice – your fears, your pride, your laziness, your disobedience, your weaknesses; we cannot hold anything back. When you came to the mission field you burned the bridges behind you, you burned the ships in the harbor. There is no retreat to your former life. You cannot have one foot at home and one foot in the mission field.
That is a certain formula for frustration. The Lord demands our whole soul on the sacrificial altar. That is the price we must pay, and when we do, we then become instruments in the hands of God.
And I think this describes very well the mission in a nutshell:
Each of us might appropriately ask, “What lack I yet to become a consecrated missionary?” There is no escaping it. God will demand our all. If we are shy or reserved – God will compel us to change, to be bold. He will jerk us out of our comfort zone again and again. If we are lazy or idle, he will push us and pull us even when we are exhausted. If we are disobedient, he will press us until we have a child-like submissiveness. He will not let us be content with our weaknesses.
Whatever the weakness may be that holds us back from becoming a consecrated missionary, the Lord has promised that if we have faith in him, and humble ourselves before him, that he will make weak things become strong unto us (Ether 12:26-27). I believe that. I do not believe there is one missionary whose weaknesses are greater than the potential strengths within him. Why? – because each of us is a son and daughter of God, with his divine nature and divine potential woven into the very fabric of our souls. I do not think the Lord expects immediate perfection of us, but I do believe he expects immediate progress, and with that progress comes consecration. I believe that he recognizes and appreciates every step we take forward, however small it may be, striving to put our whole souls on the altar of sacrifice. At first, consecration may seem like Mt. Everest, unconquerable, unapproachable, unassailable, but every step we take forward, however minute it may seem, furthers our ascent, until one day we have attained the summit.
May we not be content with being a good, even a great missionary, when we have the capacity to be consecrated missionaries. Mormon declared with boldness: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people that they might have everlasting life” (3 Nephi 5:13).
Well, maybe by the time you are done reading this email, you might as well just go read this talk, but I think it can apply to everyone, not just missionaries. God will NEVER let us be content with our weaknesses. Just as I feel like I have overcome one mountain, I find another to climb, but that is God´s way. He pushes me out of my comfort zone again and again and again. There are days when I am exhausted or lazy, but he expects me to keep going. I love the opportunity I have to show the Lord that I love him and His children out here, and I am GRATEFUL to be able to put everything I have on the altar of sacrifice to become the missionary and woman that the Lord wants me to be. However our improvements may be, I know that the Lord sees them and blesses us with His spirit as comfort. This talk changed my mission and perspective. I pray every day that I am one step closer to becoming a consecrated missionary :)
As for this week:
- We still love meeting with Mervin every week. I love the Dominican People. Mervin is so humble and charitable and patient with others. He and Pablo work together as ward missionaries and take charge of Noche de Hogar, or the ward Family Home Evenings here :)
- Ate a patata rellena from Columbia :) yum it was like Mom's Sunday roast and potatoes all mushed into one delicious ball. It tasted like home.
- We did some jumping jack squats for exercises one day this week and the few days following we looked like 85 year old waddling women from how sore we were (just a funny story to make your day hehe)
- We helped our favorite Bolivian mama make cheesy bread empanadas and sweet bread. yum!
- It was a bit of a hard week in the way of appointments falling through and all, but God is so good. He never lets our days or weeks end without a smile. Augustina is a friend to everyone and makes our new investigators feel welcome at church and in lessons, and Alba and Walter are progressing slowly but surely.
- Marcos is an interesting man, I am not sure that he will be ready to be baptized by February 15th like we were talking about. He seems to have taken a few steps back, but this man sure teaches us patience and charity. Ha.
Well, I would love to share more, but that's all the time for now! I love you!! Have a great week!!
Hermana Emily Mather