Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"Here we kneel in the sand..."

Dearest family and friends,
This week has been the most miraculous week.
I got my new companion, Sister Rooney, at transfer meeting on Tuesday. She is from Adelaide and has been out for nine months. She's super adorable and bubbly and she sings all the time and has cool glasses. People ask us all the time if we're sisters, probably because we're both blonde and super white. I love her already. (And apparently our moms are already chatting on facebook. The creeps.)
Transfer meeting is always inspiring because we get to hear the testimonies of the departing missionaries, but this one was especially inspiring. Elder Maifala, my zone leader, went home this transfer, and in his departing testimony he mentioned that video with Elder Holland that I wrote about last week. He also bore his testimony that we are all supposed to be here, and that we shouldn't go home because we feel like we aren't doing any good. The Lord called us here, and this is where we are meant to be. That was just another confirmation to me of what I learned last week about the work not being easy, but being so very necessary.
Tuesday evening Sister Rooney and I went to go meet our ward mission leader. While we were at his house, his wife shared an awesome video with us about John Tanner, one of the early saints. (You can watch it here). He was a self-made wealthy man who converted to the church and was healed from a canker on his leg that threatened to take his life. What really impressed me about his story, though, was not his miraculous healing, but more his miraculous faith. After he became converted, he gave every penny he had earned to the church. He invested in the temple and in other church prospects for the progression of God's kingdom here on earth, and he never got a penny of it back. But what he did gain was faith in the Lord and in His purposes. He really understood how to consecrate everything he had to the Lord and understood the blessings that come from it. I was so impressed with his faith, and I've been thinking about his willing sacrifice constantly. I want to be able to have faith like that so that I can truly give my all to the Lord and to His work.
That same evening, Sister Rooney shared a bit of a poem with me. It's about a group of pioneers who had faced an extremely treacherous, very un-miraculous journey, and had gotten just close enough to their destination that they knew they were going to make it. It reads:
"Here we kneel in the sand, grateful for every unanswered plea that proved us. Faith is the mountain that would not flee, the water that would not part, the stone that did not turn to bread, instead marks our dead." That poem really hit me. Faith is not always manifested in miracles. Faith is enduring through the hardships and remaining faithful. Faith is trusting the Lord through whatever trial He sees fit to lay upon you, and believing that He could work miracles if it were His plan to do so.

I am grateful for every unanswered plea that proved me. And now I am grateful for the miracles that the Lord is working in my missionary work.
Every day of this new transfer, we have seen a miracle. Wednesday, we found seven new contacts in half an hour. Thursday, we set a baptism date with our investigator, Emma, who had basically come to us and said that she wanted to be a Mormon and that she felt ready and committed to being baptized. Friday, we re-contacted one of our former investigators who said she wanted to take the lessons from the beginning. Saturday, Sister Rooney and I had a wonderful discussion about obedience and both committed ourselves to being exactly obedient with a willing heart. And Sunday, my personal favorite miracle, we set a baptism date with Victoria.
Victoria has wanted to be baptized ever since the missionaries started visiting her family, but we haven't felt able to invite her and Antonio to be baptized because we didn't want to offend their dad, who is Muslim. But on Sunday, we taught the plan of salvation to their whole family, and asked their father if he would be willing to allow his children to be baptized. And he said yes! As soon as he said yes, Victoria burst into tears. She is so excited. She said she wants to either be baptized on Christmas because it's Christ's birthday and He is the reason she's getting baptized, or on her birthday, July 19th. We picked July 19th for her because it's sooner. ;) Antonio is still waiting for his answer if baptism is right for him, and waiting for confirmation from Heavenly Father that he is worthy to be baptized. He really likes to be 100% sure about things before he commits, and I think he doesn't feel worthy simply because he doesn't feel like he was 100% faith yet. We invited him to keep praying, and we feel like he will get his answer very soon. The change that we have seen in him just this week is miraculous. During fast and testimony meeting, I noticed that he was crying, (Which is okay, because I was too. It was a killer testimony meeting.) and when we taught their family on Sunday, he looked at us more and gave longer answers to our questions. He is very, very shy, so he normally doesn't talk very much and hardly looks up. But when he told us about his desires to find his own witness, he looked us in the eye! And when we left, his handshake was just that much firmer.

The Lord really works in marvellous ways, and it's incredible to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ can change people. I know I've seen it change me. I hope that I can always keep changing and keep growing closer to my Savior, because the moment I think I have changed enough and I am good enough is the moment I lose His help, and there is no way I can do this without Him.
The gospel is so, so true. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of it, and the opportunity to share it with all of our Father's children.
Much Love,
Sister Larsen

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