It feels like time is starting to pick up a bit! I feel like I just wrote you all. As we continue to get busy and lose ourselves in the work, time flies, but holy cow are we tired.
This week was great. A lot of meetings and lessons. And the best part- MICHAEL GOT BAPTIZED!
A little background on Michael. Months ago he came into the Visitors Centre and said he came in because he had this feeling he needed to. He began meeting with the missionaries. But then, he disappeared.
My very first Sunday here, Michael showed up at church for the first time in months. We began teaching him again and three weeks later, he got baptized!
He was just glowing after his baptism. It was just the greatest sight to see! He also got baptised with Esmael and they were both ecstatic. Seeing people’s faith grow and their desire to make a change in their lives and follow Christ is the most beautiful thing. I have never seen Michael so happy, and he just makes me so happy!
We are also teaching another Michael who is also just the greatest guy ever. We were teaching him and he said, “I saw a guy I had a falling out with at a concert last night. But last night I realised I had forgiven him. I realised I didn’t handle the situation in the best way, but that I was sorry and also forgave him. It just happened and I know it’s because of meeting with you and coming to church.”
His faith is incredible! The more we teach him, the more he amazes me and strengthens my faith. I know that as we try to become more Christlike, we will notice ourselves making changes for the better, just like Michael. He has made me want to become a better person, and oh he is just so wonderful!
My mission has already been full of great moments, with these two Michael’s being some of them. I would like to be quite honest though. Coming on a mission hasn’t been easy whatsoever.
I would like to share some of my parent’s incredible advice. Though their writings were for me, I think others can benefit from their words.
(Also, I apologise for the length of this email but I think it’ll be worth the read.)
Throughout the past two short months, I have felt more homesickness and loneliness than I thought I would. Ultimately I have been upset at myself for feeling this way. I’ve wanted to completely forget about myself and home so I could be more focused on serving here.
My dad then offered me this advice about not worrying and moving on.
“Don’t worry about home and all the other stuff. When I say don’t worry, I don’t mean to stop thinking about it. What I mean is stop worrying that you’re thinking about it. Just take a deep breath and carry on with your day. After a while, you’ll notice that you’re thinking about it less and less, and before you know it, you moved on and you’re not homesick. Don’t try to force it. Let it come naturally. It will come.”
He then shared a personal experience of his that though his experience was more extreme than what I’m currently feeling, helped me understand how to deal with these feelings.
He said, “When my dad passed away it didn’t matter what I was doing. That would always pop up in my brain. It’s like there is a void in your life and something is missing. It’s hard to focus, because your mind keeps wandering back to that void.
I couldn’t force it to just go away. I had to just carry on and try my best to think about the other things going on in my life. There were big things to preoccupy my mind, but that still didn’t make it just flip one day.
It takes time. Just breathe, don’t force it. Avoid the temptation to try to monitor your progress in this area. This isn’t something that you track. It just happens. Purification is a process, not an event. Growth is a process, not an event.”
I’ve continued to study the process of truly letting go. Elder Kearon of the Quorum of the Seventy, visited my mission a week ago. He shared, “Some of you have things you need to let go. It has been long enough. You can let go.”
Applying his words of letting go as well as my dad’s about letting it happen naturally, has allowed me to know that it is okay. It’s okay to hurt and miss something or someone you’ve been so used to having. It’s okay to feel sad and cry for a bit. But as time goes on, you’ll be able to say, “I’m okay,” and mean it.
One of the missionaries who was injured in the Brussels bombing said something along the lines of, “It is going to be okay. I don’t know what okay is, but it is going to be okay.”
Sometimes we don’t know the result or where our future will take us. But God has a plan for us in which we know everything will be okay. He loves us and has a plan in store for us with so many great moments.
As Elder Holland said, “It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.” (Watch this short video. It’s so good. Good Things to Come)
My mother added her advice in trusting that it will be okay. She began by sharing Proverbs 3:5 which reads, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
She then said, “You need to trust the Lord like you’ve never trusted before, and He will make your understanding His.”
I’ve carried her wise council throughout my mission. “There will be tough days, but you have the ability to change within your mind and heart how you will react to those discouragements. You have the power to eliminate those negative thoughts and push forward with a steadfastness of faith, hope, and charity.
Reach into your inner reserves of strength and see that you are not alone, but are created with His divinity. He loves you and knows all this will be for your good and experience. You must go through these tough times to know the sweet too. Just remember the Lord is refining you into the person He knows and loves so beautifully.”
My mom’s council reminded me that our difficulties help us grow. The tough times help us become stronger and enjoy the great moments. It is difficult, but we have the ability to continue through the strength provided by Christ.
Elder Gong of the Seventy said, “Sometimes that strength is not within us, but it can be found in remembering the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
When trust is betrayed, dreams shattered, hearts broken and broken again, when we want justice and need mercy, when our fists clench and our tears flow, when we need to know what to hold onto and what to let go of, we can always remember Him. Life is not as cruel as it can sometimes seem. His infinite compassion can help us find our way, truth, and life.”
Through Christ, our dark moments will be made light. Our burdens will be lifted. Our voids will be filled and our hearts will be healed. It all takes time, but it will be okay.
And though I’m not a golfer by any means, my dad shared one last piece of advice about that one great moment. He said, “When I was golfing, I was hitting the ball horribly the whole round. Then on the 8th hole, I chipped one in from off the green (That never happens. It’s a huge deal to hit one from far out). I said, “And that’s why I keep playing. For that one good shot.” All golfers are the same. You’re going to have that as well. Bad days, then that one great moment. Not a great day, a great moment. And you’ll tell yourself, that’s why I keep going out here every day.”
There are great moments ahead for all of us! I have witnessed so many already. I have to have some hard days because they push me to be better and do better. And when that great moment comes, the difficult moments were worth it. Knowing it’ll be okay, trusting in the Lord, and not worrying has helped me so much. Just work hard and do your part. Let go and let God. And finally, keep trying for that one great moment.