Hello all! Warning- be prepared for a long email. But I think it’s got some good stuff in it, so I hope you’ll read on!
I have noticed this week Heavenly Father is trying to teach me some significant lessons. One is patience as well as becoming more humble. But this week was a good one, despite the lack of people we are teaching. I’m here doing the Lord’s work, and regardless of what happens, that brings me so much joy!
So to begin with some highlights from the week, we will start with a funny story. Sister Apiyo and I went on “blitz” with the Elders in our district (meaning we went to find people who may be interested in the gospel. While still staying within sight and sound of our companions, we split up, and so I was with Elder Kashari). There was this old man I noticed looking at me and followed us for a good distance down the road. I finally said hello to him, and his response was quite the surprise. First he goes, “You are so pretty! Out of all the countries in the world, you are the most beautiful.” And wait for it, he then says, “You are not fat. You are not skinny. You are in the middle.”
I wasn’t sure how to take that! I have been really stressed about my weight on the mission, and so that was quite the interesting comment. But he went on and on, and then turned to Elder Kashari and scolded him that Elder Kashari must always respect women! He then went on to explain how he was married to his wife for 45 years before she died, and so I think this sweet old man thought Elder Kashari and I were married. Awkward.
Now onto the more serious stuff- we had a miracle this week! So Sister Apiyo and I challenged ourselves that we are not allowed to eat any chocolate or ice cream unless we find two new friends to teach that day. And so Wednesday we went to find new friends! That is when we met Taz. The next day, Taz came to the Visitors Centre. Two hours later, this man who partially believed in God and hardly knew about Christ, committed to be baptized on September 11th and said his very first prayer, ever. And in his prayer, he prayed that he might be able to be baptized even earlier, so that Sister Apiyo may be there for his baptism.
Talk about faith! Now, are you ready for the heart-breaker? He doesn’t live in our area. So we had to transfer him to other missionaries. This is why I’m saying Heavenly Father is truly teaching me patience. We continue to find and begin to teach amazing people, but they don’t live in the area in which we are assigned to teach. But it’s all the same work, and it’s so incredible so see the faith of these people grow! I’m thankful for each of them.
As far as others, Michael, who got baptized in July, baptized the Elders friend Ahmed! Michael also passed the sacrament for the first time this week. He really has changed so much and I’m so blessed to know him. When he was passing the sacrament, the spirit was so strong that I began to cry. Seeing him worthily use the priesthood to bless others was so incredibly powerful. The mission makes you cry a lot, okay?
We also had a miracle at church on Sunday. We didn’t expect anyone to be there, and 4 people we’ve never met before were there! That means new friends to teach! One guy, Jan, attended all three hours of church as well as a long lesson with us, and he’s so excited to learn more!
The people I’m teaching online are doing great too! One guy, Derrick, is from DC, and was baptized on Saturday and he will be attending BYU-I this fall. Lizzie from New York is awesome, and I now have 500+ people online that I’m in contact with so…oops. I love teaching online though. It’s amazing how we can truly share the gospel with people all around the world.
Other Michael is doing great in Newbury! For those who don’t remember Michael, I’ve been teaching him since I arrived in London, and after much complication, we had to transfer him to Newbury, which is in the England London South Mission (where he technically lives). He truly took my heart there and I’m jealous of the missionaries teaching him. However, I still get to text him to make sure all is well. He has been struggling a lot with the situation of moving wards (congregations). He’s become so used to the Hyde Park 2nd Ward, but we expressed to him the importance of going to the ward where he lives. Despite the trial, he has incredible faith and he texted me, “It is a good challenge, one Heavenly Father is making me do to overcome this, for the better.”
Sister Mullen (a senior missionary here) then made me aware of something my family and I had similarly gone through. When I was a senior in high school, the Parkway Ward boundaries (which I had grown up in) were changed. This caused my family to be moved into the Milwaukee Ward. Though what seemed as a small challenge, I was still quite upset to now be part of a ward I was unfamiliar with, one that had no youth, and that we had to leave our friends in the Parkway Ward. I had casually mentioned this to Michael before and that I could understand a bit of what he was feeling. It was Sister Mullen who made me aware that this small trial I had gone through was needed so I would know how to help and relate to Michael.
I have learned throughout our lives, we face trials and challenges not only to help us, but also so we can know how to help others. I’m thankful for that small challenge I faced my senior year, because through it, I could understand a bit with how Michael is feeling. I could develop this relationship with this faithful man who texts me, “I fell asleep last night with the Book of Mormon on my chest with my arms folded over it. The chapters are so powerful.”
Now onto the final lesson I’ve learned this week- it begins with a video. I’ve watched it many times before, but one morning as I sat down with my triple chocolate muffin and watched this video, it hit me a bit more than normal. It’s called, The Hope of God’s Light.
(Watch it! And then read on)
In the video, Todd expresses, “For two years God had nurtured a questioning soul. Little by little, He had given me as much as I could handle until the day I was humble enough to hear fully what He wanted to tell me.”
What he said reminded me of a scripture I read earlier on my mission that also struck me. The prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon teaches the people that their afflictions had humbled them. He says, “Ye are brought to a lowliness of heart; for ye are necessarily brought to be humble. Ye may be humble, that ye may learn wisdom.”
Like Todd, these people who lived 74 years before the time of Christ, experienced trials that brought them to be humble enough to hear what God wanted to tell them.
Some of these people in the Book of Mormon asked for a miraculous sign to know if God was there. Todd also wanted a sign, and said how he thought if God were to manifest Himself unto him, God would come down as a lightening bolt or a great clash of fire. However, Alma says how this is not faith. He continues, “Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.”
Todd continues in the video saying, “I also learned by my own experience that spiritual light rarely comes to those who sit in darkness waiting for someone to flip a switch. It takes an act of faith to open our eyes to the light of Christ.”
These humbling experiences Todd and Alma’s people had, led them to have to take an act of faith, which ultimately led to repentance, or making a change.
Alma then says to the people, “And now, because ye are compelled to be humble blessed are ye; for a man sometimes, if he is compelled to be humble, seeketh repentance.”
How many times in life are we brought down to a lowliness of heart through trials and afflictions? Do we become humble enough? Do we take an act of faith?
If we are humble, we seek to repent. Now repentance isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t just, “I did something wrong. Now I feel bad and have to confess it to God.” Repentance is a beautiful opportunity we are given to make a change! I am so thankful for repentance, because as I have used Christ’s merciful Atonement in my life to fully repent, I have been humbled, had my burdens lifted off my shoulders, and been enlightened to true happiness. My eyes have been opened to the light of Christ.
As Todd became humble, he acted on faith, began to repent (even if he didn’t realise it), and learned of the hope of God’s light. The sign he was seeking for wasn’t a lightning bolt or pillar of fire, but rather a feeling through the Holy Ghost. He knows now who God is, who he himself is, and that God’s light is real.
And similarly with the people in the scriptures. They were meek and humble, experimented on faith, and found that “whatsoever is light is good.” Their understanding of God began to be enlightened and their mind began to expand.
Little by little God is preparing you to know fully what He wants to tell you. It just takes time and action. I would ask each of us this week to try to humble ourselves. Become humble enough, though it certainly takes time, to learn what God is trying to tell you. Then take an act of faith and seek God’s light. There is hope, and God knows each of us individually. He knows you by name and He loves you. His arms are open to give you that hug and welcome you home.
It is never too late to make a change. Whether we are like Todd, the people in Alma Chapter 32, or Alma himself (who went through one of the greatest conversions in the Book of Mormon), we can make a change. As I have met people on the streets here in London, they’ve said to me things such as, “It is too late for me. You don’t want me. I’m too old. I’m already what you call a “lost sheep.””
What these people don’t realize is that God needs us on His side today! God is always speaking to us. He never abandons us. He is real and He answers our prayers. He will illuminate the road before us. As Todd said, fight like a lion! Take the challenge. Become humble enough and take an act of faith.
Let us embrace the week before us and be more aware of what our Father in Heaven is trying to tell us. Thank you for all the love and support. Each of you truly mean so much to me.